Mabinogia : A Cinematic and Musical Journey through West Wales
It’s been a challenging year, with the war in Ukraine and the cost of living crisis weighing on our minds. But despite the hardships, I’ve continued to create the things I love, including short drone-based videos and music.
It’s been too much to keep up with writing and publishing blog posts while I’m also busy creating content. But I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce my new album, Mabinogia V1, which is a soundtrack to my drone footage of West Wales.
The album was inspired by the beauty and wonder of West Wales, the rich history and culture of the region, and the stories told in the Mabinogi tales. I’ve tried to capture the essence of this magical place in my music, and I hope you’ll enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed creating it.
Every track on the album was composed directly from my drone footage. I would watch the footage over and over again, letting the images and sounds inspire me musically. I wanted to create music that would complement the visuals and help to tell the story of West Wales.
I’m still learning the ropes of filmmaking, but I’m excited to share my progress with you. I’m currently putting the finishing touches on a film about hillforts in West Wales, and I’ll be sharing more news about that soon.
In the meantime, I hope you’ll take some time to relax and enjoy Mabinogia V1. Find a comfortable chair, set up a large screen and some good speakers, and press play. And if you enjoy the experience, the soundtrack is available in a narrative form on Bandcamp and all major streaming services.
Today we present another “Drone Egg” ~ What does that mean?
A “Drone Egg” is a short movie of Cinematic 4K footage of spectacular scenery, involving fly rounds and other neat cinematic moves. Not necessarily in this case Hillforts or Cairns, Stone Circles etc but features within the landscape that exude a sense of ‘Genus Loci’ ~ the spirit of place. In other words very special locations that mean things to aeons of humanity and somehow give off a vibe to those sensitive enough to feel it.
So , no messing , this is an ambient treat. Footage contains some stunningly beautiful rural views of a peaceful Church, nestling on a tree covered craggy rock on the River Teifi in Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion border in the West Wales former territory of Dyfed St Luke’s Church is depicted as St Llonio’s Church on historic (1889-1905) Ordnance Survey mapping.
A motte, Llanllwni Mount is adjacent to the church, its western section ranging from 10-40m to the east and is partially obscured by the churchyard to the west. The Jones Family Mausoleum is sited in this area, and cists containing burials were encountered during its construction. I had the feeling that I was visiting a really ancient place here, yes there is the old Church, but that is built over a Medieval Motte and Bailey Castle. The Cists that were found would tend to suggest a much older origin, perhaps Bronze Age or possibly even Neolithic?? I would put money on there once also being a Hillfort on this location, which was obliterated when building the Medieval Castle.
Once upon a time the village of Maesycrugiau had a railway station on the Aberystwyth to Pencader line but today that has long gone, but traces still remain close by in the landscape. In the fair weather we have been experiencing this spring in this part of the world we took ‘Buzby’ (It’s what I affectionately call my DJI Mini 2 Drone) for a spin in this enigmatic location to hopefully catch the peace and tranquillity, far away from the polluted, noisy, busy, crowded Towns and Cities.
The so called ‘Golden Hour’ before Sunset is a photographers dream, casting warm golden colours and spreading long shadows. I particularly like the trees shapes in winter when they have lost their leaves. Using a drone really brings into focus the magnificent distorted and twisted shapes spread across the fair meadows with Sheep relentlessly chomping like there is no tomorrow. I kept hearing ‘Moo-ing’ ~ Cows no doubt but extremely close by whilst I was piloting ‘Buzby’ It was only when watching the footage back that I spotted the field 100 metres across the other side of the Gorge from the Church where I was. You can spot the young cows running up and down the field there.
For the soundtrack I present a new Nostramus ambient track ‘Optimum Singularity’ which is now released as a single .
I will be posting up more ‘Drone Eggs’ as well as more Movies in my Ynys Prydein Hillforts and ancient Ruins channel.
A Moody dash-cam drive along The Shining Way in West Wales on Xmas Eve.
Mission 6 of our Dash-cam journey through the West Wales countryside. With music by Steve Spon’s Nostramus.
Today’s brand new Nostramus track is called “Crystalwytch” an ambient Drum and Bass soundscape featuring Tony Gee on Trumpet, Ella Jo on Vocals and Steve Spon on FX guitar and Electric Piano.
I am producing this and other material for a forthcoming album project which will be highlighted on my Bandcamp channel. This new work is based on a short science fiction fantasy story involving Pagan Goddesses, Druids and the mysteriously named “Coveners” who ‘cloak’ their real identities as time traveling extra terrestrial providers and you could say – gardeners. The ‘Crystalwytch’ could be the visitors craft or it may be the name of one of the visitors, or even a place. Who knows, it was at story written many years in the future. It is impossible to report it here. Please consider supporting Steve at Nostramus Bandcamp.
