Underworld: 14.12.2019

DRIFT 1.2 ATOM Sleeve Notes

Episode 2 ATOM - Sleeve Notes


Episode 2 Part 1
Appleshine


Rick’s week:
Mon 21st JanWriting with K at my studio. (post christmas/illness our Mojo has gone…)
Tues 22ndSearching for inspiration/mojo need to finish a track for Thursday…finding lots of…seeds… Soniamode..
Wed 23rdIn studio getting stressed, desperate, up late, looking at dozens of little bits…Appleshine in afternoon/night delivered at 6.45am
Thurs 24thRelease day. Newsletter etc. K phoner with Lauren Laverne BBC 6 Music.
Fri 25thR Working on mix of The Necks Appleshine jam. K on new vocal for Your Damage.
Sat 26thR in studio writing/trawling and on The Necks mix
Sun 27thK travel to Manchester for Street Poem. R in studio writing /trawling… and more on The Necks mix


RICK AND KARL DISCUSS: APPLESHINE

RICK
In a hotel room, in Dubai.

KARL
What are we talking about now Rick?

RICK
Appleshine!

KARL
Haven’t you heard enough about Appleshining?

RICK
No! Here we go, first started on the 7th August. First started, you and I, together.

KARL
2017.

RICK
7th August 2017.

KARL
Weirdly just looked at the Daily Diary, which very oddly contains some of the lyrics of Appleshine.

RICK
Yeah, the most significant lyrics actually (singing) “I sent you a message!”

KARL
Yeah, so I maybe sung it off the laptop?

RICK
What looking at it on the laptop yeah? Yeah.

KARL
Yeah, which is unusual in itself.

RICK
It’s not unheard of is it, to do that?

KARL
No, no.

RICK
But yeah I’m with you, it’s not that normal. Uh, we finished work together that day, and it was in a major key, then… I carried on that evening and wandered into a minor key. And then you and I worked on it again the day after.

KARL
Which is weird.
(laughs)

RICK
Uh-huh. Then I looked at it again on a few occasions, like I do… in August couple of times – three or four times in August just… doing the tweaking thing, doing the fiddling thing. Yeah,Appleshine… I can’t remember why it was called that… if it was you and I in my place, you know writing mode, we have to have the titles before we start the recording…

KARL
Often, I look at a title and think I have no idea where that came from.

RICK
… I can understand why we picked it, it’s a nice word. Appleshine.

KARL
Yeah, yeah.

RICK
We need a title for The Necks version, and the one that came to me the other day… ‘cos there was Another Silent Way and that became A Very Silent Way with them. We need a title, and I thought… one I wrote down was ‘Appleshine Continuum’. I looked up the dictionary definition, and continuum is “constant”.
(Karl laughs)
And I thought that was interesting to do with trance you know.

KARL
To do with The Necks!

RICK
To do with The Necks yeah.

KARL
‘Stop!’

RICK
And I thought, ‘da da da continuum’ and that might be a little pattern… but we don’t have to think, it’s just…

KARL
Yeah! It’s nice, Yes, keep going… until you pull their plugs out.

RICK
Until it’s time, time in the canteen for some rice pudding. So…

KARL
A curious vocal on this one.

RICK
Yeah.

KARL
When you play the original music, I’m like, ‘Ok I can understand why that key of singing, but I don’t understand…’ you know it was one of those things probably where we got together and I’m thinking, ‘Uh, do it different, do it different’. You know sometimes it often happens when the two of us get together, I’ll think, ‘Well you got nothing to lose by doing it different cos Rick will tell you if it’s not doing anything’, and uh, ‘don’t do… don’t do just what comes easy’.

RICK
Yeah sometimes I wish you would.
(Karl laughs)

KARL
Yeah.

RICK
Sometimes I wish you wouldn’t think about it that much, it’s like, ‘Well what’s wrong with doing it easy! What’s your problem?! You sound nice when you sing like that!’

KARL
Well it’s probably with playing a game to sound like… like not thinking about, ‘Oh yeah I’ll sound good’ or, ‘This is my best voice, it’s best when I sing low, it’s best when I shout like that’.

RICK
Yeah, yeah.

KARL
It was like do that thing that doesn’t necessarily make you sound very appealing, you know.

RICK
Yeah.

KARL
And see where that takes you. And I love what you’ve done with this. We were talking about music the other day that doesn’t necessarily make a vocal front and centre as, as can often be the case you know, and works in many cases, but particularly with us releasing a lot of material, and over the years I’ve always loved when you know it’s been a classic instrumental like Rez, or something that has used a voice to be a sound or a noise rather than, ‘Here’s a lyric that we want you to listen to’.

RICK
Yes, yes.

KARL
And I think you feel there’s a similarity here, a voice no matter how much you like it can quite tedious if you just keep hearing it on track after track after track. Some of my favourite singers, I wish they’d just let the band have a go once in a while, so that, just so that I could be pleased that the voice has come back! That not being the case with this one, I just like that the way that this is going you know.

RICK
We did plenty of that in the ‘80s.

KARL
Yeah everything was, ‘Stick ya singer on the front!’

RICK
Yeah, yeah yeah.

KARL
So now it’s about, ‘What makes a great track?’, and I really like what you’ve done with this and the length of the track too, that it takes its time to do what it does, and this noise which is coming out of a human mouth is part of a texture.

RICK
And by putting it in a minor key it takes it off that strong kind of almost sort of irritating, ‘Please, do you have to be so sunshine?’
(Rick sings)
(Karl laughing)

KARL
Yeah.

RICK
This is quite annoying, you know, not that you meant to be! You know what I mean.
(Karl laughing)
Both versions used a modular synth, and there was a little thing that I bought called… ‘Shifty’ I think, what’s it called?. Oh damn, I forgot the tech description. Basically, you put a little sequence into this thing, and then it distributes the notes to different sound modules in sequence, so you get this repetitive thing, but actually it sort of just sounds like it’s shuffling, shuffling along through strange sorts of mirrors. You know what I mean. Anyway, it makes a nice noise, we’ve used that a few times.

KARL
I like what you’ve done with the modular, and I mean you’ve used it a lot on…

RICK
Shift Register! That’s what it’s called! A Shift Register.

KARL
I need one of those myself thinking about it.

RICK
Yes!

KARL
Cos you used one first of all on Barbara, Barbara didn’t you? And although I know you’ve always used the ARP, the old ARPs…

RICK
Yeah, for 30 years, yeah the original 2600.

KARL
Yeah, but getting those modulars in it was, it was quite a fantastic sound, really, because… it wasn’t so predictable, it wasn’t so controllable, and it was fresh to you and you were stumbling around in that great way that a musician will stumble around, you know when they’re younger.

RICK
Yeah, with a cable and a tuning note.

KARL
Exactly, and there is a freshness that often comes off the modulars when you’re working with them.

RICK
Yeah.

KARL
I just find it very inspiring, it makes me want…

RICK
…it’s the actual tuning of things, the micro-tuning, the changes across an octave> And, you know, it feels, very very different, and to you and I it felt fresh, inside of what had become very software orientated music with the exception of some guitar.

KARL
Yeah, and there are some people that work with software in an astonishing way and you think, wow, you’ve discovered something inside of what seems to be quite a rigid instrument. You’ve discovered something which isn’t rigid, which is alive, but that takes a lot of time.

RICK
Yeah, it’s both, but both is good, both is great. Don’t want a world that is just full of Euroracks thank you very much, you know…

KARL
Or guitars.

RICK
No.

KARL
Did I tell you my ukulele destroyed itself the other day?

RICK
No!

KARL
Yeah! I’ve got one, I don’t know what it’s called it’s one of these longer scale ukulele, and it’s nothing special but I saw it in a shop and went, ‘Uh that’s a different sound’, and I got it in the studio the other day and I was playing it and playing some, some arpeggiated thing on it, and I thought, ‘This is really weird, the top string is D’ and I thought, ’I’m sure it’s the same tuning as a guitar?’ And it’s like yeah you play the top four strings like a guitar so I tuned it up so the top string was E and it was like, ‘Yep there you go, it’s a little bit hard work tuning it up’ but I didn’t think anything about it, left it in my studio overnight, came back in the morning and the strings had ripped the bridge off the body of the guitar!

RICK
Uhhhh, had you gone too far?

KARL
Yeah! It’s meant to be in D!
(laughing)
I still tried to get a tune out of it you know – just off the rattley bits of wood and wire. I probably will eventually. I’ll probably get Malcolm to glue it back together instead so I can get a tune out of it.

RICK
I don’t know what else to say. Oh yeah, Appleshine! We used a little bit… the first couple of minutes of it, a version of it, to… after we played…

KARL
Belfast.

RICK
Belfast! BBC at the Titanic Docks.

KARL
Yeah, yeah

RICK
It was a little homage to say thank you to the BBC and to Belfast because we hadn’t ever played there before, which was very strange, in all our time playing in Ireland… kind of odd.

KARL
Yeah, yeah. Very strange.

RICK
Yeah
And there were some film of the docks that Simon had found.

RICK
Oh yeah.

KARL
And we got hold of it; originally he was going to go to Belfast, the idea was that he would go in advance to all of the places that we were going to be playing… with a camera or a crew and film in that city. And it very quickly became a bit ridiculous.

RICK
A bit, ‘are you insane’? ‘Do you know how much that will cost?’

KARL
Yeah, and so it didn’t happen but he found this footage which we bought, and re-filmed it through lenses and just made something quite beautiful out of some stock industrial footage. That’s right, I forgot that was the first time that Appleshine appeared. The other thing to say is that on this track appears Georgia on violin and Lewis on saxophone from Black Country New Road. They came in and did a session for us, because the guys had come up and they’d recorded with their previous ensemble, at the Pigshed, and then there was a thought – get them in to play, to do what they wanna do on a number of tracks, so they do actually appear on a few tracks that are yet to be released don’t they?

RICK
Yeah.

KARL
Yeah, and uh, so that riff.

RICK
Real good stuff as well. They’ve got something very different about them, Lewis and Georgia. The band as well.

