Sunday 5 January 2014

The Wargame - Live. (The Speed Of Sound)

A live recording of The Wargame, 17 November 2013 : here

We went into the studio, set up and played. So the recording was live; without headphones, without being in separate rooms, without layering multiple tracks and without adding anything else later. This is three people in a room making music together at the same time, which is how it used to be done and a return to the traditional method of recording. So, if this sounds like a live recording, that will be because it is, because that’s what we were after.
The amps and drums were mic-ed up separately and we put the vocals through the PA using one speaker as a monitor so we could hear and another one mic-ed, but in different room to give a bit of sound separation and so we were able to mix the track levels later.
Guitar (Rickenbacker 620-12) and vocal – John Armstrong
Bass (Italia Mondial Classic) – Kevin Roache
Drums – Raoul Carrino 

The studio is a multi-use community building so there are other people using the space, we’d booked it for the whole day, but Audrey was still there so we let her watch.
The video of the album version from The Speed of Sound At Tree Level is here and there is an unplugged recording here
The Wargame:
Silently searching cruising fifty feet down
Sealed orders are opened as the sweep-hand reaches high
In the darkness of ocean a wargame has begun

Submariner crouches over green glowing screen
Watching listening
In the darkness of ocean a wargame has begun

Far from alone the headphones are alive
Echoing with herring shoals as the order to dive is re;ayed and obeyed
In the darkness of ocean a wargame has begun

A trawler catches an oversize prize and is gone
A trawler catches an oversize prize and is gone

Copyright 03 October 1989 John Armstrong

Friday 3 January 2014

Music and Elsewhere New Year Showcase

Its nice to start off the year by being featured in another podcast; its also nice that M&E chose the most experimental song Ghosts Of Grytviken (from The Speed Of Sound At Tree Level) for their New Year Showcase. There can't be many songs about the ghosts of whales (and whalers) that were recorded at night on Halloween - by coincidence not intention - but if there are, this is one of them.  

 click here for the Soundcloud link
The visible influences are different on this one, its not an obvious choice for a song and doesn't follow an obvious pop song structure. Its more of a psychedelic trip to the South Atlantic
Grytviken is an abandoned whaling station on South Georgia, roughly 900 miles off The Falkland Islands. When the whaling stopped in 1965 the whale-catching ships were abandoned and they slowly rust away in the harbour near the tanks used to store the whale oil. The explorer Earnest Shackleton is buried in the graveyard there.
Ghosts Of Grytviken is an atmospheric soundscape of a song, starting and ending below the sea, having climbed the mountains and flown with the wandering albatross before the first verse. Yes, its a bit far-out. The drums only appear on the chorus, but there is assorted ambient percussion including the ringing of eight-bells. Its not a dancer but still has plenty of sway, the chords move up and down like an ocean swell.
Its the Italia Mondial Classic six string on lead (and rhythm) with the Danelectro '63 bass.
There is an earlier post here with a bit more background, photo's of the whaling station and the lyrics.
I like a bit of wilderness so it'd be neat to go there, but it is pretty inaccessible. Definitely on the list though.

M&E dates back to the 1990s, but has been off the scene for a while. This is their first showcase in quite a while and should be every 4 months or so now. You can get more information here
The full listing and liner notes are on the 'showcase' tab and the full set is on the M&E Soundcloud page here 
Have a listen, its all real music.