Many years ago I read a book by William Burroughs & Brion Gysin called The Third Mind. It is a collection of essays & poems showcasing their ideas of cut up and collage poetry. Cut-ups involve taking texts, cutting the pages, and then rearranging and combining the pieces to form new narratives.
The idea of using cut & paste and collage in musical composition isn’t new either. In fact I believe that Pavement used cut ups to generate lyrics and musical sections as did Cabaret Voltaire but the concept is also something that’s interested me for years too.
Combined with a love of found sound and field recording many of these elements have found their way into my own tunes over the years. If I’m recording a guitar why not have the TV on in the background and the kids shouting downstairs, a dog barking outside or the sound of a passing car. All of these things make a recording infinitely more interesting in my mind. Very often I grab lyrics at random from the first book or magazine I find. I’m cutting up in real time.
As an example of how I approach composing music with all of these various elements in mind here is the process I have used to begin writing the first song for the next Pulco album. A mix of this song can be heard at the bottom of this post.
I started with three separate abstract guitar riffs played to a click track to which I added bass and a 2nd guitar. After creating a rhythm loop to make a frame for the piece to work around I copied and moved about these three sections to create an arrangement for the song. Finally I put in some random bits including a recording of my daughter Myfi playing piano with her teacher. It sounds like a piece that could have been recorded all the way through in that structure (like some bastard son of Beefhearts Trout Mask Replica) when in fact it was shuffled around and constructed in my iPad.
Simon Jeffes from the Penguin Café Orchestra once explained the need for experimentation and innovation in music and it has always rung true with how I feel about it as well. He stated that the qualities of randomness, spontaneity, surprise, unexpectedness and irrationality in music are a very precious thing. If you suppress that to have a nice orderly commercially acceptable approach to music making then you kill off what’s most important.
I’ve often spoken about Pulco music being a kind of sonic autobiography. I listen to my own music when I want to remember a certain period or event in my life and I know which albums represent each part of that life journey. It gives me a context for my life and comforts me in the fact that I can return to the past through sound.
Constructing songs in this way is also an attempt to establish a new form of readability to the experience of hearing compositions that are still essentially pop or folk music.
I think that using a cut-up/found sound technique as a basis for writing music helps the listener create new connections to musical themes and the world around them and naturally as a consequence the range of vision and interpretation of our understanding of sound also expands.
I was not intending to write a set of tunes with a slight country punk twist but there you go.
The fact is though that the music is more of a nod towards that scuzzy home sound of early Sebadoh and as such one of the songs on the new EP is actually a homage to their 1994 album ‘Bakesale’.
I decided to play around with open tunings for a change and the overall sound came together with the use of my new £35 Telecaster copy that I bought last year :0)
The Rodeo EP should be ready for release in April but for now you can hear a track below.
Until that happens you can now download Innovation In The Trade for free at the link below. All I ask is that if you like the album please tell your friends.
The album ‘Writing the Wrongs’ has echoes of 60s folk-rock psychedelia with the addition of a bit of barn-storming punk grind. There is also a bit of spoken word stuff too.
If your in to quality lo-fi music, Super Furry Animals and Teenage Fanclub then I hope this album will be for you !!
The album was released on Nov 10th and there are a number of places where you can order a copy now !
Check below for links
These links and more info on the band can be found at the Poundstore Riot website
This post is something of an update for those of you that may be wondered whats happening with the new Pulco album. Innovation In The Trade has been revamped and is now complete. More details on it’s release to come in the next month or so but for now here is a little bit of info about the album.
It’s funny how songs come together
I’d started with an idea of recording a number of abstract live drum loops as a basis for each song after being inspired again by the awesome rhythms on Captain Beefhearts’ Trout Mask Replica.
I knew I’d end up with a set of gnarly off the wall guitar songs and I also made a decision not to use any acoustic guitar either.
I found myself exploring the idea of monologues and short stories and was determined to find a way to include some of these on the album.
During my summer holidays I bought a book of poetry by Adrian Henri in a small bookshop in Aberaeron. His words were perfect for the edgy verbal approach that I had in mind and I’ve actually used loads of his poems for lyrics on the album.
On a musical level a chance thought lead me back to listen again to a Fall CD that I’d never really taken much notice of before. My thoughts also drifted back to the cut & paste approach of Pavement. I think that the sounds of both bands had a big part in the making of Innovation In The Trade.
I terms of an overall direction for the album, the final bridge that I crossed was to immerse myself in a growing love of all things DADA. Part of the Dadaist manifesto says – ‘ Reject reason and logic. Prize nonsense, irrationality and intuition’. That makes perfect sense to me.
So now pass onward to Innovation In The Trade.
