Human nature is a curious and unpredictable mixed bag of emotional contradictions such as beauty and ugliness, serenity and furious anger, love and hate, ecstatic joy and severe sadness. These all filter into my music through finding the space and time to allow one to give up any resistance to each emotion and allow it to become the music. This begins with a realistic appraisal of whether I have the right mood in my head to approach a piece of work I am developing. If I am in the zone the music comes together almost as if it is an expulsion of all the memories and sound associations I have stored in my mind (consciously or unconsciously) but sometimes it feels forced and will not develop. Often suddenly all the ingredients come out and quickly get baked to perfection together or perhaps emerge almost complete with just a simple need of a sprinkle of sonic seasoning.
“Navigare” was recorded at home between July 2008 and March 2009 and it is an album that seems to have been waiting in the wings to come out of me. All of the experiences I have had in the past thirty years, good and bad, seemed to overwhelmingly pour out of me and find a new place to live on my hard drive. From the days of shredding my eardrums as a drummer in Slowdive, where as teenagers we cared only for the moment of each performance and turning up to eleven, right up to the fairly recent birth of my child are all in there. Some difficult issues were faced such as the death of my uncle who spent his years submerged under water in submarines or otherwise was submerged by the poisons of alcohol which took me back to being a child and seeing him at family parties getting legless. So in my music there are memories of happy times tinged with sadness and then sadness colored by the warmth of childhood associations. Cruelty appears often as I and many others close to me have been on the receiving end of unfair treatment, threats or just bad luck although joy and hope rub shoulders with this negativity and it all filters into each musical idea. Some sound associations drag up long forgotten conversations, people or places that may not be welcome and the themes take on a difficult direction that force you to follow such as “Repulse” on my album.
Many Ideas for my debut solo album grew from the juxtapositional complexities of the now verses the past. Again this goes back to the human condition and our contradicting emotions and the fact that many of us wear many masks in life which usually appear by instinct and happen despite us even being conscious of it. The sound of an acoustic in a nicely reverberated room faces a cold digital glitch that my hard drive spat out one morning seems to fit together. The juxtaposition of these sounds was kept in mind when adding to the two contrasting musical elements and for the rest of the songs. I used loops that were out of time but would eventually meet to create a conclusion of solidarity despite their different textured emotions. I would use reverb soaked vocals to float over a dry snare brush stroke or a voice fragment and burn it with an effect so it would burn and decay to the ear. Degrading the sounds or using dissolving sounds, including tape hiss from an old cassette I had kept from the 1970’s and samples that were wrestled by my full hard drive which we almost vomited out of the speakers were techniques and textures that dominate this record.
“Introduction of Cambridge” is a musical reflection of the city where I was born and live today alongside the manicured university lawns and geographical fact that the remarkable academic institutions are based in the city centre that allow you to feel that past in the present along with bright hope for the future. This infuses into my music with the past, the present and the future colliding as they question what it is you are hearing as old tape recordings compliment the digital domain of my recording equipment. They are created in a split second of the present to become an instant thing of the past until it is released or discovered in the future.
The songs flow like water yet have a scorched sound that again creates another juxtaposition, this time of the elements, as both water and fire are sometimes calming yet also treacherously unpredictable with real danger and ferociousness. “Navigare” is full of snippets of digital software taken from my mac and dropped into the pc that I used to create the vast majority of the album on. It is safe to say that this is a guitar album despite flute, cello, sitar, piano and many other instruments featuring and if I admit inspiration to create a guitar album I just go back to the sheer power and sonic assault of “Overkill” by Motorhead, “Isn’t Anything” by My Bloody Valentine and “Endless Summer” by Fennesz which changed my musical perspectives forever.
“Navigare” is out on Miasmah recordings in late summer 2009.