New album – ‘The Signal and the Noise’

April 3, 2012

So it’s been a while, but I’m pleased to announce that Brainlove Records will be releasing my new album ‘The Signal and the Noise’ on 4th June.

This will be the first album released under my own name – Andrew Paul Regan – rather than the anagrammatically-derived pseudonym I used between 2000 and 2010. It just felt like the right time for a change. Ten years with a daft name is enough.

The record is ten songs rooted in small fictions – covering cargo cults, obscure spy technology, the rise of machines, long lost siblings, and the rose-tinted past. Taken as a whole I think the record is about how human beings instinctively seek out narratives as a way to understand ourselves and the world we’re in. It’s also about what happens when the stories we cherish knock uncomfortably against reality, or when narratives break down in the age of too much information.

This is the tracklist:

The Signal and the Noise

1. John Frum Will Return
2. Checker Charley
3. Mistakes Our Parents Made
4. The Omniscient Narrator
5. The Easy Road
~
6.Spy Numbers
7. One Time Pad
8. Infinite Babies
9. The Good Old Days
10. In Potential

Musically I think it’s a natural progression from European Monsoon. More electronics, more guitars, but if anything I’d characterise it as a bit simpler, more pared back in places. It also features strings played by ex-PWL band members David Madoc Roberts and Eleanor Tyrell, and track 3 features guest vocals from Liz Hunt of Cardiff’s premier indie pop band The School.

Preorders

You can listen to ‘John Frum Will Return’ now on my new bandcamp page, where you can also preorder the record.

The disc will come in really lush limited edition handmade gatefold cardboard sleeves with a cut-out ‘choose your own cover’ type thing. Artwork is again by Croatoan Design’s Adam Chard, who also did the birds for European Monsoon. Pictures below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

People who order before the release date will get ‘John Frum’ as a download straight away, a full album download before the release date and a bonus disc called ‘Ah, the Digital Nonsense’ featuring more new tracks.

I’ll be doing live shows later in the year, including at the annual Brainlove Festival on 26th May.

See you all around soon.

Andy.x

New links:

My new blog is at: selfdoubtgun.wordpress.com
My new website is www.andrewpaulregan.co.uk
Which currently just points to my bandcamp at andrewpaulregan.bandcamp.com
My twitter remains @paganwandererlu but you can also follow @selfdoubtgun for more about the new blog
E-mail is now andy [at] andrewpaulregan [dot] co [dot] uk.

New Blog: Self-Doubt Gun

January 5, 2012

Hello & Happy New Year,

I’ve started up a new blog for me to write about whatever enters my head, much as this blog used to be. I’d expect to mostly be talking about music, books, maybe a bit of science, but you know me… it’s bound to spill over into ranting and attempts at humour.

So if you’ve enjoyed this blog in the past, point your RSS reader at:
http://selfdoubtgun.wordpress.com

On the music front, the record I was working on last year is very close to being ready. I’m just sorting out artwork at the moment and then there’ll be some news. Information about that release may well come out through the new blog rather than this one.

Have a great 2012.x

The Boxed Set #10: Train Songs

September 6, 2011

And so it ends, quite literally, as it began. The final reissue of the Boxed Set is my first EP, a humble cassette released in the first months of 2001 called ‘Train Songs’.

The context for it was quite simple, several years of C90 cassettes filled with songs and pieces of noise had preceded my arrival at Aberystwyth Uni in 2000. After a few months of getting to know people there, I plucked up the courage to bang out a brief demo cassette in my room, hand it to the president of Indiesoc and ask for a gig. This is not that cassette, though I do still have it. I forget the exact tracklist, save that it contained a song called ‘Semen in my eyes’ which has never been heard since….

But said gig was duly awarded, an opening slot on a bill with two other Aber bands called Deflour and the Jonny Narcissist – with whom I subsequently had a longstanding enmity which was largely in my head. The gig was fine, I nervously strummed my way through six songs, doing my best to be heard about the members of the above-mentioned Jonny Narcissist who continued to sit behind me on the stage and talk all the way through. I later created a fictional ‘T-shirts’ page on my website which offered this design:

Yeah, take that!

After the gig a few people took the time to tell me they’d enjoyed it, and one of them asked me if I had ‘an EP’ for sale. At the time I had nothing. But the idea stuck, and so over xmas 2000 I duly recorded the six tracks which would become ‘Train Songs’.

I made 30 copies of the tape, each painstakingly hand duplicated, each with a unique sleeve featuring cuttings from the Bolton Evening News. The tracklisting on each was also written by hand. It took quite a while, a tradition that persisted all the way through to the elaborate hand cut sleeves of Build Library Here and such.

