2015-06-26

Anger Bob

Anger Bob marooned in morning traffic...



Here he is, Anger Bob!

Please listen, love it, and then share the link with no sense of self-control or decorum...










2015-06-23

Anger Bob - Creativity unleashed


"Anger bob, beats fists against the glass."


Collaboration, how's it been working out?

With Hallam and I plunging headlong towards the release of our next teaser-track: Anger Bob, it seems like a good moment to look back over the last nine or ten months and talk about how it has gone.

Excellently—we've barely had a moment of creative differences and this has worked, I think, a lot by us each trusting the other to do their job.

However this doesn't mean keeping quiet and refusing to give any feedback.  Hallam, when I give him a new lyric, doesn't always take all of it.  Quite often he'll think, for example, that the first half of the chorus is stronger than the second; and he'll say so, and he may not even record the weaker part (although this is usually more to do with having enough words to fit his musical phrasing rather than refusing to touch the weaker words.)

Similarly, when I hear the first version of the words set to music, there will sometimes be a part where I feel the musical treatment hasn't meshed with the words as well as it might.  For example in Anger Bob, in the chorus, Hallam originally had some words held for several beats in the middle of the phrases.  Musically that was perfectly fine and very interesting, but for the words to me it felt wrong that these quite bureaucratic phrases should be broken like that.  Bureaucrats do like to run off their standard phrases at some speed.

The creative process, earlier today
Collaboratively—so when this happens, we talk.  In the case of Anger Bob we had 32 exchanges of comments on our little private blog where we post our notes and progress, and a few emails as well.

Experimentally—we also experiment.  I'm a very fast writer (when I have something to write) so when Hallam questions part of a lyric, I can usually produce a few ideas for alternatives almost immediately (literally immediately, if I am on-line).  Hallam takes a little longer, he has to go to the studio for a start, and he cannot get there everyday, but he has been known to do a "couch recording" of a new idea and mail it to me right there and then.  As this process iterates between the two of us the song is, of course:

Evolving—for me, the lyric has certain poetic qualities as I write it, but it isn't a song.  At most I'll have an idea that a section could go "LA la lala, la LA lar" (forgive me getting technical).  So the first time I hear it set to music is (in a literal and non-bombastic sense) a revelation.  The words at that moment become something that they weren't before.  Emphasis changes.  Often it is only at this point that the song "locks down" to focusing on a single subject (previously it will have been in the area of the subject, but not necessarily focused.)

At that point, bits we were considering dropping become easier decisions.  If they are part of the core message, then they have to stay; if not then it's the bit-bucket for them, I'm afraid.

Tuning—and then it's just a matter of tuning.  I'll have known how I would read the words, but Hallam's is a different voice and necessarily things come across a little changed.  Let's remove the "only" but add an "and" at the start of the line—I might say.  Or Hallam might say—Line two in verse two feels longer than in verse one The point of both of these being to fit more exactly to the music, and also to the emphasis that Hallam is giving the line.

Sometimes I will have been worried about having far more syllables between two lines that go to the same music (being in the same relative position in the verse/chorus; obviously I'll have the same number of feet, I'm not an idiot).  However often this will slide into the performance entirely unnoticed and instead some other part, which to my mind scanned perfectly, will develop a slight wobble and need a slight rephrasing.

And finally, Fun - it's been great fun.  Hallam's word is exciting and I won't argue with that as a description either.  I can't see how it would have worked if it wasn't great fun and exciting.

I asked Hallam whether he had anything to add to this, but said—Honestly, I can’t add anything. But feel free to take this statement of mine and use it in your post—so I have.



Which only leaves me to remind you: Anger Bob, he's coming.

Anger Bob, in three days time.


2015-06-18

Watch this Space, Anger Bob is coming...

Anger Bob is coming!

In about a week Hallam London will be ready to release the next teaser track from his Sheffield Album (working title) for which I have been writing lyrics for about the last ten months.

This is our ninth song and hot off the press.  Add that to the two songs Hallam had already written and this means we are now past halfway to our target of eighteen.  Having that many available will mean there's a plenty of choice when it comes time to pick the final selection to go into the album.

Will this one be on the album?  This is a question about the future.  The future is unknowable: you should know that.  However at the moment this is definitely one of our favourites.

As a free sample and pre-publicity for the release, you will find below both the lyrics (these are the final version lyrics, exactly as sung) and also a link to me reading them (slightly shortened at the end, because twelve repeats are hard to get away with if you don't have musical support).

This is once again, Rock Music Description Language, so it's verses to the left, chorus in the middle, break on the right.  Anger Bob is nothing like our previous teaser release Identity, and I'd be prepared to wager a small sum that it's nothing like you'll imagine from just the words.

If you can only hear the music, that makes all the difference.







Anger Bob


Anger Bob marooned in morning traffic.
Anger Bob shouts something at the cars.
Anger Bob perched high on night-time rooftops
shouts irate manifestos at the stars.

Anger Bob eats angrily from paper bags.
Anger Bob beats fists against the glass.
Anger Bob's a fixture in the city
as permanent as dead and dusty grass.

Did you wish to leave a message?
In your own words, please describe your early days
—please take a seat.
Complete all forms in Biro please;
list every item that you need.
Do not expect to ever leave the maze...
 
Anger Bob distrusts his own reflection.
Anger Bob slides nervously past shops.
Anger bob means something to commuters,
but this is not to say they'd like to swap.

Did you wish to leave a message?
In your own words, please describe your early days
—please take a seat.
Complete all forms in Biro please;
list every item that you need.
Do not expect to ever leave the maze...

A patron saint for modern time,
I see his only states of mind
are anger, fury, irritation, rage.
Did you once live ordinary days?

Did you wish to leave a message?
In your own words, please describe your early days
—please take a seat.
Complete all forms in Biro please;
list every item that you need.
Do not expect to ever leave the maze...

Don't expect, don't expect, don't expect to ever...
Don't expect, don't expect, don't expect to ever...
Don't expect, don't expect, don't expect to ever...
Don't expect to ever leave the maze...

Don't expect, don't expect, don't expect to ever...
Don't expect, don't expect, don't expect to ever...
Don't expect, don't expect, don't expect to ever...
leave.

2015-06-12

Detective Inspector Norcroft closes the file

A neat whisky, later this evening
A relatively recent one here, as recent as this time last year, give or take...

I have garnered the odd criticism for cliché in this one, but that is a little bit the idea.  Take the cliché from a genre and push it that little bit further.

Here I'm just trying to capture an emotion and because it's an overwhelming emotion in an over-the-top situation...  well I'm driving it home with a mallet.

One poet who read this commented that it was 'cathartic' and I think that's exactly how it should read.





Detective Inspector Norcroft closes the file


Forty years stewing, his water grown cold...
Not at his first autopsy, that was Alice
whose blood—so long cremated—pooled
on her left to make an asymmetry not present
in the photo from the white-faced sideboard drawer.
He'd been a constable so young that grinning
Dr Morris pointed out the pail
placed handily on the floor. There's other corpses


poised behind the airing cupboard door.
They are patient. Where is the Lifebuoy soap?
Where is the Famous Grouse? Water still cold.
It was not at his first child-murder either.
First he went home with a new bike for Katie,
then worked around the clock for seven weeks
while Helen knew that something must be wrong.
They never spoke of it. She's gone now,


Helen, eight years and that's another corpse,
if one without the black and yellow tape;
and Katie is in Alice Springs: alive,
but in another world. The Johnsons are
another pair of dead caught on his mind.
He found their neat small-calibre hit,
their camper van and dog but never found
the first hint why they died. What can you do?


He gives in and runs some more hot water.
He gives in and pours himself more scotch.
He'd go for ice, but not when naked, wet
and with the heating off since half-past ten.
He finally gives in and thinks of Amy
who disappeared in nineteen ninety-three
in twenty yards between her father's car
and the door of the church hall. She was an angel


by every witnesses account. Her picture,
in every paper and on TV, glowed
with vitality. She was aimed at Oxbridge
according to her school. Athletics cups
in two or three events were ranged on shelves
within her room. He dissected her too soon;
took her life apart. She was only missing
and God knew, nobody admitted dead,


until she was, in a copse. Not then, facing
the parents and the press. Not later,
when the chief told him he'd gone a little strange.
Not even this morning, ten years post-retirement,
when he dropped nine crates of witness-statements,
photographs and tapes at the station desk—
time now for Babs Patel to worry
at all the unclosed dead. They are the coldest


cases. It is now, his drink forgotten.
It is now, as bath steam clouds the mirror.
It is now, on the evening that would be
DS Dickson's boozy leaving bash,
if he hadn't had a massive stroke
while rowing last week. It is only now,
his black suit back on its hanger, that Joe Norcroft,
Detective Inspector (retired), weeps for the dead.

2015-06-05

On the down line

Well we all have to go sometime.

The question of whether we go somewhere is more controversial, but let's suppose we did...

...well it is difficult to imagine, in this overpopulated age, that Charon is still ferrying each of us individually and manually.

So...  this poem sprang fully formed from the Wikipedia quote that forms the epigram.  "Katabasis" is a marvellous word, I can't imagine why I haven't used it in the body of the poem.

What else?  Oh yes, this is yet another poem from the marvellous: Poet's Graves anthology : Making Contact.








On the down line


a descent of some type, 
such as moving downhill,
or the sinking of the winds
or sun,
a military retreat,
or a trip to the underworld
or a trip from the interior of a country
down to the coast.—Wikipedia—"Katabasis"


Would a figure figure in the ending
of the trip? Tired and how archaic,
a gate-warden, perhaps, who spits
half-chewed tobacco,
the spittle flying, off-stage
from the light he has raised
in one arthritic hand
into some outer darkness
to form tiny settlements
of dying, congealing mucus
on a stone so far beyond
mortal concern
that no dust gathers.
And if he had some sort of vehicle,
this warden,
a traditional boat, or perhaps a charabanc
engined in oil and antiquity, and glimmering brass pipes;


if there was such a vehicle
would you take a place
on age-riddled, half-cracked seating? Would you
hesitate at the risk of meeting an old friend
who in later life you came to never like,
or a cleaning woman, freshly slain but not yet
laid out in her beeswax and lavender
encrusted duster? Would you fear the general muster
of folk a touch too keen to chance another world,
having nothing from the last?


Or would you, knowing your place,
take the space between a rapist,
and a collector of second-hand ties;
face forward and grip your expectant ticket so firmly
that your sweat—cold as must be—
will print a ragged patch on the cheap cardboard;
wait for the old man's creaking arm
to pull hard on the handbrake; and wait again
to hear one final, semi-comic honking
from his rubber-bulb horn?