Weekly Churn 016: The Music That We Make

The Little Animals, by Sarah Tolmie I haven’t had a chance to do much reading in the last week. I’m still on Sarah Tolmie’s excellent new novel, The Little Animals. Part of me thinks that I’m procrastinating, trying to make it last. Her books are satisfying in a way that’s difficult to articulate. I’d compare her work to Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, because I think it offers the same kind of satisfaction, but her work doesn’t actually have much in common with his beyond that satisfaction, so I worry such a comparison could be misleading. As I’ve said on Twitter, The Little Animals, like both Two Travelers and The Stone Boatmen, is a kind, gentle,1 and generous book. But there is no naïveté here, no empty fan service, no carelessness. Tolmie’s books always unfold with the sense of inevitability that accompanies superior craft; her books are as they are because that is the best way they could have been, not because it was one interesting path among many. Or at least, that is how they read.

I have gone and done something foolish, or brave, or perhaps both. In 2012, when I had been unemployed for close to a year, when my severance had run out and my EI payments were not sufficient to cover my rent, I sold my drums in a last-ditch effort to keep my apartment. I had a Sonor Jungle Set, although not the one they sell now; mine was from a very early production run. It was hand made in Germany, from local maple, with a lovely natural finish and superior craftsmanship. The current version Sonor sells is about a third the price and is factory made from birch, likely in a Special Economic Zone, and is not particularly known for its quality. I also had some lovely Zildjian studio-series symbols. I was never a particularly good drummer, but I loved to play and I have always taken great pride in having the best tools I could afford. I was heartbroken when I sold my drums. The amount I got for them didn’t even fully cover my rent. Anyway, the brave and/or foolish thing I’ve done is buy a Maschine.

Native Instruments Maschine MK3 console

I’d always hoped to buy a new drum kit when I was financially stable and moved back to Toronto, but that’s not going to happen—not because of the expense, but because we don’t have the space in our apartment and even if we did, neighbours are not known to be enamoured of drummers. I thought about getting electronic drums, the sort you can plug headphones into, but even those are out for reasons of space. The Maschine was an option I’d considered when I worked up north, and I’d budgeted for buying one in case the drums didn’t work out. In my early 20s I’d made some very bad electronic music using a program called AcidPro and a library of samples and loops I’d assembled from a dozen or so sources. I couldn’t find a way to make my musical ideas work, but I didn’t have the kind of tools I wanted, and couldn’t afford them. The Maschine is likely going to have a pretty steep learning curve, but based on the reviews and product videos and tutorials I’ve watched, it’s the closest thing I’ve found to how I intuitively want to work. It should arrive sometime next week, and I can’t wait to start playing with it. I might have to get a Soundcloud.

Sidewalk Labs’ Master Innovation and Development Plan for Quayside has been released. I haven’t read much of it so far, but I’m not optimistic. Hopefully I’ll have more to say next week.

Anyway, that’s all for this week. Thanks for reading!


Writer. Editor. Critic.

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