I still have a few copies of it left (click for bigger):

if anyone has one they’d like to share a picture of it’d be great to see some of the other designs again.

Musically there’s not much to say. Five of the six tracks are acoustic guitar songs with little embellishment, save a little backwards guitar on one, and then there’s a long droney loop piece. Lyrically again there’s a lot of ‘girls/boo hoo’ material on here, but the very first track is one I could happily strum through today and it’d fit right in.

The songs:

The Cynical Little Train

Somewhat twee, but deceptively so. The recording was bettered on No More Roads, but this tape is where it belongs. The definitive opening statement of Pagan Wanderer Lu. I’ll quote the chorus in full:

‘Mix cynicism in with optimism/ and you will be funny/ and you will get laid/ If you smile all the time then you’re out of your mind/ but you know that a frown will only get you down’

Couldn’t have put it better myself.

Someone Else

And then this. A nice enough guitar part and some ‘by numbers’ lyrics about a girl. From memory the same girl who inspired ‘Control’ from ‘Cliff Railway 1902’. Contains a line about waiting for the phone to ring.

Life’s too good (for other fkers and not for me)

The title taken from a long, incomprehensible screed which for many years adorned the wall of my bedroom at my parents’ house. This is a duller, longer version than the one on ‘Cliff Railway’. The lyrics just a general expression of longing and teenaged angst though I think they have a certain something. From memory this song was a year or two old even at this point.

iforevansinterlude

A long guitar instrumental of a kind I churned out by the C90-load when I acquired a delay pedal with borderline loop-pedal capabilities. Nice enough. Named for the halls of residence I lived in – though not actually recorded there.

Defence Mechanism

Proudly announced onstage at my first gig as the only song I’d written since moving to Aberystwyth. I think this one was of a piece with ‘Xmas Song’. The same message of ‘leave me alone, I don’t want to talk about things’.

Fragile Thing

The only PWL song to be credited to me/someone else. In this case three or four people from school who’d given me a tape of some instrumentals they made together that had no lyrics. I duly wrote and recorded the words ‘after my tea’ and presented them the next day, to much excitement. The tape then got played to some of the girls at school who complimented me on my nice voice, saying the song reminded them of Phil Collins. They meant it as a compliment. This version is just me playing the chords on the guitar, rather than the full ‘piano and mush’ version played that day. Still a reasonable amount of mush, but I think the lyrics are pretty good, albeit a few bits nabbed from a godspeed press release/rant.

Disorder (bonus track)

I originally conceived of Pagan Wanderer Lu as being something like Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy/Palace. The name, when I came up with it, seemed pleasingly of a piece with BPB. I never envisaged it turning into the electro-pop/laptoppy thing it has sometimes been – I just figured I’d churn out endless lo-fi acoustic records for years. So the first cassette included a bonus track cover of ‘Disorder’ by Palace Music. Recorded on a portable tape machine rather than the Tascam four track (to make it even more lo-fi). Not much to say about it either. The album the original is from, ‘Arise Therefore’, is one of the most impressively bleak things you’ll ever hear. I recommend it.

And that really is it. The vast majority of Pagan Wanderer Lu is now out there in the world for anyone who wants to hear it. Some 84 songs reissued in total, if I’ve counted right. Thanks to everyone who’s been downloading these over the past nine months, and extra thanks for those who opted to pay. It funded a not-insignificant chunk of a new record which you will be hearing about soon.

Until then…

pwl.x

The Boxed Set #9: Tank vs. Cat

August 9, 2011

The penultimate reissue of my illustrious career is my second EP, and first CD, ‘Tank vs. Cat’.

Let’s start with the name… I can’t remember. I remember drawing a cartoon of a tank and a cat engaged in battle. I remember where I was when I drew it. But I can’t remember the thought process that led to it. So there we go – it’s lost to history.

Next up, the music. This is what I’d charitably call the ‘least excellent’ of the records I’m reissuing. Two bad takes of ‘okay’ acoustic guitar songs, two bad takes of ‘quite good’ acoustic guitar songs and three wonky instrumentals. Again recorded onto tape, the whole EP was done at my parents house in one day (except track 7) and then fed inexpertly into a friend’s computer to put it onto CD, lending the whole thing a sheen of distortion.

Again there are hints of what was to come. The tracks to listen to are 5 and 6 – which both point to the trademark PWL direction. The rest of it is getting into ‘curio’ territory.

Me performing in Aberystwyth in 2001 - my third ever gig.

Having done reasonably well with my first EP – not least because I had several years of pre-university songs to pick from – I sort of rushed into releasing another one. Admittedly in my own fantasy world where there was any demand for such a thing.

