Saturday 9 March 2013

Girl On The Roof

Girl On the Roof is another of the new songs for the third album, you can hear the pre-master mix here 
"There's no convincing her she won't accept proof"

Wednesday 6 March 2013

A fog-inspired dream sequence of a song for the third album.


Both albums are now on Bandcamp, for streaming and download, plus pre-masters and oddities in the Work In Progress set. Have a look the link is here

Tuesday 5 March 2013


The Landstrom Sharkfin Plectrum is a design and function classic.
The red 'gold lettered' Landstrom is flexi, so it bends on impact allowing a much higher terminal speed than would normally be viable, so - however hard the strings are hit - a snapped string is pretty much a thing of the past. They 'dish' with use, very quickly changing shape to match the players' grip - so they don't twist round sideways or fly out of the hand at the wrong moment. There is no need to tape loads of them to the mic-stand. They don't break and are very slow to wear down. The three differently shaped sides give sound variation; the ridged edge is great for skidding down the strings. The 'raised-letter' version is not quite so thin, but is still flexi, so keeps the main design advantages. I've used Landstroms since the early eighties and every now and then I remember just how good they really are.
Never take anything for granted.

Podcast link

Podcast link - Lord Litter's Magic Music Box International 10. This is the English Language show from Europe's outstanding champion of unfettered music, on California's KWTF (the German version is on Radio Marabu). I could say jump to 35'43" but you'd miss a lot of eclectic, diverse, unique, original music if you did that. So listen to the whole thing.

the disc-well of the In A Blood Orange Sky CD digi-pak

Psychedelic Experience

Camden Arts Centre (in London) held a Bruce Lacey retrospective until 16th September. He was George Harrison's gardener in The Beatles film 'Help' and among many other things built a robot that won Alternative Miss World. He is fairly eccentric. 

(Bruce Lacey's painting of the sun) 

I performed with him in 1987; adding a layer of acoustic free-improvisation to a 'wedding' ritual he was presenting as the climax to his exhibition at Manchester City Art Gallery. 

There was not much rehearsal; just a bit of pointing for positions and a couple of questions from BL: "What are you going to play?" "Something a bit like this..." he nodded. "What tree is that from?" (pointing at the wreath round the guitar headstock) "Hawthorne." All he said was "Wow." There have been longer auditions. 

An unusual gig.

If you missed the exhibition the link here should still work.

There is something about f-holes must be that Man Ray photograph

A vintage Antoria acoustic 6-string; from a house-clearance shop in 1985. The bridge is not the original one, changing it dropped the action to a more sensible height. It has a rather nice tone.

Monday 4 March 2013

The Speed Of Sound At A Blood Orange Sky

The 2nd CD is here: Twelve songs, fifty three minutes, in a digiPak with lyric book from CDbaby and also available as mp3 via Amazon, iTunes etc. (Plus; physical callers can buy it in a physical shop at Spivey's Web in Macclesfield at  or buy on Bandcamp and CDBaby)




Atomic shapes and molecule structures were high fashion. Magazine racks, wallpaper, textile prints... Nuclear power had ended the second world war, ensured the stalemate of the cold war mutually assured destruction and was going to be the saviour of the world when the oil/coal ran out. It was a new age, everything was bright -'NewClear' - it even sounds fresh and tidy. 

The imagery of unharnessed renewable energy sources around a newly built nuclear power station is quite potent. 

The first image in the sequence above is a sculpture of Dounreay power station in Uranium Glass by Kate Williams and John Llyod, you can see more pictures here:
Overlooked, was written in July ;89 and was also a fixture in the live set. This re-recording was in June 2011 with Italia and Dano'63

The Douneray photographs are via the BBC and the textile prints are from Kathy Kavan's excellent Another Design Blog.

Throw It Away

Throw It  Away is about the disposability of consumer products and consumer culture.
Large pieces of furniture are sold as fashion items to be changed with the seasons, not as a durable piece that will last decades, electrical goods are already out of date as soon as they are purchased... this song also sees  humanity as a virus prevented from spreading through the solar system by being trapped on Earth (with finite resources) by the layers of orbiting abandoned space junk. At the 1960's rate of space exploration people should already have colonised Mars and Jupiter's moons by now. "There are other planets if we have to go."


Intercept is another instrumental, despite the title (and being clearly related to 'English Elctric Lightning F6') it also functions as a musical oil slick trailing from Torrey Canyon.

Backwards is a fascinating sound, the percussion swells in an unnatural way and ends suddenly. There is no vocal, so no back-masking-secret-message to search for or be influenced by... but then I would say that.

