‘Without Real String or Fish’
Track by Track: ‘Beyond Metropolis’ (BA)
I often think about whatever alchemy of mind and circumstance it is that produces that elusive Last Track - the one that appears when the album seems to be over. When you think you’ve mined whatever seam of compressed life-experience, obsession and influence-cluster it is that songs come from and you’re not exactly content but applying a sort of willed gratitude that, at least, it’s not all total shite, and - a baby miracle - another tune comes into being that you really didn’t expect and that seems to have, more than the others, a character that didn’t seem to have much to do with you (a bit like your children).
I find these are the ones I tend to listen to for fun the most. They’re more like someone else did them. Past examples include Sticky Jazz, Coelacanth, Exquisite Corpse and Hubris. On this album we got two: Beyond Metropolis and Soft Estate. Both voyaging into new territory: with BM an alt-funk anthem in an aircraft hangar with shards of space junk flying out of the darkness at you.
The chorus being a Bowie-esque, aching sunset of chords encouching word clusters of outrageous audacity. There is - gasp- even a key change (yeah we can do that muso shit if we want) and a key change back.
The groove upon which it was built was a thing I wrote a couple of years back, I had sent it to Carl but he hadn’t - as of last summer, when my ‘we are now finishing this fucking record if it kills me’ protocol was in full effect - come up with anything for it. I had booked Stuart Rowe for the mixing; we had enough tunes; Carl had 3 songs on the album; God was in his heaven and the sun was sporting a roguish titfer. Then..
..in his fearful aspect as the demiurge of deadline bending, Carl sent a roughie I couldn’t refuse. At a stroke, the mixing (which was to have been a stately affair of considered tweaking and contemplative strolls around the elegant parterres and formal gardens of the Lighterthief estate) turned into the usual Shriekback panicked scramble as we struggled to bring the prodigal Beyond Metropolis to the same stage of development as its siblings.
Not to do so would have been unthinkable, of course: it had the word: ’Enchromosoniradiopolis’, fer crissakes. The heart bows down.
19 March, 2015