I actually ‘reissued’ this CD with a different cover (having lost the files for the one scanned here) and I don’t have a copy of the second version. If anyone has one please scan it in and e-mail it to me for the archives.



The songs:

Intro

Two minutes of interminable guitar noodling with backwards lyrics. Believe me when I say there is no point in your reversing this to hear what I am saying. Skip.

Xmas Song

Nice enough guitar part with some quite tediously obscure lyrics about a girl I fancied. Not very christmassy.

Guilt-free Shag

A bit more like it, this song sounded like Low in my head. Sort of juvenile but from what I recall it was a decent summary of how I felt about the individual in question. The bitterly ironic title should be duly noted. Also the lyric you are going to mishear is ‘I cwtch you’ not ‘I cut you’. ‘Cwtch’ being the welsh word for ‘cuddle’.

Sharleen Spiteri (machete the bitch)

An attempt to replicate Squarepusher using only a casio keyboard and a 4-track tape machine. The slightly unpleasant title was a reference to the singer from Texas who I, at the time, considered the absolute nadir of musical enterprise.

Ideas & Fighting

And with a sigh of relief we arrive at a song that I’m not ashamed to call my own. Not the greatest, but again I see my younger self branching out beyond the ‘girls who have made me sad’ template into an attempt to articulate feelings of solidarity and struggle, and tying that in to hating night clubs. Very much the first step on a long journey to where I’m ‘at’ now.

Jaded Wannabe Parade

The third appearance (from your point of view) for this song but its first from mine. This version has a slightly worse second verse than later ones. It was a song about performing a gig, the ‘jaded wannabe parade’ of the title. The fact that I was writing cynical songs like this about the live music scene, having played only a handful of gigs in my entire life, says a lot about me I think. The chorus looks outwards a bit more, towards the then-fashionable anti-Nestlé babymilk formula campaigns. Another early glimmer of me attempting to write about ‘issues’.

(sorry jenny)

A slightly inept piano instrumental recorded in the music room of the Penbryn hall of residence at Aberystwyth.

And there we go! Next month will be the final reissue. Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion/beginning….

Job Vacancies

July 29, 2011

I now have openings for people interested in doing the following:

Animation
Music Videos
Photography
Artwork – illustrations, graphic design
Website design
Playing drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, violin, singing (female)

in respect of my new project.

E-mail vacancies@paganwandererlu.co.uk if you’re interested. Please tweet and otherwise spam the fuck out of this announcement. Open to all, people I’ve worked with before, people I haven’t… Spread the word!

x

The Boxed Set #8: The Aberystwyth Cliff Railway Disaster 1902

July 12, 2011

The boxed set goes analogue! From here on in we’re into the realms of material recorded all during the two years of PWL’s existence on a Tascam 4-track cassette machine.

This EP was recorded in 2001 and probably released in early 2002 – my memory is a little hazy. I recorded at least some of it in my bedroom on High Street in Aberystwyth (quite near Siop Enoc Hughes, for the record), then I think I physically made the CD’s over Christmas.

This is also the only PWL release to feature outside help recording-wise right up until I did ‘The Independent Scrutineer’ with Napoleon IIIrd in 2006. It was cleaned up, edited, and mastered at Aber Sound Productions by a nice man called Huw.

Sound wise we’re in mostly acoustic guitar territory on the proper songs, but with a few curveballs coming in. I took a bit more care with this record than the first two, which was also reflected in the snazzy packaging complete with stickered CD and full jewel case. The photograph is of a Halloween pumpkin that lived in our student house. The back cover depicted him months later when he had rotted into a little pile of orange mulch. Deep.

The Lord Geraint / The Lords Marks

The first and last tracks are actually the same piece of music played backwards then forwards. It was made with delayed guitars and a bit of kalimba. The names of the tracks are the carriages on the Aberystwyth cliff railway. On the cd ‘The Lord Marks’ was listed as ‘tniareg drol eht’ – made by flipping the handwritten tracklist sideways in photoshop. This was because I couldn’t remember the name of the other carriage, and the railway was closed for winter so I wasn’t able to check. The internet could not help me.

Asking you to dance

A simple tale of romance. Inspired by a particular girl at university (yeah, we’re getting into that territory) but re-cast in a school setting for reasons I now can’t recall. Pretty damn twee, but likeable enough I think. Certainly a million miles away from some of the cynical stuff that would come later….

Life’s too good (for other fkers and not for me)

A superior version (i.e shorter & more upbeat) of one of my ‘live favourites’ from my first year. It first appeared on the first EP and I’ll talk it about it properly when we get to it there.