With the current Lockdown and the darkest time of year – with snowy weather, it has not been possible to travel to the mountain journeys that I had planned. However on Christmas Eve 2020 I managed to take some footage that fitted a mood that appealed to me. I set the video to play with the song, and came up with “Crystalwytch”. This drive takes place just after sunset along a Ceredigion Ridgway approximately 1000 foot (300 Metres) above Sea Level. Known locally as the White, or Shining Way, the journey traverses the road from Pen Cae and finishes at Post Bach. Whilst the views may be rather “ordinary” compared to some earlier videos, the moody atmosphere and brooding cloudscapes appear auspicious. windswept, bedraggled Beech, Laburnum and Pine trees scatter the hedgerows, and the odd croft or farmstead are often decorated with Christmas lights. Also the road was slightly busier than usual. Although not set for kids, this particular movie is actually safe for kids to watch. Please check all my videos before allowing your kids to watch.
Big thanks to Tony Gee (Redfish) for his speedy and magnificent Trumpeteering and Ella Jo for her “Crystalwytch Prophesy Poem”, finally Spon played Electric Piano and guitar fx. Please check back later for further dash-cam journeys! we are going to journey further into the Cambrian Mountains as soon as we get a few good clear days…. Written and conceived by Steve Spon for Nostramus and Diamonseeds Media 2021
Mission 5 of our dashcam journey through the Wales countryside.
This time we are heading from Penparcau in Aberystwyth to New Quay along the A487 west coast road, a distance of 22 Miles (35 Kilometres).
According to Bing Maps that journey would normally take 39 minutes as there are numerous hills to navigate along with a host of villages and small towns that have speed limits. Today for this video we have reduced the journey time to 9 minutes by speeding up the video 4 times, which means our journey speed varies from 80 MPH to well over 200 MPH at times depending on speed and safety considerations. The average speed turns out to be 163 MPH…phew!
At no point in the real time journey was the legal speed limit broken and road safety was at all times the primary consideration This road is known and used by many who travel to West Wales on summer vacations and it has some spectacular views of Cardigan Bay and the mountains of Cadair Idris and Snowdonia. On clear days the mountains of the Lleyn Peninsular can be seen marching out to Sea to the North West. Also to the south on a clear day the distant Mynydd Preseli mountains can be seen.
So please buckle up your seat belts, turn up your sound, put your feet up and enjoy the journey. Yet again there are brand new sounds from Steve Spon’s Nostramus, this time there are three movements, “Temporeral”, “Levelling Up” and “Disshevelance”. Big thanks once more to Ella Jo’s wonderfull contribution on “Levelling Up” Please bear in mind these videos are meant for adults rather than kids to enjoy. This has to be defined by Youtube these days, whhich have a much stricter set of protocol’s to navigate if the video involves entertaining kids. In this video please be aware there is some “Explicate Content” in the words. Big thanks to Shaman Murphy and Ella Jo for company on the trips Please check back later for further dashcam journeys! we are going to journey further into the Cambrian Mountains as soon as we get a few good clear days….
A month after the rather successful gig at Wave Gottic Treffen in Leipzig, my band UK Decay arose at ridiculous o-clock on the morning of July 13 to set off for Poland. We found ourselves at Luton Airport which to all intent and purpose resembled a building site and headed for check in for the early Wizzair flight to Wroclaw Airport. We landed at 11am and we drove an hour to the Krokus Hotel in Kamienna Góra where we were staying for the event. Our wonderful host’s there cooked us a wonderful local Polish meal after which we took to our rooms for a short afternoon siesta. I had been up since 3.30am and we had to rest as much as possible for our performance. I guess i got about an hour and a bit nap, better than nothing! At 6pm the minibus arrived to drive us the ten miles to Bolkov and the festival. Apparently the small town of Bolkov does not have enough accommodation for the huge Castle Party Festival.
Finally we arrived at the small medieval market town and noted the old stone houses, most of which seemed worse for wear and in need of a lick of paint here and there but the overall aura was charming. We turned up a narrow cobbled street and then we found ourselves navigating slowly uphill through a throng of wild black and sometimes colorful dress. Eventually we arrived at an area set with a multitude of stalls selling food, beer and fashion accoutrements of all different shapes and sizes. We were stopped by an official who escorted us to the Festival office round the corner. At this point we had our first view of the castle walls and tower looming impressively above us.