Torrey Canyon

Torrey Canyon is about the first major marine oil-spillage disaster, which took place in the year indelibly labelled in the cultural media memory as the 'Summer of Love'. It was written in 1988 and was a standard in the live set under the title 'Profit'.

The first rough version started under the working title of 'Herald of  Free Enterprise' and was similar in lyric-feel to Sympathy For The Devil it quickly evolved, but was still quite broad, taking in a vast array of man-made environmental disasters. Refining it to a single incident gave far more focus and impact.

Rerecorded in September 2011 with mostly Rickenbacker, some Italia and the Dano'63.

The painting was part of the Brooke Bond Tea Cards set 'The Sea Our Other World' issued in 1974, the two photographs are via the BBC.

Sunday 3 March 2013

Sit By The River

Sit By The River has an uncomplicated lyric about wanting to 'sit by the river' in late summer as 'afternoon drifts into evening'. It's not about a specific river, it's about several all merged together with willows, swans and stepping stones.

The original tune was written in July'84 and had a  languid flow. Speeding it up and changing the chords in August 2011 has given it quite a different feel. 

Mostly Italia, some Rickenbacker and the Dano'63 bass.


"If you want to go forwards then go twice as fast, you'll need that pace to keep standing still..." The video for Uhrwerk (German for clockwork). 

The song is an anguished snarl at the so-called work/life balance and the mechanical nature of work; it was another permanent fixture in the live set. 

Written in April '87 (there is a July 1987 studio recording still in existence) Uhrwerk was re-recorded in May 2011. All previous recordings of this had the tick-tock and the chimes played as harmonics. This is mostly Hutchins Retro Star with 'a bit' of bowing and Dano'63 bass.

The Changes

July 1990 the Greenhouse Rehearsal Rooms Stockport: "It's in fives!" said Hamish incredulously, putting his sticks aside as the last chord died. "Yes; unusual isn't it." I replied. But it was only while programming the drums for this rerecording 21 years later that I realised what he had meant. I knew I'd always countd this in 'fours' and didn't want to encourage him to do anything more 'normal' than the great rhythm he'd just beaten out... we wee both right. 

Written in April '89 and re-recorded in June 2011, this was in the live set so had already been played by Dennis without any mention of 'fives'. Th chord sequence spirals round itself like water in a maelstrom. There was a children's TV series in the mid-70's called The Changes involving  a breakdown and rejection of the modern 'machine-culture' inspired by ancient natural forces (and the sill trapped spirit of Merlin) trying to bring humanity back in touvh with nature. Other than the title the song is not direclty related to this, more with becoming aware that something fundamental is changing in personal outlook; but the machine-smashers of the TV series were affected by 'The Changes' and the phrase lingered.

Temporary Fault

Temporary Fault could be a song about mental illness, but is about the sudden realization that a 'hinge-moment' is occurring and that a life affecting decision has to be made; producing a momentary instability or a 'temporary fault' - as shown on 1970's television screens when there was a problem with the transmitter.

Written in July 1989, this re-recording was August 2011; it is the Hutchins with a bit of bowing and the Dano'63 

These's No One There

There's No One There was a constant in the live set. It is a march of despair and desolation - a howl of angst.But still there is a glimmer; whatever The Fates conspire the misery is transient. It just doesn't seem that at the time.   

The image was an experiment with cutting and overlaying. Is the girl fading in and fading out? There is something Classic Star Trek about her hair and the transporter-fuzz, but either way at the moment there's no one there.

Re-recorded in July 2011 with Italia (on the piezo bridge setting), Rickenbacker 620-12 lead and Dano'63.

No Kicks


One picture for each verse; No Kicks is about being trapped in a dead one-sided relationship, deep down knowing they should go but refusing to believe it is over.

Originally these was a Garage-Punk feel to this, but it mutated into powerpop. It was a constant in the live set, written in January '89 and re recorded in April 2011 with Rickenbacker, Italia and Dano.
The sink and washing up is from an advert in a 1970 copy of National Geographic, the cowboy on TV is from a 50's ad, and the lips, man and smoking girl are all from the excellent image library

English Electric Lightning F6

English Electric Lightning F6 is an instrumental. Dating from 1996, it has plenty of open space and describes in music what it must must be like to sit on your own at twice the speed of sound at 50,000ft. It is uplifting and reaches for the sky.

A much earlier post explained why there are two lightnings in The Speed Of Sound logo, however - this book that I had at age six should make it clear. The speed and excitement of the Lightning prototypes on the cover has stayed through the years.
Re-recorded in September 2011 - EE Lightning F6 is the Italia Mondial and the Dano '63.