Friday, 24 May 2013


I hear the whistle of the wind
I feel a storm is blowing in
There's something brewing

I see the banks are going to burst
I fear the floods will do their worst
There's nothing doing

You curl up in a ball
You stumble and fall

Dry your eyes
Don't shed a tear
Hold me close
Hold me near
For here we stand
And here we fight
There's something brewing tonight

I know it's going to be so hard
I suppose I'm afraid of losing heart
Something's brewing

You cuff me with your paws
You cut me with your claws

Dry your eyes
Don't shed a tear
Hold me close
Hold me near
For together we stand
And together we fight
There's something brewing tonight

Wednesday, 22 May 2013


caressed like rosary beads
precious devices
borne heads down
relentlessly monitored and prioritised
dominant theme
the self
my needs

Monday, 6 May 2013


yesterday i complete the artwork
and burn the master of the new cd
it's always a satisfying feeling
to hold in my hand that first copy of the finished artifact
my best shot at beauty, personal expression and creativity
to transfer it from its cardboard sleeve to the hifi downstairs
to turn the speakers up nice and loud
and to finally hear the individual songs played in sequence
within the context of the whole album
to hear one track melt into the next
sometimes seamlessly and almost imperceptibly
sometimes in complete contrast to what went before
the whole experience feels like crossing the finishing line
at the end of a marathon
a strong sense of exhileration mixed with a slight tinge of slight regret
'if only i could have have nailed that vocal better'
'what a pity that arrangement didn't quite work out'
oddly the hifi system seems to pick up flaws
that my computer monitors and headphones don't
it's like an external critical ear
a magnifying glass that detects the flaw in the diamond
i have learned to live with this
my perfectionist streak has struggled to accept the concept of 'good enough'
but i'm getting there
another oddity of the recording process
is that rerecording vocals doesn't generally work
songs can go through almost complete remakes in terms of arrangements
but a vocal seems to be a vocal
i've discovered that there are just some songs that i can sing
and others that i can't
at least with my raw untrained musical voice
it's something to do with the register and tessitura of the melody
and the necessary balance of power and delicacy
try too hard and it sounds raucous (not quite the word i'm searching for) or strained
hold back too much and it sounds wimpy and half-hearted
but there's also the mysterious factor of texture or timbre(?) that i can't pin down
a kind of difficult-to-fathom warmth or tone
some songs i can nail on the first take
'relationship' and 'remnants' fall into that category
others i'll never really be happy with
in a band situation i guess they'd fall to someone else to sing
if i listen back to previous albums
the vocals are always the number one weakness
although they have incrementally improved over the years
(aided by a developing awareness of production values
reverb, equalisation, compression and the like)
the first few albums are fatally compromised in this respect
(also by the rather synthetic drum sounds that i used to use)
the timescale of this album is interesting
ten years ago when i was learning the ropes
'mustard seed' took two years to record
in complete contrast i've dashed this one off in just a couple of months
a real sprint
and hot on the heels of 'coming home'
which itself took only around five months to complete
this record is a curious hybrid of five brand new songs
plus half a dozen left over from last year
and one that was kind of hanging around unloved
in a notebook from three summers ago
and needed some work to bring it up to scratch
although it seemed very prescient
as for the album title
right until the very last minute
i was going to call it 'ideology'
(partly in homage to ball and dagger's insightful book)
when suddenly as i was designing the sleeve
the obvious hit me in the face
'the sleep of reason'
what a lovely ambiguous title
courtesy of senor goya of course!

Sunday, 5 May 2013


'i can play four musical instruments'
she announces proudly to the circle of children
(she's forgetting the choir)
she's been having lessons on violin and piano for a couple of years now
working her way through the grades
mostly classical stuff
a little popular and jazz
she's played in the school orchestra at the conservatoire
now she's learning the entertainer on piano
a mark of pianoship in my humble opinion
she's auditioning for the city's youth orchestra on violin
britten's young person's guide to the orchestra no less
the trombone is a new thing
she has weekly lessons at school with a few other kids
she wanted to play an instrument that made a loud noise
something that packed a punch
she seemed to pick up the mouth position almost straight away
she also has the requisite lung power to blast my ears
(and annoy the neighbours)
unlike the struggle with the piano and violin
no one has to ask her to do her trombone practice
within weeks she was improvising her way through a live performance
back at the conservatoire
i bought her a three quarter size classical guitar for her tenth birthday
i was confident that she would reward my investment
but this is going to be her dabble instrument
she asked me how i play my songs
i showed her a few chords to get her fingers moving
a basic right-hand strumming technique
a simple fingerpicking pattern
and she was away
she can sing and play yellow bird (high up in banana tree)
she likes picking out the augmented pattern of my song coalesce
which i find tricky to play myself
i am even showing her how to play back to the old house by the smiths
no pressure
no formal teacher
no weekly lessons
let her find her own way
explore her own avenues
just as i did at her age


Under the eye of the clock
Through the crack in the door
There’s a bug in the room
There’s a fly on the wall
At the flick of a switch
At the stroke of a key
Under the eye of the clock

Under the eye of the clock
Through the crack in the door
Beneath the buzz of the telegraph wire
Beside the fly on the wall
By a trick of the light
By a sleight of the hand
Like a man who is trying to see
With his head in the sand

In the eye of the storm
In the blaze of the sun
Without a ghost of a chance
Twenty billion to one
In the lap of the gods
On a wing and a prayer
On top of the world
In the depths of despair

Under the eye of the clock
Through the crack in the door
A fly on the wall
Beneath the buzz of the wire
By a cruel twist of fate
It’s never too late