Straight to Video

Despite the bongos I prefer this version to the one on ‘Restless Revolution Day By Day’ a few years later. My first real attempt at a political song, in the context of watching my little brother grow up. Obviously this was 2001 so everything was very ‘post 9-11’ even in sleepy coastal Wales. I think the positive response to this song was what encouraged me to move a bit more in that direction in later years.

This song is one of those ‘gems’ that made me feel like it was worth unearthing all the ‘slightly less good’ stuff from these archives. But yes it does sound a little bit like ‘Stand By Me’ by Oasis, well spotted.

The Buck Stops Here, Merritt!

Odd guitar instrumental, using a delay as a looper. I was totally ahead of the curve on guitar looping. When I first saw someone use one (a guy called Karl Blau FYI) it was like a revelation. The thing I had been waiting for so long was here! This was in 2004. I finally bought a loop pedal in 2009 and have hardly used it for PWL. They’re just totally overdone now, and don’t lend themselves to interestingly structured songwriting. Anyway…

This track is basically three minutes of screeching atonal, shrill noise. Utterly out of place on the EP. A friend said around the time that ‘it terrifies me’. You’ll see why.

Control

This recording actually pre-dates Pagan Wanderer Lu entirely and is lifted from one of the nine albums that I made before university*. Using the actually pretty decent synth setting on a Yamaha keyboard I made a reasonable sub-Joy Division dirge about some girl or other. You’ll notice I seem to be feigning a little Stuart Murdoch lilt on this. I used to do that a lot. I genuinely don’t think I realised at the time that ‘Control’ was a Joy Division song title.

Sweetheart

Another ‘about a girl’ dirge. This time with clanging electric guitar and please-god-forgive-me out of tune vocals. Your ears will not like this. Lyrically somewhat self-pitying. A song from a whole different human being.

The Glen

This was the bonus track. During my first year I recorded each of the 25-ish people who lived on my floor in the ‘Ifor Evans’ hall of residence talking about things… various questions about their lives. I then used the results to make a whole EP which for some reason or other never got released. This was the only track from it I used. Much of it is in-jokes.

‘The Glen’ in question was, at the time, a deeply awful seafront night spot. It was the sort of place where you could ask for fourteen vodkas in one glass and they would happily serve it to you. The chorus line refers to an ‘incident’ on the speaker’s birthday. The reason everything is so out of time is that I made the loops by editing the tracks on a minidisc using my hi-fi. I had no laptop or sequencer at the time, so I was hand-editing minidisc loops then trying to record them onto a cassette machine. So, erm… yeah… a comedy/novelty bonus track full of in jokes. Enjoy.

As usual, pay what you like! Two more releases to go, see you next time.x

*These will not be getting reissued. Ever. Ever ever ever…

The Boxed Set #7: Enjoy Travelling & Keep It Real

June 14, 2011

Onwards with the reissues as we race backwards in time towards the end/beginning. This month’s is ‘Enjoy Travelling’ – named after a Greater Manchester bus slogan. This title was later referenced in ‘Stop Traveller! Stop and Read!’ – I do that shit a lot.

A change in recording quality will be the most immediately apparent thing. This was done on a laptop using Cool Edit Pro, with absolutely everything going in via the built in 3.5mm microphone input. As a result it’s overall pretty tinny and the vocals sometimes get a bit lost. The laptop concerned began emitting smoke in about 2004 and is currently in an inert state at my parents house, still containing a copy of Ryan Adams’ ‘Love Is Hell (part two)’.

The cover forms an aesthetic trilogy with No More Roads and Restless Revolution Day By Day. All of them used different coloured card and different photographs to make a unique cover for each copy. This time the picture was of a wine holder doing the rounds of a reservoir near where my parents live. I still have the wine holder, it looks like the barrel of a gun.

This was recorded in Bolton in the summer between my second and third years of university, and is on the lighter side of the ‘where do we go from here?’ musing of No More Roads. In-jokes and self-references abound here, I wasn’t really writing with an audience beyond Aberystwyth in mind. We’ll get into that…

In Threes…?

This was a song about a girl I fancied, but it evolved into a sort of self-referential thing as it went along. With references to earlier songs, and friends of mine who were in local bands. The two people mentioned were the joint lead singers/songwriters of a band called Seven Words – who once won the Aberystwyth battle of the bands. Seven Words later split into two other bands, Cardiff-based Vend, and Chichester-based Revolution 74 whose singer Jon Swain (namechecked in the song) did a brief stint as bassist in the first PWL band. Keep up!

