Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Solo Album 2: Blog #5 (Alchemy, Seascapes and Windy Woods)

After returning from my recent Berlin trip (see the previous blog entry) I immersed myself in a prolonged period of audio editing - sifting through, selecting, comping and refining the many takes and variations recorded not only with Markus but also additional material flown in from Pat and Troy. For two of those weeks I went 'underground' (retreating from all social media) as I periodically do when the work requires my undivided attention. It's also good for the soul to escape the digital 'noise' and stop being concerned with (and affected by) what everyone else is doing...

The audio editing process is (for me) far more than a technical exercise. Choices I make here and the nurturing of raw material helps determine the character and shape of the record (that's "album" in old money). Improvised parts get deconstructed and 'recomposed' into arrangements. Sometimes seemingly small incidental phrases are repositioned and repeated, thus becoming part of the composition. Also the written parts (which account for the majority on this project) require comping and massaging in order to bed them into a production, no matter how good the performances are (and believe me they're pretty much all of a super-high standard). Making a record is (usually) a different art to simply capturing a performance - I'm a passionate advocate of live music, however I recognise and embrace the difference and possibilities presented by recording and producing in a studio environment. Personally I aim to blend the best of both worlds with a side order of "magic"... I really do believe in the alchemy of the recording and production process.


Those who know me personally will be aware that I like to balance my 'indoor (studio) life' with regular walks and outdoor exploration, particular along the coast that I'm fortunate enough to live by. These "sea walks" are not only a good head-clearing opportunity but many of my creative ideas begin life and/or take some kind of form whilst kicking hot sand with my bare feet, wading through salt water, or walking along a windy headland. When this particular album is complete and released I'm pretty sure that the influence will be evident, with one particular (and major) composition directly referencing the experience... It's easy to become immersed in the work to the point of neglecting the outside world, but I always try to avoid that trap and recognise that these 'breaks' are in themselves very creative experiences, as long as one is present and "in the moment", (i.e. not blocking out the environment with headphones or obsessing with phones and touchscreen gadgets).

Yesterday a new phase of tracking kicked-off (to use a currently topical - though not in this house - term) with a second round of flute performances by Vivien Goodwin-Darke. Written parts were recorded for two further songs as well as a series of breathtaking improvisations for a third! It's always a pleasure to work with Viv who is not only an astoundingly good player with a distinctive musical voice but also great company. Cake (of the very recent "40-something" birthday variety) was also consumed ;-)

Whereas the initial flute sessions were recorded at Viv and husband Tim's artist-friendly country B & B (Coombe Brook) today we worked in my home studio base, also known as Studio Fletchertronics. Here's a snap taken mid-performance during the final improv...


I'm currently prepping material for further contributors who'll be gracing these compositions in the coming few weeks. I'll 'introduce' the guests in forthcoming blog entries - I'm trying to report details as and when they become relevant, loosely in sync with the production timeline, rather than dumping everything online in one hit. Plans evolve and change, so it's best to make announcements at the appropriate time, plus I'd rather put the spotlight on individuals one or two at a time... I know, withholding information in these "share everything" times is pretty retro, huh? ;-) Well I'm an old-fashioned kind of guy in that respect, and I wish more were so inclined :-) To quote myself (from 'The Inner Voice' on Faith in Worthless Things): "I know it’s out of fashion, but I’ve never been in step".

On that note I'll bid you farewell until the next update. Cheers for caring about this stuff - It's never taken for granted x

Lee

[All pics © copyright Lee Fletcher 2014]

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Solo Album 2: Blog #4 (Shredding in Berlin)

I've always had a slightly romanticised fascination with Berlin, despite only ever having visited once before (for a 48 hour period, which was spent almost entirely indoors - filming a band)... It largely stems from having read so many articles about David Bowie's time there in the late 70's and my love of the music that came out of that 'new wave' period, (both from Bowie himself and numerous other associated artists). The city is steeped in so much history, much of which is still in (my) living memory, thus adding to the allure.

So when my friend and frequent musical collaborator Markus Reuter recently relocated his base to the city it seemed only natural that I would record his contributions to my in-progress solo album out there. It also presented an opportunity for us both to explore Berlin a little and catch up with a few pals. All of this took place just over a week ago.


