Between The Bars – Vocoder cover

As I mentioned, I am going to release a new album when I hit my 2020 haiku streak. This album only uses two instruments – my voice and a vocoder. I’ve been messing about with the vocoder and doing some covers of other songs, but these are problematic to get onto Spotify and Bandcamp so I thought I’d share them here instead. Here is the first:

Between The Bars – Elliott Smith cover

Thanks for listening.

Two Thousand Haiku

It feels like a long time since I posted about hitting my 1000 haiku milestone. Things have changed a bit since then. I now post on my Instagram as well as to, Telegram and Twitter.

Every haiku now has a photo to accompany it. Some are alliterative. Some are acrostic. Many rhyme (whoops should have made a tag for that!). I tried doing a song for each one too, but it was too onerous.

I have found that writing a haiku every day has given me a wealth of material when looking for song lyrics. I will be releasing a new album of songs to coincide with my 2020th haiku, which uses the words from many of the haikus I wrote in 2020.

This is my 2000th haiku. I wrote it on a stone and hid it near where the photo was taken. I hope someone finds it.

New Card Game: Name needed!

I have been working on a new simple card game for a while, so I thought I’d write down the rules before I forget. You will need:

  • 1 deck of playing cards.
  • 2 or 3 players.

That’s all. I like simple games.

How to play

First separate the deck into suits (clubs, hearts, spades and diamonds). Now give each player a suit, and set the other aside.

Your suit is like money; you will use it to buy other cards. The cards have a value of the number printed on them (Ace = 1, Jack = 11, Queen = 12, King = 13).

Take one of the spare suits (e.g. diamonds), shuffle it and lay it face down between the players.

Turn over the top card. This is the first card you will bid on (e.g. 7 of diamonds). The highest bidder will win the card. Every player secretly selects the card they wish to bid, and lays it face down in front of them. When everyone has selected a card, all the cards are turned over. The player who placed the highest bid wins the card (in this example the 7 of diamonds). The cards that are won are kept on the table in front of the player who won them. The other cards are discarded until the end of the game. If the two highest bids are the same value then all cards are discarded and no one wins this round.

Play repeats for each of the cards in the suit (in this example diamonds). By the end of the game all players will have spent all of the cards in their suit and will have won (hopefully) some back.


The cards are scored according to the same value as the “money” cards; each card is worth their number (Ace = 1, Jack = 11, Queen = 12, King = 13). The player with the highest score wins.


You can play with more than three players, you just need another deck of cards. You can also try different rules for what happens when two players lay the same card.

You can also play without the “spare” suit. Instead players take it in turn to offer their own cards up for purchase. When playing like this it’s a good idea to go around the circle in an ABCCBA order, as the first player has a distinct advantage.

You can also play both variations with an open bidding system, which works like a standard auction.


I need an idea for a name! Suggestions in the comments. Also let me know if you play…

May 2020 Playlist (And June!)

June was a very quiet month for new music discoveries, so I’m going to do May and June together:

Mitski – Your Best American GirlĀ – I discovered this on the Song Exploder podcast. It starts off simple enough, but that chorus… makes my head explode…

Young American – The Vaccines – This is a quiet side to the Vaccines I never heard before, and it’s really good. I never got into the Vaccines but I really like a lot of individual songs, so I should give them another shot.

Glimpses – Alex Ebert – This is another project from the frontman of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. The whole album is good but this really stands out.

That’s Me Trying – William Shatner – I don’t know what to make of this. The words are fascinating. Is it ironic? Is it tongue-in-cheek? Does he know that he sounds conceited? It’s like watching a car crash…

Slow Burn – Mountain Man – I’m just so glad they are making music again. Nothing sounds like this.

Rides Through The Morning – Michael Nau – Just wait for the chorus. It sounds like it was made 60 years ago. Great sound, great song,

This Must Be The Place – Imaginary Future – I know this from the Iron and Wine version, not Talking Heads, but this is a lovely addition to the list of covers!

Hide And Seek – Amber Run – Not a patch on the original, but an interesting interpretation. Hide And Seek is the song invented a capella vocoder songs a thing, and Amer Run have their own song in that form (Blue Haze) so it’s interesting hearing their take on this.

This May playlist feels more like a collection of curiosities than something I will return to often, but that’s how it goes sometimes. On to June…

There are only two songs in this playlist but they are both pretty special:

Daily Battles – Thom Yorke, Flea – Thom once again finds those melodies that tear your heart out and leave you standing motionless staring at it.

Once I Was Loved – Melody Gardot – Hauntingly, indescribably beautiful.

April 2020

I’m very late with this month’s playlist post, sorry:

Lucky For You – Novo Amor, Gia Margart – This bass is really nice; reminds me of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers though I’m not sure what song. Any ideas? Their voices go really well together.

Gloria – Henry Jamison – A nice song, and then you get to the chorus and the bass kicks in and it’s great.

Putting The Dogs To Sleep – The Antlers – I really love those guitar strikes; its a powerful call and response between the vocal and another instrument.

This Is Not Who I Want To Be – Joanna Sternberg – Really exquisite song writing. The melody in the verse is really just a few notes, which I would never be brave enough to do, but the way the chords move underneath really works.

New Partner – Palace Music – This is one of those songs that you’re sure you’ve heard before even when you never have. Unless I had and didn’t remember. Either way lovely chorus; nice overlapping harmonies.