When I was recording this song my brother Kieran, who at the time would have been about ten, came into my room, listened to the intro and promptly asked ‘What’s this? Grandpa Joe?’ which is a comment I treasure to this day…

B.O.A.T.S.

Later re-recorded in a bleepier form for my first album as ‘Based On A True Story’. For a while this languished here under a more cryptic name. Not much to say, you’ve got an acoustic version with harmonica instead of synth. It was a ‘live favourite’ for some time.

Goodnight

Another song that was much improved later on ‘Build Library Here (or else!)’. This version was a struggle to recreate a song that was only really played by the three piece PWL band. It contains some extra lyrics on backing vocals which were written/ad-libbed at band gigs by the aforementioned Jon Swain, but it’s me singing them here.

If you were a Kilroy guest

An example of my strange tendency around this time to occasionally try and sing like Roddy Woomble (see also ‘Make a Mediocre Dinner’). It also sails a little close to being a ripoff of some particular Idlewild song at times, though I can’t remember which one now. That aside, this is one of the better songs from this era, a blackly humorous look at the way your views can diverge from the views of the people you grew up with. I’ve often considered re-recording it – and even re-wrote the iddlywiddly bit at one point – adding lyrics some of which finally found a home in ‘Show Me Yr Knuckles’. But ‘sadly’ Kilroy’s show was cancelled, meaning the reference no longer worked.

I told her I was gay

Jon Swain makes his third appearance on the EP here. This track is crafted from no sound source other than him saying the word ‘words’ onstage at a PWL band gig in 2002. Strange clicky instrumental made in Cool Edit. The title is utterly unrelated to anything ever.

One Eye On The Clock

If you can get past the slightly embarrassing ‘oh he’s just heard Original Pirate Material’ opening – and please believe me that it was tongue in cheek – this is my first groovebox pop song, and a genuine ‘hit’ amongst the discerning Aberystwyth indie crowds of 2002. I’ve no doubt it could stand a slight re-write and polish and be re-done today. ‘We don’t think about the future’ being the key line, compared to ‘are there really no more roads to walk down when I leave this town?’ from the next EP. The ‘got booed by FUOD fans’ line references the same gig sampled in the previous track. The lyrics refer to the world of the Aberystwyth internet troll. Jon Swain is namechecked yet again, as is his Seven Words bandmate Richard.

I still love this song, it’s great. You’ll think so too, promise. I rap. Yes, I rap.

Last Song Ever

I genuinely can’t remember why this song is called ‘Last Song Ever’. It sounds a bit like Jimmy Eat World – or at least it was meant to. Vague lyrics about cocaine, nice guitar picking and stuff. It’s… you know… an okay song. Nice ‘where did that come from?’ lyric on the chorus though I think.

It’s followed by an inept stylophone solo which was the bonus track. I named it ‘kitsch me no kitsch’ but it is in fact an attempt to play the melody to ‘Straight to Video’ which is/was on next month’s/the previous year’s EP.

Keep It Real (single)

This month I’m also making available ‘Keep It Real’ – this was a two track single I made copies of the following Christmas as presents (vanity). The title track was re-recorded for No More Roads and doesn’t merit mention again. The b-side was ‘Jaded Wannabe Parade’ which has made one appearance so far on in electronic form on ‘Goodbye Workshy‘. This second version was a basic acoustic recording closer to the original, but with different lyrics. The first version will surface in two months’ time and will be discussed then.

The Boxed Set #6: No More Roads

May 17, 2011

For the next reissue I’m turning to 2003 EP ‘No More Roads’. Because I’ve chosen to reissue these things in reverse order it’s very confusing to spell out how many ways this record was the first and last of various things. It was the last record I made at university, the last record to be predominantly acoustic, and the first one to be recorded (mostly) on the BR1180 which everything uploaded to date was done on.

It’s also the last one, from your point of view, that I consider to be well…. actually, properly good. Sure it’s rough, the recording is a bit yucky in parts, all the stuff that, if you’ve stuck with me thus far, you’ll be well used to. But this is a decent set of songs start to finish. Nothing on there that I’m not proud to call my own. As future EP’s come along I’ll be cringing a little at some of the songs. But we’ll worry about that next month….

So, context. I started work on it in Bolton in summer 2002, carrying on during my last year in Aberystwyth as an undergrad. Living in a terraced house near the seafront I think you can hear cars and seagulls if you listen very hard.

Lyrically there’s lots of future-gazing. I was in a period of, for me, quite deep contentment – having settled into a number of nice little networks of friends and keeping very busy with lots of things I enjoyed and cared about. A deadline was looming at which it would all be coming to an end before I was ready. Like anyone in their final year of university I guess.

