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 –
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.
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 by 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.