There is nothing remotely Pop about this record, it is 1 hour 20 mins long to start with, and the four pieces are all 20 mins long. This album is in great part about the artwork so I will pop the YouTube video above the Bandcamp audio.
Set to full screen and quality to HD. Sit back and let the combination of sound and Shane Drinkwater’s art take you away.
I met painter, Shane Drinkwater through my day job (he likes bananas). We became Facebook friends and that meant I saw a steady stream of his artworks. They intrigue me as they seem to be a sort of code. It is like they are saying something but it needs to be decoded.
It wasn’t my plan to make a record based on his work but I realized that his pictures were influencing my work. Not as directly as looking at one picture as I wrote each piece but the style of his art was working its way into my art.
Once I was getting to the point of deciding what the album should look like, it seemed obvious to ask Shane if he would like to donate some images to the project. Luckily he said yes straight away. I got Shane to choose the four artworks and I then matched them to pieces. My method was to see which image seemed to move with which piece of music.
Over the last few albums, I have been wanting to write longer, less structured (incl. less drums) pieces, especially using my freeform approach more than rigid sequencing. Oddly the last few albums just refused to let me go in those directions for more than a few parts. This time, it came together and came fast. In many ways, it was because it was a bit backed up in me.
There are actually four pieces, each 20 mins long. The last piece written became the key. It seemed to make sense to introduce the track at the head of the album so I borrowed the first minute and bounced it to the start.
Freeform & Gong Meditation
For a very long time, one of my techniques has been something I call Freeform. It is nothing unique really but seeing I have poor technical playing skills I never really thought of myself as a player – don’t hand me a page of dots on lines and ask me to play it, let alone understand the Scale, Key & Chord Progressions. Through being a synthesist I had to audition my sounds and eventually I found my own unique playing voice through “noodling”. I first started to let this onto records in 1994’s Seashell and series:1:2, which was almost entirely made this way. It is a faster way to get notes on tape but has some limits for me. That said, rigid sequencing has some other limits. One gives me flow and the other gives me form.
A few posts about Gong Meditation also appeared on Facebook (I look at that thing too much). As some of my longer term listeners may have noticed, I like bell and gong sounds. Ringing metal is cool. I have heard about Gong Meditation before, even listened to a bit. This time, I had to know more. How and why does it work? How do I make my own?
The only things I really learned were that gong players are as prone to gear lust as other musicians (and synthesists in particular) and basically they make it up as they go along by intuition. They wing it as much as I do when I do my Freeform thing.
I made seven gong sounds with a loose sense of the seven Chakras. Remember I am winging it, sorry: using my intuition to channel my higher spiritual self. I made seven passes at playing each “gong” live with no pre-defined sense of what should happen other than the way the sound worked.
Finally, it all came together. The art matched, the tracks flowed and the cover gave me the meshed meta-stories of meditation allowing a change of place being like crossing the “event horizon” of a black hole into a new universe where the new rules have to be decoded.