lifelong learner

a look inside my mind through the process of spontaneous recording

rey madura

our traveller has come from a distant planet in the hope of making friends with rey madura. while making up the words the boiler kept coming on and i’d have to stop recording. in the end it ended up on the track. perhaps that was the machine’s intention?

why is it like this?

well, because i set the machines running and this is what i found i’d recorded when i stopped. i’m blatantly not quite singing the title, but what is it like this just sounds stupid. once it was in my head i couldn’t shift it and decided to play with the effects as i sang. i’m a big fan of the glitter band sound

it’s cold outside

same approach, only this time i was trying out my new looper on the vocals. i was so busy twiddling knobs and clicking things that i had no time to think about what i was singing. i was picturing myself on stokes croft trying to escape a winter night’s weather in the comforting confines of a basement club. safe space. once it took shape i knew it would follow straight on from the previous track

don’t mess with mine

the composing and recording process is a constant surprise to me, not least because i choose to do them both at the same time. my intent was to bring the pace down a few notches, while the synth line that set the tone and key ended up taking a back seat to what developed. don’t mess with mine just came straight out of my mouth and again i couldn’t think of anything to add to it, so i went for a second take with backing vocals in mind and out popped the m word. i had to stop because i was giggling too much

kitchen porter

i’d decided to concentrate on the beat and take more time developing each part. i sampled a load of kitchen utensils, pots and pans, running water and it draining from our sink and the idea of the kitchen porter formed. from there it developed into a full-blown song complete with lyrics and a host of samples, but i was never completely satisfied with it, apart from the drop, so i ditched the vocals. it’s so much better without them

say your name to me

actually the first track i recorded with vocals in 2019 and it’s an exercise in economy of touch. just four tracks recorded simultaneously with little post-production, i’m doing live effects, wham, done. to be honest it was earmarked for exclusion from the tracklist, but sally likes it and i figure it contributes some normality to the collection

two wolves

i’m a big fan of chicago footwork and wanted to produce something minimal with few effects. i worked on individual parts, recording spontaneously as i felt i needed something, a much more methodical approach. the lyrics stem from a folk tale i came across and knew i wanted to use here on this track. the lyrics took no time to write and sing, yet the sound of the vocals took ages to get to where they are

metal mouse

i’d written nine tracks and like to present music in around 40-minute packages, but felt this collection needed another and for some reason losar, the tibetan new year, and metal mouse was in my brain. that was to be my compositional direction. it was a bugger to give birth to, yet still it managed to write itself, like i was just clinging on. recording at both 80 and 160 bpm, three time signatures, similar but different chord progressions and layers of sounds all conspired to overwhelm me. usually i collect too much material and then delight in stripping things back, but this tune refuses to give me space. it still needed more, so i brought in jean-michel mateu, a cube orchestra colleague, to lay down some guitar licks. with hindsight some preparation might have made it easier for jean-michel, but i’m very happy with his contribution, which completes the track. he informed me it was actually the year of the iron rat

back to london

i found a sample of some london friends talking in devon at the time of the total solar eclipse of 1999 and isolated bex’s question. it’s only a 2-second sample, plus i found another word which, when looped, sounds completely different. i like that. that was the vocals done. the track is a journey and is intended to provide some breathing space on the album, whilst maintaining speed and altitude

call me back

i found a sample from 1998 of two telephone messages left on an old answerphone. my mission was to up the bpm, so i set the dial to 140bpm, opened up the ultrabeat drum machine and created a loop. they played beautifully side-by-side, so i added some dark soundscapes on a synth and turned my attention to vocals. never by my phone ‘cause i’m never alone sprang to mind, then off my lips. it needed more of a vocal hook so i hit record again and call me back came out. the song wrote itself in about 30 minutes from finding the sample

all tracks recorded between december 2019 and march 2020