KARL
Yeah, they have something intuitive, a little bit Necks-ish. They know each other, and you watch them on stage and there’s a shorthand glance that they’ll give each other, and weirdly I saw them play the other night and there’s a track where where the guitarist takes over at the end, and because he’d been very enthusiastic his guitar had gone completely out of tune, and they just looked at each other and took over his riff, and played it as the pair of them. It was really quite something! Just watching, and going back to The Necks. They actually listen to each other.

RICK
There was no Agata (Melt Banana) on that.

KARL
No. No there wasn’t. They would have been recorded here at our studio by Simon…

RICK
Simon Gogerly.

KARL
…on a number of tracks for Drift. Definitely this one, Appleshine.

RICK
(agreeing)
Mmmm, mmm.

KARL
Lewis is playing flute.

RICK
…and it’s just this piece isn’t it?

KARL
It’s his primary instrument.

RICK
Is that right?
Wow, and there’s me thinking he’s Mr.Saxophone.

KARL
Saxophone is what he plays in the band.

RICK
I don’t know if there’s that much more to say about the track really, people seem to like the piece.

KARL
Yes.

RICK
Sweet, got an easiness about it, you know.

KARL
Yeah, there’s a lot of sunshine in it, when I hear it.

RICK
Yeah, yeah I just keep going.
(singing)
‘I sent you a message!
(Karl laughs)
Looking at this, sitting across the table looking at you, it’s not typical. It’s not typical, it’s not a noise that I expect to come out of your mouth.

KARL
No, it may not be something that we do, you know, at midnight on a Saturday main stage banging techno.

RICK
No, no

KARL
But it’s the kind of thing that over a period of time in the right environment, this kind of sound.

RICK
Yeah. Right time and place.

KARL
Is great, is great. You know, if we were banging all the time it would get a bit… well…

RICK
Yeah, somebody offer us a show where we can play for at least seven hours.

KARL
Yeah, well again that takes me back to Ally Pally, the performance that you did at Ally Pally.

RICK
Oh, what before?

KARL
Yeah, that performance you did from the tower, where something like this might have a place.

RICK
Yeah, yeah. It might have its place.

KARL
We might have to get a little falsetto chap in to.. a falsetto preset.
(both laugh)

RICK
Yeah a voice.

KARL
Appleshine. Okay.

End



Landscape from Chris Monger

Artist Christopher Monger sent Karl a photo of his portable landscape. I love this. What sort of people live there? (R)


THE EMPEROR OF THE LAND OF STICKS

A man
A stick man
Suddenly appears in the wrong place
Too far North for his clothes

His hair is fashioned into a tower that brushes the clouds as he walks his stick-frame down the pavement.
In each hand he carries samples of the things he’s made and come to sell,
To places
To people
Who appreciate his extraordinary, delicate skills,
But this is the wrong place.

His little Black shoes barely touch the ground as he pauses to place the exquisite packages on the pavement either side of them. Extracting something small from a pocket he stares into his hand for a long time, occasionally looking around at the tiny streets & tiny buildings, re-checking his location. His jacket is slim with precision curves more suited to Southern climbs, the bars, and restaurants, and nightlife.
And as the cold in the pit of his stomach spreads, beads of sweat appear at the base of the tower on his head, as he grasps how far off the track he is. He stares a long way down the road (a tiny road in a tiny town, where people hide their fists in the pockets of sensible jackets), suddenly feeling naked, wishing he was back amongst his people.

(K)


Manchester underpass

Walking the streets of Manchester, night before meeting with the Street Poem team (K)



A picture of a toilet on a wet & freezing night in Glasgow

A picture of a toilet on a wet & freezing night in Glasgow, before going to go see the artist Sue Tompkins perform one of her extraordinary word pieces at the Modern Institute on Osborne St after spending all afternoon recording the two of us discuss our individual process’ for gathering words. I first came across Sue when BBC 6 Music unearthed ‘The Leanover’, that she’d recorded with her band ‘Life Without Buildings’. The effect of hearing that track was profound on me, so I set off to locate her and wasn’t disappointed by the artist I found. (K)


Episode 2 Part 2
Molehill


Mon 28thK in MSP meeting with team in Manchester. R in studio on new piece… and finish mix of The Necks jam
Tue 29thR daytime meet with Simon Taylor and Mike at studio. Evening writing… what’s coming out this Thursday…? Molehill
Wed 30thR early start in studio. K phoner with Mojo. R+K rehearse for Dubai gig. Late afternoon back in studio on Molehill until deliver final mix for Simon at 2.03
Thurs 31stR+K rehearse for Dubai gig. Release day.
Fri 1st FebEquipment ships to Dubai from Pigshed.
Sat 2nd  – R In studio mostly… new music.. fresh air
Sun 3rdIn studio mostly… bit of Two Arrows…and Threat Of Rain with Simon T and Skrewell


Snow sunrise

Molehill escaped into snow. Drove to the Pigshed & rehearsed with Rick for Dubai  (K)


RICK AND KARL DISCUSS: PRELUDE TO MOLEHILL AND DRIFT

KARL
My phone is recording and we are at Rick’s now.

RICK
I had a thought last night…

KARL
What?

RICK
If you grab your phone, come with me.

KARL
Yeah.

RICK
And I wondered, I wondered if you could…

KARL
What?

RICK
Take a picture for me, I’m gonna show you something.

KARL
Take a picture?

RICK
Yeah.

KARL
Are you mad?

RICK
Well, I thought about this.
(walks outside)
So it’s a different type of conversation?

KARL
We’re walking outside! Ok, this is the sound of gravel, there are two sets of feet on gravel, we’ve gone around the corner and there’s bird-song, and I’m in Rick’s back garden. It’s a very nice garden actually, little out of season… We’re going across the grass… Oh wow look at that..

RICK
Mole Hills!

KARL
Mole Hills! I thought they were sculptures… aren’t they?

RICK
They look like Christopher Monger’s been here don’t they?

KARL
Yeah, they look like Christopher Monger and Richard Long have been here having a midnight feast, wow.
(takes pictures)

RICK
Yeah. The moles do Richard Long.

End

 

 

RICK AND KARL DISCUSS: MOLE HILL

KARL
What do you remember about Mole Hill Rick?

RICK
Well I’m struggling, but…

KARL
I remember!

RICK
Well, I don’t remember when we started.

KARL
We were in the Pigshed… you were sat down at the piano… Mole Hill isn’t it ‘da da da de da da da de da’?

RICK
Oh yeah, of course! Oh sorry no I was thinking of Brussels. Yeah, Mole Hill, yes we were at the Pigshed.

KARL
And I think, you said ‘where should we start?’ and I’d had this chord sequence that I’d been playing with on the guitar, and you went, ‘Alright, ok’. You weren’t sure whether you were even into it at the time, but you sat at the piano, with me strumming along

RICK
Yeah.

KARL
And we recorded it, and that’s where it started – just you and me at the Pigshed, which is unusual. We haven’t started many things in that almost traditional kind of way.

RICK
No, I just remember sitting there trying to eke chords out of something and I don’t know what that was about. It was much more of a traditional mode wasn’t it in terms of chord writing and…

KARL
It was like Tin Pan Alley.

RICK
(agreeing)
Mmm mmm.

KARL
And then I had this melody in my head that became very meandery, but it was a melody, and it was a bit like the old days of going ‘la la la’ rather than starting with words. It was like, ‘Right, I’ve got a melody in my head so I better put that down first!’ which is always a really big mistake because then you’re trapped into trying to fit words into a melody and I’ve never had much of a track record with that. So then we kind of arrived at something which didn’t have any words, and it sat there for a long time. What made you dig it out again?

RICK
I don’t think it ever really went away you know, I thought it was quite… well… I like Elton John but this wasn’t like Elton John even, I didn’t know where it was going. It definitely felt like it just looped you know, it was a very long loop. A very melodic beginning or an ending to something… but I just couldn’t see it as anything substantial. And you’d done the vocals to it, which were quite a big mark…

KARL
And a bit of a mess as well, they were all over the place.

RICK
Yeah,but you’d made work like we do, and pushed it on a bit, and then after a while it became… interesting… because it was so different to the other stuff we were doing.

KARL
Yeah.

RICK
You know when you’ve kind of had enough of deep techno…
for an hour?
(Karl laughs)

KARL
It’s a colour.

RICK
I think it was one of those things I just have to leave sit on it’s own, just to let go of, and leave be what it is… we can’t and don’t want to develop everything to the nth degree.

KARL
It seemed to epitomise Drift in the way you encourage us to follow this unlikely path of events rather than one where everything seems to be following a style, or a way of working. That’s when you start throwing in a curve, for whatever reason – it might be as simple as ‘I haven’t got anything this week’ and you’re just responding in the moment.

RICK
So Mole Hill ‘happened’ – how do you respond? The speed of change by approaching things with this Drift mentality is shocking.

KARL
Yeah. Drift.

RICK
Yeah, yeah. What we’re calling ‘The Drift Series’ you know… it is just gobsmacking how the creative mind… how creative juices,  happiness, joy, you know how quickly it changes. It’s astonishing to me. It’s not something I could’ve predicted, so it seems that it is working in terms of seeing this picture of something as a work in progress reflecting life more than a concept.

KARL
And of targets.

RICK
Yeah, and of targets and of patterns. Patterns supply a very real need that we as human beings have to feel some assurance of where we are gonna be… it’s not all, ‘Dice Man’ anarchy, it’s got its roots all over the place.

KARL
And yet there’s the facility for the process to remain open enough for it to change at the last minute, because it’s where you think it should go.

RICK
Yeah. It’s where I feel I’m led to go. It’s an experiment… based on something we’ve both felt and um… have got to a point, after 30 years of trying to work out why.
(Both laugh)

KARL
What made you think that then!

RICK
Well that’s where we’re going, ‘Oh well I think I do know why!’
(Both laugh)
‘Maybe I’ve got a clue you know, let’s try this let’s try this!’

KARL
There’s this thing you said the other week about bringing out the best in people, or for me what it means is creating an environment in which people can bring what they do, you know… the thing what they do naturally and the thing that they’re excited to do. And finding a place for that and nurturing that in the Drift series, and a seemingly random event like including Mole Hill in a set of material it might not normally have been curated into.

