These songs were recorded in October 2019 at various locations around the UK.
The recordings capture what was the most stupendously over-complicated live show I have ever attempted, and I’m someone who rarely passes up the opportunity to make things more complicated than they need to be.
Every couple of years or so, I find myself taken by the urge to add a little more paint to my unfinished masterpiece. It’s a project that began around 2002 when I acquired my first loop pedal. These helpful little boxes allow solo performers such as myself to create more interesting musical arrangements than would otherwise be possible with just a single instrument and one pair of hands. Essentially they record little snippets of sound and play them back over and over. Then by adding the right parts at the right times, you can build a whole lot of noise without having to spend any time around other musicians. Looping soon became a major part of my live performances and much of whatever success I have had sprang from my early adoption and elaborate employment of this technique.
But I was never satisfied with the technology available. There has never been a machine that does all the things I need. I want to fill the stage with instruments, loop them all together, have them stay in time, be able to bring different parts in and out during the song, without sacrificing sound quality and without using computers. Once there’s a computer on stage, it becomes the smartest member of the band and the temptation is to let it handle more and more of the difficult and complicated work until eventually you wind up somewhere along the road to karaoke.
So I have taken it upon myself to go about modifying existing machines and building new ones. Every time I think I can go no further, I wake in the night struck by the notion that some obsolete piece of ‘90s technology might be re-purposed to allow me to play bass parts using my feet, thereby expanding the list of viable looper songs. And then I’m back in again, hunched over a soldering iron so that I might make the sound of a full band all by myself. These recordings represent my nearest attempt.
All the instruments you hear were played and looped. There are occasional samples dropped in. These are played using foot pedals. Yes, that feels a little close to cheating but I’ve kindly allowed myself not to worry too much about that.
And of course, there are some songs that don’t utilise any of Dr Frankenstein’s cupboard of musical curiosities. Because the thing to remember is, much as I enjoy the challenge of creating this circus of stage chicanery, the songs are always the most important thing, and all other work must be in their service.
Recording engineer: Iain White