Recently I had had the pleasure of meeting up with and filming a session for the mighty Alun Jones ! We fought off the mountain rain to record a version of my current single ‘Hardships’ through Al’s 9 Volt PA. I was also supported by battery powered beat loops courtesy of my iPad.
Check out the video below!
The single can also be downloaded HERE for free
Alun’s first session with the excellent Mr Phormula is also up to veiw
In Jan 2012 I recorded a BBC Wales radio session for Bethan Elfyn in Cardiff. The producer Darren Broome and I stayed in touch and worked on a track together for the Pulco album (The Mapleson Cylinders) that I was beginning to make at the time. I was also in the process of putting together ‘The Man Of Lists’ for release that year so I sort of stopped working on the new album while I got that finished.
I was recording on a hand help Zoom H4 recorder at the time which I found difficult to work with so when I received iPad for my birthday I decided to put the Mapleson album on hold and start Clay Cutlery instead. The Mapleson songs just weren’t coming together either so I thought it best to leave them and do something else.
Having had a years or so away from the songs I decided to have a listen to them again recently and they didn’t actually sound that bad so my plan is to release them bit by bit as free singles over the coming months, the first of which is Hardships & Kings.
Click the link below to hear the tracks and get your free download
This week we are mourning the loss of the Welsh Music Foundation. As an organisation it provided support and industry advice to Welsh bands & musicians for over 14 years and is a huge blow for music in our country.
This week however also sees the release of a new book called ‘On Making Music’ by my friend and BBC broadcaster Adam Walton. The book is a wide-ranging guide for original music-makers, encouraging originality and covering many different aspects of being a musical artist in 2014: songwriting, recording, getting gigs, making money, DIY releases etc.
I firmly believe that some of the industry support and guidance lost due to the demise of the WMF will be regained through the knowledge and experience that has been put in to this book.
It took Adam a year to write and is 400 pages long. In his own words ‘It’s exhaustive but hopefully not exhausting’
The book features contributions from, and exclusive interviews with, a range of influential artists: Alan Holmes, Andrew Falkous, Angharad Trwbador, Badly Drawn Boy, Charlie Francis, Clive Langer, Colin Newman, David Gedge, David Wrench, Deke Leonard, Donal Whelan, E, Elliott Smith, Frank Black / Black Francis, Georgia Ruth, Gruff Rhys, Huw Stephens, Ian Brown, Jarvis Cocker, Jeremy Gluck, Jim Bob, Jimi Goodwin, Jo Riou, John Hywel Morris, John Rostron, Jon Langford, Julia Ruzicka – Prescriptions, Kim Fowley, Kristin Hersh, Liam Gallagher, Manda Rin, Marcus Warner, Mark Daman Thomas / Shape Records, Mark Foley, Martin Carr, Matt Robin, Matthew Evans, Mike Peters, Neil Innes, Owain Trwbador, Owen Powell, Paul Draper, Paul Gray, Polly Thomas, Ray Davies, Rhydian Dafydd, Richard Hawkins, Richard Parfitt, Ritzy Bryan, Stephen Moshi Moshi, Tjinder Singh, Tom Robinson, Turnstile Music, Van McCann…
The book can be downloaded HERE
Adam says that the intention for On Making Music is for it to be as accessible and affordable as possible so he is kindly making the guide available as a donation based download !!
I think that ‘On Making Music’ is set to become something of a standard resource for all of us who record and release music here in Wales and beyond and I recommend that you grab a copy NOW !!
Over a period of time we assembled a 29 minute piece entitled The Wires 2012. The album is a sound art collage created from Jude’s new poetry collection of the same name.
Jude works as an archivist on the Reuters collection and her book interprets selective international news stories of 2012 in a continuous stream.
I took Jude’s recordings of the work and collaged them with audio recordings of my day-to-day sounds and events including a ride on an open top London tour bus, preliminary completions for the Urdd National Eisteddfod and the Star Wars exhibition at LEGOLAND Windsor.
The album is out NOW Via Pethau Garw and can be ordered from the Bandcamp link below
For more information regarding Jude and her work please visit her website
In the 17 years since the first Derrero album was released a lot has changed in the way that way music is distributed and consumed. Back in 1997 the ‘Blue’ album came on Cd & Vinyl and that was your lot.
Once the band split that was pretty much the end of the story for those songs ! They became a distant memory in the minds of those that fondly remembered the band.
After Derrero played a short set together two years ago I proudly announced that I’d take responsibility for making our old albums available again in a digital format and then promptly forgot all about it until now !!
This week however marks the return of Derrero !!! or at least the return of our music.
If you are still of a mind to be interested in such things all of the 3 albums & 3 EP’s that Derrero released between 1997 – 2002 can be downloaded for free at the link below
If you do grab a copy of one of those releases please take a moment to give us a mention on the social network of your choice.
Get your Derrero HERE