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SW End of Year Update 2019

24th December 2019

So goodbye 2019 and cheerio to another decade. This was an amazing year for me thanks to the biggest and happiest event of my life, getting married to the love of my life and gaining 2 lovely step-daughters! And I want to once again thank everyone for the wonderful well wishes you sent our way.

If it seems like it was a quiet year for me professionally, rest assured I haven't stopped working. A new album is pretty much finished, so there will be a lot of news and information coming soon. As I'm sure most of you know I have already announced 8 arena shows in the UK, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Italy and Poland for next September. I'm doing something on a whole different scale this time, possibly something I'll never be able to do again! So if you like what I do, dare I say that these "event" shows are not to be missed.


These days most new artists apparently focus on finding a single song that will impact big on Spotify and YouTube, to the point that an album is often an afterthought or simply not released at all. And maybe these artists have the right idea - in this world ruled by the internet and social media, most people don't have the time or inclination to engage with a whole album, and playlist culture renders the flow of an album redundant anyway. But even if it's stylistically something different, as usual my new record is most definitely an album intended to be listened to as a sequence of songs, and I feel confident most of you are going to like it a lot.

One of the wonderful things about music and listening tastes is that they continue to evolve. A lot of rock fans claim music isn't as good or innovative as it used to be, and while I have to concede they're probably right, I think that's because the golden era for rock has passed and the real innovation is now happening in genres that don't focus on guitars, bass and drums (and I myself wonder what more there is left to say with these things, but I'm always happy to be proved wrong). This year one of the commercially successful songs I really liked was Bury a Friend by Billie Eilish - because it's brilliant, but also because the production was so sonically fresh. Maybe not surprising that it was recorded by someone not out of her teens to whom the era of classic rock music probably doesn't mean a lot.

Something that is a return to the "old days" is albums becoming shorter and more concise again. It seems most people don't have the time or patience to listen to long albums anymore (perhaps they never did, most of the acknowledged classic albums are around the 35-45 minute mark). Maybe this is the reason that at 35 minutes in length, the new no-man album Love You to Bits, our first album in more than 10 years, has been the best received we've made since our very early days when we were briefly the next big thing with the music press. I'm very proud of it, and I hope you enjoyed it, and most importantly when it ended after 35 minutes you wanted to put it on again, rather than feeling exhausted by it! Another album myself and Tim Bowness co-produced this year under the "no-man" guise was Tim's solo album Flowers at the Scene, a wonderful and eclectic record, and for me his best.

Way back in 2002, rock music was still a big deal, and that was the year that Porcupine Tree recorded and released In Absentia. Although the album wasn't so successful at the time, I'm happy to say it has since become a widely admired and influential album and has some of my best and most popular songs, so the forthcoming February release of a 4 disc deluxe edition of the album is timely. Alongside the remastered album, B-sides / EP tracks from the era, and a disc of demos and unrecorded songs, is a brand new 2 hour documentary by Lasse Hoile, and a beautiful book with copious notes, photos and a detailed essay by Stephen Humphries.


I was once again involved in several archival projects for other artists this year. One I'm very proud of is the massive 18 disc Tangerine Dream box set In Search of Hades, which covers the band's imperial 70's years on Richard Branson's Virgin label. It features copious unreleased jewels, including a previously unissued album from 1974 that for me is right up there with their best work. My remixes of classic albums by XTC, King Crimson and Jethro Tull also came out and were gratifyingly well received. Although I've not taken on any further remixing work while I've been occupied with my new record, there's still a backlog from the last few years, things that for whatever reason didn't get the green light, and at least one of these will finally be issued on vinyl in the Spring (news soon).

Other things that emerged this year were an archival vinyl EP of my previously unknown collaborative project from the late 80's / early 90's God, and 3 Bass Communion releases of both new and reissued music.

Finally a mention of a few things from this year that I really liked, with the usual caveat that what I heard or saw was only a tiny fraction of what came out, so feel free to suggest your own 2019 favourites; the movie Joker, the TV series Chernobyl, and new albums by Bill Callahan, Sunn O))), Floating Points, Raime, Thom Yorke, Swans, Jim O'Rourke, Lucy Rose, and Prince (the "new" album Originals).

Whichever holiday it is you are celebrating at this time of year I hope you have a great one, and my very best wishes for a wonderful 2020! I look forward to seeing you somewhere during the year. I thank you again for your continued support, you are the best! SW