Shimura Curves

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Whole EBA Album

OK, I seem to have got completely lost doing the track by track.

So instead I've put the whole album up on my Soundcloud so you can either listen to it in order, or download the tracks you're missing or whatever.

The last four tracks - Grief, Lonely, Still, Wash - were conceived as a whole. To be perfectly honest, they were originally written as a symphony, and adapted to make pop songs. Yeah, I know, what an utterly poncey thing to do. It was a point of honour, to be honest.

The Soundartist had made an offhand comment to me, about writing a symphony, after we had been hanging out with a lot of his poncey "modern classical" type mates. I have to admit, I didn't really get that kind of music. It just seemed a particularly esoteric and exclusionary subdivision of the world of avante guarde electronic music - and one where I, with my pop sentiments, never felt I belonged. It didn't help, the Soundartist's subtle ways of sabotaging me in social situations.

As an example - he played a gig at the RSA with a particularly esoteric composer who had given a 45 minute talk about her work and her composition methods before playing a five minute snippet of what was, to me, random disconnected sounds. I'd said on the bus over to the after party that I didn't understand it - what was the point of a five minute composition that required a 45 minute explanation to understand it? It seemed the musical equivalent of The Painted Word, to be honest.

We walk into the after party, we get drinks, and sit down on a sofa - and the composer comes over and takes the third seat. Immediately, Soundartist starts the conversation off by introducing us "This is my girlfriend, Kate. She thinks your music is a pile of wank." If ever I have wanted the floor to open up and swallow me whole... I think I stuttered some kind of apology and left the party early. When he stumbled home drunk, hours later, he complained about how I didn't make the effort to socialise with his friends. Well, I wonder why.

Anyway, it was one of his offhand comments "why don't you write a symphony?" with the same casual tone that one might suggest "why don't you we get a pizza for dinner?" Fine. Fuck you. I was, by this point, carrying a little bit of a chip on my shoulder about his "Intellectual, Important" Soundart that got him arts council grants and gigs at the RSA, while I was still mucking about making cutesy pop songs. So I read up on music theory and revived my classical musical training and fired up the Orkester soundbank and I wrote a bloody Symphony in Four Movements.

It was originally instrumental, but during the painful process of breaking up and moving out, it acquired words. I think they're pretty self explanatory, some of the most emotionally naked things I've ever written.

Listening to it now, it's a bit shit, really, though it's still my family's favourite work that I've done. (My dad compared bits of "Still" to Yes, for him, probably the highest compliment he could think to pay me.) It sounds like someone who doesn't really know what they're doing, on a Mac with not enough processing power to render the samples.

But still. I am proud of the fact that I wrote it. It's not like poncey Soundartistboy ever did anything more than toss around electrical current and call it art, let alone write a whole bloody symphony. Bitter, me? Never.


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