Tuesday, 27 December 2005

Letter to Ryan about Mostly Noise - live recordings from wtss.

55 Coleraine Road


27th December 2005.


Mostly Noise got its first run-out last night, with Ian and Brian being the guinea pigs. Safe to say it did what it was supposed to do: induce new deep-sea diver levels of nostalgia and back slapping.

We were all high as kites by the time I stuck it on which gave the whole proceedings a tinge of spectral glory that I swear wasn't on the disc when I burnt it earlier that afternoon. In addition to the intoxication, the playback was special because this is the new bolstered, testosterone-fed version that no one has ever heard before.

So, let's imagine you're sweating like a sponge in Coleraine's HMV, at half-four on a Friday afternoon in March, with little drops of fluid running down the small of your back and into your arse-crack as you survey all the wondrous Kelis singles on the rack that's being swamping by Girls' High School 3rd base virgins... and you’re reading the back of the Mostly Noise (CASSETTE GODAMMIT) case... and here's the run-down of features:

+ It's 79mins 06secs long.

+ I have tweaked all the songs using the EAX Console. Litmist receive "small room" reverb at a devestating 80%. For The Birds get the "cathedral" treatment (at a tame, but apt 53%) and Mellowdramatic get... well, actually I didn't really bother with them.

+ Things have been normalised (so everything's roughly the same volume), there are wipes and fades, segues of impressive grandeur, and careful editing of The Ryan Fleming Heckles & Ad-Libs Library circa 2002... which along with Brian's outbursts form a kind of commentary-type skeleton through the whole disc. "So what is the deal with Mayo?", you can now hear Holmesy mutter in the background, just after you've set the mic back down.

+ Nameless make the cut. So do Sub60. Both recorordings come form the ill-fated Easter 2003 Bush Tavern "wtss Tesco's Value" gig night, where The Dangerfields played as well. I originally thought the recordings from this gig were too distorted to be used. But that was then, and this is now. In fact this is more than now this is Nathan Barley-sponsored now… and I found myself being drawn into the labyrinthine birch branches of noise, distortion, clipping, rumble and general sonic decay. Despite the poor quality, both bands practically steal the whole show.

+ Syndrome also creep on there, with tourette’s, which isn’t that sharp, but what else would I put on instead? The Putang Song?

+ The Raffle, in which both the drummer and guitarist from Hidden Insanity, on their first visit to wtss, won the two bottles of vodka up for grabs, prompting the catcalls of “Fix! Fix!” from an angry PYC mob.

+ There are some stunning songs. “El Caravano” by Resin almost takes the biscuit, and if classic rock is your bag, then David Crosby would be stroking his walrus mustache to “Swan Song” by Pond, our only Good Recordingรค unfortunately. The surge from “Shadows” into that Slayer/Metallica cover Litmist used to close with (accompanied by howls and screaming from the audience) is so Heavy that the sound drips from the speakers like jam after a night out. “It’s our last ever song!” you cry with real desperation/whisky in your voice, “What are you all doing? Get up here!”

And of course there’s “Tourist Information” by For The Birds. I wish you’d been there to see their reaction. Both Brian and Ian had heard the recording before. But after a long time spent on the Sun Studios desk in my bedroom, enough echo had been coaxed out of Ian’s vocal, and the war between Treble and Hiss on Brian’s acoustic guitar had been fought and won. So it sounded better than they remembered… It was hilarious: both of them sitting side by side, mouths agape, and me shouting “You SEE? I told you you were good.” The penny had finally dropped. A beautiful moment.

+ The main feature, though, is that it’s finally done. It only took me three and a half years – which is hardly encouraging for future release schedules. I sat listening to it, utterly wasted up in space somewhere, ranting furiously about how in the films every summer is spent at Daddy’s beach house, with Dawson Leery and the young gels, who flit about in their pastel dresses, while the summer light illuminates the pier where we all splash merrily and “learn something about ourselves” and “have a first time” at some life-changing activity or something (certainly not getting battered on drugs, anyway) and it’s like those dreams of cine film that I was banging on about in Marlon Brando and And Some Leaves. You’re conditioned to think that your holidays will be the teenage equivalent of The Prague Spring, and in truth most people never get to experience any of that.

As for us, we got one chance to seize the dream – a Tennent’s soaked dream – and we we took it, got more than we ever hoped, and then looked melancholy for the next few years each time the evenings started getting longer; because it wasn’t all happening again. Now I look back and realise we should count ourselves lucky that it ever happened at all: we were there and we were being scripted and directed by John Hughes himself.

Anyway, collect your own slice of the past this New Year’s Eve. Hopefully see you before then to arrange drum kits etc. I hope you are nothing short of flourishing.

Until then I remain,

(currently untitled),


[ps. if you would like to purchase a copy of Mostly Noise, then please click here]