We’re writing the fourth album. Writing, learning, recording this time – slower, different results. Each album is a chance to do something different (well, the same but different). Originally this was going to be ‘the synthpop album’, so we’ve ended up a bit heavier this time instead – because we wrote the first song (How To Breathe) on synths and had to tune the guitars to drop D to play it. Since then Simon has managed to stay in drop D for all five new songs. I’ve slipped back in to standard tuning for Half-Life. The influences have changed a little too. I know that I’ve been thinking of Stone Temple Pilots, Rage Against The Machine, Low, Chris Isaak, New Model Army, Nine Inch Nails (can you tell how old I am?), an some of the little Sunn O))) that I’m familiar with. Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Rush, Yes, and Hawkwind have all been mentioned in the room too.
It’s going well. We have the two songs already mentioned, then So Far From Me, Lover Best Forgotten, and as of today Knock Me Down. We’ll let you know when you can hear them.
Electric Eels is the next track from Space Cowboys Under the Sea of Japan that we’re looking at. This is another one of those random ideas that sprouted into a full track. Three basses at some parts. No real lead guitars. Weird lyrics that at first listen don’t seem to make sense. I tried to make them seem odd but (with any luck) if the idea is explained then the words start to come alive. It’s really an anti-consumerism song. About how everyone at some point is drawn into the thrill of buying stuff that is not important at the end of the day. How we put significance on things and objects and forget that there are people on this planet who have far less than ourselves and that if we took time to remember this then perhaps we wouldn’t feel frustrated that we don’t have an iPhone 26 or a BMW M62.
Musically this is the first (and only) track that we used my bass multi effects on. There is an over drive noise, a bit distortion and a didgeridoo simulator(?) in there. Also, we used the bass effects for some lo-fi vocals as well. Which I love! The drum patterns have some nice little noises and oddness about them. There some phased clean guitar on here (I think it’s the Dot I’m playing. Rob kept a log of which instruments were used for each track). Everything ties together really well. Weird song that is totally out of our usual spectrum, but works perfectly.
Next on the list of tracks to talk about, The Oyster. A bit of an odd ball this one. A bit rocky. A little funky. Some unusual vocal frills. Lovely bass riffing that pushes the track along with a guitar track that can do no wrong. I can’t imagine any part of this different to how it is. Everything fits nice and snug, just like it should and at a shade over five minutes it’s a good length. Not quite sure where the idea came from originally, I think it started from a jam? Maybe the other parts of HMD can help out with that. The over all concept, from a lyric perspective, is of a life lived, but not loved.(Feeling indebted to the queen/her/she above). A life of normality and function, but not of adventure or fulfilment. (I found the oyster, but not the pearl) An existence of conforming to what you feel is expected, but not showing who you really are. (I am faking a little longer. I fake myself to pass through unaware).
Why do a lot of my lyrics turn out to be downers? (Challenge for next album, 100% bunnies and sugar?)
I think the drums work quite well in this track. Although it has a bit of funk about it, the electronic drums don’t detract from the feel and everything comes across as being fluid. I’d have to agree with something both Rob and Pete have picked up on in the past week, that this album as a whole feels like musical progression of the last. It’s the third album from HMD and in listening to this and the first back to back I can see the development. Flesh Reunion glued both together perfectly. Also, as a side note, I managed to get all the electric guitars I own on a least one track on the album. RESULT! (Now that should be a challange! Each of us has to get each instrument on at least one track in the future. Might be easier from some than others. Just remembered the drum kit. Damn!)
It’s nearly time to share the fruits of our labour. The songs we have written. The music we have played. The mistakes and bum notes we’ve recorded. (Find them if you can, like a musical where’s Wally.)
Looking back its quite a mixed bag of songs. Different styles and different approaches. Different influences and different time signatures. (Sorry. I blame Pete and his prog influence.) Lets look back at the tracks in no particular order, but starting with the first one we commuted to digitalness, Village of Dolls.
How many bass parts is there here? I’m pretty sure we all played at least one. We started writing this based on a news article Rob brought in about a village in Japan where the population had decreased so much that a resident had started to make dolls to replace the people. Simple enough ideas and abstract at the same time (I doubt it would’ve gotten Mr Cowell’s approval). I think this came together pretty quick. We didn’t come up with a structure of parts and instruments and we just chucked stuff at the mic to see what held. The result I think is a little unusual. Starts busy and full and reduces in complexity towards the end. Not a shouty loud song but one that teases you along till the end finally comes. It certainly gave us something to build upon through the coming weeks and inspired us to carry on the ‘hot pot’ approach of writing on the fly for a few tracks. A lovely start to recording Space Cowboys Under the Sea of Japan.