The above photo was how I started to record the album that would be finished recording 5 years later, and then finally mastered and ready some 8 years on (Bandcamp). I’d been making music in computer sequencing and recording programmes for years and just felt more and more that alongside the impact of difficulties in my life, I had lost the ability to write and record whole songs. It was a very strange kind of block and cut me off from the extraordinary, joyous world of making songs and becoming entranced through their spaces.
At the time I was still playing live improvised music (on a now and then basis) and was in touch with a few different musicians and writers. From an exchange with Neil Campbell (per Soundcloud ‘active on the lunatic fringe of the UK’s underground music scene since at least 1979’) came the inspiration to completely abandon a PC based approach to recording and go back (albeit digitally) to a multitrack approach. This was similar to experiments as a late teenager with cassette four tracks and eight tracks, some of the feelings with which I recalled having a kind magical edge (not that the music necessarily had any amazing qualities to it, but those first senses of things combining and coming together in unexpected and sometimes dramatic ways).
I still used a PC for later stages of mixing and sequencing the tracks, but the idea of keeping everything as much as possible on the relation to sound (and further away from the visual /graphical user interface, programmes interface) helped to free up a sense of relationship and approach that had otherwise been previously lost.
If there was any kind of ‘idea’ to the album, it is to be a cohesive body and that no two songs sound the same while no tradition or song style should find itself excluded from that cohesion.
The album’s title ‘Blade of Earth’ came after I had visited a friend’s house where there had been mild psychotropic substances around, as I walked back across a park and looked to the trees in a line on the horizon – the space took on a kind of aliveness, present inside my eyes and being. The feeling arrived of being at that moment on the tip-edge of the planet, positioned on something like a vast venetian blind blade, one of many that made up a surface that invisibly or unknownigly co-existed with the terrain and yet was different to it. What came along with that feeling was the sense that each of these blade had the capacity to turn or be turning at any point.
I did not plan or want the production of this to take so long, so much of which packed with distance from the idea and will to complete the project. So thankful in the end to have completed and illicited help from some wonderful players and makers along the way and to whom (and for their asistance) I am exceptionally grateful.
Mastering by James Dunn, January 2019
Double Bass on Oncoming Days, The Land Is A Dream That Sleeps, From Young and Cân Seren; John Brown.
Drums on Dancer in the Heart; Stef Bernardi
Song illustrations by:
Pete Swales, Steve Whitehall-Smith, Cicely Human, Arran Bolders, Reuben Sutherland, Seren Morgan, Jon K. Shaw.
Check it out here.