Thursday, September 22, 2005


You realise I’ve been lying throughout this entire blog, don’t you? Lies, lies, lies. Nothing but lies. The truth is as follows: The angel tech album was actually recorded in 2 days, using only 4 chords, a banjo, and a tambourine.

No, that is not true. I’m a liar once more. The very worst type of liar. In fact, the angel tech LP was recorded using telekinesis, rendered as grooves in a huge flat bed of polished stone, amplified by the three of us manually running a giant silver needle over its surface. The needle was wired up, illegally, to the PA at Birmingham New Street train station. We were arrested, and subsequently skipped bail. I’m writing this from a cheap hotel room in Guatemala, riding the wireless connection emitted by the German embassy up the road.

Bollocks. Claptrap. Why do you trust me? I only lie. I only ever lie. In fact, angel tech is not really a band at all, we’re go-getting prospectors in the corduroy business. We’ve sunk our life savings into a struggling trouser factory (the factory is struggling, you understand, not the trouser.) We’re also thinking of making corduroy waistcoats. Our arguments are not about “guitars” and “EQ,” “drum” breaks and “string” arrangements. No, we only ever argue about one thing: The THICKNESS OF THE CORDUROY. It occupies all our available time, a constant low-level bickering which defines our professional relationship. Neil thinks the corduroy should be thick. Doug thinks the corduroy should be very thick. Whilst I think the corduroy should be quite thick.

It’s a fucking stalemate. It’s driving me mad.

It’s also completely untrue.

OK, you want the truth? You think you can handle it? Very well then. Truth thus: Last night Mary cooked the angel tech boys some lovely food. Noodles with vegetables, hoi sin and plum sauce. Doug opined that Sharwood’s hoi sin and plum sauce was their finest sauce, and possibly their only genuinely good sauce. Mary felt that the combination of sauce and crinkly Kale made the Kale taste like liquorice. I agreed, and thought it was a serendipitous culinary discovery. Mary wasn’t best pleased, though, as she doesn’t like Liquorice. She didn’t eat her Kale, which was a sad moment for everyone. To cheer things up a bit Doug then did an impression of the Hermit of St Werburghs, a mad old man who hangs out at the local off-licence and tells angel tech we’re “ALL WINNERS. EVERY ONE OF YOU. WINNERS! LOVELY LADS!” each time we pass. He also shows us his very shiny black trainers, and explains that he cleans his shoes regularly so that “they’ll let me into heaven.” Later on Neil did a fart in the studio, a fart of such terrifying viciousness that in 12,000 years time archaeologists will be able to dig it up and carbon-date it. Later still, I hit the studio ceiling in a spasm of excitement. I was excited because the angel tech LP made me so. That is the truth.

Compression is still the name of the game at the moment*. It works a bit like this: you’ve got a swathe of spasmodic, clattering, insane electronica that invades one particular song and takes it over (I’m talking about YOU, My Part In Your Downfall. Yes I am.) You love it when the madness is dipped in and out of, but playing the whole song, it doesn’t quite gel. There’s too much of it. Too much silly buggery. Too much bucking bronco. So how come you like it when heard for a few moments out of context, so much so that it gets you drumming along with a shit-eating grin on your face? The theory we have at the moment is that there might be 10 seconds, 15 seconds here and there that could be cut from certain tracks. Tiny snips. A haircut, not a decapitation. Certain tracks seem to be wearing their length well: Molotov wouldn’t sound right unless it took its time. But others make you feel as if, in Doug’s words, “They’re trying too hard.” A bit like the Hermit of St Werburghs, they go “Look at me, I’m mad. I’ve got one tooth! I’m in your face! I’m fuckin’ crazy!” and something about his demeanour means that you’re not sure how much he really means it… what that big front might be hiding.

Heh heh. Almost had you going for a second there, didn’t I? Bullshit, of course. The LP is actually going to be 53 minutes of sporadic duck noises and sudden explosions. We’re gonna call it “Quack Quack Boom.” See you in the album charts!