It was always a given that Markus would appear on the album. He is one of the most unique and visionary musicians I've ever heard, and we have an extremely good / intuitive working relationship. Each understands how the other works and consequently we get a lot of material out of our recording sessions. For this record (as mentioned in recent blogs) I created more detailed demos than I have in the past, so many of the key guitar parts were already written, nonetheless having them written and having them played with personality are two equally important parts of the desired whole. Furthermore, despite preparing a ton of lines and phrases for him to learn and play I had also earmarked numerous sections for Markus to add soundscapes (loop-based improvised guitar textures) and/or solos, so we had plenty to occupy our time!

There's a mutual trust there, and consequently Markus will generally play whatever (and however) I envisage for a piece, but equally I'm always open to his instinct which often dovetails neatly into the sound world I'm painting - He knows that I like options too, so even if we record multiple takes of a written part there'll often be variations thrown in for good measure. It means more work in terms of sifting and editing, but I'm a sucker for not taking the 'easy' route ;-) Markus also used this project as an opportunity to try out several new pedals and treatments, so there are some unique sounds in there... I tend to record his parts 'clean' where I'm likely to want more flexibility in post-production, but also balance the sessions out with more 'coloured' sounds which I know are more fun for him as a player - It all depends on the context.


During these sessions Markus played U8 (Touch Guitar) on ten songs, which is currently where I'm at with the album. (There are one or two additional song ideas that may be added, in which case we'll do overdubs via the web). Though the U8 is principally designed with touch-style / tapping techniques in mind it's also a "universal" instrument (hence the "U") and on these recordings he taps, strums, picks (with a plectrum), and employs a whole bunch of other guitar playing techniques. I really like that fact that when playing on my material Markus sometimes steps into territory he's less known for, thus highlighting his versatility.

Btw, I brought home a 'guest' with me at the end of this trip - A beautiful white Touch Guitars U8 Deluxe :-) I'll be playing most of the bass parts (aside from one guest spot - more on that later) with this instrument having already written and demoed lines that occupy a slightly lower range than my standard four string bass can easily handle. I'm looking forward to getting reacquainted with the instrument and techniques after last summer's TGC course in Austria.



Whilst out walking during a break on Day 2 Markus and I spotted a poster (the first of many) for the V & A David Bowie exhibition (currently 'touring' the world) which was due to open in Berlin the day before my flight home. When first exhibited in London last year I hadn't felt compelled to make the trip despite being a lifelong fan of his work, but the coincidental timing of this Berlin opening felt like a good omen and we decided to end our week by attending... I wasn't prepared for the effect it would have on me - Once inside I was in a permanent (but contained) state of excitement! So much adrenaline, and so much material to take in. I'm not normally that affected by 'stuff', but experiencing this exhibition in Berlin where much of (for me) the most interesting content had a strong connection was something very special. On exiting the museum I felt rejuvenated in a way that I can't easily explain - I just knew that the creative energy I had absorbed would feed into this album project in some way.


Once the album sessions were complete I engineered Markus's final overdubs for Fabio's upcoming Moonbound record. We used the same mobile setup (namely my audio interface, hard drive and MacBook running Logic Pro 9) that had served us well all week. On the other side of the Atlantic Pat Mastelotto completed his drum sessions and sent them over to my Dropbox while Markus and I worked...

All in all a productive, fun and positive week in which Markus and I also made plans and "to do" lists for Unsung Productions (our audio production cooperative), his forthcoming projects, and mine. The city had a great vibe and didn't disappoint - I only had one minor gripe: it's near impossible to use a credit (or debit) card anywhere! ;-) Strange (though perhaps refreshing in an equally strange way) in these 'virtual money' times. I'll know for next time... There's now a huge stack of material for me to work through, which will take at least four times as long as it did to record it ;-) Plus I have Pat's latest contributions to tie-in, and Troy (Jones) is currently laying down further overdubs, so the next couple of weeks are going to be busy. Further album sessions are being scheduled for June - More on who / what / where in the next blog 'instalment'.

