The Frith amendment

TRAVEL means different things to different people.

Some folk come back with memory cards full of photos, daft hats, decorated plates or curious spirits that tasted great ‘over there’ but are destined to sit in the drinks cabinet for years.

Sheffield musician Michael Frith imagines sounds.

Sure, he also returns to his home in Sheffield with megabites of memories in his camera, but seeing the sights of the world has another effect, which he then distributes to people across the listening world.

And one such culmination is Departures & Arrivals, his latest album as Michael E.

True, his Woodhouse home may be a long way from some of the places that inspire him, but the sounds are a snapshot of places Michael yearns to return to.

“Departures & Arrivals is a common enough sign seen by everyone who travels,” he explains of the title.

“Departures can be exciting. They can be heart wrenching. There are many emotions in a crowd of people in a Departure lounge.

“Arrivals can also be many things; they can be homecomings or a first step on a new adventure. Arrivals can also mean births and new understandings and so it can be a new way of seeing, or a new way of doing things.

“I’m inspired by and try to capture all those emotions. I’m touched by the emotions I get from the places I travel to and from. Those feelings become ingrained and become who I am and ultimately filter through into the music I compose.

“I’m also inspired by the colours and visuals that I see with a photographers eye, beyond the obvious and the overlooked.”

And to make the point, the new album contains a special edition book for those buying the CD.

“In it are images from the places I’ve been around Europe and some of the things I’ve seen there – mostly facades of buildings and houses which give a place a sense of character.”

Where Michael has previously produced music – at a fairly prolific rate – that could accompany the Ibiza chill-out crowd on their travels, D&A is arguably a more transient collection that expands his brief.

Like SouthYorkshire’s answer to Moby.

Released by Sasha Pullin at SubHz.Com, Michael describes the album as a “positive step forward” in the way he goes about creating his tunes.

“It’s the first album where I’ve utilised up-to-date music technology and a music software interface,” he explains.

“It has enabled me to edit and fine-tune the music to a degree that was unobtainable before. I think it shows in the textures and nuances. I’m very happy with the results and look forward to working in this way in the future.”

At the same time, the inclusion of the book is surely a nod to the good old days of physical product – in other words, a compact disc – rather than the sanitised delivery process that is download streaming.

“I sell vastly more downloads than physical CDs nowadays, as does everyone else,” admits Michael, “but I still think there is a place for a ‘real’ CD.

“So, with this in mind, I put together, along with my son Sam, a graphic designer, a lovely package that’s a pleasure to look at as well as to listen to.”