2010 (what do I get?)

A glance at my recent accomplishments shows two albums on their way to completion.  All Monsters and Dust is so very nearly there.  My collaboration with Bill Ryan that is The Eleventh Hour is in touching distance of the halfway point.

It is so easy to overlook your achievements.  This is especially easy in the music business, and believe me, I am a specialist in overlooking my achievements.  But a scan through the songs I have posted in 2010 so far reveals many highlights.  To be fair, in songwriting terms, probably high points of my whole career.  And that is a great thing for me to be able to say – it certainly means I haven’t reached the top of the hill yet!  😉

Reconstruct a Memory is a smart song.  I think it was described perfectly by one commentator as being ‘angular’.  I like that.  In a world where we are striving to produce ‘phat music’, I like that I have given you the opposite.  I like that it is a song that pushes a few things forward… gives you a few things to think about, musically speaking.

Dorian Gray is a song that took a long time to complete.  But complete it I did.  The song actually has roots stretching back to the early 2000s, but it was a song that never really had a purpose.  It did however have a soaring, roaring synth riff.  I knew that I could make that tune into a special song.  Perhaps not special for you, the audience… but special to me.  A song that has been with me through thick and thin – forever remaining incomplete, untarnished, forever young!  Then the eureka moment!  The moment I named the album All Monsters and Dust… along with the theme of staying forever young, I realised I had a title – Dorian Gray – and therefore a theme.  There are elements of the completed song that were recorded so long ago, I would certainly do things differently now.  But that is not the point. The point is that the song finally breathes.  And that makes me proud.  Maybe you like it, maybe you don’t – but it makes me happy.  And that is worth it’s weight in gold!!! 🙂

Come closer is a little different.  More of a personal song for me.  Also a song completed in a much quicker time span.  One of those songs you either get or you don’t. Luckily the feedback on the song has been pretty universally positive.  So for the moment, the song has a place on the album.

Those three songs are the primary songs I have completed this year for the All Monsters and Dust album.  It has been a collection of songs that has catalogued and defined my recent life.  An album has many purposes, some of which I may explore in the future, but I would consider this album to be something of an autobiographical effort.  Spilling my life and feelings into song.

Moving on through 2010 I collaborated with a great musician from the US on a song which became Where We Go Next.  The music for the song was written whilst I was in Africa, and it was an epic project in every sense.  From a pure music point of  view I was working with ‘found sound’ – that is, real sound, recorded and used as instruments.  I was tapping wine glasses and shaking Corn flakes boxes.  Then Bill would send me vocal files and I would take the song as a whole and mix it seamlessly.  We were both so happy with the resulting song that we decided to make the collaboration permanent.  Hence the creation of The Eleventh Hour.  The band had to be formed.  We couldn’t just leave it at one solitary song.  We had a gut feeling that there was something more to our collaboration than just a simple ‘guest spot’.

‘Meeting’ Bill has been a musical highlight of 2010.  We realised that Where We Go Next was a pretty special song.  So… what could we do next?  I opted for a more streamline, 45 rpm approach – resulting in the song Mean Machines. To be honest, we haven’t looked back since.  We have taken the ‘single’ ideal and refined it with each song.  Through Escape Plan and Pitfall we have produced sounds that capture and frame our imagination.  We hope that the songs therefore appeal to you, the ‘general public’ – but that isn’t really so important to us.  I know it’s a cliché, but these songs really have to make Bill and I happy.  Anything else is just a bonus.

So… 2010 has been an interesting year so far.  A most productive year in fact.  I have written many songs, played alongside many great musicians and played many a rocking gig in my time.  But this year has been rejuvenating.  As Alan Partridge would say “a breath of fresh air”.  There are times in a songwriter’s career when you feel you have said all there is to say.  You have poured your heart out too many times, to the point of being empty.  I have felt this.  But an evaluation of this year – 8 months – surprises me.  A listen through the track listings of the two ‘albums in progress’ reveal songs that I would place amongst my very best.  But if this rambling is for any reason – then that reason is to prove to a musician who could have felt jaded, that there is life beyond the obvious.  There is life beyond the initial love songs.  There is life beyond the revenge songs and the songs fuelled by hate.  There is life beyond everything past.  I am enjoying 2010.  If even a single one of you out there spends a couple of minutes of your life listening to any of my songs then that makes my year.  Roll on this final third of 2010.  I raise a glass of wine to all of you!!!