I have recorded 42 albums - almost twice as many as David Bowie, slightly fewer than Cliff Richard.
If you're visiting this website, you're perhaps aware of the last four of these - The Regional Variations and Dead Orchestras by my band Swimmer One, and the first two albums by my 'solo' project, Seafieldroad.
As for the other 38, I recorded these between the ages of 14 and about 23 - ie: at a rate of around four per year - on an old reel to reel four track machine given to me by my German brother-in-law. Some people would call these recordings demos. Being a spotty teenage megalomaniac living in a fantasy world, I decided they were albums.
Each had a title (Boogie Atrocities, Boop Boop a Doop and Post Modern Ironing being three of my favourites). Each had its own cover artwork (see picture on this page for a selection). The early cover images were Mondrian paintings (I had a bit of a thing for Mondrian at the time), then there were a couple of me looking moody with long hair, then there was one (a double album!) with, for reasons which escape me, a cover photo of Boris Yeltsin in his underpants. Each ‘album’ was mixed, once it was finished, on to a C60 cassette, so is more or less an hour long. Sometimes I’d enlist friends to play bass, or guitar, or to sing. But mostly I made them on my own. In, naturally, my bedroom.
Each album is quite different. Medicine is an acoustic guitar album recorded while stoned. Subtitles is weird, experimental soundtrack-style music. Others (quite a lot of them) are early attempts at synthpop. Some songs are two minutes long. Others are 12-minute epics.
The first couple of cassettes are pretty much unlistenable. The next 11 or 12 are not very good. By album number 14 or 15, though, I was starting to get somewhere. I was so pleased with my progress, in fact, that I was starting to make best of compilations, remix albums and singles too (on slightly shorter cassettes). Who listened to this stuff? My friend Martin, sometimes. My mum, who had no idea what to make of them but smiled indulgently. My art class at school, on one occasion. But mostly just me.
As embarrassing as this behaviour is to me now, I still think some of the music (the later stuff, at least) is quite good. Recently, encouraged by the fact that people seem to like the albums I have released, I decided that I'd put some of these teenage home recordings online. It’s easy to do and does no one any harm, right?
Map-making, then, is a 'best of' album, a document of the early experimentation that led to Swimmer One* and Seafieldroad. You can hear traces of both in these home recordings, even in the first one I ever made, Destination Fore - included here more to illustrate where this all started than because I think it's much good (it isn't - in fact I was so mortified when I first listened to it that I didn't record anything else for weeks. In my head it sounded like the Human League. In reality it sounded like a schoolboy shouting to a tinny Yamaha keyboard backing track).
Thanks for listening.
* Observant Swimmer One listeners will notice that there's a song here called Whatever You Do Don't Go In The Basement, a title that would be reused years later for a Swimmer One song (although it's a completely different song).
Swimmer One is Andrew from Seafieldroad's main band. They've released two albums so far, The Regional Variations and Dead Orchestras, both available to buy from Swimmer One's Bandcamp page Seafieldroad