Friday, 5 March 2021

GOATHERDER - VOICES / OTHER VOICES

 













TOR079. Released March 2021.

01 Live Intro
02 Heavy Bangs #1 - The Chapel in the Woods
03 Grune Point (Soundtrack)
04 Heavy Bangs #2
05 Aira Force 3:33 (Soundtrack)
06 Pica Mast (Live)
07 Bells #1
08 Heavy Bangs #3 - Voices
09 Keyboard 6 (Soundtrack)
10 Open/Winter (Live)
11 SCOTCH 180 (Soundtrack)
12 Piece 238
13 Other Voices (Live)
14 Bells #2
15 Calm (Soundtrack)

A collection of soundtracks, live performances and improvisations.

Tracks 1, 6, 10 & 13 recorded live at Warwick Bazaar Life Drawing, December 13th 2019.
Tracks 2, 4, 8 & 13 performed by Stephen Benson and Jill Wallace. Recorded at Kirriemuir Way, 2016.
Tracks 3, 5, 9 & 11 recorded at Gilnockie Holly Moor House, 2020.
Tracks 7, 12 & 14 recorded 2017-2018 at various locations.
Track 15 recorded at Warwick Bazaar, 2017.

'Other Voices (Live)' contains elements of 'The Drone of the Forest', performed by
Federico Falletti, Jessica Lowes, Lucy Matthews, David Thompson and Jill Wallace.

Saturday, 16 January 2021

BROCKEN SPECTRE - LIVE BOOTLEG CASSETTE

 














TOR078. Released January 2021.

01 Drive-by Election
02 Beyond Nostalgia
03 Corkscrew
04 Stockholm Cancelled
05 We Vs. The Bastards
06 Art Defacer
07 Out Of Range
08 Unwound
09 UYA
10 Terror
11 Feature Length
12 Downtown Abstractions
13 Moscow
14 I Am Your Fuel
15 Colour Fucker
16 Ended Here
17 Fireworks Thrower


When Brocken Spectre reformed in April 2017 with Steve Orchiton on drums, we began rehearsing for live gigs immediately. In its previous incarnation, the band had only rehearsed to record, not once venturing out to play in front of a crowd.

We made our live debut a few months later, at a party for my birthday. Shortly after this, we were offered our first gig in front of a paying audience. Those first few gigs were nerve wracking affairs; getting used to a crowd, the variable on stage sound and the obligatory stage fright.

By mid 2018, we had several live performances under our collective belt and we received more offers on a regular basis, including festival appearances.

Our sound had really begun to develop too, songs with psychedelic touches or with melody at the forefront were swapped out for newer material featuring the live sound we now had; a band driven, violent, brutal sound. All members were contributing to the compositions and the dynamics and it was this sound that became our identity.

We enjoyed playing live and we were surprised to find how comfortable we had became on stage. It now felt like the natural home for the band.

We played our final gig (to date) on the 7th of December 2019, before the pandemic quashed our plans for more festival appearances and the offer of gigs around the country.

During the various lockdown periods of 2020, we managed a few rehearsals and even recorded a single ('Interference Overhead/Fireworks Thrower', which can be found here). However, we look forward to a time when we can play live again.

The concept behind this release was a stop gap until live music can resume again. It also provides a home to songs that have went unrecorded and other songs that rarely got an outing. It documents a period of the band that we all got a lot out of and hopefully gets across some of our visceral live sound. 

The material was recorded on a variety of devices and is of a distinctly lo-fi quality, this is reflected in the artwork, which is a homage to the live bootlegs so loved by myself and Marc. We would purchase bootlegs of our favourite artists from record fairs, markets and from the back pages of music publications. - Ste.



The line up for this album was Stephen Benson (Guitars, Vocals), Marc Gillen (Vocals, Guitars), Steve Orchiton (Drums) and Jill Wallace (Bass). The locations for the recordings were; The Brickyard, The Source, Warwick Bazaar, Fell Bar Penrith, Fell Bar Kendal, Solfest, Wild on the Wall Festival, Kendal Calling and The Fisher Street Festival.


Friday, 6 November 2020

BROCKEN SPECTRE - INTERFERENCE OVERHEAD / FIREWORKS THROWER

 













TOR077. Released November 2020.

01 Interference Overhead
02 Fireworks Thrower

Stephen Benson - Guitars & Bass.
Marc Gillen - Guitars & Vocals.
Steve Orchiton - Drums.

Recorded at Scott's Self Storage, September 2020.

Mixed and mastered by Jonathan Sharp, October 2020.

Artwork by Stephen Benson.

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

MESSOL FEATURING ELEANOR SERVANTÉ - BATTLE OF BLACK BECK / FAINT LINES

 













TOR076. Released October 2020.

01 Battle of Black Beck
02 Faint Lines


Marc Gillen: Guitars, keyboards and sounds
with Eleanor Servanté: Vocals

Words by Marc Gillen

Recorded at home, August - September 2020

Mixed and arranged by Alastair Popple at the Kitchen Sync

Photography by Marc Gillen


"Messol is a new project for me, the idea being I write a song, ask someone to sing it, use it as an A-side. Then I write a B-side, maybe an instrumental or a little experiment, then put it out as a single. Repeat and fade, maybe one day if I get a few done it will make for a cool wonky mixtape.

If I'm really lucky different singers will sing the songs and bring something to the words and melody that goes places I would not. A chance to see what opens up. It's always fascinating to hear someone sing your words, collaboration is a beautiful thing. 

I am thrilled that Eleanor Servanté agreed to sing on these two tracks; after hearing the wonderful 'Distaff Lines', I knew I wanted Eleanor to sing 'Battle of Black Beck', which I wrote three years ago and it was going to be a Mystery Spring song, but it always seemed to slip away quietly. It was always the odd one out. Three years of roaming and now Eleanor has given it a home." - Marc.


Wednesday, 1 July 2020

GOATHERDER - SOLWAY TELEVISION



TOR075. Released July 2020.

01 Isolation on the Solway Coast
02 What Could've Been, Huh
03 Solway Television


All music performed and produced by Stephen Benson.

with

Emily Ford - Voice on 'Isolation on the Solway Coast'.
Francesca Bertoletti - Piano on 'What Could've Been Huh?'
Steve Orchiton - Drums on 'Solway Television'.

Recorded and produced March-June 2020.

When lockdown began on March 24th 2020, I decided that every evening I would walk the short distance from my home to a hill overlooking the Solway Coast and photograph the sunset. I wanted to document the passing of time in this strange period and also have something that gave me a routine. It was also a moment to myself in which I could just be quiet and watch the sea. I done this for 70 days, ending on June the 1st.

The track 'Isolation on the Solway Coast' is a direct consequence of that routine; the music moves as the Solway, calm and quiet. It slowly shifts from acoustic to electronic instruments to mark the change in life and feeling during this period. It was recorded, mixed and completed on the 10th of April.

I met Francesca Bertoletti in 2017. We worked together on a couple of photoshoots. Francesca is always a pleasure to work with; creative and always full of ideas. 

During our last session together, she played me a piano piece she was working on. There was no plan for it, so she generously gave it to me to do with what I liked. I spent a long time reconstructing and effecting the piece of music, it was useful for keeping my mind off other things. The entire track is made from the 30 seconds of audio Francesca recorded. 

Solway Television began as a concept after I read an article about regional programming. Border TV has been the programming provider for Cumbria and South West Scotland since this region first had its opportunity to have local television. There was another bidder for the contract; Solway Television. When Border TV was successful in its bid, Solway Television came to nothing. I wondered what a television broadcaster from my home of the west coast would be like; what programs, graphics and music it would produce. 

The basis of the track was someone remembering these programs, news articles, music, theme tunes, but obviously it never existed, so this is an abstract collage. The Covid 19 pandemic and other huge changes in my personal life also altered my memories of my own time; lockdown brought a huge existential crisis and nothing to do but think about it. 

As the original concept goes, an individual is looking back at this fictional television station, I am also looking back by including snippets of recordings I have made over the years. Field recordings, improvisations, jams and experiments have been chopped up and included. Also included are several short pieces of music made on a synthesizer that belongs to Marc. I had been displaced quickly and I didn't have my full and usual arrangement of instruments and recording equipment to hand. I did have this synth however. It is not in full working order, but the crackle and distortion from these sounds is all part of it. Finally, there are also manipulated and altered samples from sections of 'Programs for Schools'; television  made to be shown in school from around the time I was a young child in the early 1980's.

I edited and sequenced it in a way that couldn't make sense, also layering audio from disparate sources that don't belong together. I think this was a way of dealing with dementia in my immediate family and how memories must feel for them.

The photographs were the front cover image were generously donated by Melanie Plumley. Melanie worked as a sound engineer for Border Television in the 1970's and the pictures are of the sound desk she worked with.

Made at home.

Monday, 1 June 2020

THE NIGHTOWL SINGS - SLOW CANCELLATION



TOR074. Released June 2020.

01 Summer's Yawn
02 Angry Bees
03 Municipal Dreams
04 Stieg & Eva
05 Future Shock


Marc Gillen - Guitars, Keyboards, Samples, Percussion and Vocals.

with

Stephen Benson - Additional Guitar and Bass on 'Municipal Dreams' and 'Stieg & Eva'.

Recorded at home by Marc Gillen, April 2020.

Mixed and produced by Stephen Benson, April 2020.

Cover art by Marc Gillen.

"Rain is nowhere
Cloudless drift
Grass is barren brown
Quiet screams are made
But neighbours don't hear
At least the kale is doing well

Photos arrive
From a seaside town
Desolate and clear
Switch on the battered synths
And try to reclaim
Yesterday's joy

Time circles
Like a drunk vulture
No merry-go-round
Just back to the start again
Roll the dice
But someone stole my dreams today"

These songs were written and recorded during the first two weeks of lockdown. I had been reading Eva Gabrielsson's 'Stieg and Eva' as the dark curtain of lockdown descended and this proved to be a good catalyst for the E.P. The books tales of isolation, political upheaval and cultural butchery seemed apt. The music and lyrics for the E.P. came quickly and I was trying to play with different sounds and trying not to get hung up on the perfect take, just going with what felt right. Ste helped do the mixing and added a few overdubs. Its funny how difficult times have you looking for home; for me that's songwriting and TOR, and I'm glad this loose creative family is always a home I can rely on. - Marc.

Friday, 1 May 2020

ELEANOR SERVANTÉ - DISTAFF LINES



TOR073. Released May 2020.

01 Bonny George Campbell
02 Matty Groves
03 The Lyke Wake Dirge
04 The Twa Corbies
05 Flash Company
06 The Maid of Culmore
07 Island Spinning Song
08 Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
09 The Snows they Melt the Soonest

I first met Eleanor Servanté when she performed at Cakes & Ale cafe in Carlisle in 2017. I was taken aback by the purity of her voice, her knowledge of folk tradition and the origin of the songs she was performing as well her ability to sing the majority of these songs from memory. She sang acapella.

After the performance I approached Eleanor with the idea of recording her for a release on Treehouse. We recorded three sessions between 2018 and 2020 at Warwick Bazaar. I recorded and discussed ideas with Eleanor and Al mixed and produced. 

The artwork was also by Eleanor; a spinning wheel from the title of one of the songs. The 'distaff' of the title is a part of a spinning wheel, while the distaff line is the female lineage of a family.

Here are Eleanor's notes on the songs presented:

"The final song on this EP was once sung by a street singer in Newcastle, almost two hundred years ago. I have been singing - and collecting songs - for as long as I can remember, and it's tiny, vivid details like this which really capture my imagination. Folk songs were (and are!) formally performed, of course… However, especially before widespread recorded music, folk songs were sung by, well, the folk. Especially before music could be recorded and played back, if you wanted music then you had to make your own. So almost everybody would sing them. At their spinning wheels, on sailing ships, over cooking pots or tin baths, pretty much anywhere you can think of. And it's this idea of folk music that appeals most to me, and to which I kept returning over the course of this project. I sing these songs over my spinning wheel, in local pubs, walking the dog, at my sewing machine, passing the time at cold and windy bus stops… and now here, for you. And if ever you should find yourself humming one of these tunes to yourself, then I shall consider my work here complete.

‘Bonny George Campbell’

This beautiful Scottish lament was collected - along with many others - by Francis James Child during the 19th century, although it’s likely older still.

‘Matty Groves’

This song started out as an early 17th century broadside ballad - the earliest known variant appears in 1613 - and also the first narrative folk ballad I ever learned. Traditionally set in the North of England, it’s a delightfully melodramatic tale of adultery, epic sword fights… and impaling and pinning people to walls. Because this is a murder ballad, and apparently just stabbing them wouldn’t be nearly exciting enough.

‘The Lyke Wake Dirge’

'Lyke' is a very old word for 'corpse'; this funeral chant has its origins in medieval Yorkshire, though the tune we know today is Victorian (written by Sir Harold Boulton, in 'Songs of the North'). It would have been sung at the 'wake' or vigil over the body, and vividly describes the judgement of the dead. The instrument you hear is a rebec, an early ancestor of the violin; this particular one was handmade by my father for my 21st birthday.

'The Twa Corbies'

There's a lovely old English song called 'The Three Ravens' in which a knight gets himself killed (an unfortunate occupational hazard) and his hawk and his hounds keep vigil and his wife drags him off for burial before obediently keeling over and dying herself because that's what women do in these things… This Scottish variant is rather more brutal!

'Flash Company'/ 'The Yellow Handkerchief'

I've known this Victorian song since I was a child, but little me had no idea what the pretty words actually referred to. The Victorians' preferred euphemism was 'the great social evil'... Put it this way: traditionally, a yellow flag flown from the mast of a ship signalled that it was riddled with disease, and thus under quarantine.

'The Maid of Culmore'

This lovely Irish song is another of the many attributed only to our dear friend, 'trad.' The visceral, elemental imagery rather speaks for itself.

'Island Spinning Song'

Collected in the 1950s, this gorgeous working song was translated from Scottish Gaelic, and the chorus maintains echoes of the Gaelic Mouth Music tradition. Love divination was a surprisingly common pastime back in the day, and here the spinning wheel is equated with the figurative wheel of fate. The rhythm you hear in the record is my own spinning wheel; she's a traditional wheel, fully functional… and although she's already had a long life before coming to me, I'm fairly sure that this is her musical debut!

'Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye'

Written by Joseph B. Geoghegan and published in London in 1867, this variant on the arguably more famous 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home' was popular on both sides of the Atlantic during the latter part of the 19th century and beyond.

'The Snows They Melt The Soonest'

This was first recorded in the written tradition after being heard from a Newcastle street singer in 1821." - Eleanor Servanté.

As ever, free download available from our Bandcamp.