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Stuart Sweeney Biography-
‘Looking at the sea from both shores’
It’s easy to understand why this forty-something Northamptonshire based Glaswegian has such maturity in his compositions. That is, if you already know of his decade-spanning career in music, and its reach into so many aspects of said business.
But for those who don’t, let’s provide a simple summary. Sweeney the performer surfaced in the late 1980s. A technically talented player, he was lucky enough to work alongside the likes of Eddy ‘Knock On Wood’ Floyd. Later, work in specialist music retail involved inviting Red Hot Chili Pepper Chad Smith, and Steve White (Paul Weller’s drummer) to jam in-store. And then there are also numerous songwriting credits, film, television and advert work, not to mention performances with the South Bank Centre’s London Philharmonia.
So by now you appreciate there’s depth, diversity and experience. Which means it makes sense there’s such depth and experience evident in the results of his solo project. The fact that, prior to this, Sweeney has scarcely ventured past the point of fandom when it comes to symphony hall soundtracks, makes it all the more impressive. As does the time he spends, MiniDisc Recorder in hand, scouring the surrounding landscape for appealing, interesting, and often abstract noises, thus widening the scope of this aural vision.
When Oomff Records was set up, this passion and dedication to a life surrounded by notation paper was finally cemented, as was an outlet for Sweeney’s own work, realised by a brave move to self release. The decision to engineer his first long-player is mirrored in the welding course he took, with the aim of being able to produce his own percussion instruments. In short, it’s a DIY ethic rare in a many professionals, though evident in the greatest musicians of our time.
Made his own way, in his own time, the debut, 16:9, is a spellbinding collection, and the product of some 16 months in the studio. Mastered by Denis Blackham, the Master of Masterers whose career name-checks The Who, Jimi Hendrix and Kraftwerk to name but a few, those first 12 tracks from contemporary-classical’s newest beacon of light reflected this analogy. The opening strings ushered in some glorious sunrise, and from there on in, we were given a soundscape littered with fascinating details, like the days that account for Sweeney’s last three decades. A film soundtrack, played by an orchestra of one, it’s only when people can see from both sides that they achieve something so complete.
In 100 Words...
What makes Stuart Sweeney’s compositions so compelling? Is it the decades he spent in the music industry, either shaking hands in specialist stores with the likes of Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), or performing on stage next to Eddy ‘Knock On Wood’ Floyd, and later the London Philharmonia?
Perhaps it’s his patient approach to painting soundscapes, learnt from wandering the countryside around his Northamptonshire home, recording what noises were heard? Or it could be the welding courses he took, and the one-off instruments made thereafter. Whatever the case, it’s evident in every part of this one-man orchestra.
In 50 Words...
Stuart Sweeney spent decades in the music industry, and hand-welds his own instruments. Sometimes he enjoys exploring the Northamptonshire countryside, MiniDisc in hand, recording various sounds. It’s not that surprising really, as you need some serious innovation to produce something that sounds like this one man analogue orchestra.