Archive for February, 2011

The Boxed Set #3: ‘The Monkeys of the Shitty Island’

February 22, 2011

Slightly earlier than originally planned I’ve decided to upload another EP into the ‘Boxed Set’. Because this was the companion EP to the previous reissue it makes sense to have them both together. This also then concludes the reissuing of the material from the final ‘academic year’ of PWL 2004-2005. Ladies and gentlemen… The Monkeys of the Shitty Island!

This was the ‘electronic’ EP, but with hindsight it’s not as electronic as I originally intended it to be. One track features mostly acoustic instruments. I also had a ‘no guitars’ policy which I broke on three of the songs. It’s an oddball collection. Not much in the way of pop hits.

The title came from Haruki Murakami’s ‘The Wind Up Bird Chronicle’ – I seem to recall it’s a fable like tale where some Monkeys gradually fill up their entire island with poop until they all die or something.

A bit about each song:

Ten Cities is not a European tour

This arose in an evening in a kind of ‘automatic writing’ way. The lyrics were partly improvised and recorded immediately on being written. It’s one of a number of songs I’ve done in this way that get under my skin later and I grow very attached to them. So much so that I re-recorded it on FMBFM. This version is longer and probably more abrasive, it features me drumming on a child’s toy drumkit.

Punctuation

A song that started life as a different song called ‘Third and Final’. A strangely aggressive techno-ish track the adopts a persona of a grammar fascist to decry all society’s ills. Possibly in response to those ridiculous ‘Eats, Shoots, and Leaves’ books.

Cutting Corners

A groovebox instrumental. Not much else to say. Mildly irritating perhaps. This is the last instrumental to appear on a PWL record. There’d been quite a few up to this point. I played this live a few times back in 2006/7 to end shows.

England Expects

The only conventional verse/chorus/verse song on the EP. Some of the lyrics were scribbled hastily down on waking from a dream. Some were taken from labels on my MIDI keyboard. It all added up to being a reaction to nationalist paranoia about terrorism. Or something. This also appeared on FMFBFM in a version that was a bit richer than this, but the best version of this song is the live version we did at Dreamtrak.

I’ve never played it since.

Brecon Beacons

The refrain to this came to me at the second ever Green Man festival, surrounded by grassy hills and mountains. Most of the rest was then ad-libbed over the top. Strangely haunting and relentless I think. Not particularly electronic, I think there’s a synth pad in there. Other than that it’s guitars and drums.

The Boxed Set #2: ‘Siop Enoc Huges’

February 8, 2011

Recorded mostly around the same time as last month’s reissue, this was sort of conceived as the acoustic companion EP to the electronic ‘The Monkeys of the Shitty Island’ – which will be next month.

This one is more successful in that it does in fact only feature acoustic guitars and vocals – albeit slightly out of tune ones. ‘Monkeys’ managed to break all the rules I’d imposed on it, but this EP sticks to its remit of only using one instrument. As such it’s hard to find a lot to say about it! It’s the most traditional singer-songwriter record in the PWL discography, everything else mixed it up a little with other instruments and experiments and such.

The title is the name of a little heritage site in Aberystwyth. A shop has been preserved as it would have been during the 1930s, with items that would have been on sale at the time in the window. There’s a hand sewn sign explaining its presence saying it hopes to ‘delight’ you as you pass – which is incredibly cute. I’m not sure who Enoc Hughes was.

Here it is on Google Streetview, as far as I know it’s still there….

Here’s a little about each song:

J.L.B. Smith

This song was inspired by reading the book ‘A Fish Caught in Time’ about the rediscovery of the Coelacanth, a pre-historic fish which was thought to be extinct for 65 million years before being found alive in reasonable abudance. They’re very rarely seen because they live so deep in the water that low pressure kills them, hence they don’t get kept in aquariums etc. They have legs and are an example of a still-living evolutionary ‘missing link’.

Kittens and the Sea

No particular thoughts on this one. Some nice fingerpicking and pretty self explanatory lyrics. I think I wrote this just so I had a song with ‘kittens’ in it for Mrs Lu.

———-

Later re-recorded for ‘The Independent Scrutineer’.

A song for when yr just tired

This song is quite a bit older than the others. Having been recorded live and very quickly in Cardiff the previous year. Another straightforward song. Unusual in that it names three real life people. I remember being very worried they might be offended at the time.

An Easter Island statue in my bed

Probably my favourite on this CD. Another finger picky one but running through some more complex and abstract lyrics that I favoured for a while. Some of the imagery came from a dream. Some of the lines will strike a chord with anyone who took their English GCSE from the same workbook as me in 1998.

Again the EP’s up for ‘pay what you want’, and everything you pay gets put back into future PWL music (of which more soon…).