Thirty Days To The Ocean
>>antlerland.bandcamp.com<< in a format sure to satisfy your particular format fetish.
- Off On Yr Own
- Causeway (Southbound)
- Border Shoppingtown
- Ice Moon Prison
- Alien City
- Causeway (Northbound)
- Village Skateland
© COPYRIGHT 2013 Graham Freeman
Grudnuk Creations - Cat No. GRUD007
Since I became more earnest about releasing my music about 5-6 years ago, after several years of doling it out in dribs and drabs, my intent was to remain productive enough to release an album's worth of material at least every 12 to 18 months. It's with a sense of shock that it's now been over two years since I put out Blast Thru Silence, which itself just over a year to make.
Now, the sharper spades amongst you will say, "OK, so what was Not To Be Played In Apartment Blocks?" Well, that was a compilation of some of the dribs and drabs. Even that took a bit of time to straighten out, but once that was done, I could get cracking on the next album, which I had hoped to have out by the end of 2012.
I have maybe a couple of dozen people who are into what I do, but I'm fine with that. I get a kick out of making this stuff, so do some of my friends, and on the plus side I don't have to travel around the world lugging around a giant sound system playing to thousands of louts wearing a mouse hat. It's great! The downside is I don't get to do this for a living, but hey, swings and roundabouts. The upside is that I don't have to care about "building an audience", or ending up on the wrong side of a trend, or finding myself on a Ministry of Sound compilation. Actually the biggest hassle is finding some Russian offering my tracks for just a dollar each, and me wondering who the hell is buying.
Anyway, back to the making of this album and what's held it up.
The working title of the album was "Isometrica", and so I thought, well, there's an idea! I'll use SketchUp to do a 3d model of my hometown's main street, then turn it into a POV-Ray scene which I will render using an isometric projection to make some kick-arse cover art for the album! Excellent.
Do you know how long it takes to make a good looking cityscape in SketchUp? Bloody buggery ages! I got maybe one block done, and the end result didn't look that great anyway. Other approaches were considered, but ultimately that contributed to a artistic block on the thing I am really good at - bad electronic music!
Still, I kept working on the tracks, bit by bit - it helped that there were some great ideas at their heart, although some of them, like "Riverina", took years to come to fruition after the basic idea is formed. Sometimes I'd throw disparate elements at a piece that had seemingly hit a dead end to make it do a fierce hairpin instead - which is why "Ice Moon Prison" is a thing. Sometimes the idea would pop out almost fully formed, like "Off On Yr Own" did, and all it needs is the sanding off on the edges. And sometimes I know where a track is going, just not necessarily how it'll get there.
The dude who said "genius is one percent inspiration, ninety nine percent perspiration" had a point.
So this was mostly finished about six months ago, but of course, I hit another block. Was this good enough? Do I even care if no-one hears it. Another issue was that after the debacle with the artwork, I needed to come up with a new album title since "Isometrica" with an album cover that wasn't isometric art was kind of dumb. "Off On Yr Own"? That might've worked I guess, but I wasn't thrilled with that.
The seed came from the local references from the 1980s for the song titles (as I explain during the rundown). Living in Albury as I do, just up the river is the Hume Dam, or Hume Reservoir, or the Hume Weir, or just Lake Hume. The local historical society had organised a commemoration of the dam with the Centenary of Canberra as part of the One River theme, which included a bus tour I went along to at the behest of my mother. All very interesting, considering the construction workers did it tough in those days.
What also struck me was a speech the dam manager gave describing the flow of the water of the Murray and how long it took to reach the mouth. I can't quite remember exactly how long he said it took to reach the Coorong, but thirty days sounded about right. Bam. The album artwork fell into place since I had taken some photos of the lake that I had on file, so a little messing around with that to superimpose an image of some of my gear onto the sky, it was done.