I recorded most of it myself but ‘Matthew/Mark’ was recorded by Luke Taylor, best known as the guitarist and songwriter from the Hot Puppies, and lately of Love Parry III. He also played the roughly two seconds of theremin at the start but it barely seemed worth crediting him for that…

The title was taken from a joke my friend Stuart made about launching a protest movement called ‘No More Roads’ which would oppose the building of any new roads under any circumstances (yeah, we were students… it was that kind of ‘joke’). So it was a jokey title, but I worked it into the lyrics in a more serious way as well.

It was ‘released’ sometime around April 2003. There were probably about 30 copies. It was the second release to feature a unique photographic print on the cover. Featuring myself and two friends who had sung backing vocals on ‘Matthew/Mark’. This was the first time anyone else had appeared on a PWL recording.

It’s a fucking shame

An odd time signature guitar riff inspired by an unreleased Pavement song (points if you say which one). As with many things I wrote about at the time the lyrics are looking to the future and the uncertainty of becoming an adult. Would I change who I was with the creeping onset of maturity? I’m still asking myself that question.

Keep it real

This was a ‘single’ the previous Christmas dished out to friends. Continuing my foul mouthed tendencies at the time I don’t think the lyrics were really meant to be taken as a whole. Just a sort of steam of consciousness sloganeering thing. I think musically I was going for something White Stripesy.

I dream of Soledad

This was written for a friend of mine. It’s sort of about things which were going through her head at the time and it’s not really fair to say much more. I’d sent her an earlier recording the previous summer and she’d commented that the bit in the middle reminded of her of Satellite of Love by Lou Reed, so on this version I made it sound even more like that. This was the first song I recorded on the new portastudio.

The Cynical Little Train

This is officially the first ever Pagan Wanderer Lu song. It was the first song I played at my first PWL gig, and it was the first song on my first EP. This is a re-recording with some piano and extra backing vocals. I would happily play this song today, as a statement of intent it pretty much remains unchanged and aside from a dodgy line or two I think it’s stood the test of time.

2 Bullets

My indiepop hit that never was. I think the later version on ‘Build Library Here (or else!)’ is a lot better. A simple two chord punky song that gets faster. The song was written about the time we were preparing for war in Iraq and was built around the deliberately fanciful notion that the whole thing could be prevented by simply shooting George Bush and Tony Blair in the head. I always imagined the protagonist of the song (for it is indeed a work of fiction, oh CIA agents scanning blogs for credible threats) as some sort of slightly past it hippy fellow in a dressing gown sat on the sofa ranting at his TV next to a pile of pizza boxes.

No More Films

Slightly shrug worthy instrumental using the Roland D2. The title was a reference to being asked to do various film soundtracks by film student friends. Including one who informed me at about 11 in the evening that he needed it by the next day. I delivered, and to be fair the film was pretty good. Wonder if it’s on YouTube?

Matthew/Mark

The second substantially electronic song I wrote. Again using the D2. Someone long ago compared this to Death in Vegas but I don’t know enough about them to know if this is accurate. This is another one from the more oblique style of lyrics that I used to write more of. Kind of like to keep it that way.

Montreal 33

I’ll come clean. This song is a straight rip off of a Canadian band called Molasses. Right down to me adopting a slight Americana accent. It’s also mostly a long ebow solo. Nice though.

Bonus Track

This was an untitled hidden track on the original CD, but I saved it on the 8-track as ‘PWL Blues’. A slidey blues thing addressing my plans to ‘head down south’ and move to Brighton, which I indeed did. More of the ‘growing up’ anxiety in there too. This is the only Pagan Wanderer Lu song to include the words ‘Pagan Wanderer Lu’.

As an utterly geeky aside this is also the only recording I’ve chosen not to upload exactly as it was originally released. For dull reasons the original CD of this went via a computer and as such all the copies had that distinctive ‘lossy’ wibble running gently in the background. For this reissue I’ve made a new master copy and worked straight from that.

Of course Bandcamp gives you the option to download in the format of your choice, so if you want to have high quality wav files of my badly recorded nuggets then you can! As ever it’s pay what you like. But I like it when you pay.

