Ah yes. I was telling you about where the inspiration, ideas, musings for the tracks on Beyond The Lines, Beyond The Sea came from. Ready for part 2? I am.
8. A Good Day For Rain
This is pretty simple. It rained on the day of my brother's funeral. That's all I need to say about that.
9. Hibiscus Sky
This has been the lead track for much of the promotion of the album, so hopefully most of you reading this will have heard it by now....No? Check it out here, quick! This track started way back before the main writing process of the album happened. It was just an idea that I'd scratched out with a basic groove (which got scrapped) and a melody line (which stayed.) Like many people who are creative, you occasionally hit brick walls in the creative process and such was the case with this one - couldn't get it to flow in any way whatsoever. Then one day I laid out a very funky percussion loop over the track in the hope it might inspire - it did. It totally pinned the track down and allowed everything else to come more naturally to completion. One funky bassline and some vocal cuts later, the track was done. The title - well, I'd always liked the word 'Hibiscus' - and the track had a very widescreen feeling to it, like you were flying or riding through a big wide desert sky. 'Desert Sky' was too easy. 'Hibiscus Sky' was just about right.
Here's the video - seen it?
This track totally wasn't planned. Messing about one night in the studio, I hit upon a sweet combination of a very simple melody and an equally simple beat which seemed to suggest a certain mood - late night, asiatic, warm - yet still had a introspective feel to it. The idea seemed pursuing despite the fact I had about four other unfinished album tracks to conquer and sort out. It was a fruitful pursuit because it turned out to be one of the easiest tracks to finish on the album, caused me no trouble, and as such is probably one of my favourites. The title 'Coda' came from the fact that it was a simple musical idea that repeats itself in many different forms throughout the piece - the melody is essentially the same throughout but with slightly different inversions and in different contexts, Amazing what you can do with six notes.
Featuring the talents of Iona Leigh on vocals. Check her out here. And you can hear the full track here. The vocal was so sweet and angelic when I heard it I just knew I had to do something with it. It's a take on the old Celtic melody 'Wild Mountain Thyme' - it seemed to fit because my mother was Irish, and it would have been a melody she would have been familiar with. Again, this track came very quickly - some sparse chords, cinematic percussion and a flugel horn - whirl around the vocal quite dreamily until the break twists into into something a bit harder sounding - a dubsteppy bassline with some slamming kick and snare, but still retaining the airiness of the main idea. I loved working on this track and wish I could write stuff like this more often, but hey - they come when they're ready not when you dictate. I hope enjoy this track as much as I did writing it.
12. An Endless Snow
Inspired by a wonderful woman. Evgenia is a very talented photographer who took the promo shots for the album, have a look and wonder at her work here. She hails from a mystical sounding place in Russia called Syktyvkar, just shy of the artic circle. She'd told me of her home over many coffees and hot chocolates in various coffee places in London, and she's a very captivating storyteller as her photography will testify. The winters of her childhood there were long, angry and all encompassing - and as a self professed sun worshipper this always seemed to rankle with Evgenia. The thought of an endless snow was a very engaging idea to me, and as I am often inspired by words as titles, it seemed a piece of music would be born. The thought of being trapped in snow, a maelstrom which starts as a fluttery blizzard and transforms into a powerful whirlwind of a storm seemed to have a very musical dynamic to it - and it fitted within the main theme and hypotheses of the album. This track marks a departure from many structured musical practices to me. It's written in 5/4, a very hypnotic time signature which also kind of trips you up at the same time - leading to a feeling of uncertainty, which I wanted to convey, and it's effectively a two parter - the first section is mellow, jazzy, uncertain - the thought of being in a snowstorm which may or may not dissipate. The second section switches into a larger format electronica track (still in 5/4) which grows and grows, becoming more ominous and hectic - a musical storm if you like. It was a very difficult track to negotiate and marked a significant challenge for me musically and technically. I'm very proud of this piece of music, I hope you enjoy it.
13. She Sees The Light
Again, I have Evgenia to thank for this one. As I mentioned previously, spending time with her often involves a lot of walking. Sorry, I meant to say - A LOT of walking. She is an observer and a beauty chaser and is always on the move. I remember one afternoon last summer she darted across a road in central London somewhere totally out of the blue (she does this often), and disappeared down an alleyway between two buildings. Following her I found us in an almost Victorian type furrow, with a pub on one side, some office drones outside enjoying a pint, and THE most wonderful afternoon light. She was looking up, around, eyes shielded by her right hand and proclaimed matter of factly 'Good light'. She found beauty most would have missed, this was admirable and a mark of the type of person that she is - thanks Evgenia for everything you did for me on this album- whether you realised it or not I couldn't have brought these tracks to everyone without you. She didn't take any pictures in the alley - it really stank down there.
14. Beyond The Sea (Ae Fond Kiss)
Another track featuring Iona Leigh - an epilogue to the album. Again based on an old Celtic melody, namely the Robert Burns song 'Ae Fond Kiss', this track is more of a summing up than a true album track, a true ending, a closure. I wanted it to be sparse, beautiful. It's almost like a funereal march with it's drone like bodhran pulse throughout and basic block piano chords, but the beauty of the vocal transcends it totally to a different place. Listen to the words, they say everything I really wanted to say in this album - about my brother, about my feelings, about my journey over the last four years. It's a closing sign being flipped, it's a line under what was a difficult yet beautiful and organic time in my life. I miss my brother, I always will. But with this album I'll always have a keepsake of him, he's always going to be - there. This album is for you. It's for me. It's for us. I hope it speaks to you in some small way or another, makes you smile, reflect, shake your ass. Whatever it brings to you - you're welcome, and thank you.
Anthony (Amarta Project)