Festival wrist bands now in place three nice chaps took our heavy cases and guitars and led the way up the Castle and from there to our changing rooms which it turned out was high up in a tower behind the taller main tower. The Castle reminded me of the classic Norman Motte and Bailey Castle which was then rebuilt in stone in places like Wales by King Edward to hold the welsh to check. Built on a high outcrop of stone there was a classic ribbon wall surrounding the Bailey in which area hosted the large stage and crowd. This then led to the inner castle fortifications surrounding the inner halls and towers. So as we walked past the side of the stage we looked across at the impressive audience gathered. Unfortunately Ed our bassist had twisted his back the week previously and the climb up to the castle was taking it’s toll. Now we had a flight of a rough stone block staircase to navigate with the ‘steps’ some 10 to 12 inches (25 cms) apart to take us into the now roofless great hall. Quite a climb even if you are fit and healthy, Ed struggled along but he was in pain. We crossed the hall where several folk were drifting about, perhaps in other bands or working. We passed a row of cannons to get to the other side and now had yet another flight of stone steps to clamber up, to an open hallway that featured a small trebuchet . Next to this was our changing rooms where a host of people were milling about and to the side was a spread of food and soft drinks people were dipping into.
We found a space and started prepping our stuff for the show. Looking around there were museum exhibits and information boards in Polish. From what I could gather the Castle seemed to have been built by the polish version of the Knights Templar (Tuetonic Knights?) I promised myself I would look into the history later. Meanwhile it was getting closer to our performance time. I looked out of the windows, three of them with magnificent views of the local landscape. There were mountains not so far away and in context it seems Bolkov and the castle are in the foothills of these mountains. Over to the right the sky was looking foreboding. Up until then it was cloudy with warm sunny spells , now a downpour was on it’s way. The band that was onstage before us was still playing when the clouds burst forth with a heavy downpour. Most of the crowd ran for cover and I felt really sorry for the band. The rain continued to pour, the light went dour and dimmed. A word from the promoter said we had to await the storm passing over. Eventually a few minutes before we were due to start our performance the promoter gave us the all clear and we made our way carefully across sodden cobbles, puddles and muddy patches towards the stage.
We went through a stone lined tunnel entrance and then entered the soggy auditorium which was still largely vacated and quickly started setting up our equipment. The stage manager was keen to get us playing as the storm had caused a considerable 15 minute delay to the proceedings so after a very quick line check and with the audience returning , we opened our set with UK Decay’s classic “Shake Em Up” from the album, ‘New Hope For The Dead’
Time goes on away-day once in performance mode, from my perspective, it was a huge stage to fill and my supplied amp (Marshall JTS) seemed somewhat distant and I struggled a bit to get the guitar to ‘sing’ the feedback especially as I managed at the recent Leipzig gig. Having said that I soon adapted as the songs of our set passed through. Aside from a couple of minor cock ups most of the songs were performed really well, If I say so! Abbo was with the aid of his Iphone was communicating in Polish with the crowd which they seemed to love! God knows what he was saying but hey, good on him! Before long the last few songs were on the radar the crowd had returned and seemed huge! There were people on the parapets watching us and the sun was setting in the distance. And then we were on the last song. The promoter was looking at his watch, I had no idea of what time it was but he leans over to me and said “last song”, I shouted that to Abbo. We had two songs left on the list, we played through the first which was “Unexpected Guest”. The promoter said that was it. The message didn’t get through to Ray who started to tap the would be final song but Abbo stopped him and we left the stage to thunderous applause.
So we then packed up our gear, chatted to people and caught up with a few beers. Time to chill before the return to our hotel. At midnight the minibus took us back so we could maybe get a couple hours shut eye and a shower before leaving for the airport once more at 3am. We then drove across back road Poland during the night about 70 miles at sometimes eye watering speeds in two vehicles. At one point the van in front swerved and we braked sharply to avoid a wild Boar. Finally we got to the airport and all the rigamarole and eventually flew back to Luton, where we had to wait over an hour for our baggage reclaim. Tut Tut Luton Airport ! I can only assume it will all be so much better when they finish the building works.
So I got back home at 10am, that is 31 hour after I left, what a day!
I have just returned from Wave Gottic Treffen 2019. My band UK Decay were celebrating their 40th anniversary
UK-Decay played at the Taubchenthal concert venue in hot style as they return to Leipzig in Germany’s wonderful Wave Gotic Treffen Festival 28
This was UK Decay’s first gig with the full line up in five years and the old magic was still there in the bands spirited performance. Of course it wasn’t without minor hickups, but the sound was absolutely awesome! Those German sound people really know their stuff!
