Thursday, 5 October 2017

Subsongs by subsong: Inside

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

I had rejected ‘Inside', and one other song, from my first cut of the album. When I played the Linear Obsessional gig at the ArtsCafé in Manor Park a few weeks before the release of the CD, I had resolved, perhaps perversely, not to play any songs that were on the album, except for those that I had rejected. However one person in particular was so complimentary about this song, and about ‘Subsongs’, ostensibly the album’s then missing title track, that the next day I decided to include both. So my decision not to play songs from the album was undermined after the fact. What’s more I then decided that this song should open the album. I liked the idea of something so slow, and downbeat, employing such an economic use of words, unfolding graduallyoffering such a singular introduction, quite different from what would follow.

I was intending to write something about the idea of the experience of interiority, subjectivity, not a disembodied consciousness, but reflecting on its embodied nature; the brain as an organ, fleshy, bloody, very much a corporeal thing, the locus of the experience of subjectivity, and therefore the experience of the personal and individual consciousness. I imagined this as something like a sense of waking unconsciousness, something like the subjective isolation and suspended animation of being on a long-haul plane flight, with lingering jet lag. In fact the sound at the end of the song is indeed the sound of the low rumble and hiss of the interior of a passenger jet, recorded somewhere over the Himalayas, en route from Australia.

I had recorded the music track as a long looped sequence of dubby reverb and echoey bass, with occasional chiming 12-string guitar diminished chords. The words were not originally intended to be the final lyrics, they were simply a set of keywords used as conceptual place-markers, and my singing them into something of a melody was the first take recording. I did try writing and recording other, more complex, associative, suggestive, poetic lyrics, but kept returning to this original first semi ad-libbed version. I’m not usually given to the ‘first thought, best thought’ school of thought, but in this case the simple keywords seemed to be all that was necessary, and now I cannot think of the song taking any other form.

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