Why I probably won’t bother watching the royal wedding

April 28, 2011

I’ve been trying to remain ambivalent to The Royal Wedding, rather than allowing myself to descend into seething rage about it. After all isn’t it maybe a little juvenile to object to the royal family? It’d be like getting angry because politicians lie. Or feeling genuinely sad that children starve to death in african countries from which we import out-of-season fruit. You know, a bit passé…

But then I can’t help but think about the privilege bestowed on a man whose ancestors murdered their way to power hundreds of years ago – at a time when things are bad, and only going to get worse, for the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

This man will one day technically rule over me and you (by pricking holes in bits of goats skin once a year), because our country is too wuffle-nut-mouthed with tradition and deference to actually draft a proper constitution which makes us citizens rather than subjects. His whose sole qualification to hold this position is that half of his genetic material originated in the testicles of our current ruler’s eldest son.

His father, in turn, being a man whose greatest achievements in his 60-odd years on this earth are:
1) establishing a biscuit company
2) promoting batshit medicines
3) using his name to influence architectural contracts

Let’s get this cleared up. The Royal Family do not ‘work hard’ by any reasonable definition of the term. Are they masters of their own destiny? No – but then neither is a child born in the UK’s poorest council estates, into a community where there aren’t any jobs and haven’t been for generations. Can they stay in bed for a lie-in on Sunday and have a three-album wankathon instead of putting on their nice hat to open the latest proletarian wibblemart? No. Is Prince William probably a perfectly nice human being when you get to know him? Yes, I imagine he probably is.

The point is the Royal Family infantilise the whole country, they teach us that power flows from an arbitray source, and that some people are just born better than others. No one who supports them can come up with anything more pragmatic than ‘they’re good for tourism’ – so is a Sea Life Centre. Anything else boils down to ‘it’s tradition’ which is no kind of argument for anything.

The only reason I’d stop short of calling for them to be demolished (or whatever the word is) is that I know how complex it would be to basically have to re-write our country’s laws from scratch. That would barely be worth the effort, and there are worse problems to fix. Plus on some level I enjoy the absurdity of one old lady having 100% of the say in everything that happens, but having to exercise that will by doing ludicrous things to bits of dead goat.

The timing of the wedding is, at the very least, inconsiderate. The country has still not quite sunk to its lowest ebb economically – thanks to callous cuts imposed by a blinkered government whose members mostly come from the same tradition of hereditary power as the House of Windsor. Two weeks before a much needed opportunity to reform our parliament and at least ensure that right governments are likely to always be tempered by a more moderate, compassionate partner, we suddenly have the distraction of this nonsense.

The coverage has overshadowed any chance of actually ensuring people understand what’s happening on May 5th. Thus allowing the only arguments which get coverage, between CGI mockups of Kate’s dress, to be the attention grabbing ones – i.e. the stupid, simplistic ones. ‘AV will mean the BNP get more votes’, ‘AV will mean everyone has to pay £50 to vote’, ‘AV will mean anyone who votes Liberal Democrat will be allowed to vote as many times as they want’ etc etc. I’m not saying it’s a conspiracy (I’m really not), but it does kind of suck.

You have to stoop pretty low to make a system as straightforward as AV seem complex, shady, and inaccessible. But that’s what its opponents have done with staggering intellectual dishonesty – apart from Baroness Warsi, of course, who’s so thick she probably believes everything she says. Yet once again the media has chosen glitter and trivia over providing information which might actually empower people. They have filled this week with blather about an event which I today saw laughably referred to as ‘a private wedding’, rather than make sure people are able to make an informed decision about something which will affect their lives in the long term.

Ah well, there goes my ambivalence.

In fairness this not really WillNKate’s fault. I’m sure they’re in larve and I hope they have a very nice time tomorrow. The dress will doubtless be very pretty. If you’re comfortable knowing that their first child will one day rule over your children and your children’s children, regardless of whether he/she is a lovely human being, or a witless, corrupt despot, then by all means tune in.

The Boxed Set #5: Restless Revolution Day By Day & Goodbye Workshy

April 19, 2011

Around four years after I first took the stage as PWL I finally got around to releasing my long awaited debut album. ‘Restless Revolution Day By Day’ was released in 2004, around two months before last month’s EP ‘Jazzy Jungle Memorial Hall’. It took around a year to do, started in Aberystwyth before I left university, a few songs done in Bolton, a few in Brighton, then finished off in Cardiff.

It’s one of the last wilfully rough and ready PWL releases. Songs banged out with little re-take or polishing, after this I started gradually to take a little more care with things. Here you will find things which are shockingly out of time/tune and boomy production. I like to think that under all that there’s still a set of decent pop tunes.

Still not quite integrating the electronic/acoustic/rock styles, the tracklist was royally screwed up by an attempt to shoehorn in the newly written ‘Hypersanity’ at the last minute, resulting in a damn weird opening portion. I was tempted to re-do it in a different order for this reissue but decided against.

