Category Archives: Music

Friday Trem: What A Rose Is

Closing time, I’ve had more than my fill
legs keep walking, get me over the hill
stars above never answer back and never
dare to judge misery and misbehaviour

for in that rose contained was
heaven and earth in little space

Closing time, all alone in filthy weather
cars go by on their way to who knows where now
streetlights shine, rain and mist create a halo
just like mine – if you love me, why won’t you say so?

for in that rose contained was
heaven and earth in little space

Blackwaterside: Pastoral Electronica

For a period of about six months from late Autumn last year to early Spring this year I was working near to Harmondsworth Moor, and had the opportunity to go out wandering over the moor at lunchtimes. I took some pictures –

The river
The river
A pathway
A pathway
Reeds in the lake
Reeds in the lake
A rock
Help, I’m a rock.

and, whilst staying overnight at the very accommodating Jury’s Inn hotel in Hatton Cross, I made some music on my laptop. Lacking instruments, and limited in the amount of noise I was able to make, I composed and recorded everything entirely in software, using the excellent Reaper DAW and a bunch of free instruments and plugins.

The collection of tunes that emerged over this period had some common features: from the beginning, I decided to make music focusing on Harmondsworth Moor, which would evoke both its flourishing flora and fauna and the often wild, wet and windy experience of walking across it. Rather as the black metal artist Striborg establishes rules of mimesis whereby different sonic components of his music correspond to different aspects of the experience of wandering through the forests of his native Tasmania, I started finding ways to produce “blustery” or “burgeoning” sounds using electronic instruments and complex signal chains. My previous experiments with w/trem and (the electronic version of) Spiral Jacobs provided some ready-made techniques for making electronic instruments squall, throb, fuzz and hiss; I also found that arpeggiation gave me a nice musical analogue for the profligate natural self-propagation of bushes and flowers.

You can hear the entire album below – it’s also available as a name-your-price (including “free”) download from the Blackwaterside bandcamp page.

Friday Trem: Goodbyes

One of my favourite acts of the late 90s was Dave Pearce’s Flying Saucer Attack, whose eerie, folky, bedroom-shoegaze was the template for a lot of what I did with w/trem. FSA had what I call a “complete” aesthetic, which is perhaps unintentionally recalled┬áby the recent Indie game The Rapture Is Here And You Will Be Forcibly Removed From Your Home: reality is breaking down (isn’t it always?), black ships are eating the sky, you might as well give yourself up to it as a shimmering heat-haze consumes everything. Musically, the rule is: let the artifacts consume the signal. Multitrack until the hiss takes over; turn up the feedback on the delay pedal until “ringing” resonant tones start to emerge from the fuzz. It’s an approach to the constraints of low-tech recording that makes a virtue of necessity, of not having Kevin Shields’s budget to blow. FSA probably softened me up for Xasthur, which Simon Reynolds once described as sounding like Robin Guthrie “doing warm up licks on his guitar and FX rig, hampered by the world’s most disabling migraine”. A major point of continuity between w/trem and Spiral Jacobs is that I’ve had the same shit microphone for about 16 years.

Anyway, here’s a tune that cleaves quite closely to the FSA palette in some respects, although it’s brighter and more drum-heavy than they usually were. It’s one of the instrumental interludes from Speaks Your Weight.

Friday Trem: Detention

An actual song, with actual lyrics.

What happens?
What happens next
for the hard of working
textphone and fax?

You don’t pay attention.
You don’t pay enough tax.
You’re famishing
for nuclear secrets.

You’re sickening!
You’re sickening!

What happens?
What happens next?
You’re weakening,
you’re weakening.

What matters
couldn’t matter less
to the hard of thinking
who dreamed up this mess.

They hand down detention
and they pay for sex.
They’re stifling
your intellect.

You’re thickening!
You’re thickening!

Friday Trem: Drill Here Fore Seismics

The title was taken from a graffito on an abandoned petrol station in Leicester. Who the author was and what they meant by it I never found out, but this was before anyone very much had heard of fracking.

The most obvious influence on this one is Radiohead’s Kid A, in its more tranquil moments.

Friday Trem: Barbelith

In The Invisibles, Barbelith is the name of the “placenta” for humanity; a satellite-like object located on the dark side of the moon. It recurs throughout the story as a supernatural moon seeming both intelligent and benign. Barbelith’s role is like that of a placenta in that it connects the hologram of our subjective reality to the realm outside of our space-time, the domain of the magic mirror, and helps humans to realize their true nature beyond the subjective concept of “self”.