RICK
Yeah, yeah. There’s a lot stuff there in a few sentences!
(Karl laughs)

RICK
Yeah that’s a lot of stuff there. Curated… there is curation going yeah isn’t there, but the process is very different. You know, one of the things is that when you’ve only got an album every three years then you’ve only got this tiny little container (an album) to hold all that you’ve felt and experienced, and it’s too small.

KARL
And then you wait three years before you do it again.

RICK
You don’t have to take three years but we did… it was almost like a pattern, it was up to 6 years at one point I think?

KARL
Wow.

RICK
That was the time around the Olympics.

KARL
I remember…

RICK
So you know, if we can create a way to let the best of us out…

KARL
That’s the phrase, yeah.

RICK
In letting the best of us out, it’s published and then it comes back to you and it’s an encouragement that says, ‘Hey, you’re enough, sounds great, move on’, and I like that circle you know, a belief that it will always work out well… these are lofty ideas brother.

KARL
Yeah, well for me it’s working because this is a place that I’ll always want to come to work in and still want to be a part of and there’s that – it’s easy to say ‘surprise’ – but sometimes it’s not a surprise, when you expect a surprise it’s not a surprise and when it’s an environment where change can happen any minute, I catch myself going, ‘Oh that was a surprise!’ Well was it really, actually wasn’t it?

RICK
Yeah, yeah.

KARL
So that environment is constantly around us.

RICK
So when the lack of pattern becomes a pattern what’s that gonna feel like? I dunno. And then we’re back in another loop again… which is why it matters who you work with, who you hang with, who your friends are, what voices you wanna listen to, how lucky you are. How serendipitous you are with things that are happening in your life. You know we both got sick for a little while didn’t we at the end of last year and that wasn’t very nice.

KARL
It stopped everything!

RICK
But it worked out ok.

KARL
Yeah, yeah.

RICK
It worked out alright.

KARL
It took a while.

RICK
Both still here though.

KARL
To get back to talking about a track like Mole Hill – and Drift offers this all the time – is that everything doesn’t have to be just the lead track, the killer groove, the banging techno piece that is going to be prime for a Saturday night headline festival slot. There’s that space for ‘Track 3 Side 2’ in old money that you’d ignore and didn’t even like very much, but became your favourite in six months time

RICK
Yeah, yeah.

KARL
And it’s one of the things that Drift offers in the landscape of change.

RICK
Yeah, it’s definitely one of the things we wanted, all the way back to Riverrun and earlier. I just think it’s taken a while.

KARL
To drive ourselves… crazy.

RICK
To work out a mechanism? Or to find a place in your heart to go? The thing as well is how hard it is some days, you know, for all of us… this Drift thing ain’t easy everyday, some days for five minutes or two hours or a day. I’ve seen all of us in the team get very low because it’s hard.

KARL
It doesn’t let up.

RICK
It doesn’t let up, it’s relentless. It’s a lens; you hold stuff up to it that you’ve seen before and somehow it looks different, and when it doesn’t look different it makes you question… I got this sense that maybe we’re working together better now than I’ve had for the previous 25 years.

KARL
Yeah, that’s good man.

RICK
It’s a better place to be.

KARL
I feel that. I feel that.

RICK
Even if you’re having a bad morning, it ain’t bad you know?

KARL
Yeah, I like that everyone’s trying.

RICK
Yeah, and everyone’s enough.

KARL
I like getting together with you and doing notes and then going away, and I also like that there’s the encouragement from you there to to cut loose, unless there’s a deadline.

RICK
Yeah.

KARL
But also if there’s not a specific deadline and we also discuss this, there’s the encouragement to follow your heart.

RICK
Absolutely yeah.

KARL
And find out where that takes you, cos that could be the next thing.

RICK
Yeah, that sets apart.

KARL
That comes out next week.

RICK
‘What did you see? What did you glance as you walked past?’

KARL
Yeah, yeah.

RICK
Absolutely, needs to be both. Needs to be very focused and with seemingly complete abandon which is, curiously, very focused.

KARL
Yeah, it feels like it.

RICK
All the kind of Ancient Greek Heraclitean notions really. ‘White is Black, Black is White, for every truth there is an equal opposite truth’. Yeah yeah yeah. Whatever.
(both laugh)
We got Drift, mate!
(Karl claps)
Try and come and work this out.

KARL
(laughing)
That’s a good place to finish.. that’s really good, shall we finish there?

RICK
Yeah.

End


Chris Monger Tiny Landscape

Christopher Monger sent a new photo of his portable landscape. I love this journey he’s sharing. (R)


KING KONG WAS A FRIEND OF MINE

King Kong was a friend of mine
He lived next door
He had few friends
But no one had a bad word to say about him

He loved his garden
Ran an allotment on the other side of town
Kept himself to himself
Every now and then a little pile of vegetables would appear outside my door
(K)


Black Country, New Road poster

Saw Black Country, New Road play a sold out show in Brixton, ate pizza, walked the streets of Tooting  (K)

Fence hedge

Next day, boots, peace, tranquility, Ordnance Survey map (K)



Episode 2 Part 3
Threat Of Rain


Mon 4th Feb – R studio Two Arrows in a.m, then onwards with Simon T on Threat Of Rain. Delivered around 2am
Tue 5th – K new vocals on Soniamode. Simon T to Morocco. R meet with Mike G in Essex.
Wed 6th – Tired and ragged and bumping around. Fly to Dubai.
Thurs 7th – R+K  hotel room writing and chat. Nighttime soundcheck at gig
Fri 8th – R hotel room writing and chat with K and Haydn. Nighttime gig
Sat 9th – Fly home.
Sun 10th – On another planet.


RICK & KARL DISCUSS: THREAT OF RAIN

KARL
…So we’re here in Abu Dhabi.

RICK
Here in Abu Dhabi.

KARL
Here in Abu Dhabi in a hotel with an infinitely mirrored lift and a foyer that smells… interesting.

RICK
Overly perfumed carpet cleaner and thing.

KARL
Yeah, yeah… but it’s warm.

RICK
Yeah it’s warm.

KARL
And so, what’s this week’s releases?

RICK
Today’s release… cos’ today is Thursday.

KARL
Day of Rain.

RICK
Threat of Rain.
KARL
…which I’ve always thought is a great title; it is evocative and I won’t tell the old story but I love the rain. When anyone has a go at Britain I think, ‘Fair enough, you know you don’t like it’, but I like it and I like the rain, I like how it focuses me.
RICK
Yeah me too.

KARL
I like being indoors, I like the sound of it on the roof…

RICK
Yeah, we’ve both felt very positive about rain haven’t we? Ever since we first met really.

KARL
Yeah totally, and you’ve done some lovely recordings of rain as well, which can sometimes sound like frying bacon.

RICK
(laughing)
Yeah, yeah it does. Sometimes it just makes you want to go to the toilet. Rain with wind makes good recordings. A calm sunny day – not so much.

KARL
(laughing)
Not so great, but uh, Threat of Rain is curious… it’s not threatening. The title actually to me is more like, a gift, you know, something good’s on it’s way. And what I like about this track is me talking, but particularly the way you’ve used the voice… I like that it’s a very very short phrase. Well you’ve done that a lot, just found a phrase and been like, ‘Well, there wasn’t anything there but there were a few words.’

RICK
Well, I could look at the sequence and, you know, it might stimulate something… actually, I’ll do that in a minute, we’ll open it up in a minute…

KARL
Well it sounds a bit like I’m talking to you before we start recording going, ‘I’m ok, it’s ok’.

RICK
‘I’m good, I’m good, I’m alright’.

KARL
Yeah. ‘I’m good, I’m good, I’m alright’.

RICK
I know we can find it… we can have a listen and see whether it was a big reduction because something just wasn’t feeling quite right… or, not that at all. But I did feel that there’s something about, ‘I’m good, I’m good, I’m alright’ and just the sound of your voice was… I’m not sure… there’s an ambiguity in it, you know?

KARL
Yeah, yeah.

RICK
That and I like the fact that we’re repeating a positive word, and not ‘die die die.. all of you go to hell hell hell’.

KARL
“I used to be in a band with him and now this.”

RICK
(laughing)
Yeah, you know, I like that. But there is like an Underworld… or what people might call an Underworldness to it. Like, ‘Is he actually good, is he actually alright?’

KARL
It’s got a bit of ‘Jesus blood’ in it.

RICK
What’s that?

KARL
Just a little bit of ‘Jesus blood’ in there.

RICK
Oh yeah, yeah, I think you’re right.

KARL
And I like the fact that it takes its time as well. And that as a release in the Drift catalogue… Series 1 had a lot of vocals in it, a lot of words.

RICK
Episode 1 had a lot of words in it, yeah.

KARL
Episode 1 yeah, the Dust Episode. I’m really enjoying this counterbalance that reminds us that there isn’t one way of looking at our music.

RICK
So what we’re going to do when we talk about these tracks… Threat of Rain was one that I started on the 24th September 2017 at 1 o’clock in the morning.

KARL
Huh! Wow.

RICK
Well you know, that can mean a thousand different things to you and I… I’m not sure where the vocals were from… I’m not sure whether the vocals were from something that you recorded the week before, or two weeks before that and I just dropped them in to the piece…

KARL
Talk to me about Skrewell, cos you know I’ve never really.. I’ve never really understood Skrewell. I often think it’s like an oscilloscope but it’s not is it? It makes noises as well.

RICK
Well the visual is like an oscilloscope.

KARL
But it actually generates sound.

RICK
So they’re called Lissajous figures so it’s like a… they’re oscilloscope images, but they’re complex with more than one waveform happening at the same time and they affect each other. So this instrument, it works in NI reaktor. It’s an instrument that was designed a long-time ago, it’s been around for years… and they’re made most often by, you know, members of the public make them… People can develop their own instrument. Anyway, somebody made this one called Skrewell and I always adored it, it just intrigued me – I’d never come across an instrument like it… when I’m playing with it.. what’s important to me? I love the visuals. Is the sound just an artefact of making a great visual?

KARL
Does it make sound?

RICK
Yes, it’s a sound plugin.

KARL
Ok

RICK
Actually that’s what it’s primary purpose is, the visual I think is just..

KARL
And the visual is just reacting to the sound it makes?

RICK
Yes.

KARL
Or what you feed through it?

RICK
No, what it makes… It’s basically 8 oscillators and it’s nuts..

