News | Ramblings | November 14, 2014

Patchwork Cacophony updates

After along, long wait, the release date is in sight for my debut album Patchwork Cacophony. All being well, it will be available to buy on the 8th December, though pre-orders will open before then. You can read the publicity material and blurb about the album elsewhere on the ‘net, but here I’m just going to talk a bit about it from a personal perspective as an experience.

I think if I was to pick a set of adjectives “gruelling” would be high on the list. And, I think, “rewarding” would make an appearance too.

It’s been frankly an exercise in utter bloody-minded stubbornness. Earlier on I had vaguely expected to have other musicians playing on it, but I didn’t want to borrow members of FO2 and blur the line between that band and my own work. I did arrange a couple of sessions playing through various embryonic ideas with people, but over time it began to feel as though I could only really expect “my” interpretation of the music if I played the parts myself. Once I’d got into that mindset it was perhaps inevitable that would end up the whole thing myself, even if it meant learning new instruments and improving my abilities on others.

The hardest part for me, as with Casting Shadows and Broken Parachute, has been the final polish. The last edits, the mixing and the mastering. It’s a slog going over the whole thing over and over and over, on different speakers and headphones, trying to listen with fresh ears each time for that glitch which will otherwise stand out like a sore thumb once the album is released. Truth be told, I have actually had help from a few other volunteers who’ve listened to mixes well after the listening gear between my ears has turned to porridge, and who have pointed out things that I’d just become deaf too. And for all the hard work it’s been worth it. Two days ago I suddenly noticed that four bars of the bass line on No U-Turn had mysteriously been cut. In amongst all the chaos it’s easy to miss, but once you’ve noticed it’s screamingly obvious each time it comes around.

Listening back to what may be the final mix of the album I can hear the progression in my playing, particularly on the drums, but I’m being strict with myself in not going back and rerecording anything because that way lies and endless loop, and after all this time I am ready to put these tracks to bed and start work on the pile of ideas I’ve already got for future tracks, all of which have been on hold for a year or so now.

So, any New Album’s Resolutions for next time, Ben? Well, maybe nothing as set in stone as that, but I do have a strong inclination to do something with other people next. Creative interaction and bouncing off each other’s ideas aside, there is something practical but invaluable about being able to step away from a piece with a problem, come back to it a week later and find that someone else has been thinking about it and has ideas for how to improve things. The true solo album has been the opposite of that. Every time I took a break from it, I came back to an album which was in the same state as I left it, only I’d forgotten some of what I’d been doing.

But for now, promotional concerns aside, the hard work is now almost over and it’s time to pause and reflect on this personal mountain I’ve climbed for a little while.


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