Obviously, there are some influences at play, with icons of 1970s art rock popping up often. I do actually feel some unease at how reliant I am on these, and also awe at the creative leaps that brought these styles into the light in the first place. Like Prometheus bring fire to the mortals. At the same time, I've been banging this sort of thing together for a while, so I've got my own legacy to cannibalise. So in order to not fall into a rut, I've tried to push myself a little further.
And I feel I've ended up one of the types of album I've always wanted to make - a nice big long epic monster that goes all over the shop but also feels strangely cohesive. No apologies that some of the damn things go for over ten minutes, or that I've made a token stab at dubstep to say "yes, I know what year this is - 2006, isn't it?" or that I've got a vocoder and a faux mellotron firing off at the same time at one point.
Just be thankful I didn't get Jon Anderson on to sing about fairies.
Stargazer is, well, it's always nice to start off with an appetizer, isn't it? On my previous albums I've tended to started off with something with a heavy beat, so this time around I decided to do without them. Plus all the better to soften up the listener before the hammer gets dropped on them.
Historical Note: The name "Stargazer" is taken from an old drive-in cinema that was located on the outskirts of Albury. I saw Return Of The Jedi there once. Now it's just the site for yet another housing estate.
Riverina was a lot of work. My early concept for it was a four seasons thing, you know, as a demented tribute to the countryside and that kind of still holds. Obviously I was also pretty keen to indulge my love of Neu! and indeed all the bands they'd inspired. I don't put a lot of guitar in my music, as I'm horrible on the instrument, but here I felt that adding a little amateurish thrashing to put some menace to all that drone was just what the doctor ordered.
Off On Yr Own is one of those things that came out of nowhere. The basic melody dropped in my head one day, and I was able to sketch out the whole thing pretty quickly. Sorting out the mix took most of the work.
Border Shoppingtown - the hook is directly inspired by that broken chord you hear before PA announcements on train platforms or outside shoe shops. Besides that, it's pretty much an excuse to for some electro nonsense I like putting together every now and again.
Historical Note: The name "Border Shoppingtown" was the original name of the shopping centre in Lavington. It's since been expanded about three times since and currently bears a far less poetic name, but remains just as daggy.
Ice Moon Prison - Uhhh, look, you know, I might leave you in the dark on this one, except to say that I love fake saxophone. Luurrve it. Actually you know that bit towards the end of King Crimson's "Starless" where the sax gets all freaky? That was the vibe I was trying to bite. Unsuccessfully.
AMV4 - Obviously, I also love Can. Definite nod to Holger Czukay's collage production here, though I'm glad I never had to deal with tape.
Historical Note: "AMV4" was the original callsign for Albury-Wodonga's sole commercial TV station until 1990s. The broadcast signal also sat right on the FM radio band so until that time there was only room for a couple of radio stations on that band. Locals of a certain age still have nightmares about Horatio Hound.
Alien City - Epic space battle music! Pew! Pew! Pew!
Historical Note: "Alien City" was the name of the original "pinny parlour" next to the movie cinema in the main street. The cinema complex was expanded to incorporate an even bigger amusement parlour underneath it, but it's not called Alien City these days.
Village Skateland: Just to lighten things up at this juncture, a dinky little tune in the old-skool Antlerland style (please refer to Chindogu for more examples). I set up the melody, then drop it out to go a little crazy on the beats, then I bring the melody back in a slightly different form. Classic formula!
Historical Note: "Village Skateland" was the name of, you guessed it, a skating rink, where I developed a love-hate relationship with Funkytown. Loved the Lipps Inc original, thought Pseudo Echo's cover was poxy. The site of the rink is now an electrician's supply shop.
Isometrica: the synth riff came to me as a walking tune, as the best ones often do. (Come to think of it, "Riverina" had a similar origin.) I rushed home to commit it to the sequencer because I knew it could be the backbone of something epic. The big ol' cheeseball solo at the end was a single take over a looped section - no edits or cuts, once I had it down, I was able to stretch it out nice and long. Obviously big Tangerine Dream and Mike Oldfield influences on this one.
- Graham Freeman