Needle’s Eye

November 18, 2014

This was the only Lost Girls single we released. On CD and 7″ vinyl. One of the first songs we did together. Heidi came up with the complete song, and I put the backing track together. Laurence O’Keefe (Levitation/Dark Star) played bass on it too – the deep sonic stuff you can hear right from the start. For the technically minded: all the Lost Girls vocals were done in my hallway, on an AKG C3000 which I found in a drawer earlier this week and still works! It went through a Drawmer 1960 and Drawmer 1961 on its way to the Alesis ADATs. This microphone did the Fruit album as well. Tried to replace it with a 414 XLS – no contest, the 3000 is far better.
And out of gear world…we played this live as a duo – but I can’t remember how! I must have played bass through my effects, and Heidi I guess played some keyboards. Poor memory, burnt out on tedious cigarettes and alcohol. Great song.

Japanese

October 31, 2014

The Lost Girls record is now out on CD/LP and download. Available from 3LoopRecords. And here’s the video for Heidi’s song Japanese:

I’ll be writing about the songs when I’m back from a much needed holiday staring at the waves on the Welsh coast.

Hold Me Down

October 2, 2014

Lost Girls songs varied so much. This song was one of the up poppy ones. Or was it the only up beat poppy one?

I really like the way our voices work together. And you can hear Kim Smith singing the high harmonies, and I’m pretty sure you can hear Ashley Wood in the mix there. It’s him playing the chirpy riff guitars, based on a dulcimer riff I had. Dave Morgan brilliant on drums.

The lyrics? Lord, what am I on about? Another experimental phase. The song imagines that the Need for Love is a physical kind of beast, one that could be excised and pinned out like a butterfly or moth. Imagining what it would be like to cut it out and examine this torturer. And once removed the hollowness left would be quite OK to live with. And then I would meet someone who also had their Need for Love excised, and we would live calmly and absently together. It was clearly time to change my life, and I did so a year later, moving to the wilds of western Ireland.

Lost Girls

August 19, 2014

LostGirlsCover

Lost Girls is a collaboration between me and Heidi Berry. We wrote and recorded during 1998-99, starting off as a duo, and ending up as a 5 piece band. In that time we released only one single – ‘Needle’s Eye’. But we recorded lots of songs. These varied from folk-tinged to power pop, to the usual Patrick obscenities. Even Heidi swore a lot on the enigmatic ‘Folk Fuck’. Ever keen to see these songs released, believing them to be rather lovely, I played them to the people at 3 Loop Music who put out Folly. They were up for putting these recordings out. So, after 15 years of shelf life, out they come, at the end of October, and you can buy the CD/Vinyl/Download here:
Lost Girls Recordings

I’ve written more about the history of the band on the liner notes. And once it’s out I’ll write more about the songs. Suffice to say you might know ‘Needle’s Eye’ songs, and perhaps ‘NYC’ which I re-recorded for Darkness & the Day. From ethereal yearning to manic paranoid rock, it’s a wildly varied and harmony-layered work of joy.

Acknowledgement here to the marvellous work of Ashley Wood (guitars/vocal harmonies), Dave Morgan (drums/percussion) and Kim Smith (bass/harmonies), without whom these songs would still be sitting forlonly on a shelf.

Not dead

July 13, 2014

As proof here’s a picture of last night’s moon.

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Plays at 33.33333

April 8, 2014

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Extravagance EP

A 10 inch single is coming out for record store day on April 19th. It features two versions of Extravagance, the one you know and the original version. Here’s the story of how that came about.

The music, as always, came first. A descending strum on the bass starting at the 12th fret. A, A maj7, G, Gmaj7. This riff had started in a faster format, just before the band split up. Whilst messing about on the bass a couple of years ago it came back to me. I slowed it down. Added a chorus: same format starting on E at fret 7. Then a middle 8 of Am into Am6, Am7, and ending on a D7 of sorts which neatly takes the cycle back to A. Easy. Transfered onto piano and played some arpeggios. Transposed up an octave onto guitar. Add a hundred instruments courtesy of Swales, including sitar and stylophone, and there it is. Now what am I going to sing about?

Luisa Casati was on my list of people to write songs about. Extreme wealth, extreme profligacy, extreme vanity, and recorded for posterity by contemporary artists. That’ll do. The original lyric took this as a starting point, and then went on to explore modern concerns. Namely sex. The ease of gay sex, despite the iceberg of HIV. The ease of falling in love over a pint, for a night, maybe only fifteen minutes. Utter extravagance in my experience. But still we need love, celibacy not being a realistic option. Love, sex, monogamy, queers: what a mess! So I wrote this:

ExtraVagance

Louisa leashes up the cheetahs
Takes them for a diamond stroll
Adds more kohl to her eyelids
Paints her birds a shade of violet
Winds a snake around her neck
Toasts the wax effigy of herself
Plans a wild electric party
To display her gilded body

She fell to debt in sordid London
Scavenged crow feathers for her hair
Once you’ve been exotic
Its hard to be forgotten
Bury me with my Pekinese
Naked under cloaks of leopard skin and panther
In death no under achievement, in death no loss of detail
Age cannot wither her
Nor stale her variety
It matters though she’s dead
She must have extravagance

Take me to the Pyramids, he said,
Feed me nectarines and honey
Treat me Greek, make we weak
Fly me down to Mozambique
Buy me shiny machines, a tudor house
An estate of deer, my own moon and my own star
And all I need to repay?
Is to kiss your hoary whiskered face

I took Ryan down to the Scala
Where we talked lager until dawn
I’m keen as mustard, says he, I’m warm as custard, he lied
I’m fluent in vodka, says me, and I slur gin easily
And I felt we were hot for sin
But back in his blank white room
We stared at the rubies shining in our hearts
And all I could think was what a waste, is my heart really
Worth this extravagance?

I need love like I need lungs to breath
It’s not a luxury like icing sugar, brooches, diadems
Not an expensive extra item
On the poor neglected menu of life
Stuck low under fridge freezers and fries
I need it night and day
A terrible reckless crave

I took Frederick out to the forest
Where he chopped wood and I baked chocolate cake
We were happy finally
So happy finally
Till the wolves/crows called out to him
Talked of the mess of flesh he’d left in the city
He dribbled and he ran
To satisfy a whim

To kiss him seemed folly, to stay the night a mistake
To promise a week, a month, a lifetime!
Extravagance

So now you can see where Folly came from. But the tune bothered us. Was it too fast? Could I sing it slower? No. So the only way to change the speed was to change the tune, and so the scansion was gone. My challenge then was to write a new tune, and then fit new words to it. Very hard, as the old tune had been in my head for months. I know some pop writers work by getting multiple tunes for their chords, but that’s as they go along, quick editing. I’d only done this once before, with Drive That Fast which I’d originally called Sedition. The lyric hadn’t gone down well so I wrote a new one. But the tune stayed pretty much the same.

When at last a new tune did come, on a morning dog walk before work, I taped it on my phone. Modern conveniences. Back in the studio I dumdedummed along with the music and the tune settled. Then I needed the words. Damn, I couldn’t make them fit in a pleasing way. I wrote the first verse, based on Luisa, and got stuck. It became clear I needed to stick with this single theme, and on I went. The variations I had previously worked on were discarded. Editing can be harsh. And so the LP version came:

Who dares walk her cheetahs on the dark canals of Venice..

It probably is better. But I’m so glad the original version is being heard. I still think it works, and I was never convinced about the speed of the vocal being wrong. Too high for me perhaps. I like both versions, but the original I think is wittier, smarter, and truer. This demo version has a different bass line too – my original strummed hard bass chords rather than the flanged final one. But again I prefer the original: hard, urgent. You can hear my nails getting bruised, which is really what it’s all about.

Xtrav!

March 16, 2014

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The critic laughs

March 16, 2014

Been watching the amazing Robert Hughes series/critique of modern art The Shock of the New, which is available at http://www.ubu.com . If you don’t know ubu.com then you’re in a for an orgy for art heroics and histrionics. A place where madness collides with genius and stupidity. Which is really where we should be trying to spend most of our time.

In one episode of Hughes’ he discusses Richard Hamilton as part of Pop Art. This advert was jokily made for one of Hamilton’s assemblages. It stars Lorraine Chase. If you’re under 40 it won’t mean much, but it made me chortle. My next birthday present please:

Piano drill

March 10, 2014

This is a mediocre piano in a beautiful box designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for his House for an Art Lover. Note the drill on the right. This has given me ideas.
10 new pieces of music have come together since Folly. Not songs yet, and I’m not sure what’s going to happen with them. But I fancy putting a band together for it. Piano, cello, drums, bass, guitar. That should do. Maybe a dancer, they seem to go down well.

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The Snake

February 25, 2014

A bass instrument on display at Glasgow’s Hunterian museum.

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