- - - - - -

As a footnote - while we're talking about Markus - I should mention that his acclaimed classical piece 'Todmorden 513 (Concerto for Orchestra)' is officially released on the 17th June. I mastered the CD, and lots of great people were involved in its creation, not least Thomas Blomster who orchestrated the work. The accompanying 70 minute documentary (as featured on the deluxe CD/DVD edition) is available to stream for free here: http://breaking513.com

Until next time... x

Lee

PS - There are a few additional photos from the Berlin trip over on my Facebook artist page: https://www.facebook.com/leefletcher.official...

[All pics by moi - © copyright 2014 - except the shot of me which was taken by Markus]

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Solo Album 2: Blog #3 (Sax and Drums and Rock 'n' Roll)

So, the next solo record is rocketing along... Although I should be clear here, I'm not looking to put it out until next year, but the instrumental tracking phase is well underway and at this rate I can see the main production being completed this year. New compositions are still emerging, and though I'm at a point where there's a healthy album's worth I've no desire to stem the flow just yet, so we'll see where it goes in the coming weeks. It would be nice to have some 'spare' material that I can potentially use for any single / EP releases, but the album is my focus right now.

Aside from adding a couple of new tunes to the roster since my last blog there's been more in the way of recording over the past week or so: Having already included flautist Vivien Goodwin-Darke in the proceedings I'm delighted to add fellow Billy Bottle & The Multiple member Roz Harding to the line-up of core musicians. Roz is a phenomenal alto saxophonist whose outstanding jazz trio WAVE (also featuring Mike Outram and Jim Bashford) has become a live favourite of mine :-) She's also a member of the esteemed Mike Westbrook Big Band, and if there's any justice in this world is surely heading for great things music career-wise... Since working on the 'Unrecorded Beam' record Roz and I have discovered a succession of shared musical passions and eccentricities, so it was only fitting that I should invite her to play on this record ;-) Moreover her approach to the instrument changed my perception of it considerably - for the better! To my delight she was enthusiastic about joining the party, and so earlier this week we spent more than six hours recording a combination of written parts that I had prepared in advance and blistering improvisations! Speaking of Viv, she and husband Tim kindly facilitated the session at their beautiful and relaxed Dawlish guesthouse Coombe Brook, (which I'd recommend to anyone - particularly musicians / artists - visiting the area) :-)

Here's a snap from the session...


Inviting brilliant players is one thing, but it's especially gratifying (for me, but also them) when they understand what I'm doing musically and are enthusiastic about their role. This is happening a fair bit with the current album I'm pleased to say, which maybe indicates that I'm doing something worthwhile ;-) I'm certainly feeling fired-up by the material and the process of dressing the songs, so for me at least it's a thrill!

[UPDATE: Roz has written about this session in her latest blog, which you can find HERE ...]

I made mention of a "second drummer" on the album in a previous blog, but I'm now happy to announce (even though I let slip on Facebook the other day) that it's Pat Mastelotto of King Crimson / Mr. Mister / Stick Men (and a thousand other great bands) notoriety :-) I've gotten to know Pat over the past few years and have mastered several of his releases as well as assisting with post-production on various Crimson ProjeKCt and Stick Men albums, but this marks the first occasion where he'll be playing on my compositions. It's terrific to have him onboard, and in fact he's already completed his parts for two of the pieces... He'll appear on at least four songs, including a drum-duet with Troy on one!

Here are a couple of snaps of Pat's main kit setup for these recordings (at 'Mastelotto Central', Austin, Texas):



Incidentally I first saw Pat play in 1993 with Sylvian & Fripp at The Royal Albert Hall, London... A very special gig for me, and one that doesn't feel like 21 years ago - Crikey!

Another person joining the ranks for this project is my friend Fabio Trentini who has just recorded some funky-ass rhythm guitar for a couple of songs. He's such a professional - I gave a clear brief and got exactly what I'd hoped for within a couple of hours ;-) After working with Fabs in a number of capacities it's great to finally get him on one of my recordings, (it nearly happened a couple of years back but that's another story), and at the same time I've just completed my contributions for his next Moonbound album: As mentioned recently Lisa is singing backing vocals and harmonies on several tracks, and I've created the arrangements (as well as recording and editing the performances) for these parts. They sound great and Fabio is currently mixing the record.

