sleeve notes for the past is with me and the future here too


i’d been itching to do something acoustic for some time, but other matters were keeping me out of my creative bubble, so instead i turned to a folder of garageband sketches made on my ipad. such a great app. this one, from 2013 and already titled, is lovely and bubbly and short! i like short stuff. the vocal line is a typical case of pressing record and checking that the mic works. check and take, all in one

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

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

i come here every night and do my job
spinning plates for the crowd
there’s no time to stop

got to turn it up ’till i drop
got to keep it flowing ’till the last one leaves

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

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

my funny friend
it’s time to clean your house
start again
and be my metal mouse

sweep the stairs and don’t miss a hair
there is bread to bake
and guthuk to make

i invite the good and the wholesome
in my life and offer this token
metal mouse, you sense the danger

my funny friend
it’s time to look ahead
cast out bad
embrace the good instead

use your charm and ignore the sheep
don’t be scared, be quick and don’t sleep!

summer born under planet mars
soon your fate will be in the stars
metal mouse, you sense the love

can’t go back

second track referencing lockdown, this time with lyrics! i knew at the outset it was going to be a song, but i don’t know how it emerged as it did? it just formed, bit cheeky, bit bouncy, kinda familiar, kinda unusual. i tried to be lazy with the backing vocals by simply pitch-shifting my one take with unsettling results, so i bit the bullet and recorded three actual harmonies

i’ve lost my mind
it turns in time
without a need to focus

can’t see ahead
i’m just stuck here instead
in the now, don’t know how
and i can’t go back

with time to kill
i’ve lost my will
and end up doing nothing

snakes on a plane
it’ll make me insane
i survive, i’m alive
but i can’t go back

when every day
is just the same
i feel no need to hurry

no need to stress
i’m a well-happy mess
i’ll adjust if i must
‘cause i can’t go back

there’s time for you
and time for me
and even time for tea time

i’m happy here
with my woman and beard
every night, i’m alright
and i won’t go back


i had an old sample on my ipad which i started playing with one evening. before long i had something going which sounded fine as an instrumental track, but i could hear there was room for something else and i needed to unearth the theme. there was a kind of scream on the track and it put the idea of a bugbear into my head, so i looked up the origins of it and discovered it was mainly a way to control unruly children! i liked the idea of spooking kids, so imagined a monster hungry for blood

dinner is served

keeping out of sight
always hiding
always ready

ready to take you
ready to eat you
ready to eat you up
ready to devour you

no mercy, just hunger
insatiable hunger

dinner is served

words are meaning less

assembled from a short ipad sketch i was determined to keep it short with just the essentials. it sounds so much like whitey that i had to go check his catalogue to make sure i wasn’t just copying a song of his! the lyrics had been festering in my mind during lockdown. i’m very happy with my new vocal booth, in the boiler cupboard, padded with bed cushions and enclosed in our quilt. trouble is i use my noise-reduction headphones and can’t hear when the boiler kicks in. take two…

i’m tired of my ears and the news that they’re hearing
i’m looking around for someone to believe in

everyone has an opinion and platform
but the more that they’re talking the less that i want to

words are meaning less


sometimes i start writing about something very personal and disguise it in another more universal theme. so, like an old song of mine called ‘my secret fear’, i find i can’t talk about the real theme and the universal theme is obvious. the musical premise is explainable! i’d attempted to create multiple sounds from a single source on other tracks but not successfully. here i recorded a jam on synth both as straight audio and midi, then took the parts and, without changing a note, created rhythm, beat, pulses and modulation to develop the sound. i’ve been pretty strict and enjoyed the discipline, even if the result is a bit intense

never had so many things
never had so much money
never had it so good
nor so fragile

just while everything is springing to life

nature is a wonderful sight
it’s a beautiful world

just while everything is new and blooming

and i can’t help this feeling
that we’ve destroyed the planet
and i can’t help this feeling
that it’s telling us it’s had it

nature will endure
but we destroyed eden

just while everything is springing to life

and i can’t help this feeling
i’m a burden on the planet
and i crave to return to
the place where we began it

nature will endure
but we destroyed eden
nature will endure
but we destroyed eden
we destroyed eden

all tracks recorded between april and july 2020