Thursday, 8 August 2013
Songs for Chaotic Times - The Lowdown
"Songs for Chaotic Times"
What's it all about? I couple of people have asked me to shed some light on my intentions with this album. So here goes!
Much of the inspiration for recording these songs came from my frustration with some musical friends who ran a mile from writing and performing "protest songs", especially subjects such as 9/11 and mind control. "Songs" is actually nothing like the accepted notion of a protest song! I have always believed that ground level realisation comes from the simplest of things - like a story or a song. It is a difficult balancing act (in song writing) between commercial pap that says too little and the kind of preachy and dogmatic stuff that you would find at (for example) a Christian rock concert! In terms of spreading information, it also tough to avoid merely singing all the names in a telephone directory. Hopefully, "Songs" has proved the point that it can be done in a credible way. Ironically, I ended up having a number of musicians on board with the album.
Sadly, although I'm not in the least bit ungrateful, these were largely people with a broader perspective and slightly more open mind. My hope is that the album will encourage those who operate by the mainstream rulebook to think outside the box, and that these songs will awaken some larger truths in a few people. If I have accomplished even this, then the time and work involved was worth it and I can consider it a job well done!
Track 1 - "Lullaby" (00:10)
My original idea for this project was one of an over-arching concept album - a non-specific individual on a journey from the moment of realisation that "something just ain't right", through the depression and anger, and finally reaching some sense of clarity, awakening and acceptance. The whole thing ended up slightly maudlin though and ended up only being represented by four or five of the tracks that made the album.
This tale of a non-descript relationship coming to an end, as a result of one person waking up and the other in total denial, was planned to be sung by the female half of the relationship. I called upon Claudia Sterling, an all-round musical genius (of whom I'm very envious!) and a lovely person to boot. Claudia heard a few of the tracks that featured my preferred surreal soundscapes and subsequently insisted on having her vocals distorted to match the effect, as well as forcing me to sing with her. It is the one track that I almost left out because I preferred the original vocals. However, I bowed to Claudia's wishes... something most sane men usually do!
Track 2 - "Hypnobox" (02:20)
My awakened muso friend "Poxy" (D.J. Proxy) had not long re-watched "Tron Legacy" when we met up. We ended up discussing the questionable output of Disney and the like, when I played him a rough rock version (that I had already recorded) of this track.
The subject matter of the almost hypnotic nature of the mainstream media, particularly television, got him thinking about the world of "Tron" as a metaphor for the media, and the phenomenon of mind control. We talked about the film's soundtrack which was produced by the techno/dance outfit Daft Punk and ended up remixing the track as a homage to their style. He even recorded and heavily distorted the opening mantras of "consume" and "control" as a nod to the film "They Live".
Track 3 - "The Dream" (06:34)
The largely acoustic sound of this track was recorded in Stu's (a good and awakened musical friend) Skye Sounds - in an old barn actually! "The Dream" represents our manufactured reality and the rut we find ourselves in when we finally transition to something of an awakened state. The orchestral sound is all synthetic, by the way!
Track 4 - "Rabbit Hole" (09:08)
A short tribute to the film "The Matrix", one of my first "moments" of "awakening".
Track 5 - "Sound of Sheep" (11:05)
I actually wrote this song first of all the tracks and recorded the original version over a year ago. When I did my "London 2012" presentation at Truth Juice Birmingham, I took about fifty copies of a rough, four track demo with me to give out to folk. In retrospect, I was hasty including "Sheep".
I played the song to one of my former Who's Renown band mates, who describe it as "like the Bay City Rollers"! This immediately prompted an immediate rethink! After several months, I had retooled the track with an edgier, key-changed sound and largely new lyrics.
"Sheep" is the tale of a stunning looking girl I watched at Occupy London (before I realised what Occupy was REALLY all about) who seemed to simply ape everything that everybody was shouting - regardless of context or personal views. The song is also a larger reflection of the nature of movements and how they usually end up co-opted as "limited hangouts" and "re-routers of truth".
Track 6 - "Cities in the Sky" (14:03)
For most of my teens, I spent a lot of my summers on the East coast of England. My mates and I would spend most the nights on the beach getting (eventually) very inebriated! Around late evening/the early hours of the morning, we would regularly watch objects dart about the sky.
These objects would return with regularity, interact with each other and make manoeuvres that defied the laws of physics. we would often ponder what they really were. Were they manmade or from elsewhere? We knew it had nothing to do with the booze though! "Cities" loosely relates those experiences.
Claudia also added some subtle vocal textures to the song.
Track 7 - "Turned to Dust" (16:36)
The first of two songs about 9/11. "Dust" addresses the tireless work and extensively detailed evidence gathered by Dr Judy Wood in her book, "Where did the Towers Go?" The track also addresses some of the denialist, limited hangout positions of the so-called "9/11 Truth Movement".
Dr Wood is an inspiration to me, so I felt it appropriate to include an astute, albeit brief, soundbite of her from one her interviews.
The Harmonica on the track was played by my dad!
Track 8 - "Tuesday Morning" (19:01)
A muse upon the larger cultural zeitgeist of 9/11, as well as my own personal feelings from the actual day of the tragedy. There are also a few additional nods to the dustification of the towers, Hurricane Erin and the "no-planes" angle.
Track 9 - "Dumb Game" (21:26)
A general tirade against the power of the elite, the games they play, and how we usually get sucked into them.
Track 10 - "Cathy" (22:48)
Loosely based upon the account of presidential mind control model Cathy O'Brien, but more a general nod to all those who have been affected. I recorded the piano track at Skye Sounds, but the vocals were recorded at my home. I was never able to quite match the soundscape of the vocals to the piano. A few subtle organ sounds have dulled the disjoint, but I'm still a little disappointed by the final result. Hopefully I will re-record the song at some later date.
Track 11 - "Dem Boots, Bob" (25:18)
A tribute to the legendary Bob Marley, specifically the bizarre tale (featured in Alex Constantine's book "The Covert War Against Rock") of his death - involving the military and intelligence agencies of the day and a pair of boots he was given to wear on stage, which may have contained a prong in the heel, resulting in his death from cancer.
Track 12 - "Fade Away" (27:53)
Original "anthem" track for the concept album idea. Months in the making, with many fingers in the pot! The song is based upon the idea of manufactured "end of days" scenarios and the cultural fallout. Claudia and the incredibly talented Rachel Cavanaugh also recorded parts of the vocal choruses.
Track 13 - "Falling into Place" (32:28)
The "arrival point at the train station of truth"! The first half of the song is about reconciling perceived reality with larger realisations. The latter half is the chaos that pulls at those who are trying to keep it all in perspective.
Track 14 - "Song for Chaotic Times" (34:40)
A bit of a victory song to end the album, a mid-finger up to the powers that be, and a not so subtle dig at those who think that there is "nothing to see" and "everything is fine". "There are none so blind as those who will not see!"
My dad played the accordion on the track.
So there you go. My huge respect and gratitude to everybody who got on board with this album. I couldn't have done it without you. Please feel free to repost the music wherever you wish (just don't forget to mention who produced it!), spread the word, give it a thumbs up on YouTube, and so on. Here is the YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1eCosUAH2y4
I will hopefully find a home for the actual audio album tracks in the near future and make sure the music is available as a cost free download.
Many thanks for all your continued support and readership, and peace out to you all!
All the best,
Carl (The 'Guide)