In a few days I'll be heading out to Berlin to hang with my pal, Unsung Productions partner, and frequent collaborator Markus Reuter. I'm looking forward to exploring Berlin and meeting up with friends, though part of my time there will be spent working on the album: Markus and I plan to devote a few days to recording his U8 (Touch Guitar) contributions which will be a combination of parts that I've written, improvisations, ambient soundscapes, and anything we devise together during the sessions... I guess I'll write about that next time ;-) In the mean time I have a ton of recordings from the recent sessions to sift through and edit, so I'll call it a day for this blog.

More soon - and now that I'm getting into the habit of regular updates I guess I really do mean that!

Lee

PS - Kudos to my friend Simon Northcott for this blog title which I stole from his comment on my recent Facebook post ;-)

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Solo Album 2: Blog #2 (Woodwind and Brass to the Moon)

I'm trying to blog a little more often, so here’s a second (mini) update re: the production of my next solo album...

As indicated previously I'm already tracking parts for several songs while others are still forming. At this point there are about nine pieces 'on the go', with a few others hatching or close to existing. I don't yet know how many will make the final cut, but it’s already clear that this album will have a longer running time than the previous.


Recent sessions have focused on recording the French horn and flute parts. My old friend Jacqueline Kershaw performed the horn lines I had written - This will be the third time she's appeared on record with me having previously featured on several 'Faith In Worthless Things' tracks as well as my production of 'Propeller' (by GRICE). Jax and I go back to our early school days so it's great to be making music together after all these years :-)


Vivien Goodwin-Darke is the flautist for this project and performs both written parts and a little free-improv. Viv is a member of Billy Bottle & The Multiple whose recent album 'Unrecorded Beam' I produced. It's so great to work with her again and add her flavour into the mix. And speaking of "flavour" she makes a mean 'swamp' soup (tastes better than it sounds) which helped fuel our recording session ;-)

Both Jax and Viv are pictured above during the actual sessions...

Troy is soon to record an additional track and I'm currently prepping several demos for my second drummer / percussionist to do his thing in a couple of weeks, as well as a guest bassist who will most likely appear on one song. I'll reveal more next time... There are lots of sessions to be arranged with players located all over the world, so the next few months will be busy (but interesting).

In other news I'm currently arranging backing vocals for several tracks on Fabio Trentini's upcoming 3rd Moonbound album. Lisa will sing the parts which we began recording just a few days ago :-) It's sounding great!

More soonage x

Lee

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Solo Album 2: Blog #1 (Dreams, Demos & Drums)

So, my next solo album is now properly "in production" (cue virtual fanfare) :-) As the year progresses this project will doubtless compete with my other musical work commitments and periodically rest on the shelf, but right now I'm ultra focused on the songs (some completely written and arranged / others still emerging) that will fill up my next circular piece of plastic... Huzzah!

Though it's early days I already feel that this is the strongest set of compositions I've penned to-date, both in terms of the musical and lyrical content, but also simply (yet importantly) as an uncompromised reflection of where I'm at right now. None of that guarantees an audience of course, but I'm unusually at ease with what I'm doing which must be a sign of some sort.

I've recently put together demos (mainly played / programmed via MIDI keys) that both I and contributing players will use as a road map, and in fact am still doing so as new songs emerge – Some parts are written exactly as they'll be performed, whilst others give the players a little room for interpretation. It's the 'old-fashioned' approach of writing songs up-front and leaving fewer arrangements to the production process, though one could also make the case that this *is* part of the production process... I like to work in a variety of ways, and there'll doubtless be a lot of digital arranging as parts are recorded, however I'm starting out with more defined compositions / arrangements than I have previously. Who knows if it'll end exactly the way it began? That's part of the fun though, eh? ;-)

Some (though not all) players from 'Faith In Worthless Things' are returning, with a number of new folks in the mix. I'm keen to move things around and incorporate new people as a way of keeping things fresh and also best serving the material. Naturally my old friend and Unsung Productions colleague Markus Reuter will appear, as will my vocalist wife Lisa, though I'll be taking lead vocal duties on several songs this time which may surprise some folks... The words and melodies of 'FiWT' largely came from me but were channelled through Lisa's beautiful voice – That gave the album a particular quality that was conducive to the landscape I was painting, however this time I'll be more obviously present in the recordings. It's partly a confidence / challenge thing – I've reached a point where I'm (somewhat) less inhibited as a 'performer'. But it's equally (maybe mostly?) a reaction to the type of material I've been writing, much of which felt like I should deliver it myself.


