Sunday, August 23, 2020

Caught Between The Frames - full sleeve notes

This collection of work bridges the gap between my departure from Newcastle, and my three year tenure in London.  Many pieces were begun prior to leaving the North East, and then subsequently finished either during my brief spell in Portrush, or upon my arrival in the capital.

The record should have been my last, since at the time of recording I was effectively halting all work in music and retraining in a new profession.  The bands, record label and studio spaces that I had maintained for the preceding eight years were all but put on permanent hiatus, along with the many personal - and creative - relationships that I had been lucky enough to have during my time as a music producer.  It was a difficult time.

Despite this, there were enough significant loose ends that occupied my laptop to warrant some form of compendium of music from this period.  These including unused commissions for radio commercial jingles, cut ups of drum tracks from the drummer for Future Loss at that time, collages of found sounds from trips to Rathlin Island and Alnwick beach, and samples taken from Tate Modern art installations I saw around that time.

I like how the sounds from the two opposing locations that this album straddles manage to fuse into something whole and coherent, showing how even in the least-conducive of circumstances, creativity can prevail.

Alex Beat

This was composed on the P&O ferry during my permanent departure from Newcastle.  It features a sample of Alex Hall’s drums - whose work featured heavily in both Future Loss and Shin Jin Rui projects I had worked on at the time.

Puffin Copter

Not a particularly pleasant piece to listen to:  the avian din is from a field recording of a puffin sanctuary on Rathlin Island, near to Portrush, and the helicopter sound is from a miserable day spent sitting in a sand dune in Alnwick, watching the RNLI carry out training exercises at sea.  The percussion comes from hitting a chair leg with a drumstick.  The rest of the sounds are a series of strange artefacts that create a rather hostile-sounding environment.  Since this was completed upon arrival in Portrush for my hiatus before moving to London, this is all rather apt.

Dr. No

Having relied heavily upon samples and extracted components from projects I was working on, I thought it might be interesting to see if I could create something from Logic’s inexhaustible supply of library material that still sounded fresh.  Added on top of this was a rip of some carnival drumming from YouTube.  The piano once again comes from my cassette archive, that had been waiting patiently for years to be utilised in something.  It was heavily time stretched using Logic’s ‘flex’ feature.

How Not To Be Seen

This is the first offering that features something captured during my three years living London.  The vocal sample is from a visit to the Tate Modern.  So much of modern, installation-based art that uses audio is unremarkable to my ears…  but this extract caught my attention.  The narrator describes how, in the past, satellite cameras had to calibrate the focus of their lenses using giant patterns specially drawn on the desert floor.  Logic 9’s slow down feature was aggressively used here, in concert with synths triggered using the QWERTY keyboard.  I was trying to create something “urban” sounding, while at the same time jarring.

London Zoo

This was the first of my professional commissions, all of which would be fairly unremarkable affairs, and not something I would recommend.  London Zoo had set a brief for some radio advertising, and my girlfriend at the time was the copywriter tasked to come up with the script.  Needing a jingle to play in the background, she asked me to present some options.  The result was a nasty compendium of soft synths and preset patterns.  I don’t believe it was ever used.  

When I came to compile this collection, I recovered the music, put the whole thing through Haunted Cavern reverb, and cut it down to 45 seconds, which improved it no end.

Easy Life When I’m Lost In You

Another rehearsal room offering, with Andy joining in on drums.  

This was made using the live rig that I had for My Attorney around this time.  The Casio CA-20 went through a series of guitar pedals, including Luke’s pitch shifter, which was invaluable for creating radical tones at a moment’s notice.  I was also able to direct keys through my Kaoss Pad, which gave me a primitive loop function, as well as using the layering feature on my Boss VE20 vocal pedal…  giving the impression of there being more people in the room than there actually were.

Small, Far Away

This started life as an especially cheesy clip of music, that was rescued by mercilessly crunching it through iZotope RX.  The whole pitch-shifting and time-stretching thing was fascinating to me at the time, and also reflected how I was increasingly working on solo material “in the box” rather than using real amps and effects pedals to get my treatments.


This bridges the gap between Newcastle and London perfectly, since the piano is taken from a demo recorded in the Bensham Presbyterian Church in the summer of 2011, with the titular chimes coming from a walk through Richmond upon my arrival there in December 2013.  A plane on its way to Heathrow can be heard swooping overhead.  The rhythm is from a recording of me hitting two plastic water bottles together, and then gently double tracking them so that they drift out of time with one another ever so slightly.  Cat sneezes in the front garden of 12 Whitby.  Several times and realities are superimposed on top of one another.  Everything is slowed down to a syrupy crawl.  Such is the weirdness and manufactured fiction of recorded music.