Sunday, 1 February 2015

Collected Local Songs

Collected Local Songs is a new digital album of a collection of songs of quotidian and local reflection, mostly constructed from everyday language, observations, overheard conversations, encounters, signs, community notices, announcements, phrases from historical texts about Victorian social life; from around and about the neighbourhoods of Deptford and New Cross in South London; using simple compositional structures, recorded with minimal instrumental setting.  A prelude to this has been the 23 minute long song Signs and Wonders, which I released as a single song digital EP in September 2014, and the Cloud of Dreams single released in January.  The former forms part of Collected Local Songs, while where the Cloud of Dreams single release breaks the song into its two constituent vocal and instrumental parts as separate tracks, it appears on the album in complete form.

The album is a selection from songs I’ve written over the past twelve or so months. In July last year I presented some other song recordings at a Domino Nights event at Banner Repeater, and wrote that a “...concern has been about what a song might be, their ostensible ‘content’ in the lyrical textual source and form.” This has been in part prompted by the fact that I find even the most ‘experimental’, interesting, or innovative of contemporary singer/song writing, often slipping too easily into convention and romantic poetic and lyrical tropes in form and language. Whether I’m succeeding in making something more interesting than this is of course probably best assessed by others. 

The songs are informed or influenced as much by concerns beyond the usual conventions of songwriting, as they are by other songwriters. For example, there is the abiding influence of the Oulipo writers, in particular, Georges Perec, whose notions of the infra ordinary and project of exhausting a place, have been close to Collected Local Songs. Also the language and approach of a number of modernist and contemporary poets, from Francis Ponge and J. H. Prynne, among others, through to more recent forms of conceptual writing as promulgated by Marjorie Perloff in her book Unoriginal Genius, and Kenneth Goldsmith’s Uncreative Writing, while wary of Goldsmith’s occasional totalizing anti-expression evangelizing.

The next set of songs to be released later this year will include those premiered in early versions at the Banner Repeater event; these do in some ways follow a more conceptual approach, being sourced from what might best be called ‘appropriated’ texts. And so to avoid the risk of over-analysing and giving too much away, I’ll leave it there...

Collected Local Songs is available to stream or purchase download from 2nd February 2015 at: