- Odyssey '93
- ... Too much time
- Sad day
Looking back now, having recently listened to this material with fresh ears, it seems inconceivable that these tracks have slumbered unheard for so long. There was certainly no intent not to release this stuff, indeed 4 of the tracks were played live around then and I still play '(untitled)' once in a while these days. As is usually the case with me, it was only when Ron accidentally heard the 'Leitrim' track, that the whole idea of finally releasing the fabled 'lost second album' took shape -indeed 'Leitrim' has recently been played live with help from Ron, Harold van der Heijden and Frank Dorittke in the UK and Germany.
Back in the 1990's, encouraged by the enthusiastic response to my first disc, 'Map reference', I set out to record a sequel at home in Sheffield (Map Reference had been done on location in the wilds of Bedfordshire). Things went well, and I soon had 4 solid tracks in the bag. Then I got completely distracted by moving to Ireland, and the project stalled with not yet quite enough material for a CD. I did continue writing and recording in Ireland (eventually) but this material was very different and became the K2Project album. Second Site was never finished.
Whilst based in Sheffield, I was also working with John Dyson on projects various, and part to the weekly round was to visit him for an evening an 'do some music'. Sometimes working on his stuff, and sometimes just checking out equipment and as a by-product come up with interesting little demos. These we could knock up in a couple of hours, from start to finish and end the evening with a quick mix-down to cassette. Luckily I held onto these tapes and now find that there are enough pieces to use to complete the aforementioned CD. They are sonically a bit different -they used John's gear and were mixed and stored on tape, whereas the stuff I did at home was done to a Digital tape format. They also rarely featured Moog or Prophet as we used to joke that 'there is no Minimoog on this JD album' -and there usually wasn't on the demos either.
I wonder if it is a universal truth that musicians rarely throw stuff away -gear or old tapes. Luckily I had not only kept those cassettes but also the Digital tape player, so when it came time to rip the music into a 21st century format it was relatively painless. Listened to with fresh ears, and for the first time in many years it was clear that there was more than enough good material to put together a full CD (and more) from this pool. There was a certain push-and-shove as I re-evaluated tracks, and more when other people heard them, but this is probably the CD that would have seen the light of day back in the late 1990's. The hardest task fell to Ron, who has done a spectacular job evening out the sonic peculiarities of the demo tracks and matching them as closely as possible to my finished ones. I am quite amazed at the final result, and it is probably stronger than it might have been back then. So sit back and enjoy my long-lost second album: Second Site.
Recorded at JD's -possibly back in late 1993. It features an acoustic guitar midi-loop on the FZ-1 12-bit sampler, D-50 strings, a TX-7 bass and most significantly, a MK 3 black-and-orange ARP Odyssey. I think I might even have bought it that very day, and this was its first outing. As very often happened, the lead line is the first and only take -live to tape with JD doing the mix. I could also tell you that I only paid £200 for the ARP, and that I pipped Phil Oakey to it by minutes!
Written at home this clearly shows the impact my first holiday in Ireland had on me. I was already well immersed in their Folk music traditions, and was listening to an awful lot of Uillean Pipe material at the time -you can hear this in the way I play the Prophet 5 lead. An offer to take a trip by (canal) boat through the inner lakes of the Shannon -Erne system lead inevitably to a blissful week floating through the beautifully timeless counties of Cavan, Roscommon and of course Leitrim. I think all of that can be heard in this track and it is probably one of my most literal. I wrote it as soon as I got home, and not long after I would up-sticks and move to Ireland full time (and thus scupper the albums release.....!).
... Too much time
Another JD demo -this time featuring a U220 multi-timbral module, and a weird filter unit which we stuffed the strings through. The U220 gave us the opportunity to have drums, vibes and lead parts all out of one box -and the sonic signature of 90's drums and shakuhachi flutes are all here. Again we were just seeing what we could do, and almost by accident produced this charming little track. The clincher for me is the slightly off-beat bouncing sequencer line from JD's Pro-1.
I had already begun to fret that Midi sequencers -we were using Cubase at the time -kind of leads you into writing a particular sort of track; a sort of 'Tubular Bells' loop, overdub, loop, repeat, new overdub routine, leading to a fairly convincing result, but one I worried was 'too easy'. With this track I set out to see if I could force Cubase to sound like I'd done the sequencing using hardware step sequencers (maybe Moog 960's etc.). I'm not sure if I managed this, but this track is at least 'different'! It also features 2 minimoogs playing sequences and keeping them in tune was a real chore. Lastly it is unusual because it feature Moog and Prophet playing harmonies together -not that I don't do harmonies, but it's still unusual in my canon of work.
One day I'm sat at home, looking out through a rain lashed window, and these chords just kind of fell out of my fingers. The underlying pulse is Pro-1 with a little delay on, and the source of the log drum I can no longer recall, but nearly all modules had such a sound in the 1990's. The lead is a lovely plaintive Minimoog -beginning with a ridiculously long note! The 'fairy dust' is a little SH101 figure which if you notice only ascends once.
The last of these demos and features my DW8000 pretending to be a train. This sound was made by an LFO chopping the filter. I locked in the chord on hold, and then manually opened the filter for accents. The problem was that it didn't quite sync to tempo, and we had to reset it every 8 bars or so. You can hear it sliding about against the better behaved 2 sequencer lines, but it does give the track its charm. The other trick was to avoid a lead line as such, and here we have a nice horn figure -from a JX8P (or might have been a JX10P -the jury is still out.... ). What I really like is when it is octave-doubled just once, giving a nice twist to the end of the track.
Hard to quite believe, but the whole of this track grew out of a single bit of SH101sequencer part which I stole from the end of another track. The long-winded intro is interspersed with some vocal samples I flew in -there could be a prize if anyone can identify the instrument he's talking about! After this, the track just kind of takes off, and becomes an exercise in key-changes and sonic mayhem! The track originally ended with a pair of moog 'bagpipes' battling it out -which seemed like a good idea at the time, but I have taken the liberty of replacing them with something more in line with how I have been playing this track live over the years.
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