*Imagine a board game called “Compression” in which contestants were forced into unfeasibly small spaces. The winner would be the person who didn’t die from lack of oxygen. It could have a catchphrase: “I’m gonna haf to compress yo ass.” Possibly said in a voice resembling Mr T. Think about it, Mattel toy company. Come onnnnnn. Think about it...

Sunday, September 04, 2005


I don't know if your computer screen is as dirty as mine. Mine is filthy. It's a G4 powerbook, and I need to get something to put between the keys and the screen whilst I carry it around. It's causing indentations.

(To the tune of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Pie Jesu)

Enough of this gay banter. How's the LP going, you ask? Neil says that every time someone asks him that selfsame question he's responding with the phrase "Well, we appear to have had another breakthrough." 'Tis true. God knows how many breakthroughs we need until the damn thing births in a gush of amniotic fluid and baby screams... but we're certainly having 'breakthroughs' at the rate of one every 2.6 hours. The Jukebox Will Tear Us Apart finally gave way a couple of weeks ago, with a late night cut-and-paste session that ended with me playing the laptop like a keyboard. Skewered finally sounds like the snarling, beautiful wreck it ought to be, with an ending that turns a whole bunch of disparate elements into a massive, see-sawing pad of sound.

We all have jobs to do: Lists have been drawn up, tasks assigned. Essential surgery is being performed on select tracks, but a good 50% are pretty much being left alone, awaiting the final addition of properly recorded vocals. This will hopefully be the final element which unifies the album (if not sonically, then at least in our heads, an action that seals the process.) We'll be paying cash money for time in a fully equipped studio, with a big ol' room for vocals, a big ol' window through to the control room... we'll essentially be shelling out dosh for a professional vibe, a sense of urgency. We won't neccessarily use all the results; whilst the vocals so far have been recorded merely as guides (using hand-held mics with little care for clipping or popping or background noise in living rooms and bedrooms all over the country,) some of these rough takes have a vulnerable quality that we might want to keep. All the same, we'll be re-recording every vocal for every song, which means lots of strain on the voice and various essential prevantative measures: getting the lemon and ginger tea in, for one. And humming. Lots of humming, all morning, to warm the throat up. People tend to look at you funny in the street or in the shops, but the alternative is little nodes all over your vocal cords for weeks. Who wants nodes? Nodes are bad. No nodes for me, thanks.

We're also addressing the thorny issue of how to translate the fruits of four years studio knob-twiddling into something that is playable live. Doug recently recounted the story of seeing the wonderful My Bloody Valentine in his late teens. He remembers the entire gig as sounding "like the inside of a seashell" with no discernable connection between the band playing on stage and the sound coming out of the PA. Sure, those guitars were being strummed. Sure, the drumkit was being battered somewhere at the back of the stage. Sure, some people were standing behind microphones and maybe, just maybe, their lips were moving. But did any of it connect with the overall noise the audience could hear? Did it buggery.

Our problem is not so much that you can't connect between what happens physically on stage and the sound we produce: it's simply that in its recorded form, most of our material is the result of so much manipulation and digital warping that it has become impossible to play on conventional instruments... and we don't necessarily want to be three blokes standing behind laptops throughout the entirety of our gigs.

Qualifier: there's nothing wrong per se with three blokes standing behind laptops. Or even four blokes standing behind laptops. Hell, even five blokes, a rhesus monkey and a bag of salt behind laptops is fine. Or two women behind three laptops. Or just a kid with a calculator. It's all good. I'm not getting fascist on the asses of laptop groups, 'K? It's just... that I'm not sure we're that sort of band. One likes to hit stuff. One likes to chuck oneself around. One likes to sweat one's arse off. I don't, however, want to spray streams of sticky sweat all over my powerbook. The fucker's dirty enough as it is, you know?