The first major sessions have already taken place: US-based drummer Troy Jones (whose wonderful 'New Peace' album I mixed last year) is one of two players occupying the drum stool for this album. He has already recorded drums and percussion for five songs, and will appear on at least one more... Initially I was hesitant about producing drums long-distance, though I had no doubts about Troy's abilities. Nonetheless the sessions turned out to be incredibly productive, positive and fun, with Troy responding well to direction and quickly learning to interpret my demos and commentary as if we were working in the room together! Lots of e-mails were exchanged, as well as Skype conversations and file transfers, but the results prove that the relationship is ultimately more important than location or distance. I've already devoted considerably more time to arranging the drums on this record than I did for the whole of 'FiWT', which further indicates the stylistic differences and direction of this project... 'Faith' was deliberately lite on drums (for the most part), but from from the outset I envisaged this set as being more rhythmically dynamic, and Troy's brilliant contributions have solidified that. The above snap of him was taken whilst hitting things for my album :-)

Next-up are sessions for both French horn and flute, taking place (this time more locally and in-person) over the next week. I'll also be heading to Berlin in a few weeks to work closely with Markus on his contributions... I'll blog periodically (come on, you know I don't do "daily updates" ;-)) during the production process and aim to publish at least a few pics along the way.

That's all for now. Cheerio and thanks for caring x

Lee

Friday, 14 February 2014

2013: Things That Happened

I'm unfashionably late to the New/Old Year party, but hey, writing the obligatory "end of year roundup" blog in mid February is still acceptable, right? Getting past the hubbub of Christmas, New Year and whatnot made it easier for me to reflect on the previous 365 days collectively known as 2013. So, "what actually happened?"...

Whilst there was no new full-length Lee Fletcher album in 2013 I kicked-off the year by releasing an eclectic set of commissioned reimaginings (remixes) of songs from the previous year's 'Faith In Worthless Things'. As a companion piece rather than follow-up album (which it isn't) I think 'The Cracks Within: FiWT Remixes' works pretty well, and the "name your price" digital download format helped to raise several hundred pounds for the MS Society through voluntary donations.



In July I released a cover of Mike Oldfield’s 'Islands' as a digital single together with collaborators Lisa Fletcher and Markus Reuter. My new arrangement was very different to the original and felt close to the ambience of 'FiWT'. That said we had some new collaborators working on this recording such as Peter Gabriel / King Crimson (and everyone else's) bassist Tony Levin and CENTROZOON member Tobias Reber... The track was positively received and garnered a little airplay on regional BBC shows plus various commercial / independent alternatives. In November it won Best Single at the South West Music Awards - Somehow I never mentioned this on the blog previously! So, I now have 'award symmetry' on the main studio shelf ;-) I've said it before, but awards don't really have ANY impact on the way I work, but they're undeniably a great way to get the music heard by new ears.


My main production gig of 2013 was for Billy Bottle & The Multiple, a wonderful 7-piece band with a semi-revolving lineup helmed by composer / musician Bill Harbottle. 'Unrecorded Beam' is a song-cycle woven around the poetry of (American author, poet and philosopher) Henry David Thoreau. It's progressive, it's jazzy, it's melodic and turbulent in equal measure – I was very happy to work with Bill and The Multiple (surely contenders for "the most polite / friendly band ever") on this special project. As well as producing I mixed and mastered the album and contributed subtle Fletcherisms throughout (treatments, soundscapes, electronics, etc.) augmenting the musical arrangements and underpinning the emotional dynamics. The digital version was released just before Christmas, with a physical "coffee table edition" CD coming out via Leo Records this very month.