Stranger’s Kiss – Alex Cameron, Angel Olsen – Another duet. The production is really interesting. I thought it must be from the eighties but it’s modern. The song writing is reminiscent of that time too. Reminds me of “Total Eclipse Of The Heart”, which can never be a bad thing.

Every day is a Sisyday

Living in with restrictions on what we can do means that all the days start to feel the same. We start to lose track of what day of the week it is, since it doesn’t really matter anyway. I’ve started feeling like a need a word to use when I can’t remember the day of the week. It needs to be a new word for a day of the week which connects to the idea that every day is the same.

Most of our days of the week are named after Norse gods, but I struggled to find a figure in Norse mythology who would represent the idea of the relentless repetition of every day being the same. Often people used “Groundhog day” in this way in reference to the film, but it seems like a bit of a corruption of the original idea.

Instead I’ve started calling every day “Sisyday” in reference to Sisyphus whose fate it was to push a boulder up a hill every day for eternity. If you feel similarly about life in lockdown you’re welcome to use it!


Every year Automattic gets together for a week long meetup, to reconnect with old colleagues, meet new ones and enjoy spending time together in person. At the end of the week we have a big dinner, the Automattic band play some music and there’s lots of dancing; we let our hair down and have a good time.

This new song is inspired by the feeling at the end of that party, the end of the week, and the feelings that time generated. I had some help with it…

Cover art for Glitter - A photo of a classic VW bus with a photobooth inside it and two people standing outside. There are costume clothes for people to put on. Over laid in a paper cut style is a disco ball, some paper cups, some shoes and some glitter.
Cover art by Hannah Pearson


Grab your coat
And take it with you
We are leaving
This party soon

Disco ball shines
In the rising sun
Empty cups dance
Let's lay in the grass

Now your makeup's blurred and there's glitter in your hair
We danced till the moon had gone
Now your makeup's blurred and there's glitter everywhere
What do we now the music is done?

Talking about
All of the things
We can't say feelings
Let's pretend we are teens

Alcohol spins
Hands are touching
Lets forget
It's tomorrow

Now your makeup's blurred and there's glitter in your hair
We've danced till the moon has gone
Now your makeup's blurred and there's glitter everywhere
What do we now the music is done?

Sprinklers start
Shoes have been lost
Don't close your eyes
Let's never sleep

Distant friends laugh
Adult kids play
Now it's getting cold
Let's go back and do what we're told

Available on Spotify and everywhere else

March 2020 Playlist

I Only Ever Loved Your Ghost – Jens Kuross – Jens Kuross was a new discovery for this month. This is such a lovely song.

Phantom Other – Department Of Eagles – Give it time. It’s a slow burner, but the end is just so weird and wonderful!

Do You Want To Build A Snowman – Stellar Kart – This punk cover of the Frozen classic just works really well, in a surprising way. Especially the “I wish you could tell me why” line…

Restless Heart – Yasmin Williams – I remember years ago when I heard this version of Ocean by John Butler that I just wanted to listen to music like this forever. But the album version is a real disappointment. I became obsessed by this song and kind of ripped it off myself. However Yasmin Williams seems to have bottled the magic of this song, and this way of playing guitar and has it flowing out of every pore. I must listen to some more of her stuff…

Giant – Vampire Weekend – I suppose this was a b-side from Contra, but it’s really really good. I especially like the harmonies on “Califoooooornia”.

The Anchor – Jens Kuross – Another Jens Kuross song. This reminds me of Thom Yorke, which is high praise. Attention to detail in melody as well as production and instrumentation is often lacking and that’s where this really shines.

Po’ Howard / Green Corn – Lead Belly – I’ve been listening to a lot of old blues songs recently, spurred by my love of “Where did you sleep last night”. The first of these songs is really good.

On Video Calls

As more people start to isolate themselves we are turning to technology to connect more than we have ever done before. One of the most high bandwidth ways to connect is through video calls. I do a lot of video calls for work, so thought I’d share my experience and tips to help them go smoothly.


The most important thing to get right with a video call is the sound. It’s really important that the person who is trying to speak can be heard clearly. Therefore if you are in a noisy environment it’s best to have your microphone muted when you aren’t speaking.


If you have more than one device connected to a call in the same space, it’s really important that you use headphones if you want to talk. If you don’t do this you will create a feedback loop. (This is because if you talk into one device and then it comes out of another, the first device will pick up the sound from the second and it will loop round).

Personally I find headphones immerse me in a conversation better and make it easier to focus on the call, so I would always recommend them if possible.


When a call involves group discussion, it’s usually better to avoid having some people in the same location. The problem is that those people who are in the same location end up having discussions which can’t be heard by those who are joining remotely.

If you are in a call where you expect many people to speak, it is much better to have everyone join from their own device. This means everyone is interacting in the same way and ensures everyone can participate equally.

This can create strange situations where people in the same space end up going to different rooms for a call, but this is usually the best way to ensure that everyone can be involved equally.


If possible its good to leave your video on so that the person who is speaking can see that you are listening and try to read the facial cues that would be normal in a real life conversation.

However sometimes if you have a poor internet connection, turning your video off might be a way to improve the quality of the call.


If you really want to get fancy I would recommend using a headset with a boom mic (for example this one), as the sound quality really improves a lot when the microphone is close to your mouth.