Artwork wise every copy had a unique cover, all made from different bits of a collage I made and photocopied, and stuck onto different coloured bits of card, with different coloured plastic disc trays. Quite an eyesore all told. It was in a jewel case with cut out handwritten tracklisting, and some sort of long waffly essay glued into the ‘booklet’.

The line ‘Restless Revolution Day By Day’ is from Paradise Lost, and refers to the movements of the planets.

Vote With Yr Feet

I’ve quite a soft spot for this song, though it’s a rubbish opener. It was one of my first successfully ‘rock’ recordings and I listened to it on repeat quite a lot. My recollection of the lyrics is hazy, but I think it just touched on a lot of stuff that was happening as I left university. I’m pretty sure this is the last song I wrote in Aberystwyth (the first time).

Believe Everything You Read

When I said above that some of this album was out of time this is the song I was thinking of. My approach to recording drums at the time was to do the guitar first and then play along underneath using a midi keyboard to trigger the sounds using two fingers. I never really did more than one take so it didn’t really work out most of the time. This song was already about three years old when I finally recorded it so lyrically it’s the earliest thing that’s been released. I think the line ‘I read it somewhere once that they put baby’s tears in bombs’ is an early manifestation of the multi-lateral cynicism which I think has often been my lyrical angle ever since.

Hypersanity (Kiss & Refrain)

At one stage I planned to do an MA thesis on my notion of ‘Hypersanity’ – by which I meant people who are so rational that it almost becomes a form of mental illness. I.e. people like me. It was much easier to just write this bangin’ techno number about it.

Based On A True Story

Previously cryptically entitled ‘B.O.A.T.S.’, this was the second appearance for this song following its first outing in 2002. Did a crudely ‘Idioteque’ style beat and replaced harmonica with synths. Lyrically it concerns complacency and watching TV too much. A kind of ‘grasp life with both hands’ message filtered through the usual negativity.

Molly’s Lips

The first instalment in the ‘Molly & Victor’ song series – was followed by ‘My Victor’ and ‘At the hairdressers…’. Again I’d like to just leave it to you to enjoy the story. This also appeared in acoustic form on ‘Goobye Workshy’ and is tacked on the end. This version is more upbeat and girl groupy.

(You & Me and) Winston Churchill

One of my first bona fide hits, and the earliest song to re-emerge on a record since signing to Brainlove. This version has slightly different lyrics and is a bit more raucous in its production. It was written after seeing a Brighton bus called Winston Churchill.

Telling Stories

This was written and released as a single in a limited edition of one as a Valentine’s Day gift for Siân, the girl I later married. Mostly consists of in-jokes. Only proper love song I’ve ever done really…. Yes the opening is a Bright Eyes reference, well done.

Make A Mediocre Dinner

One of a couple of early songs to feature me doing an impression of Roddy Woomble doing an impression of an American. Took roughly 20 minutes to record as I recall. Quick little punk number. Played it as a techno-fied version for a while back in ’05 – sadly uncaptured.

Billie Holiday

Sort of Jesus and Mary Chain-y, girl group-y thing. Not the best song on here, suffice to say….

Straight to Video

An early acoustic ‘hit’ re-done after first appearing in 2001. I’ll save discussion of it for the earlier version, which I actually prefer.

“Headaches” Girl

Inspired by some utterly insensitive newspaper coverage of a friend’s sister’s sudden death. I still play this quite regularly.

Take Only Photographs

Originally entitled ‘Take Only Photographs, Leave Only Weblogs (The Spire Collapses)’. Wish I’d gone with that. Just a straight acoustic number.

Respect Your Mother

Another Brighton song, follows an early trend of setting traumatic thoughts to inane music.

The album originally came with an unlisted Track 14, which I have chosen to omit in this reissue. Instead….

Goodbye Workshy

Also included are two songs from ‘Goodbye Workshy’ – this was a four track EP I released the year before. The first two tracks were ‘B.O.A.T.S.’ and ‘Vote With Yr Feet’ which were included on RRDBD anyway so I didn’t want to give it its own special reissue. I’ve tacked the others on the end here as ‘bonus tracks’.

They are an acoustic version of ‘Molly’s Lips’, and an electronic version of ‘Jaded Wannabe Parade’ which I’ll talk about when we get to ‘Tank vs. Cat’ in a few months time. It came in a plain black slipcase with a marker pen drawing on the front and a bit of purple card inside with a hand-drawn tracklisting.

And that’s it! For the first time this is available beyond its initial circulation of about 20 people. As usual it’s ‘pay what you like’. As usual the money is going into a new record – which I’ll be playing songs from for the first time at some gigs in May. Stay tuned.


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