Another release bearing my creative imprint was 'New Peace' by US drummer Troy Jones (and featuring a host of wonderful guests inc. Adrian Belew, Tony Levin, and members of the Touch Guitar Circle). My Unsung Productions partner and friend Markus Reuter produced whilst I mixed and post-produced, sprinkling treatments and refining / shaping the arrangements. It's a pretty unique record, and I'm pleased to say that on the back of this collaboration Troy will be contributing to a future solo project of mine…

Getting out of the studio (and indeed the country) during a rare UK midsummer heat wave (remember that? It really did happen) I took part in the 2nd Touch Guitar workshop hosted by Markus (Reuter) and Trey Gunn (of King Crimson & David Sylvian / Robert Fripp notoriety). Together with other members of the Touch Guitar Circle I lived and worked in a ramshackle house high in the beautiful Austrian mountains for a week... It was a challenging and at times uncomfortable experience, not helped by the thousands of flies that gatecrashed our digs - I kid you not - nonetheless for the first time in years I enjoyed being "a player" rather than composer / arranger. The experience will undoubtedly spill over into future musical endeavors and at some point I'll acquire a U8 Touch Guitar and pick-up the process at home. This was a very important event in my creative calendar.


Donning my well-worn mastering hat I, well, mastered a great number of records throughout 2013. Many are listed in my Discography, though due to artist / label scheduling there are several still "in the vaults" awaiting official release... Mastering is still a much-misunderstood art that encompasses far more than merely "making it loud". I enjoy these projects as they often allow me to dip my toe into genres that I wouldn’t otherwise swim in that often. Plus the discipline and active listening skills required continually serve to improve my general production work.


I've always been quite a visual orientated artist, even when it comes to music, (I tend to 'see' arrangements in my mind's eye) so when upcoming film-maker John Tomkins asked me to provide the soundtrack for a short film ('Indietro') I was intrigued enough to get involved. Due to an incredibly short production schedule there was no time to score from scratch, so I prepared special alternate mixes / edits of pieces previously heard on 'FiWT' and 'TCW', mostly without vocals... This worked very well, and I’m open to doing more substantial film soundtrack work as and when the right projects come along.

So there you have it - Highlights of my professional life over the course of a year, summed up in a few hundred characters. I missed out a lot of details, (such as a series of production seminars presented to music academy students) and in-between all of the above I managed to have some kind of a life and be a father / husband too. Heck, I even rekindled my relationship with the great outdoors and started going out on regular costal walks, something that has already inspired future work.

Oh, and I almost forgot something very important - I began writing words that would eventually grow into a new solo album project... Already this year several of these pieces have been fleshed out into song structures and an album is in the making. This will be one of my major focuses in 2014, but there's no rush or panic to get it out - It'll come together as and when I feel it should.

Looking ahead I'm also going to be producing a new 'ambient' project by Markus Reuter, his first Soundscape-based album in several years, plus there are a few other potential productions currently at the "talking" stage... I've also rekindled my love of photography, so perhaps that'll work its way into my output along the way. (Who am I kidding? It definitely WILL do ;-))

So, we're mostly up-to-date here again ;-) As always, even when I don’t blog the latest news I do tend to update the other sections of this site, and there's Twitter and the Facebook page (when I can stomach it) too!

Cheerio, and thanks for your ongoing support x

Lee

Monday, 1 July 2013

News Roundup

The busier I am the less frequently I seem to update this site, despite possibly having more than usual to talk about ;-) I guess I've been busy. VERY busy... So here's a (somewhat overdue) whistle-stop roundup of both recent and imminent happenings, some of which I may have mentioned previously in passing, and others that are brand spanking new - Be prepared for a hodgepodge of subject-matter:

Since last blogging way back in early Feb' there have been a few fresh reviews published, both of 'Faith In Worthless Things' (which is still finding new audiences) and the more recent spin-off remix collection 'The Cracks Within. Some of these have been reproduced on the Reviews page here.

Tribe Magazine (of whom I'm now a Trustee) recently published a new interview with me. It's available to read in the Audio section of their site, plus I've added the text to the Interviews section here (alongside January's Specimen 13 feature).

