The riverrun project is a series of heavily-composted landscape recordings that I have been working on for nearly two decades in parallel to my songs. In the process of recording, I often become sidetracked by a new sound I have made - some peculiar, unrepeatable combination of instruments and effects - and spend a while exploring the ramifications of it. These experiments hardly ever end up on a "band" record, but over the course of nearly twenty years, I have built up a large library of sounds and textures. The riverrun pieces are what happens when I try to blend these little fragments together, a painstaking process that involves slowing down tapes, matching key signatures, and looking for interesting contrasts and juxtapositions.
The name riverrun comes from the famous first sentence of James Joyce's novel Finnegan's Wake, and the music is meant to be as oneiric and mysterious as that novel. The focus here, though, is less literary, and more an exploration of geography and memory. The track titles often include direct references to memories, landscapes, times of day, or even certain kinds of light - all bathed in the sepia tones of nostalgia. Perhaps for this reason, the riverrun project was initially something I did for my own amusement only. But as time has gone on it has attracted a small but dedicated group of listeners, has been widely reviewed, and has even received praise from the graphic novelist Warren Ellis, who kindly wrote that it was "Something foggily comforting for the forebrain". Which is exactly how I would have described it, if I had his talent with words.
To date, I have released six riverrun albums: Pentimento, La Mer, New Cartographies, Romer Shoal, Lilliput, and The Same Silent Hill. There is a collaboration album between riverrun and William Delano called Southernmost that is very much in the riverrun 'style', and a ten-hour version of the Lilliput album called Lilliput (by Night). Clicking on the album links will take you to a page where you can listen to each album in full, and in some cases, read more about how they were created.
This project was initially just for my own amusement; without the encouragement of several key people, the project would never have been made public.
Firstly, Mark Benton was an invaluable early listener, who wrote a glorious review for the sadly defunct Losing Today website. His encouragement, like that of my dear friend and trusted critic Cath Aubergine, first got me thinking about releasing a riverrun record.
The opportunity to release came from my friend Brin Coleman - aka Bing Satellites - who had just set up his own ambient label, BFW Recordings. He put out a lengthy track as a single in the autumn on 2009. Brin has also been a key part of riverrun's occasional live shows - we've shared stages with, among others, Simon Scott (Slowdive), Pimmon, Anonymes, and Wil Bolton.
Things were pretty quiet on the riverrun front for a number of years, but I've recently released two riverrun albums which I think are the best ones yet - Romer Shoal from 2016, and its new companion piece Lilliput, which is available now in fifty subtly different CD versions. You can read more about it here.