Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fear of the Thing Itself

Such joys! Summer is the best time to paint, and the old masters way of working was to design during the winter and paint at summer. Modern studio lights mean that that's not strictly necessary, but I agree with it. Winter is ideal for music and for the first time in a long time I've felt exactly like doing music at the right time. I wrote a series of songs a couple of years ago, and after trying to find a singer for some time decided that enough was enough and that I would sing myself.

I wasn't confident of my singing voice, but so what? For a start, as in painting, it's what you say that's important not how well. Lots of the best music of the 20th century makes that evident. Secondly, like any skill singing will start poor and get better with use and feedback. Nobody is perfect at the start, and (almost!) everyone is a better after trying.

Most importantly though I really wanted to deliberately avoid getting everything perfect. I dislike so much about modern music. It seems as if technical perfection is so easy that all commercial music has the audio equivalent of Photoshop applied, every track, from classical film scores to advertising jingles, and especially pop must sound perfectly in time, in tune, compressed so that the volume levels are all even without contrasts, and all therefore cold. It's an act of artistic vandalism, the mechanical extraction of feeling. It's odd that I, when my very last album was totally synthetic! would say such a thing, but some music is just fun and not intended to be deep or meaningful or truly artistic. There's room in the world for a pretty picture or technical experiment, but such things aren't great art, and an artist's aspiration should always be to do that; to create meaningful and lasting music that says something about the universe or world or human condition.

And so it's with happiness that I start my first journey into song recording. I've been writing songs for 13 years, over 400 penned although hardly any recorded. Many are good, so for this album I've chosen a few and simply had a go as setting them down. I wanted to include a lot of variety, a mix of styles. There's no overall theme, although many of the titles were inspired by a random quote generator.

The title track "Fear Of The Thing Itself" is about Richard Dadd. I painted The Paranoid Schizophrenia of Richard Dadd after being inspired by his painting The Fariy Feller's Master Stroke. I heard about that painting because of the Queen song of the same name, so (to come full circle!) I decided to write a song about Richard Dadd in a similar style to the Queen song, with harpsichord and all! The words tell of the painter's madness. Here is the album cover image followed by the song lyrics...

Fear Of The Thing Itself

The clock hits twelve.
The moonlight in his cell.
He strokes and preens and awaits...
the arrival of the queen.
The one he met
those years ago in wet.
The night she changed his life,
with the mission and the knife.

She comes!
She comes!
She comes!
Her words like running waters flow.
The voice
of hea-ven
speaks!
The voice commands his hands to dance...

Long white beard,
bent and weird.
Twisted fingernails.
Eyes afeared.
Whispered voices to himself.
Messages from the elf.

Twists of joy.
Curls of lust.
Skin of leather and
mind of rust.
Fairies dancing on the shelf.
Fear of the thing itself.

She comes!
She comes!
She comes!
Golden halo of the queen.
Her words like flowing wine.
Showing images unseen.
Enraptured by her love.

He sits and paints
in solitude and peace,
he baits the trap and awaits
the arrival of the priest.
The doctors say
his mind is miles away
but such is genius
with a touch of murderous.

She comes!
She comes!
She comes!
Her words like running waters flow.
The voice
of hea-ven
speaks!
The voice commands his hands to dance...

Long white beard,
bent and weird.
Twisted fingernails.
Eyes afeared.
Whispered voices to himself.
Messages from the elf.

Twists of joy.
Curls of lust.
Skin of leather and
mind of rust.
Fairies dancing on the shelf.
Fear of the thing itself.

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