Here's an interesting one: A few weeks back I 'accidentally' discovered that in February I was on the list of nominees for the Music Producers Guild (MPG) Awards 2013. Though I didn't win it's nice to know my that name was apparently in the mix...

Speaking of "in the mix" I recently completed post-production for the forthcoming album 'New Peace' by US drummer / artist Troy Jones. The project was produced by my friend & collaborator Markus Reuter with post-production & mixing handled by myself, (I also mastered the CD). I thoroughly enjoyed mixing this record which contains stellar performances from a number of guest players including Adrian Belew (King Crimson, David Bowie), Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, David Bowie), Tobias Reber (centrozoon), Alex Dowerk (ZweiTon), and Erik Emil Esklidsen (The Friendly Guitar Trio), as well as Markus himself. Despite the chiefly minimalist nature of the compositions there were many wonderful details in the performances that I was able to pull to the fore during the mix process, resulting in a robust, three-dimentional, multi-textured sound with an uber-strong groove factor! I'll post further details once a release date is set.

I'm currently producing 'Unrecorded Beam', the forthcoming album by the superb 7-piece band Billy Bottle & The Multiple. This project should see the light of day during the second half of 2013, but will be my main focus for the next month or two. It's a concept album (in the very best way) based around a poetry fuelled song-cycle, but I'll talk about this more when post-production is complete... The standard of musicianship is tremendous - Once again I'm blessed to be working with an abundance of musical talent.

Since last posting I've also completed and uploaded a couple of new OLDER THAN GOD 'webisodes', both of which profile Markus's time within the Europa String Choir and feature exclusive interviews / performances from the band.

In May I was once again a guest speaker at the A2D Music Expo - This was my third year on the trot! Lots of fun was had with friends new and old.

Looking a little further afield I'm already writing material for my next 'solo' album :-) Mainly lyric-writing at this stage, (lots of it), though some melodies / chord structures exist in demo-form and an overall feel is emerging. I'm incredibly excited about this project, but I'm not going to rush things - For now I have other production commitments, but I'll be quietly working on this in the background until later in the year when it'll move centre-stage and recording will begin. There'll be some returning players from 'Faith in Worthless Things', though I intend to mix things up a little and bring a few new folks into the team :-) Much as I'd like to share a morsel or two with you I won't be doing so for a while... ;-)

Another project I'll be producing this year will be Markus Reuter's next solo album. Despite being one of the most prolific musicians on the planet it's been some years (seven to be precise) since he last put out a solo record... Soundscapes were recorded in Innsbruck this past weekend, and I'll begin sifting through the raw material over the coming weeks. I already have some ideas / plans for the sonic direction.

Last, but by absolutely no means least, Markus, Lisa and I (together with guest performers Tony Levin, Tim Motzer, Alan Burton and Tobias Reber) released a new single a couple of weeks ago, ('Islands' - a Mike Oldfield cover)... I'll save all the latest on this for a future blog post - No really, I will!

Btw, even when I fail on an epic scale to blog regularly I do tend to update other areas of the site quite routinely, so it's sometimes worth having a nose around to play "spot the change" :-)

Lee x

Friday, 8 February 2013

Within 'The Cracks Within'... FiWT Remixes | MS Fundraising

I've never been particularly fond of remixes on the whole, possibly because all too often they jar with the mood and sentiment of the original, and perhaps I’ve heard one too many lazy efforts that essentially slap vocal samples over an unrelated dance beat...

So, what better way for me to kick-off 2013 than with a remix collection?! ;-)

As far as I'm concerned 'Faith in Worthless Things' was complete the moment I sent the masters to the pressing plant. I'd worked on it a long time, and If there were any inclination (on my part) to tinker further I would have done so back then – The CD / download is the default version and it is what it is... I did briefly consider remixing a couple of tunes for a proposed single release, but having already ingrained my DNA into the originals I wasn’t suitably motivated to reinvent the wheel. Better to save my creative energy and ideas for a follow-up album, (which, incidentally, is already in gestation).

But then it dawned on me – I'm fortunate to have a lot of talented musician / producer friends, each with their own unique sonic language. The idea of a specially curated album of remixes by some of these guys & girls began to appeal. If presented as a body of work, rather than random one-off mixes floating around the web, it could be an interesting and musically valid spin-off from the album.

