Befell started with the working name “before” as they were stories from before us: before clearly recorded history. Many loosely cover Old Testament era stories. The idea is not to be religious in any way but just to carry some of the feeling of those stories that resonate down through the ages, despite not really being clear in the where, when, why.
The sound of this album was deliberately meant to be different from what I normally do. It is still very much electronic music but not in the cliché form into which EM has painted itself over the years. I deliberately wanted to move right aside from the Post Berlin School, EDM, and New Age sound that seems to strangle modern music.
These tracks are in many ways Rock. They openly borrow from such material as early Rockabilly, Rock & Roll, & Goth. All the tracks focus around a center of “guitar” sounds and form, with simple synth sounds playing one line. This is in keeping with a Gothic Rock band circa 1982.
Some of the guitar sounds are samples but many are pure synthesis using Europa. Most of the guitar Amplification (drive) is using Scream4 which I love for just about everything. I still prefer Scream4 to most “official” guitar amp + speaker setups. It helps me get a sound that is clearly unique.
I showed “Ur of the Akkadian” to Slava Malinin from Angel7 and he offered to replace guitars and sing on the track. While I understood his offer as my sounds in that are mighty strange, it just didn’t sit comfortably with me. I instead offered him a new track called Noah that was bare-bones so he could stretch himself better with his guitars and even a lyric.
A mixing student Jake (who is a great Guitarist, Songwriter & Arranger) was using these tracks for homework. His mix of “Nineveh” kinda floored me with his different approach. It is different but really appealed. I asked if he’d let me include that as a Bonus on the album.
- To The Bosphorus: is where I started and at the time it was just a “what if” experiment but it came out so nicely. Shades of The Shadows and Play Dead so I knew I had to go again to see if I could repeat with a good new result. The loose story was of the attacks on Constantinople as it was the border between worlds.
- Back To Babylon: was that second track and I knew I had something I needed to play out. This time I wanted to capture some of the grand feel of Babylon.
- Nineveh: is a city of some mystery in the Bible but still a suburb in modern Iraq. Because the Rockabilly guitar sound was working so nicely I wanted to see if I could more directly roll that feel in. A few Stray Cats songs later and I had the basics right.
- Visitors in Gomorrah: is me playing with the idea of painting the Angels that were said to visit the city. They are both ‘terrible” and yet “kind”. I show this in part with the drums which should be huge yet I used a softer 808 kit instead to show that while the Angels have the power to crush, they don’t always use it – remember they warned Lot and his wives so they could escape the coming upset.
- Ur of the Akkadian: Sumeria is one of the first major city-civilizations on Earth. In various guises, this lasts centuries and probably accounts for many of the Old Testament-style stories. Ur was one of the later capitals and still populated in Iraq today.
- Jericho Befell: I told Jane that “Before” was my album working title but I knew I needed more mystery. She came back really quickly with “Befell”. I wasn’t sure but it grew on me and stuck. When casting about for another story, Jericho made a great target as not only is there plenty of drama but it is famous for its fall.
- Noah feat. Angel7: I made the basics of a song structure and handed this to Slava of Angel7 for guitars and vocals. I know he is into Metal and I was eager to let him use some of that within this format. His vocal sounds super.
- Sun After The Flood: The Flood is a huge and complex story. I will admit also that I was influenced by flood being a common reference in The Sisters Of Mercy songs I was thinking of as I wanted to get a more Goth sound. I probably managed something more like The Mission than Sisters which is an amusing irony. Musically I wanted the piece to start fairly positively and then to rise and rise.
- Passing Into Myth: as is common for me, I wanted a track that let the listener drift off with all that came before wrapped up as an experience. This piece was floating about from a failed experiment and once I swapped a synth for a “guitar” it fitted beautifully in the role its title suggests.