KARL
Well you’ve been working with it for years; years and years.

RICK
It’s really difficult to work out what’s going on with it.

KARL
And we were talking about it the other day, but I forgot you’ve made paintings from Skrewell, using projections of Skrewell at Ally Pally and drawings from Skrewell.

RICK
Yeah.

KARL
And this is something we should show as well.

RICK
Well you, you have the wireframe things, you’ve got films with green screen before they put the CGI on them, they’re things that you and I have loved.

KARL
Oh yeah, amazing.

RICK
You know Simon Taylor loves wireframe, loves deconstruction.

KARL
I mean, yeah when we worked on Sunshine, the wireframe stuff that we saw before it got CGI’d was astonishing.

RICK
Yeah, and I think that’s what I see, you know. There’s a kind of ravey, spaceness about it. I say that and it sounds like a downer but it’s good – it’s like Detroit, it’s got it’s own space.

KARL
It’s very alive though isn’t it, it almost looks like it’s a living organism… when I watch it, the film that was created, you know you created with Simon for this one, it was blowing me away because it wasn’t just the same kind of squiggles it would go off into something else, because of what you were doing with it, you were jamming with it. Suddenly it was becoming almost like a drawing of something, and then it was this sort of wild oscilloscope, and then it was this like a very geometric grid of something, so there was this continuously evolving narrative. That’s what it comes across as, it comes across as someone’s edited together a series of films but it’s you improvising with it.

RICK
Yeah, Simon processed the film so that he made it pulse and then he used a section of it as a strobe layer to make it move beyond just the square, you know? But it’s all… they’re embellishments of the core you know, bed which is a Skrewell performance. One of those things about Skrewell is… like you and I know about instruments that… really, really great instruments don’t guarantee that you’re going to get something good out of it.

KARL
(laughs)
Yeah.

RICK
They can be a challenge. Arp 2600, things without memories, things without reverbs and delay lines, guitars… they can be awkward, the acoustic instruments you bought in a shop with a terrible action that you know…

KARL
Just a piece of wood with wires.

RICK
That can produce a great result and also very often they can just sound awful; they don’t work, and you’ve just got to be patient. And there’s something about that, about instruments that don’t just deliver like a…

KARL
Preset.

RICK
Like a Garage Band preset kind of approach. And I’m constantly surprised at how I know that but I’m still really attracted to just go to the preset and just play some chords and just, do you know?

KARL
(laughing)
Yeah, yeah I do.

RICK
It’s weird.

KARL
Yeah sometimes I think… it’s not a 100% success rate, but there’s things I hear on the Detroit Underground label, where someone has dedicated their time to a modular piece of kit and then started to get something out of it which is just very rich, and you can hear the joy in it, in their pursuit of something.

RICK
Yeah, yeah.

KARL
It might not make me wanna dance, but I wanna listen…

RICK
Yeah.

KARL
It makes me wanna listen to it.

RICK
…So one of the things about the track was that Skrewell was a later addition because of the visual…

KARL
(agreeing)
Mmm.

RICK
Yeah, the actual track Threat of Rain wasn’t written with Skrewell in it.

KARL
Yeah right, okay.

RICK
Like the whole piece was a bit of an evolution based around modular synths; you know all that obscene amounts of modular equipment I’ve got now.
(Karl laughs)

RICK
…using the Verbose modules and the Make Noise O-Coast. There was a particular patch called the Krell – K-r-e-l-l – patch by Todd Barton… it was called the Krell patch because of an episode of an old American science fiction programme from the ‘50s.

KARL
Okay.

RICK
That was about aliens.

KARL
It wasn’t Forbidden Planet was it?

RICK
It could’ve been Forbidden Planet, or what’s the other one with the ‘do do do do do do do do’…

KARL
Oh Twilight Zone!

RICK
Twilight Zone! I think it was Forbidden Planet… basically they did a tape manipulation at the time so that these aliens or the alien planets sounded a particular way, and this Krell programme is a kind of playful equivalent of the magnetic tape original… completely random, microtonal, nothing is tuned, everything is random. What I did was I copied the patch, and then played with it, recorded them as jams, and then at a later date, I started to edit it… to create a more space because the relentless nature of it wasn’t musical to me. So what you hear in Threat of Rain is actually literal recording of that jam but with huge chunks taken out…

KARL
Running with the groove.

RICK
Running with the groove.

KARL
And where are you going with that mix? Because you know, it’s not like a concise mix is it, it’s not a radio edit, you’re going on a journey with it.

RICK
No. It was one of those where it was kind of like a pleasure to come back to for an hour one week and then a month later come back to it again, and then again. It started becoming something… interesting. It got less and less… kind of disruptive feeling and maybe I chased that as well, I started taking out the things that were really ‘ee ahh ee ahh’ [makes machine noises] just relentlessly, and just by making some space for these moments… so when they did arrive I was like, ‘Woah that’s beautiful’… I wanted to leave it fall where it fell. I wanted the tunings to fall where they fell, so just making… just taking things out as opposed to constructing.

KARL
Yeah, it’s kind of cliché to say it’s a journey, but it sounds like events on a timeline. It sounds like you’re following this line that’s going right the way through the middle, it’s a kick-drum, and it’s taking you on a journey and you’ve got this title in your head that’s created this landscape/ picture in your head whatever it might be, and then you encounter these events and if you see it with the moving pictures. I think the pictures are astonishing, I love the track… I love the way the track counter-balances all that material from Episode 1, and I like the fact that the images, the actual visual from it, are a counter-balance to what went on in the very literal world of Episode 1 of cars and feet, and all those things that we see from the real world. For me, it’s just as much from the real world, it’s like what’s being taken away is what we call a ‘reality’, you know. ‘These are feet, these are cars, these are trees’, and what’s been left is this, it’s a little bit more than the wireframe.. it’s a bit like the disturbance of things, you know. I know I sound a bit cosmic, but it’s a bit like the energy of things is being captured there, the kind of cartoon essence, the cartoon quality of someone passing through a room or somebody talking or someone driving a car or walking down the street. This is the bits you don’t see.

RICK
I have no idea with a piece like that… I don’t know how many people who know Underworld or love Underworld… how many people would like it, I have no idea. I mean – it ain’t Born Slippy is it, you know what I mean? It doesn’t let you in in that way.

KARL
(laughs)
There is that about it.

RICK
(laughs)
It is fourteen minutes long and, you know, the tuning is ‘oooh ok’ this ain’t western harmony in that way you know. I’m not sure, but those things don’t… that’s part of Drift for you and I… it’s so that the idea of one album every 3 years doesn’t reduce, doesn’t eliminate the things that might be on the periphery of what we do…

KARL
… it’s a shorthand translation of what Underworld is. You know you’ve got a certain amount of time you’ve got to squeeze it all into an album, and we’ve been talking a lot of time about the World of Underworld haven’t we, about opening it out to the many things we’ve done over the years so that everyone can get a chance to decide for themselves what they think about it, and, uh Drift. A huge thing for me with the Drift project is that it draws, it keeps pointing at that. It keeps pointing at the breadth of strangeness or things that wouldn’t normally, you wouldn’t normally think would appear in the same catalogue and and probably a lot of the things that wouldn’t make it to an album if you had to make it a cull and a short-list.

RICK
(agreeing)
No.

KARL
That’s a real shame when you’re a creative making things that you’ve got to work in a prescriptive way, which is fine if you’re working for a client isn’t it?, Or if you’re working for a film you expect to do that.

RICK
Sure working for a director.

KARL
Yeah which is fine you’d expect that, or a tv commercial.

RICK
But you and I talked about this, this was not necessarily making us happy, you know, to try and be that focused all of the time. It’s great working to a film and working to someone else’s story and trying to support a director and all that stuff, fantastic, but not all the time. Not all the time for us…

KARL
Yeah, how many people again, I mean our work with Anthony Minghella wasn’t about that, he was quite specific that it wasn’t.

RICK
What was it Anthony said…? ‘I want you to bring… I want you to bring contemporary noise’.
(Both laugh)

KARL
Yeah, and he’d been writing that script to Ess Gee.. on a loop… I’m thinking, ‘Okay… okay, well that’s oblique’.

RICK
Yeah. So was there anything to do with the track in that week, sticking with the track for a second, not a great week for me. A bit isolated, a bit desperate to get something ready for that Thursday. A bit set upon, trying to recover from the illness over Christmas and the break.

KARL
Yeah.

RICK
Uhhh… not stuck in the studio too much on the track, because I felt it was in pretty good shape anyway… and my other time that week was spent on developing another track, ‘Two Arrows’.

KARL
Wow really? That same week?

RICK
Yeah, from when we were in San Francisco, what was it April 2017 or something?

KARL
So September, when you said you were working on this…

RICK
In 2017, I started it.

KARL
We’d just got back from Japan where we’d played Osaka, where you played Peach Tree, and then we played Ultra…

RICK
Wow.

KARL
Up in Tokyo. And then the Osaka show you remember that at the Zepp…

RICK
We’d just got back?

KARL
Yeah, we’d just got back on the 19th and on the 24th you were doing this, but you remember that gig in Osaka where we made up a set-list that was just like, ‘Is this mad? Or.. is this just great?’ And you played Peach Tree, and I just remember watching from the side of the stage going ‘Go on! Carry on, carry on!’ and this track that just evolved and opened, a bit like this in a way. It’s like, ‘Oh yeah, it’ll finish now… no I won’t, no we’re only half-way through’

RICK
‘Oh I’m a bit bored of this now…’, 5 minutes in in, ‘Uh huh ok just stick with it’, 7 minutes in, ‘I’m not bored at all’.

KARL
And the audience, the way they really got behind that and you could just see their eyes just lighting up…

RICK
Yeah, yeah, “One second…”

KARL
‘He’s gonna do the whole thing!’
(Rick’s phone rings)

KARL
No, it’s okay listen you grab that now, we’ve got a lot here we’ve done a good job.

RICK
Is that ok? We’ve done okay for now?

KARL
Yeah, yeah.