This was our third outing to the Wave Gottic Treffen Festival in a decade and in my opinion and as far as I am concerned our best yet performance. There is always room for improvement but considering we don’t have the luxury of rehearsing more than once or twice before a gig, we played really well. the audience was great too, providing a magical and magnificent atmosphere, which really lifts the soul!
Well it has been a while since I posted here, I have been
busy working on a new bunch of ear candies for you delightful people.
First, I am back on the road playing guitar with UK Decay for a few concerts this year to mark the 40 year anniversary of the band. It has been five years now since UK Decay last played at the Blackpool rebellion Festival back in August 2014. The band is thus far booked to return once more to Wave Gottic Treffen in Leipzig Germany on Saturday June 8th 2019. A month later the band are set to play the Castle Festival in Wraclaw Poland on July 12th. There will of course be UK gigs to be announce for later in the year.
Whilst back in shape on the guitar once more I am currently
crashing out a bunch of new ideas on my updated DAW. I have upgraded this
lately so I have a heap of new software and stuff to aid my quest for the
ultimate auditory orgasm. I will be complementing my usual foray into
Intelligent Drum and Bass and Ambient Dub with new left of field compositions
using cutting edge software plugins and hardware effects. As always I will look
to the past to seek out a future that should have been and could never have
been within this current timeline. Yes at my time in life I have ideas coming
from all directions and I have seldom felt so good about my compositions. There
is some time to go yet before anything will be ready for public consumption but
currently I am reaching perhaps a couple albums worth with a different feel or
style on each. My working title for one of the collections is “Ear Flowers” but
that may change once published. It may be another year before I get this shit
out but I am sure the wait will be worth it.
I have made the decision to mix all of the new material in a
5.1 also called Surround format in a way to kind of future proof it. I will
also be recording my master files to the 192k bitrate, which currently is one
of the highest resolutions possible. All this is to guarantee the best possible
quality. In case you are wondering, there will also be the standard CD stereo quality.
I was featured recently in an Anglia TV special marking 40 years since the punk movement. This two part mini documentary series is about punk in the Eastern Counties and was hosted by Anglia TV’s Matt Hudson who was a big punk fan and UK Decay fan.
Matt was the same presenter who featured UK Decay and Bauhaus in “The Origins of Goth” feature back in 2014.
Also featured are Steve Ignorant from Crass, Charlie Harper from UK Subs and author and university lecturer Matt Worley whose new book No Future is an in-depth look at the effect punk had on politics and culture.
There are also some still shots of early 1980’s Luton Punks featured on the show taken from UK Decay’s Communities web archive.
I have a couple of tracks coming out on this forthcoming release due out in June 2017 on Cherry Red. This will be one of the most compelling Goth compilations ever to see the light of day.
On disc one, I co wrote and performed a song I brought to the mix after I was ‘poached ‘ by UK Decay from Pneumania in 1979 – ‘Black Cat’. This became one of the most enduring UK Decay live tracks during both the early and later periods. A few tracks later I appear with- IN Excelsis on a track called Carnival Of The Gullible’. I formed In Excelsis with Mark Bond and Errol Blythe formerly from Post Punk legends, Ritual and Colin Rocks who later joined Mark. E. Smith with The Fall.. Errol and Mark were left stranded after drummer Raymundo and Bassist Jamie were ‘poached’ by Ian Astbury form Southern Death Cult so after UK Decay split at the end of 1982. This was a weird period for me, I flirted with Gaynor and Rick from World Circus, Jammed with Rob from The Wall , then finally teaming up with Mark Errol and Colin to form IN Excelsis in 1983. Richard Anderson got in touch with me in 2016 explaining his interest in creating the ‘ultimate’ Gothic Rock compilation, so I digitally re-mastered ‘Black Cat’ especially for this compilation.
Below is a bit of ‘official’ blurb about the compilation
Cherry Red have announced the tracklisting for “Silhouettes and Statues” – A Gothic Revolution: 1978 – 1986 5CD collection, which is due 30th June. Silhouettes and Statues is described as “an era-defining journey through the gothic revolution that thrived in the underbelly of the UK’s music scene during the late 1970s and 1980s. From Joy Division’s haunted soul-searching to the wild, hairspray guzzling antics of Alien Sex Fiend and everything in-between, the myriad components of that time and place are brought together here for the first time in this kind of detail.”
The set comes in a deluxe hardback book format featuring 80+ tracks, with over 18,000 words of sleevenotes (including artist contributions) and unseen images.