AND, 14: Background Beats

The track Background Beats on AND began as a cheeky Junto, using Marc Weidenbaum's text as a rhythm for an interpretive piece.

Marc's book on the second volume of Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works was still in front of me from writing a piece for Cyclic Defrost. Sadly my composition is nowhere near the elegance of Aphex's works but I did use the idea of a background beat. In hindsight it seems kinda obvious to use the author of the Disquiet Junto.

When I returned to the track recently, I started thinking about what could be added and settled on a text to voice speech. It was recorded through the closed lid of the laptop on the inbuilt mic.

AND, 13: You Know I Don't Know

When I was finishing AND, I asked my collaborator Jo which of her performances she preferred on the album and was kinda surprised when she nominated this track. I can understand it sounds better, because my skills at de-essing seem to be improving, but for various reasons I prefer Raucous Chorus.

The lyrics in this song had been sitting in my Gmail Drafts folder for a while. I started experimenting with delivering them over this C major chord progression, then recorded the chords for a Junto project which asked for a soundtrack to an art video.

A little while later, there was a Junto asking for a cover and I decided the song I wanted to record was this one that I'd sorta recorded earlier. There wasn't much time to record the vocals. I think they would've sounded more polished if Jo had come back a day or so after learning the lyrics. Usually you can hear how much more confident a singer sounds delivering the material but, I dunno, the tentative nature of the lyrics seemed to be implied in this slightly doubting delivery.

Elsewhere I've described the process of recording this song as "arse-about" but it worked out okay, I think. The atmospheric synths weren't my first choice for backing track but work better than the guitar part recorded for the vocal part.

AND, 12: High coup

As mentioned earlier, the 10th and 12th tracks on AND are alternative versions. This one also appears on Album In A Day Vol. 8.

The other version was recorded for the combined Naviar Haiku Disquiet Junto. I was chatting with Lee Rosevere around this time and he said he was busy with Album In A Day and encouraged me to consider joining. Plans had been made to go to Wagga, where I found time to record the riff I was riffing that week in a quiet spot under the house while my kids watched television.

Unfortunately the gating on the version heard in the video is quite distracting. I think it sounds better on my album AND.

AND, 11: Keith Cameron's Sculptures

Keith Cameron is a sculptor outside Lismore. I met him earlier this year while visiting an arts project at his property.

Cameron is shown at the beginning of the video for the track named after his work on AND, which is created from recordings made using a Rode video microphone and my Nikon digital camera.

It was on a foggy Sunday morning that I looked at the numerous works on Cameron's property near Tabulam, nestled in the hills the lead away from Lismore toward the Great Dividing Range in Northern New South Wales. Some of the pieces were created from recycled machinery, others were structures built from various materials. It was quite magical in the thick fog, which lifted to reveal another sunny day.

I like to think it's got an Amon Tobin sorta vibe. While this is one of the few tracks that didn't result from a Disquiet Junto, the material recorded at Cameron's property appeared in the loop used for a filtered melody.

Disquiet Junto 146 Swyping Silence

This week the Disquiet Junto asked for a short piece of music based on a symbol for the word 'silence' with this gesture outlined in the image.

The word 'silence' brings to mind a story my partner tells of visiting an Italian chapel and hearing the word 'Silencio' broadcast loudly over and over without irony. At first I was tempted to record myself playing a short chord progression without plugging in the instrument, but I kinda wanted to make an electronic track.

I chose to interpret the gesture through the rising and falling lines, which led me to pick up my fretless bass. The starting letter S was next to A so I started on A#. The next letter O is only a few steps below S but elsewhere the gesture seems to move backward, so I decided to go up a few steps in pitch to D then drop back to A because that would be a bit lower than the A#, right? And for ease I kept E as E, with a little dip down to C via C# since B seemed out of key.

As the word 'silence' has seven letters, I chose to use a 7/8 time signature as I'm keen to explore alternatives to 4/4 at present. This led me to title the track 'Silence Over Solitude' as 'solitude' was the first sensible eight-letter word to come to mind.

And the bell-like chimes remind me a bit of a chapel, I guess.

AND, 10: Cool High

Tracks 10 and 12 of AND are largely the same, in terms of composition. In terms of production, the former is electronic and the latter is performed on acoustic guitar.

This song was recorded as a response to a haiku and the instrumentation aims for an icy effect. The percussion is meant to emulate the crunching of footsteps, and the reverb (of course) a cathedral.

Seems strange it was only March this year that I first encountered the Naviar Haiku project. As I recall, I'd signed up for their updates and it coincided with the Disquiet Junto adopting it for the week.

AND, 9: Mistletoe

This composition for bass was a response to a Junto in the lead-up to last Christmas, asking for a sonic equivalent to tinsel.

It's not the most obvious response but it was, once again, a good excuse to record a riff. The Junto's limitation on length gives it brevity but the version on the album AND adopts the idea of looping the piece, so it's almost twice as long.

I recall that originally it was a more measured series of arpeggios but at the last minute thought I should give my playing a bit more groove. This last take had me grooving in my seat but it was especially encouraging that my neighbour's kids were also in the kitchen and dancing as I recorded.

The flatwound strings on the bass give it a beautifully dark and woody tone.

AND, 8: Chilled Glasses

The Disquiet Junto has an annual exercise which involves recording ice in a glass and making something of it.

On my previous album WHILE, the ice-in-a-glass track is Solitary. On AND it's Chilled Glasses. This year, as you can see above, I made a video showing the ice cubes and glasses that supplied the sounds.

I'm happy with how different these two tracks sound, now that I've compared them. I remember Solitary was a deliberate decision to do something less percussive because I'd been making similar sounding tracks at that time in 2013. In 2014 I was returning to making sample-based music after one of my increasingly regular flirtations with bass guitar or drums.

The video-making drew on the techniques I'd developed during the FOR 100 YEARS project, particularly using Ableton Live to edit footage that's then composited together in Motion.

AND, 7: Trio at sunset

The seventh track on AND is a personal favourite. The track was recorded for Naviar Haiku but, like many, it really was just the excuse to record the riff I was riffing on that week.

The haiku started me thinking about roosters and I ended up thinking about Westerns. It was a bass driven riff but the aesthetic chosen by the gunslinger image really shaped the result. I recorded the guitar and then the drums, which aren't the strongest but mostly work. For a while the track didn't seem to sit right and then, when I was re-exporting for the album, I changed the reverb and it seemed to all fit together properly. That was an interesting experience, hearing how my perception shifted.

Brian Lucey on positive compromise

“I forget who first phrased this concept, might have been Bob Olsen,” said Lucey. “Everywhere in the production process, there’s some harm introduced to the audio. The goal is to gain more than you lose at every step.

AND, 6: A Rest

This is a song about Marcel Duchamp, arguably one of the most influential artists of the latter 20th Century. Specifically this -- the sixth song on And -- is a song sorta about his heart rate at rest.

Once again this is a track that was recorded as part of a Disquiet Junto. As I recall it was written in Ableton Live while on holiday at Valla Beach, which is where I shot the lightning bolt shown on the cover of the album AND.

The album version differs from the Junto draft, the drumbeat is less obviously different since vocals now dominate the track. Voice wasn't an obvious choice but, like Wind-up, I was thinking about Andrew Weatherall's advice to producers.