Friday, 27 March 2015

How To Make An Album Without Really Meaning To

Well, here I sit, putting the finishing touches on an album that seemed to manifest itself out of the experiences of the last eighteen months or so without my prior knowledge. At least that's the way it feels.

At the beginning of 2014, three recordings were released - my new four track EP, Lord Of Misrule, a remastered edition of my very first EP, Blue Feathers, and the Resonance Project EP, Tale Goes On. Lord Of Misrule was basically released because I had four unreleased tracks lying around and wasn't too sure what my musical future entailed. I was settling in to my new role as full-time carer for Donna and her mother, and there was no way of knowing how much of my time was going to be needed to properly discharge my duties. A digital release was a simple and fun way to put some music out without having to spend time and money on pressing CDs and going through the rigmarole of promoting the product, and I was aware of the fact that without promotion, the EP would go largely unnoticed. I was cool with that - it was just nice to write and record again.

I spent 2014 playing occasional gigs with an AC/DC tribute band called Hells Bells, which was a lot of fun and brought in some much-needed funds to the household. It was fascinating to get inside the guitar work of the Young Brothers, and I found some interesting things in their approach that got me playing some new stuff. I also wrote some music in the stripped down, straight ahead style of AC/DC, and Donna came on board with a rocking lyric. We ducked into the studio, and a song was born. This song would raise its head later, at just the right time.

While I had no projects I had to prepare or rehearse for, I turned my hand to experimenting with different styles and ideas in the studio. I found it therapeutic to sit and play whatever came to mind or fingers, and I wound up with enough ideas to piece together arrangements and record them when I felt so inclined. Some ideas sat for a while before being completed, and I found some old demos that sparked new ideas as well. I finally wrote and recorded a Blues instrumental - a long-time goal - and got into messing around with horn and string arrangements. That led me back to revisiting classical music (my first ever vinyl owned was Beethoven) and the effects it had on my development. Borrowing some extra Ormsby guitars added fuel to the fire, as I always get an idea when I meet a new guitar, and before too long I was looking at a mixed bag of tracks that happened to have some fine compositions and performances on them. I had jumped into writing and playing with no preconceptions whatsoever of what direction I would head in, instead choosing to follow ideas and feelings wherever they went. This lead to me actually putting a lot of myself into the music - all the frustration, hope, fear, joy, resignation, anger and love that had swirled around me during the past months found a place to flow, and it flowed into the tunes.

I had pressed a short run of an extended version of Lord Of Misrule with six tracks, to sell at Hells Bells gigs. With my exit from the band due to an ear injury, I no longer had a place to sell the EP with the extra two tracks. I had written new music in the interim, and was sitting on ten tracks. Ten tracks...  hmmm... oh, wait... there's that song we did. Listening back to it, it's a pretty good song...

That makes eleven.


Might as well, then, eh?

Since 2015 marks ten years of my association with Perry Ormsby and Ormsby Guitars, I have written a few words about the guitars I used in the writing and recording of the new album. Stay tuned, because I'll be posting it here, one guitar at a time.

Oh, one last thing... we are coming up to two years since Donna's diagnosis with MS, and while we have faced some bad days, her condition has remained more or less stable, with no progression on the lesions detected in the MRI scans. Our heartfelt thanks to those who have given their support, and while we may not be traipsing around the world any time soon, there is still plenty of music left in both of us.


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