Monday, January 26, 2015

Norman Bates

And now, a second new song from the album. Firstly, I must say that my mother is really the best in the world! However, she did hurtfully criticise my singing at one point. She was quite right, I'm not a good singer! but when I started painting I was not a very good painter, and as with any skill it will improve with time. Besides, the important thing about a song is what is said, not how pretty it is, in fact the main, key, and vital reasons for making this album at all was to escape from the awful over processed "perfect" music that seems to be ubiquitous at the moment. I won't go out of my way to make something sound bad, but nor will I stoop to correcting self-expression. You can't correct self-expression, only stifle it. Can you "correct" the brush strokes of van Gogh?

I've dedicated the album to the memory of Anthony Perkins (and Joseph Deacon). I'm pleased with this song, and aimed for a sort of operatic or musical style in it's production, perhaps a little like Kate Bush did in Hammer Horror. It's also a second song on the album about a mad knife maniac. Oops. Here are the lyrics.

Norman Bates

Oh Norman Bates where are you?
I need a little help.
I need some reassurance from a friend,
my mother's voice is grating
inside my head
to make me sad again.

I know I should not ask you
but you might understand.
I think you are alone inside like me,
and in the dusty mirror
of my dry mind
you're the one I see.

Norman Bates inside your
castle, your silhouette is
staring at me, you long for
love too.
Norman Bates!

Permit me to be forward
but when did things go wrong?
I wonder when the moment was with you?
It's hard to place a finger
upon a why,
perhaps you have a clue?

Oh Norman tell me something.
Any word will do.
I like the little messages you send.
My mother's voice is grating
inside my head
and she's my only friend.

Norman Bates inside your
castle, your bedroom light is
shining for me, you long for
love too.
Norman Bates!

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.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Being Bacteria

Being bacteria is not much fun,
well that's what I expect.
When people call you slime or scum
they're technically correct.