Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Subsongs by subsong: Subsongs

In which I write about the songs on the subsongs album, in order, song by subsong.

intense concentration at the ArtsCafé, photo: Richard Sanderson
Subsongs, the album, seems to me, after the fact, to be thematically disjointed, lacking any real conceptual underpinning. But that’s OK. The ‘subsongs’ suggested by the title, draw on something of a miscellany of subjects preoccupying my reading and interests during the more than a year over which it was written and recorded. The title of the album was always going to be ‘Subsongs’, after the song ‘subsong’, and while that song played with reflexivity, it didn’t propose a processual or conceptual grounding which could be applied to the rest of the collection of songs as a miscellany. Can miscellaneousness effectively be a unifying factor?

As the last song to be written for the album Subsongs took the role of title song away from ‘subsong’, but more than that, in the face of the aforementioned lack of conceptual or thematic unity, ‘Subsongs’ was written as a a song about the album, its subject is the songs alongside which it has its own place, in its own words “situated somewhere almost in the middle, like a progress report in a formless lyric”. It refers to some, if not all, of the songs on the album, for instance "landscape, myth, material, the present situation, other times, other places, other persons beyond the sixth extinction”, and I'll leave the dedicated reader with too much time on her hands, to work out which songs are referred to, one has to maintain some mystery!

The song acknowledges the nature of where songs are, subsongs in the air and on the page, and the more metaphysical question of what a song is, which is to say if it can’t be described, it doesn’t exist, and vice versa, because songs, these songs at least, are, if nothing else, descriptive. Arguably any text, even the most fanciful and imaginative, is a description of something, even if that something has no basis in any kind of reality, it has a basis in that text, which brings it into existence, which is to say brings the thing brought into existence, because if it couldn’t be described, it wouldn’t exist. This is to describe song-writing as world-making, metaphysics as the creation of a reality system, technic as cosmogony, metaphysics as the creation of a reality system.

Musically the song consists of guitar, bass and drum loops over which I recorded my vocal and improvised piano flourishes.

Like the song 'Inside', it had not initially made the first cut of the record, but also like that song I decided to reinstate it after its enthusiastic reception at the Linear Obsessional ArtsCafé gig. There I played it accompanying myself only bass, creating the looping pattern with a looper pedal.

Listen to the song and read the lyrics.

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