RICK
We should carry on though because I… we haven’t gone sideways very much and that would be good, you know we were starting to do that then with the whole Osaka thing…

End


Soundcheck Dubai

Soundcheck Dubai, night before the show



An Anthology of short stories

The woman with the metal heart
The rain that never stopped
The tiny howlers
The theatre of nothing
The erotic telephone box
The horn of lord black metal
The whispering wheels
The yapping box
The begging stone
The umbrella that knew my name
The woman who dreamed she was a bridge
The bus that foretold the future
The giant floating cake
The village of the laughing horse head
The invisible tea room
The smug space suited family
The mouth that talked on it’s own
The quilted men
The fastest way
The howling staircase
The pointing arrow
The floating cone
The idyllic concourse
The smiling strawberry
The transforming man
The do nothing
The woman with the shaking head
The seven sisters
The finger that pointed
The whispering arms
The squealing walls
The pixelated woman
The folded news
The seven sky holes
The man who nodded grooves
The feet peaches
The water kissing woman
The man who turned into a tube train
The tunnel that only went left
The Purple cat woman

(K)


Rick laptop logic

Threat Of Rain for Resolve in hotel room in Dubai (R)


Verbos modules

Mark Verbos Oscillators in Soniamode and Threat Of Rain (R)




Episode 2 Part 4
Brussels


Mon 11th Feb – R in studio experimenting with A Million Matchsticks and Brussels
Tue 12th – R in studio finishing Brussels
Wed 13th – R meeting with Mike at my place. Evening finish mix and deliver to Simon 23.43pm
Thurs 14th – Release day. Newsletter etc. R Mix of ‘Continuum’ to Miles for mastering
Fri 15th – Ron Euser visit Pigshed
Sat 16th – R studio Drift thoughts and bits of Soniamode
Sun 17th – Can’t remember


Not a Million – 2009. (R)


RICK AND KARL DISCUSS: BRUSSELS

KARL
Ok. Now we’re talking about the track Brussels, at the Pigshed where it’s got really dark. You start talking Rick!

RICK
Ok. Alright, may be relevant. This track, you started this on the 29th March 2016, um, it’s called Brussels and I think you were in Brussels.

KARL
Yeah.

RICK
On the calendar it says ‘Day off in Brussels’. We were on tour, we’d just played Groningen the day before.

RICK
And we were on our way to the Cirque Royale in Paris.

KARL
Yeah yeah yeah. Yeah.

RICK
And then the Paradiso in Amsterdam and then live in Studio Brussels. And we did the Passport Festival, we played 2 nights at the Roundhouse. And you were working with Eno just prior to that actually.

KARL
Oh really?

RICK
Yeah it says ‘Karl with Eno’ in the middle of all of this.

KARL
Ok.

RICK
We’d also just played in Berlin and Mannheim.

KARL
There were some great gigs on that tour.

RICK
Yeah, and immediately we came back, I went off to America with the family, cos I think we were gigging there the next month.

KARL
Was that Coachella?

RICK
Yeah Coachella and San Francisco.

KARL
You and me, doing the road-trip, drove to San Francisco from the desert.

RICK
Yeah.

KARL
And wrote some great tunes in a…

RICK
In the various hotels, yeah.

RICK
That was the first time actually that you and I had taken a road-trip without anybody else there other than you and me. There were always other band members in the past.

KARL
It was great.

RICK
Yeah, it was good wasn’t it.

KARL
Yeah I remember people were asking, ‘Should we come with you?’, but it was like, ‘Nope!’

RICK
‘Yeah we’re alright, we can manage.’

KARL
It was really great…

RICK
Yeah, yeah. Anyway, that’s where the track started um and… went nowhere for 3 years.
(Karl laughs)

KARL
Like my life!
(Both laugh)

RICK
And also who knows what it sounded like, you know? We did Riverrun a long time ago, and began passing musical marks back and forth between us. So anyway, what does Brussels sound like I’ve forgotten?
(Karl laughs)
Hang on a second here it is.
(Plays the start of the song)
Ah! Of course! Ok so… hang on a second. Brussels…
(Plays more of the song)
…was at its heart, it was a piece of audio that you either recorded and made – or you had printed in some other decade even – and you fed it through a guitar pedal called a Red Panda.

KARL
Yeah, that glitch pedal, The Red Panda Particle.

RICK
And it had turned this pad of modulating nice noise, music noise, into this um… sometimes frantic cascade of notes
(plays that particular bit of the song)

KARL
That’s it.

RICK
…and uh I played with the pitch to midi thing because it was kind of interesting… it was an ambient piece, and I ended up in the same place as with Soniamode going, ‘Oh my goodness, what are we gonna do, we’ve got nothing that we can put out!’
(plays song in background)
So I opened up our Brussels sequence, and I just thought it was beautiful you know this cascading ambience. It was kind of a busy gentleness; like an active mind when it’s relaxed, so it didn’t sound to me like some hippy stoned out chilled monotone. It was actually rather busy but somehow incredibly calming, I really loved it, and still think we should put out the ambient version at some point

KARL
Mmm, mmm ok.

RICK
What I did was combine it with another piece we had which was called… A Million Matchsticks.

KARL
Oh yeah!

RICK
And A Million Matchsticks we wrote… on 14th August 2017. We were just at my place writing together.

KARL
Yeah.

RICK
And a bit like when you play with your CD players. I was just playing a sequence and playing something in the finder, just looking to see if there was… I don’t know, maybe an interesting collision, or could the piece develop into something, could one piece develop into the other… and they somehow started to work, you know, very nicely, because A Million Matchsticks had this curious vocal on it, ‘the art of conversation’.

KARL
Ahhh! Yeah yeah yeah yeah.

RICK
(sings the lyric)
‘The art of conversation’ and then ‘no fail’ you sing

KARL
Yeah ‘no fail’, I think it was a lyric that had a lot of words and you shut most of them up.

RICK
(smiling)
Well it might not have been me, it could have been you that cut them out as well. A Million Matchsticks had popped out of all these folder searchings, and then when you and I sat down and said, ‘Look where are we at, we need to do something decent for this coming Thursday’, and that came up. We were in Dubai in a hotel room!

KARL
Because originally there was a track called Two Arrows that we were considering for release that Thursday.

RICK
Yeah.

KARL
That was like, ‘Yeah yeah, I think this is it and nearly and maybe’.

RICK
Yeah yeah ‘and nearly..’ – it seemed to just fall down the chasm for a second.

KARL
Yeah it stayed on the edge of the plate for too long, and it fell off…

RICK
‘…and it might be back.’

KARL
Yeah I remember you called me up in Glasgow where I was doing that interview with Sue Tompkins and you said you’d been talking to Steve Hall and he was like, ‘Yeah, I think Two Arrows’ and I was thinking, ‘Phew! Great, ok that’s good, we’ve got this Thursday’s release in the bag… and it’s pretty much there and we just need to do a bit of work on it”. and then when I got back to Essex you were like, ‘Nah’, and I was thinking, ‘Oh no!’
(laughs)

RICK
But this one jumped out to us both didn’t it, on this little loudspeaker in the hotel in the Dubai, ‘oh that’s a nice sounding rhythm’.

KARL
That’s right, you’d started to go through a list of more of our unfinished tracks that you’d compiled.

RICK
There you go.

KARL
Of things you’d trawled and found… this big list of stuff.

RICK
Yeah.

KARL
That to me, that’s a godsend, because when I’m stuck or in doubt, I pick one on the list and do something to it.

RICK
Yeah.

KARL
So we’re in this hotel room in Dubai and we hear what you’ve put together through this little speaker and instantly we both went, ‘Ooh!’ We were getting really knackered at the end of a long day and we had about an hour to rest before we had to go down the gig, but it was like, ‘Oh!’

RICK
And I just remember that moment, it was like, “Ok, that’s a good groove”, and so I had a bit of luck, you know, playing the finder, playing the sequence, putting the two together, “Oh and that’s happening”, and it was late at night when I got back from the gig and I just laid them both together and then they worked didn’t they?

KARL
Yeah. Again for me, it was the joy of not having – and I mean joy – of not having lots of vocal just because we’ve got someone who uses their voice. It was voice as instrument again, here we are with the voice as an instrument and it’s saying some words you can recognise and there’s a great vibe to those words and it doesn’t have to say anymore; it doesn’t have to tell a story or take you on a journey, because the journey’s happening through the whole piece of music.

RICK
A lack of lyric is a beautiful thing sometimes.

KARL
Yeah, and in a way jazz has that ability to take you on a journey and be full of colours and light and shade…
and tonality, like the human voice but isn’t the human voice.

RICK
Yeah, when we listen to The Necks we aren’t like, ‘I wish they had a singer’. We’ll talk at another time about the nature of spoken word and the way that people communicate with each other… what happens when the written word is turned into audio… there’s a lot to talk about there.

KARL
You’ve done decades of that.

RICK
Well we both have, you’ve been so poetic with that, you know…

KARL
You mean I haven’t shut up?
(laughs)

RICK
(smiling)
No, no, it’s been a part of our identity in the world as you and me together, as Underworld. These are the things that we play with, you know.. words – we play with words and groove and melody…

KARL
I think for me, a lot of people don’t see that process that you’ve worked. Words come out of my mouth and I collect a lot of words, there’s been constant encouragement from you to do that, constant support, and constant utilising of those utterances and collecting of words by you, and very often you’ve re-presented them in ways that been better than my intent; that have been more accurately my intent…

RICK
Yeah.

KARL
…and revealed something which I didn’t realise was in there. You’ve revealed something else, whether it’s been the way something like Cowgirl was created; building Cowgirl out of these utterances that you’ve re-arranged.

RICK
We’ve run a whole range haven’t we, like we’ve tried to talk about this kind of thing before, it’s really quite difficult…

KARL
Yeah.

RICK
…and not just because I’m inept at communicating.
(Karl laughs)

KARL
Doesn’t help!

RICK
My motivation can come from all sorts of places. Often that’s been, ‘This doesn’t sound very good’. That’s happened a lot… or, ‘There’s no ideas or nobody’s giving me any ideas!’ There’s been plenty of times where that’s not the case at all you know, where your words and the performance are incredibly complete, and feels really right, and that’s when it feels like a gift to me, do you know?

