Written on Xmas day 2001; hands on the fretboard and there it comes; a relaxed session the following May and structure forms; Den adds more relationship angst; the song is a lovely 4-part loop that flows from the start to the morse-code piano ending.
The wrong room
"…jazz, minimalism and story-telling" said the press release; something we have regularly performed as a prologue to 'Nature Boy', a chance for atmospheres to develop; We were interested in creating something in a studio context for this - more menacing and disturbing, but also catching the tale's surreal overtones. As one door closed, another had to open…
When Karen came up with this sequence, it's working title was 'Russia', but naturally we moved across Europe to warmer climes; originally written at the same time as 'Extraordinary' (from the CD 'Sinistra'), it's got a bit of everything about the piece in this version, although each one is different it's always about interplay and dynamics.
Another piece in 3-loops, this has more in it than a live version could - breaths, spoken vocals, rotating harmonies; an audience gave us the Lalo Schifrin comparison - maybe the driving bass; anticipating the final drum sequence has always been a favourite activity in performance.
All our actions
A very personal statement, written during a period of personal instability in October 2003; the words were first and quite separate to the music initially; the song retains its intimacy with the contrasting counter lyric which Karen added to answer the 'internal' main lyric.
A long time live staple, it was originally going to be called 'Aunt Mabel'; as is our approach, it's already beginning to evolve beyond the recording with a different feel; having many writers allows us to explore lots of different moods.
Another piece that came from a group improvisation, we revisited it and fashioned a beautifully emotional statement; something that relies on lots of feel, it is poignant but also hopeful; the combination of music and words always touch me - everyone can relate to the sentiment.
I don't think so
This started of very fast and almost like 80's jazz-funk; after chopping and changing, Paul and Karen stripped it right back and turned it into a moody, emotional piece with lots of space; it's very stark, final and definite.
Water & sand
Emerging from an initial idea Karen and I had, this is a personal favourite; I think this has the scope, drama and atmosphere that is so prevalent in what ZOO do; a simple chord pattern, the song grows in its development, arrangement and textures; for me it's a very visual piece, the music illustrating the sea and the environments, the isolation.
After 'Discovery of…' we now just have 'Land'; emerging from a lyrical idea from Simon which Karen & Paul developed originally as a guitar/vocal piece; this is a frenetic one-take from the first snare-hit and features our first recorded fade over the combination of high dream vocals and slide guitar. This has always been first choice as the album closer due to the energy level and overall feel.
An idea for a related ZOO Project of improvisations and spoken word, this has emerged as the 'hidden', or at least 'unlisted' track and the phrase became the unanimous choice for album title; an interesting experiment.
The Process. A fantastic experience; a similar approach to our first two CD's, but much more a labour of love, and ultimately more artistic control (although, I do like working with a producer as well, provided they are as good as Andy Hawkins!).
Firstly more tracks with more extensive arrangement possibilities. In some respects getting the backing tracks in the can was the easy bit; the embellishments, overdubs and mixing parts were definitely the most demanding. Living with the pieces, hearing them change, being critical on what was working and what wasn't, getting the levels and balance, learning techniques, keeping the feel, positioning the stereo, even the tracklisting all have helped in the development of both album and the band.
Oh, and also knowing when it was finished!
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