Some things take longer than expected.
Quite a few of years ago I started writing a collection of songs that my friends and I then decided to record entirely outdoors. From one (generally cold and wet) location to the next and across several countries we found ourselves dragging drum kits and pianos, trombones and accordions. This all took a while.
However, this collection of recordings eventually became an album. And today, I’m delighted to announce that this album, 'Benthic Lines', will be released by Armellodie Records on the 12th of May this year.
When it came to deciding how to physically present the album, we wanted to try something a bit different and ended up creating a beautiful little sixty page book. I’m really chuffed with how this book has worked out and feel it accompanies the music perfectly. There’s stunning cover art by Matthew Cusick, an expertly executed short story by Craig Rennie, photographs of the recording process, illustrations (complete with longitude and latitude coordinates) of the various locations, and all of the lyrics. The book’s made from thick matte paper stock and looks and feels gorgeous. You’ll be able to get it either on it’s own (with a download code for the music), or with a CD.
Anyway. The album is available to pre-order now. You’ll receive a copy before the official release date and in the meantime you'll get an immediate download of the song, 'Earth Broke Its Vow' to whet your appetite."
Thanks so much.
(first, an apology for the months of silence on this blog)
About five years after having the idea for this outdoor-recorded album, and after travelling to many, many different locations over four continents, it is now finished. And I think it's quite good. It's going to be called Benthic Lines and we've managed to acquire some absolutely stunning artwork by an American artist called Matthew Cusick. Can't wait to show it off.
The album is due to be mastered by Alan Douches (who's worked with Grizzly Bear, Midlake, Sufjan Stevens) in a few weeks time so I've been busy in the studio making some final tweaks to the mixes. I've also been outputting all of the individual stems as these are going to be released under a Creative Commons license for those interested in remixing/mangling.
In terms of dates, I've been in conversation with a local label called Armellodie Records and the plan is for them to release the album later in the year. I'm chuffed to be working with them, they're a cracking wee label. In the meantime there's design work, a video, website and press release to be working on. (If anyone wants to help with a simple static website dedicated to the album do get in touch!) I'm hoping to have local and online listening parties nearer the time (probably no balloons) so you'll get a chance to hear the album a wee while before it comes out if you're interested. Then there'll be gigs. Probably should start practising again…
Finally, for those of you on Facebook, I'm afraid I've kind of given up on it. I lost interest ever since they started asking me to pay to promote my status updates so that the people who chose to follow me could actually see them. I'm not a car company. I might persist for a little longer but generally I'm floating around on Twitter a bit more these days. If you're interested in that kind of thing I'm over here.
Ever wanted an elephant on your chest? Well now, thanks to magic and chariots and time-travel, you can! Mainly thanks to a t-shirt actually. The one in the picture. We're having a SALE (uppercase please). These lovely American Apparel screen-printed fitted t-shirts are now only £10 and have an elephant's FACE on them, the very same one from my album Everything is Simple. You can get one here.
Enjoy responsibly. And wear a jacket if it's cold please.
After recording a whole album outdoors it didn't seem right to slap on some digital reverb during the mixing process and create artificial senses of space. So, after visiting various caves and tunnels, we evenutally settled on this cannal tunnel near Falkirk...
It was raining a lot. We didn't really want to go outside, especially not to record some singing. However, this bandstand helped us out considerably. Thanks bandstand. Thanstand.
It was hot. Very hot. My phone told me it had to cool down before I could use it again. We found a clearing in Pattiesmuir woods and after sitting on this tree stump, started hitting it. Well, Ali hit it and I pointed a microphone the right way. All the little bugs and creatures were running around. Dancing, I like to think, but probably just terrified.
It took some serious effort to get the piano out of our flat but with the help of my friends Ali, Dunc and Nico we managed it. Thankfully it didn't rain. Why I chose to record an album outdoors at the same time as writing more piano based songs than I ever have done previously will remain a mystery.
We've ended up recording almost all the drums for the album at this ruined church by the sea. It doesn't have a roof but has still got a great lively sound to it which is hard to achieve in outdoor locations. Depending on what song we were doing, we would move to different parts of the church and position the microphones further or closer to the kit. This song is still a bit of a work in progress but I reckon that what Greg has brought to the table are helping to move it in the right direction.
It's been a while since I last wrote here, but not due to lack of activity. We have been pressing ahead with this album that's being recorded entirely outdoors, and it has brought us to some superb musicians and a number of interesting locations.
Dara Stewart delivered a punch to the belly with his double bass performance in Glasgow's Kelvingrove Park, while curious Japanese tourists asked for photos. With Herculean effort, my friends managed to drag my piano outside allowing me to record a few takes before the rain came. My Dad, my brother and his kids invited me along to a barbecue at Aberdour beach, where I promptly whipped out an accordion and laid down a quick ditty. Tim, Marcus and Phil ventured to the top of Calton Hill in Edinburgh and delivered beautiful brass and horn performances in the shadow of the National Monument. And in the next couple of weeks there's glockenspiel, Rhodes, synth bass, vocals, drums...
There are a few photos and videos kicking about on this site and of course, all these excursions have been added to the map of recording locations that can be found here.
We're hoping to have most of the recording done in the next few weeks before winter sets in and before my wife gives birth to our first baby :)