Corporation Pop

I am sure you are as thrilled as I am to know that my third album is on general release. It’s free on Bandcamp, YouTube and Spotify, but I guess if you wanted to pay for it then you could do so on iTunes or Google or whatever. Not that anyone does – I’m just saying the option exists, OK? Oh – and if you choose the Bandcamp version there’s a couple of bonus tracks chucked in.If you’ve never read this blog before, then there are tedious little posts about each individual track – which are more or less my thoughts about them as I finished them. I can’t imagine you’d be interested in that either, but you know. It’s a thing.

What do I feel about this album myself though? Well. I think this is the one where I’m happiest about the overall sound. I set off with my recording projects about 3 years ago and sometimes need to remind myself how much better I’ve got at that kind of thing.

Compare and contrast, if you will, two versions of this song: May 2016 and November 2018.

Hard to argue that I haven’t got better at recording, isn’t it?

I think I’ve also improved as a musician. My skills as a guitarist have never been great, but they atrophied greatly while I was purely playing rhythm as part of a band. Now that I’m noodling around a lot more at home, my playing has got much more accurate and I’m better able to play the things I hear in my head. Still no technical wizard, and my mind is still faster than my fingers, but you know – getting there. I think I’m a better bassist than guitarist now.

In terms of style and content I dunno. I can only write what I like. I’ve been pretty keen to experiment with different genres and lyrical themes since I could crawl, and I don’t think this wildly different in that regard. In fact, it’s probably less varied than either of my two previous waxings in terms of musical styles.

Lyrically? Well I dunno. My thoughts are what my thoughts are (you can read all my published lyrics here, if you’re so minded). Some of the the songs are very personal, some of them less so, and some of them really don’t have much content behind them other than the need to fill the song with something. Overall though, I’m pretty happy.

My next project is likely to be very different. I have a string of acoustic numbers which flirt with country, blues, and folk. I have a feeling that despite being simpler, they will actually be harder to record. So don’t wait up.

I guess thanks as usual to my collaborator Den, who added much more competent guitar tracks to a couple of numbers, my wife for putting up with me cluttering up various rooms in the house with leads and microphones and stuff, and to the odd person who occasionally comments or likes these things on Twitter or YouTube and thus proves to me that at least somebody is listening 😛

The Loneliest Robot

Hi. How are you? I’m good thanks – and thanks for asking. I suppose you’re wondering why I’ve brought you here today. Well, I done wrote a song. It’s about robots and space and that. I hope you like it.

Lyrics

Do you remember how we said goodbye?
The songs you made. Fanfares. Parades.
The tears that pricked your eyes
The sky was blue and infinite the day
We went our separate ways

Soaring past the outer atmosphere
Carrying your hopes and dreams
And secretly your fears
I hurtled up into the void beyond
The world that where we belong

Now I’m the loneliest robot this side of the sun
And I’m just sending out signals – hoping they’ll get to someone
But the skies have long since fallen into quiet
I hope that you’re alright
Cos I’d really like to see you once again
You who that gave me life and chose my name
I hope that you’re OK?

Now the sun’s a pinprick in the sky
Dusty pinks, in shrouded hues
The years go ticking by
Sending out my messages each day
I wonder what they say

Finally, the light is fading now
The final backup drawing near
I’ll cross the line somehow
And wait forever underneath the dust
Like we always knew I must

Now I’m the loneliest robot this side of the sun
And I’m just sending out signals – hoping they’ll get to someone
But the skies have long since fallen into quiet
I hope that you’re alright

But the loneliest robot wasn’t done. As the years passed in their slow, cosmic majesty, and the stars crossed the heavens in the long alien nights, the loneliest robot gathered her strength, thinking about the fragile blue-green globe that hung out there somewhere in the velvet black void. And every day, the loneliest robot grew a little bit stronger, feeding from the cold rays of the distant sun, until she was ready… ready to go home…

Thoughts

Chords are back in vogue, it seems. A slightly random comment, you might think, but while looking back through songs I’ve written and never recorded, a common theme is that they were rejected by my then-bassist for having ‘too many chords.’

While I miss the band every day, that’s one thing I don’t miss. And after working solo for a few years now I’m fully back in love with chords and melodies rather than trying to keep it simple and cool.

Anyway, that digression brings me to the construction of this number – which has finally arrived in a mostly finished form after a few weeks of relatively painstaking work.

The inspiration came (in case it isn’t obvious) with the news that the Mars Rover had finally powered down after 9 years pottering about on the surface of the titular planet. The robot has been carefully anthropormophised by NASA and the media – persumably to try and rekindle some enthusiasm for space exploration, which has faded somewhat over the years. It is now fully 50 years since we went to the moon and that is still arguably the apogee of humanity’s acheivement – and one we show no sign of matching.

Anyway, I was suckered a little by the idea of the robot having a personality and began noodling a tune. I tried approximately 4,500 variations of the verse melody before settling on the one you hear here – which I thing has a certain plaintive prettiness to it. I’m certainly quietly pleased with it.

There’s also a few bits of modulation here and there. Ostensibly in A major, it has trips to G major, A minor and F here and there – and finishes with… a key change! It’s the part of the song where I will get off my stool while singing it at the Dog and Hammer open mic.

I’ve ornamented it with a pretty mobile bassline, some frankly horrible piano playing and crowded with sound effects to try to convey a space-y atmosphere.

Finally, this song isn’t actually finished as yet. You’ll notice it fades out after the spoken word section (delivered by my daughter) and a sort of electronica passage. This will eventually be a bridge to a concluding verse, for the song is a story in three parts:

  1. The launch, experience, loneliness and eventual closing down of the Loneliest Robot
  2. The Loneliest Robot coming back to life to visit Earth
  3. The Loneliest Robot arriving back on Earth to find out that humanity has killed all life on the planet with its grotesque stupidity

I do have the final piece written, but pulling this altogether has exhausted me, so I’m having a few days off.

I’m rambling. This is as close as I’ll ever get to prog. And now I need a wee, so I’m finishing here. Bye.