Monday, 20 July 2020

In Transit: on 'Crossfields'

On songs on my new cassette/download album All Living Can Anyone Be Here.

‘Crossfields’ is what might under certain circumstances rather ungenerously be called filler, so in some ways I am mounting something of a defence of filler here to describe a track that has a particular function within the overall experience of the album. This track's inclusion is entirely to make a transition from ‘And On The Heath’ and ‘Even On A Wednesday’. On its own, out of context, it would represent a very slight and inconsequential piece of music, whereas the other tracks on the album, I think, would stand as self-contained as they have been composed and produced as discrete works. When I was programming the order of the tracks, after the final mix, I was concentrating on what might be experienced on a continuous listen to the album, from start to end, such as one might experience when listening to a cassette, with a break for turning it over. I thought it was necessary for there to be some kind of buffer, some way of going less directly from one song to the next. This is partly because of the themes of the songs: ‘…Wednesday’ is where the theme of reflections on the coronavirus situation starts, while ‘…Heath’ represents an earlier, pre-COVID-19 context, and is a more expansive recording, its longer, slower pace, unfolding more slowly. As both songs reflect upon space and place as context, for the album to go immediately from one to the other seemed too much of a jump, there needed to be space for rest and decompression, a break, an intermission, to carry the listener from one place to another before entering the interior suspension of lockdown; from out on the open space of Blackheath to the limbo of domestic space in covid time.

The track itself, such as it is, derives from a vocal and synth improvisation I had made consisting of a drum machine rhythm based on a sample from David Bowie's ‘Art Decade’ from Low, over which I played an 'A' note across a couple of octaves on the synth, while I adjusted the resonance control and improvised a droney autotuned vocal melody. 

The original recording is here:

I had briefly considered this as a music track for what was to become ‘Private Ambulance’, but that song went in another quite different direction. To make ‘Crossfields' I removed the rhythm track, and remixed and treated the vocal and synth. The title is the name of an area and housing estate in Deptford between my house and Blackheath, and I often pass through there between the two. The filler that the track provides is crucial to the pace and the atmosphere of All Living Can Anyone Be Here, and the experience of the album overall.

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