KARL
Because it happens so rarely!
(laughs)

RICK
Whatever the process, the ambition is always the same and that’s to bring the best out of whatever it is – the music, your voice, you know. I found ways to preserve your rawness by using the vocoder, because I didn’t want to neuter the way you’d sung or performed, because there was something beautiful and natural about it, and the flaws… I think we talked about it being like the scratch in your vinyl, actually seem to be part of the joy of it. I don’t know why you do what you do, or why you’re so relentless with it, but I like the challenge. I like the challenge of uh… of taking something and no matter what it is, trying to make it work.

KARL
(agreeing)
Mmm.

RICK
…trying to, trying to see the beauty in it… or to frame it right so that it begins to appear beautiful, I think you do that when you take pictures, lines in the street and marks and puddles, and there’s something beautiful about the way that you’ll frame them, and give them context. And there are other times when I don’t feel like that to be honest, I think that…  sometimes you see it as beautiful, and I see it as ugly… and maybe what’s interesting is this difference of opinion, you know?

KARL
Yes.. that’s where there’s faith, in what you do for me, the faith in what I’m bringing you is… you’ll see there’s something there, if you keep looking for it, and for me and from my point of view, if you’ve left two phrases, it’s not any old two phrases – you’ve left two really good phrases, and you’ve cleared away all the things that clouded those two phrases and made them disappear; you’ve found them in the jungle box of phrases you know.

RICK
Yeah, yeah.

KARL
Yeah, it’s a conversation between us. It’s like. ‘Ok, that’s what you think is it?’, and then it’s about making a shift of perception, like, ‘Ah! Ok so it’s not one of those things I was thinking it was going to be, it’s something else, and I’d rather be here with you in this unknown landscape… Drifting’.

RICK
That’s at the heart of what makes me want to make music,… I struggle with the idea of what’s finished, and often when it is finished – as in it’s published and it’s out, I’m kind of unhappy about what I’ve done, you know. Often intense repetition can destroy the freshness of something, but at the heart of it there’s this… I have these moments in the studio, like you’ve just described there, of ‘I’ve just discovered something, something has happened by an accident, something has happened that wasn’t there before and now it is’… and half the time I know I’m on my own in the studio but that it’s nothing to do with me, and I don’t know where it came from… but put yourself in that place enough and you’re gonna get lucky sometimes!
(both laugh)
…but it is lovely feeling of discovery, of a fresh meaning in something. It’s what makes me wanna work actually more than the finished product really, it’s those moments.

KARL
Wow, the art of conversation.
(both laugh)
And with that…

RICK
We should stop.

KARL
We should stop, yes it’s a good place to stop…

End


Haydn's new Drift

Haydn Cruickshank has been lighting director with UW since the early 90’s. This is his new Drift Car. Want one! His passion for drift racing inspired Rick and encouraged him to explore the community of grass roots drifting and the wider meaning of the word ‘drift’ . (K)



Chris Monger Landscape

Another week and Christopher Monger moves onwards with portable landscape (R)



Rick Trees Nightime

Last night… seeing Christopher everywhere… (R)



Episode 2 Part 5
Soniamode


Mon 18th Feb – K on new vocals/words for Soniamode, and Your Damage. R meet MG and SH at studio, then on Soniamode film edit mix …upload to Simon midnight
Tue 19th – Writing with K in G A M E style. Soniamode developing a life beyond this Thursday
Wed 20th – Writing with K at my place. Simon T to Japan.
Thurs 21th – Release day. Newsletter etc and can’t remember
Fri 22nd – Meet with friends at the Pigshed. Evening in studio playing with mixes.
Sat 23rd – R early start… writing, mixing, uploading files for Episode 2 Resolve…late
Sun 24th – Miles Showell mastering Resolve of Episode 2 ‘ATOM’ at Abbey Road


RICK AND KARL DISCUSS: SONIAMODE

KARL
We’re here at the Pigshed, it’s getting dark. That sounds like a prophecy doesn’t it?
(laughs)
‘It’s getting dark, Rick…’

RICK
(laughs)
Yeah… but not inside my head. No, I can’t see anything here. I was looking in the diary, just to know what we were talking about… we’re talking about Soniamode?

KARL
Yeah.

RICK
We draw on materials that are spread from right across time. There could be a word, a lyric, a piece of groove, a bassline, a noise idea that might’ve been recorded 10 years ago.

KARL
(agreeing)
Mmmm

RICK
And it’s just sat there in this kind of cupboard that doesn’t really exist like a cupboard… it sits in a far worse place than a cupboard.
(Karl laughs)
Like in that Harrison Ford film, what was it?

KARL
Indiana Jones?

RICK
Raiders of the Lost Ark, where they put the ark into that vast warehouse.
(Karl laughs)
It feels a bit like sometimes. ‘Oh my god where did that go?’, ‘Oh well, it’s actually on that hard-drive there but yeah, I’ll give you a slap-up supper if you can find the bloody thing!’

KARL
Marked ‘1963 furniture’.

RICK
Soniamode. You and I started together on the 1st April 2015.

KARL
Were we on a tour?

RICK
I can’t see anything in the diary for that time.

KARL
Ok.

RICK
All I can see is a lot of people had holidays at that time actually; people in the team. But we weren’t, and there’s no reference to you and I. Anyway, it was April Fool’s Day 2015.

KARL
Ha!

RICK
I have no memory of what we did.. I’m not going to stop and open up the sequences, but… in 2015 I actually had the mark verbos modules.. so um.. this seed of an idea..has been around since then, uh it was.. I.. I opened it up again on the 22nd January this year at 11 minutes past 7.. I don’t know why… because we were in a mode where we were looking to see what seeds we had..?

KARL
(laughing)
In a kind of dark, lost, ‘Oh my god where’s the mojo gone’ way.

RICK
Yeah. We’d both been ill, we’d had Christmas and we’d lost the energy of the first Drift episode.

KARL
And the will to live.

RICK
Yeah, I was panicking.

KARL
It’s all over!

RICK
You were panicking.

KARL
“Drift is a really shit idea!”

RICK
We panicked in separate houses, and in the same house.
(both laughing)

KARL
Yes.

RICK
And this sequence was in a bunch of stuff and I thought, ‘Ok just mark that’. and what I liked about it was it started to speak to me about this crazed street band walking past…

KARL
In New Orleans…

RICK
Yeah, New Orleans. I was thinking about Treme and the Indians and the… and it’s all a bit nuts, but has some real roots, yeah? It’s really good stuff… And I sort of think there are like tuba-esque sounds in there – like in the bottom end of the modular and what have you.. A really nice sound, a mad sequence. I can’t quite remember it… on the sequence the main riff is a ‘Verbose Harmonic Oscillator’…a particular lovely module of his which I’ve loved. And Koma which is…it’s this beautiful filter that does all sorts of weird distortion…something to do with Vactrols…. And it had a really nice sound. It was a crazy thing that didn’t kind of go anywhere… I’d done something with that pitch to midi thing that we do…it’s actually two sequences at once… If you solo either one of them it’s not right, but together they make that sound…which is kind of like a band does. It’s an ensemble you know? Anyway, I kind of liked the idea of it. I’d saved a few bars of it and then…

KARL
You played it to me and I just thought it was just fantastic. So alive. I mean curiously it does remind me of New Orleans jazz, there’s a band called the Hot 8 Brass Band that are famous for doing contemporary sounding music and this to me sounded like a band like that doing glitch, because it’s so alive, the modular is so alive it doesn’t sound electronic any more.

RICK
Yeah

KARL
It sounds like this incredible acoustic band that’s able to somehow glitch and fracture and jump and almost yodel, do you know what I mean?

RICK
(agreeing)
Mmmm

KARL
All these brass instruments are kind of yodelling and catching things in their throat, and it’s just hugely alive, and it, something like that it kind of goads me on…

RICK
Yeah, yeah.

KARL
And then we’d play with some rhymes, and because it sounded as great as it did, I thought if it came out like as an instrumental it would be fantastic, really fantastic. And then I just started singing along with it and there was this…

RICK
Mouth organ…

KARL
(laughs)
Oh yeah, I did try some mouth organ. I tried a bunch of things.

RICK
It was really interesting.

KARL
I was like, ‘Well this is on my mind, this is on my mind’. but uh, it’s a ‘so I’ll put it down and send it to you’… I’m just looking for something here… a screenshot. There we go. Then I tried a couple of vocals and they were alright, then nothing much happened. And then there was this recording that our friend Alan Dein mentioned. He’s a freelance documentary maker for BBC radio; he does those amazing ‘Don’t Log Off’ programmes. And last time I got talking to him, we were talking about game and children’s rhymes and rhymes about history; about social history being carried in rhymes and sayings, and then he was reminded, well he’s talked about this guy called Tony Schwartz, who was based in New York, who’d made these recordings of life in the city in New York. He was somebody who didn’t really like to leave his block; didn’t really like to leave his area, and I think later on in life, Alan had gone to meet him because they obviously crossed-over in similar areas, and had made this documentary on him. He said, ‘Oh you’d really like this guy’s recordings’. So we obviously logged on and found all these recordings of urban life. In particular, New York children singing playground songs from the early ‘50s. So this was the direct transcript of one of these playground rhymes. I’ve got this little book of transcripts I made from these recordings, and I just tried a couple and this was the one that sort of stuck. I think I can remember at the time thinking, ‘I don’t know…’

RICK
Well, you’ve been doing quite a few of these. You timed it so when you sent me the mp3 one night… I think I was in the middle of Drift delivery hell.
(both laugh)
You know what I mean. Just some kind of weird, exhausted thing happening for those few days, and I didn’t like it at all. I remember when it came through being like…
(Karl laughs)
‘Ah yeah I know what this is, I don’t know… it sounds…’ I didn’t like it at all, which shows you can’t trust me really much can you? Well, you can’t trust anyone who’s completely exhausted really, it’s like, ‘Try another day’.
(Karl laughs)
But then… when I actually got the sequence off you, I really started to like it, and I still didn’t realise that it was a children’s rhyme at that point. I think I only realised that about five days ago. ’Oh, so it’s actually a children’s rhyme?’ You showed me the words and you’d transcribed them and what have you, and it… it resonated, it really just added the icing to the cake for me. It was kind of mad…Why’s he singing about boogie…?

KARL
It’s not really a word we use, is it?

