A cool and crisp Winter’s morning here in Yokohama. Six degrees and clear blue skies.

I arrive at the café early, and I’m pleased to discover my favourite window seat is available. I pull out the stool, set up the laptop and get settled in. My nearest fellow customer is two tables away: an elderly gentleman wearing a black, waist length, zip front golf jacket. They do have the heating on in here but I can feel a draft from the automatic glass doors that open and close every time a customer enters, so I’m not surprised he’s left his coat on. Underneath his jacket he wears a light grey smart woollen pull over, with a v-neck that reveals the collar of his red and white buttoned-down checked shirt.
It’s been a few days and I’m pleased to back here, writing my diary and taking stock. There is so much to take in here in Japan, and when I don’t do this I start to feel overwhelmed. I crack on with responding to a couple of emails, but soon hear an intermittent and unfamiliar sound coming from my left, look across and the black golf jacket man is reading a broadsheet newspaper. A real paper one! The long gaps in between the page turning suggest he’s reading it in depth. In this age of glass and (silent) digital news outlets, this sound stirs up something inside me. It brings back memories of of busy rush hour trains with folks battling for elbow room as they leaf through the huge pages that engulf their faces at the seats and tables of the carriages.

It also reminds me of one time I was doing a session on bass for a band called The Mexicolas. We were recording drums and the control room was down the hall and out of sight from the engineer, there was no line of sight and the only way to communicate was via the ‘talk back’ and his drum mics. The producer had a real eye for detail, and was making the drummer play each component of his kit separately – taking samples. But he was getting agitated as the samples weren’t clear, there was interference on the line – a strange sound we couldn’t identify kept filtering in and out. The check the channels, the cables – all seems fine but the sound keeps coming.

Eventually, the producer stands up and walks down the hallway to where the drummer is playing to investigate it himself. Swinging the live room door open, he notices a newspaper spread out on the floor tom (the largest floor mounted drum typically placed to a drummer’s right side) . The drummer had got so bored of the process he had taken to catching up on the day’s news whilst recording!

It’s funny how a single sound can evoke such feelings. Maybe I should sample it and feature it in a song? A lot of my new album (Ingrid’s Stare) was actually made in this way, recording everything from platform announcements to children’s toys out here in Japan, processing them and adding them to Jason Tarver’s (producer) sonic soup…

Listen to Ingrid’s Stare on my Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/danwhitehouse/posts

Read The Glass Age Diaries https://www.dan-whitehouse.com/category/the-glass-age-diaries/

Dan x

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