RICK
No, it’s curious isn’t it? …’Boogie’ made me smile, because it just seems so out of time and place that it was somehow very relevant. It’s like some kind of fantastic vintage Levi jacket…
(Karl laughs)
…that’s taken 60 years to come back into style.
(both laugh)
And I quite like that.

KARL
I think I have one of those!

RICK
There might be quite a lot of people listening who disagree, ‘Oh I think it’s naff’. I don’t know, I really liked it. I thought that you’d made really nice, not just the lyric of it and the rhyming, but these little devices that you’d made to do something. Kind of like this odd counterpoint, not lyric based at all.

KARL
The transformation for me came in listening to your mix because everything sat right. It wasn’t just a voice that was on top of a backing, it actually sat in the music and did what you’ve done with voice a lot…

RICK
I thinned out a bunch of stuff that you’d done, because it was just to do with the energy flow, and then the piano…

KARL
Ah yeah I loved the piano!

RICK
It was a kind of a clue.

KARL
I’d never heard you play piano like that, it was just mental.

RICK
Ahh, get out of it. Yeah it was. I was really enjoying it because everything seemed to belong, you know the slightly unhinged. ‘I’m not sure about this vocal, patently playful, why are you singing Toy, Toy all the time at me, I don’t know.’ And then the piano, the modular synths and the tuning on them, like laptops synthesisers and the Verbose stuff… I enjoy that; I think that’s where the brass instrumental nature comes because it’s never quite in tune.

KARL
(agreeing)
Mmmm

RICK
You know, like young people are when they’re learning to play instruments…

KARL
Sort of rough.

RICK
Yeah, the intonation, absolutely. And the vocal, everything just seemed to belong to this slightly daft image, I mean you know we talked about it would be fantastic to get somebody like the Sons of Kemet to do a version of it or to jam with it or to play with it you know in some way, I think that would be really interesting, to use it as a platform, I mean we’ve sort of completed it now. I mean it’s coming out tomorrow.

KARL
Yeah to extend this, in a way like we worked with The Necks.

RICK
Yeah, Sons of Kemet… they’re so extraordinary with the two drummers and tuba and sax… it just all seems to fit. We should try, we should get in touch.

KARL
Yeah, yeah. London.

RICK
Anyway, Soniamode, can you recall why it’s called that?

KARL
(laughs)
No I can’t!

RICK
I know I can’t.

KARL
Can anybody recall why anything is called that?

RICK
Soniamode nah, I got nothing.

KARL
It’s quite an unusual title.

RICK
Yeah, it’s a name Sonia, Soniamode, I don’t know – who knows?

KARL
That’s it, that’s good.

RICK
Yeah it is for that track, proper last minute for that one.

KARL
I know what I wanted to say for this one. I just really want to talk about Simon Taylor’s film, because he’s been really working; he’s been flying hasn’t he? I mean he’s been working so fast, you know he really hasn’t had any real advance warning at all…

RICK
No, he’s been a busy boy with all this, with his architecture students and his Work Not Work label.

KARL
He’s working on the fly, working on the move; he’s filming out of train windows, making things in the hope that they’ll be for a track and then they turn out for something else, also therefore having to think, ‘How do I change this if the tempo changes, if the meter changes the whole thing?’ And he got this, I remember I was in Tomato and he showed me this sculpture of a tower that he and his students…

RICK
Ibrahim. Ibrahim, yeah…

KARL
Ibrahim, yeah. One of his ex-students who’s an architect now had created for a pitch that they’re making for this piece of architecture and how they were going to film it and how it articulated and how it moved. Then they’d filmed it and created this wireframe out of it. Initially, I think it was for another piece of music he’d had in mind that you’d sent him

RICK
Yeah, yeah.

KARL
And then you sent him Soniamode and I can just imagine the gears crashing… probably they crash a little less now, cos he’s used to it. It came back and I was watching it in a cafe this morning and I instantly thought of the Mondrian picture ‘Broadway Boogie-Woogie’.

RICK
Yeah yeah, that was a mad link.

KARL
And I sent it to you and him. I’d seen the picture many many times, and I remember when I was a student, seeing ‘Broadway Boogie-Woogie’, you know when I was 16/17, and thinking, ‘Oh, it’s a really hard-edge painted painting of absolutely meticulously painted lines’ and then seeing it at MoMa in New York or somewhere like that, and it’s really not. It’s really rough, I mean it probably wasn’t in its day but you look at it now and you can see it’s hand-painted, really nicely, and it’s really alive. He did a lot of those and I was told it was echoing the flow of traffic on the blocks in New York City, you know the grids of blocks and the traffic.

RICK
Yeah

KARL
And it’s from the ‘40s, very jazz, and you can see it how it’s very animated.

RICK
Yeah, yeah. Very evocative of that period.

KARL
So I thought I’d send that back to you and Simon, and I know Simon smiled.

RICK
…it made me smile…I just saw his film and thought this is really alive and joyful and bouncing, and feels great. What a way of taking film and music and making them work together. It was fantastic, and then seeing that Mondrian…they do look like they belong in the same universe. And then the name… ‘Broadway Boogie-Woogie’ well it’s just nuts

KARL
(laughing)
Didn’t even think about it.

RICK
Just… we find this a lot don’t we – serendipitous, synchronous moments…

KARL
Ok well, there we go. Right there we go. We’re finishing on Soniamode.

End


Drove home to witness the tragedy of Kidderminster, a town that no longer has the industry that gave it purpose. Walked along whole streets of empty shops at night to reach the shining light that is Kidderminster College where my mate Kevyn Gammond was performing his brilliant Migrant X project which in many ways mirrors DRIFT. (K)


THE MUFFIN MAN

In walks the Muffin Man,
Fumbling for change,
Accompanied by a small dog disguised as a Bear

The tiny bear transforms it’s self into a 1950’s rock n roll star,
Shaking & vibrating across a tiny stage made from tables,
Lined up along the road outside,
Where yellow lines snake to guide motorists through town,
They smile,
And wave,
And honk their horns as they drive past,
Their day brightened,
To witness such unexpected wonder,
The Muffin Man takes no notice,
Sits down,
Grey,
Knees tucked under the tiny stage,
Pulls something small from his pocket,
And disappears into it,
Leaving only the shape of a man behind,
The rock n roll star turns back into a dog,
Lies down at the feet of the shape of the man,
And watches over it until he returns

The Muffin Man returns to his body,
With a souvenir from the place he disappeared to,
A small cake wrapped in paper

He climbs up onto the tiny stage,
And starts dancing to the sound of a small wining child,
The dog smells the cake,
Stands up on his hind legs,
Paws on the edge of the stage,
And stares longingly,
The man stops dancing,
Glares,
And points a bony finger at the dog,
Forgetting which one is the master
(K)


Episode 2 Part 6
Appleshine Continuum


Mon 25th Feb – R phone calls, studio,big tech hassles with archive…  go Steely Dan at Wembley
Tue 26th – R+K on words, sleeve notes and conversation. Robin at London office.
Wed 27th – R+K on words and meetings
Thurs 28th – R studio on words and meet Mike G. K guitars on Toluca Stars. Simon T back from Japan.
Fri 1st March – K to Italy. R in studio on words. Simon T in Holland.
Sat 2nd – K in Italy. R in studio making new ‘z-gatherings’ and new web-page for resolve.
Sun 3rd – R day of rest. K back in Essex.


RICK AND KARL DISCUSS: THE NECKS

KARL
The Necks.

RICK
The Necks.

KARL
The Necks… Appleshine?

RICK
Yeah, Appleshine. One of the five or six jams that we recorded with the Necks. How did this start? You met the Necks quite a while ago now?

KARL
I didn’t know who the hell they were. It was working with Brian Eno as part of his Pure Scenius project at the Sydney Opera House; it was going to be hours of improvised performance. He said, ‘I’ve invited these guys called the Necks’, and I thought… nothing. You know – the sound of tumbleweed. And then they turned up and it was, ‘Wow, wow.’ (laughing)

RICK
Why ‘wow’? Was it because of the haircuts?

KARL
(laughing)
Yeah, because of their haircuts, because of their trousers – the tightness of their trousers…

RICK
The cut of their jibs…

KARL
The size of their acoustic-ness. They were nice people and extraordinary talents as musicians… and amazing listeners – that’s possibly one of their greatest talents. They’ve evolved listening to each other and improvising off each other. (with Pure Scenius) they were put them in a situation where they were augmenting an ensemble of improvisers, and you’ve got people right at the core who live by listening and improvising, you know not just getting off on their own musicianship. Once I’d been told of their track record I was intimidated, thinking, ‘God, we’ve got some proper players here’. I was the only non-proper player amongst the whole bunch of them, but they weren’t precious at all. And you know that from the session we did at Air. They don’t come across as ‘we’re so great’ at all.

RICK
No no no… I’d say the same thing. I’d met Tony outside Cafe Oto when they did a show. I’d only ever seen them play once; it was so hot in there that night… I only survived half the set. I remember the first time I met them all at AIR. ‘Oh my god, they’re sweethearts’…really lovely. I mean, you know… Chris is very quiet and then he starts talking and he’s not that quiet at all… I felt very calm being around them, you know, immediately.

KARL
Yeah, me too.

RICK
And there was nothing in those two days of working with them that changed that feeling of.. ‘Ah this is just so easy being with them, it’s all about the music.’

KARL
Yeah, it is.

RICK
I thought they were ‘jazz’, I didn’t realise that they’re not actually ‘jazz’..

KARL
We didn’t say that! We didn’t, you actually didn’t think that!

RICK
Didn’t I?

KARL
(laughing)
No you didn’t say that

RICK
Well perhaps a lot of people said they were…

KARL
(laughing)
Yeah yeah. ‘Are you jazz?’ Yeah, I asked that and they took me outside, beat me up in the bike sheds and then brought me back.

RICK
(laughing)
Was it Tony Buck who said, ‘No we’re trance improv’. Is that right…? the more time I spend working on the mixes from after the event, the more I’m getting a kind of Hindu feeling about their approach to music, and about repetition and movement… and there’s a depth to what they do. You know, you’re not gonna get that if you listen for just a minute and a half.

KARL
Definitely.

RICK
It’s not gonna happen, which suits the stubborn bugger in me as well, you know.

KARL
I think I’ve played with them about a half a dozen times, and really enjoyed it, and then I’ve seen them play now three or four times maybe, and they’re different every time. Every time. Possibly one of the most remarkable live gigs of my life was them at the Village Underground. I remember they did two shows that night and uh, the one set was really really good; the other set was, all I can describe is as – and I’ll keep saying this –  they were like the engine room of a super-tanker. They made a noise, they attacked their instruments with such ferocity and didn’t give up for about forty minutes. I was thinking I actually didn’t know how Tony was still alive and how his limbs were still moving, because they were moving with such a frantic jitter. He was working in 32nd beats, and each of his limbs was in a different rhythm and it just carried on… and this audience that seemed quite restrained – I might have said possibly a little bit beard-strokey in the beginning… a lot of them didn’t have beards, but they had imaginary beards. And a lot of people were punching the air and screaming like they were at an AC/DC concert. It was off the scale. I’d brought some friends down who they’re not into that sort of thing at all, and they came up to me afterwards and were like, ‘That’s the best thing I’ve seen in my life’.
(laughing)

RICK
That sounds like… what we’re told and where we imagine a truly transcendent improvisation can get to, where it can take you.

KARL
It reminded me of when we improvised on stage. You’d get some nights that were like, ‘Yeah that was alright’, some that were, ‘Yeah that was pretty good’, or ‘yeah we were ok tonight’. And then, every so often, you’d go ‘What happened?’

RICK
Yeah, like Reading Festival, 1996. What happened there? I don’t know, and you don’t know do you? You just don’t know…

KARL
Weirdly, when they came off stage that night, I said the same thing to them. ‘Wow, what the hell happened!’ And they just looked at me like they didn’t know what I was talking about.

RICK
Yeah, yeah.

KARL
So AIR Studios, which in itself is a strange thing to be talking about isn’t it? We don’t do big expensive famous studios.

RICK
No, no… I wanted to record them with really nice microphones in a really nice place, with Kirsty Whalley and Peter Cobbin who’d done all the Olympics Opening Ceremony stuff.

KARL
And Pete had recorded the first Necks album in Australia.

RICK
Yeah right – a huge huge fan.

KARL
So they were really thrilled.

RICK
Peter Cobbin was the head engineer at Abbey Road forever, you know remarkable guy, and Kirsty we first met doing Breaking and Entering with Gabriel Yared. She’s an extraordinary talent

KARL
Peter couldn’t do it.

RICK
Peter couldn’t do it he was in New Zealand, away on a rare break. Kirsty was extraordinary; Fi and the staff at AIR were just brilliant, the room was amazing. Just walking in to the studio that day… I felt…I mean it did feel a bit luxurious didn’t it?

KARL
It’s funny cos I was watching The Queen movie recently and there’s a scene of the band rehearsing at AIR, and I remember leaning across to Tracey – my missus – and going, ‘That’s where we recorded with the Necks!’. It felt good! It was an amazing room and we don’t do that very often do we?

RICK
No no we don’t. I did a lot of prep for the session – the basic pieces we were going to start from. You’d spoken to Tony and checked that the band were all absolutely OK with working to a click and sequencers which they don’t normally do. So that was good. We got great isolation. It took a predictably long time to set up, a lot of microphones, a lot of lines…

KARL
You spent a lot of time having to take care of stuff I remember, not being able to be cut free as much as would’ve been good.

RICK
And Simon Taylor and Robbie were there filming and photographing as well

KARL
Yeah it was great.

RICK
Mark O’Neill was sitting in helping you and I.

KARL
Mark who does our live sound for us…

RICK
And Malcolm too, just being there ready for anything, helping with the kit. I know the set up took ages… but then I remember being surprised at how suddenly and quickly we got started. We’d hit record and we knew we weren’t just going to rehearse or anything; we started improvising. The shortest improv we did was – I don’t know – forty something minutes? That was the shortest, some of the others were over an hour… Time would just I don’t know… just kind of disappear really.

KARL
I liked being able to move between rooms. You and I were set up with all of our kit in the big room, and Tony behind some screens making a hell of a racket and then Chris on the grand piano and the Hammond organ in one isolation booth and Lloyd and his double-bass…

RICK
In a tiny double-bass cupboard…

KARL
(laughing)
In a cupboard, which he seemed quite happy about. He’s a funny man; he’s got quite a sense of humour, there’s this boyish light about him. I had some kit, some noisy guitar kit, set up in another room across the way, so it was nice to just be able to move between rooms and even go and sit in the control room and listen and then come back out when I thought, ‘Ok, I’ve got something.’ Cos weirdly, it was quite intimidating for me. You know how I get sometimes I don’t just want to blast away over the top of what’s going on, so I try to just listen and work out what to bring to what was already an interesting sound. I think if we went back in again, I’d have a better grip on that part…

RICK
Yeah me too. I’d do it again at the drop of a hat, yeah tomorrow..

KARL
Yeah, definitely.

RICK
It really struck me that the three of them were really lovely people to be around. Very unusual, very quiet, they didn’t make a lot of noise, you know, there wasn’t a lot of fuss with them, and then when they start to play together, it’s so singular. They’re so completely into what they do. Really, I knew so little about them before the session, which is quite a mad thing in itself.

KARL
Well, it’s great that you just entered into it with such faith because you’d only really got my word to go on…
(laughing)

RICK
Yeah, well I trust you…

KARL
I might not have got it right!

RICK
You’d spoken about them a lot, on and off. You’d mentioned them countless times…

KARL
I’d been to Berlin and hung out with Tony.

RICK
And I’d been to Cafe Oto and thought, ‘Yeah…’. The little bit that I’d heard of them really struck me. I haven’t heard piano playing approached like that before you know. So there was lots of encouragement there… and a small amount of just trust in you really.

KARL
Weirdly, Chris terrifies me on stage when he gets locked onto something.  It’s like he’s attacking the instrument, kind of beating it into submission and getting this amazing sound out of it. I never saw Keith Emerson stick daggers in a Hammond organ, but it’s akin to that sometimes. Watching him, he transforms from the person that you sat down having a cup of tea with. In fact, I think because of the way they perform, their personalities off-stage are remarkably open and welcoming and generous and, as you say, quiet. They still seem to be full of wonder when you talk to them all. You know Tony, who’s probably the most punk of them all, still looks like he’s in a punk band from the ’70s. To me, there’s an ease and an ability to just enter into what’s going on, and not be judgemental. Which is exceptional really

RICK
Yeah

KARL
And then you only got the recordings quite late?

RICK
Yeah. There were various tech issues as to why it took quite a while, huge multi-tracks, huge, vast enormous multi-tracks, so many microphones, so many options and long, long takes, impeccably recorded.

KARL
Did you enjoy listening to them?

RICK
We talked about this…at the time we got the recordings back… about this melancholy feeling I had. One of the things for me when we were at Air… we were standing there in this incredible studio and I couldn’t help thinking about how the recording industry in the UK and the rest of the world has been decimated in recent years…I mean we’re talking about a handful of studios of that quality left in the UK when there were dozens…who knows how long it’s going to be before property developers finally get their hands on them?

KARL
And Abbey Road.

RICK
Yeah and Abbey Road the same. I feel very fortunate that we’ve done some great work, and some very odd work in these places over the years.

KARL
I mean the work that’s gone on in Abbey Road that you did with the Olympics and then that we did with Anthony Minghella and Gabriel Yared and with orchestras in there. And right the way back to Freur… recording in the famous Studio 2. You know, you’re right, we have been very fortunate to have worked in some of those places

RICK
Yeah

KARL
And, at the same time, I don’t miss it either.

RICK
Well you know… we’ll end up talking about recordings in 1990… there was no way I could afford professional studios any more..If you’re only earning 500 quid to make a piece of music for some radio advert or what have you, you couldn’t give it all away to pay for the studio. You know, we had to pay bills ourselves…

KARL
So, really good music got made in your bedroom.

RICK
You know, that’s still bloody great and fantastic and working in hotel rooms with your laptop. Why can’t we have it all, you know?

KARL
I miss the choice sometimes.. although we’re really fortunate to have a bigger space of our own. And all the hotel rooms on tour. It’s not too bad a spread.

RICK
(agreeing)
No, we could’ve recorded The Necks at the Shed but we couldn’t isolate the instruments in the same way.

KARL
If I miss anything it’s probably going back a long way – and some of it’s romantic – but it was meeting other artists.

RICK
Yeah, over coffee?

KARL
Yeah you know, ‘so and so’s in studio wotsit’. You know, ‘nip in, have a chat, you know.. make contact’. I remember we were recording as Freur in Mayfair Studios, and had to move to Abbey Road that first time because Pink Floyd needed the whole studio complex so they booted us out for a week. That doesn’t happen in The Pig Shed. You don’t often get booted out by Pink Floyd there.

RICK
No no that doesn’t happen often with Pink Floyd..

KARL
(laughing)
From your kitchen.

RICK
‘I’m stood waiting here, patiently, knowing Floyd will be here to boot us out any minute’.
(both laugh)
Anyway. Any other thoughts on the session?

KARL
I remember one thing was the instruments, you know. How we’ve gone from tonnages of equipment and now you’ve pared everything right back and we pick up things and we take our specialist equipment in peli-cases. But the Necks brought nothing. That was… amazing

RICK
They hired everything bar a snare and a couple of cogs, didn’t they?

KARL
I think everything was hired, except Tony’s stick bag and his cogs.

RICK
Yeah. The cogs.

KARL
So I think that’s all they carry. Stick bag and cogs.
(laughs)

RICK
Tony’s Cogs – that’s a track name there, man.

KARL
Nice.

RICK
Um, yeah that’s right, and I’m sitting there with our bloody beautiful SSL routing monitors and recording paths and they turn up…

KARL
With a stick bag and a couple of cogs!

RICK
We’re doing something wrong, man.
(both laugh)
That’s not right

KARL
You gotta go back to playing piano.
(laughs)

RICK
Yeah, yeah.

KARL
That’s it I think.

RICK
Yeah I think so, for The Necks.

KARL
That’s enough of that lot.

End


Prophet 12 Rick Notes

Notebook – Prophet 12 synth  prep for sessions at AIR with The Necks (R)


Karl carcrash cartoon

Notebook entry from 26 years ago today (K)


Read Frank‘s book. It’s amazing. (R)




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