I approached several people that I pretty much knew would sidestep those remix clich├ęs I loved to loath, and luckily they all said yes immediately! One of the rules I set myself was to only invite folks that hadn't appeared on the parent album, though I immediately broke that directive by asking Tim Motzer! ;-) He's the exception though, and his mix is of a track he didn’t originally feature on.

So, what songs to include? Whilst the production and arrangements of all the songs on 'FiWT' were important – almost an extension of the songwriting really – there were a couple of pieces that felt more readily open to reinterpretation: 'The Inner Voice', which was the closest thing to a conventional pop song on there, plus the title track which was musically quite sparse (deliberately so). Both also had particularly suggestive lyrics that might help conjure fresh musical ideas. Compiling an album that features only two songs might have been limiting, but I had faith (see what I did there?) that the material would be diverse enough to carry it. So that was that - I gave the remixers the choice of either song, (Ingo Vogelmann opted to tackle both), prepared audio stems from my original mixes, and handed the reins over...

The only real brief I gave was for them to follow their gut and do what felt right. I also asked that they respect the lyric and try not to break it up too much – Thankfully Tobias Reber ignored the latter request and significantly rearranged the words, but did so in a brilliant way that enhanced his rendition and still managed to convey the core 'message' in a stark and beautiful fashion :-)

Here's the full cast of remixers:

Tim Motzer (track 1)
Tobias Reber (track 2)
Worldengine (track 3)
Hollowcreature (track 4)
Ingo Vogelmann (tracks 5 & 9)
Adrian Benavides (track 6)
Branwen Somatik (track 7)
Fabio Trentini (track 8)

I'm truly grateful to all of these folks for their enthusiasm and creativity!

'The Cracks Within' came to me as a title almost from the outset. Not only is it a quote from the song 'Faith in Worthless Things' but it seemed especially fitting as these mixes would to some extent be exploring the sonic cracks (or 'grooves' if we're gonna be old-school) within my original arrangements. Together with designer Oscar Henriquez (who had worked on the previous release) I put together a deliberately stark cover design for the collection, one that echoes a particular detail of the (physical CD) packaging for 'FiWT' - It also alludes to the eight remixers in an abstract (but probably obvious now I've said it) kinda way...

As for the results? Well both my co-featured artists (Lisa Fletcher and Markus Reuter) and I are delighted! No two pieces are alike. There's "something for everyone", as the saying goes... Some renditions are alternate views of the originals, whilst others are almost new compositions entirely, built around the lyrics and vocal melody. It's a good balance I think, and whichever approach has been taken all of them are clearly linked to their origins. I think in summary I would describe this collection as a "sonic parallel universe" to that which is presented on 'Faith in Worthless Things'.

It's been interesting for me to see / hear the various angles explored by individual remixers. Some choices I wouldn't have made, but that's entirely the point! They are fascinating nonetheless :-) I only got directly involved on two or three occasions, after being actively invited to give feedback, and even then my comments were minimal – I didn't want to influence anyone's stylistic approach or expression. For the most part I stepped back.

I'm pretty sure that I'll work with several (possibly all?) of these folks again, and not only in a remix capacity. So the project also has added value to me as R & D for potential future collaborations :-)

During the process I considered several different distribution models for the project, including pressing a physical CD. But ultimately that wouldn’t have been cost-effective, and whilst it's presented as a collection it's not really the follow-up album to 'FiWT', so better to make that distinction. Plus, I wanted to ensure that as many folks as possible got to hear this work, so it made sense to keep it online and essentially FREE.

Having decided not to personally benefit financially from this release I wanted to see to it that at least some money would go to a very deserving cause - Therefore everyone who downloads the album is invited to consider making a donation to the MS Society, a (UK-based) charity that supports those with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) and helps fund much needed research into this currently incurable disease. My mother has a very extreme case of MS that has rendered her mostly paralysed, so it’s a cause that is very close to my heart.


I have no qualms about adopting a Bob Geldof style persona for this bit: If you download the music and get some pleasure from it PLEASE CONSIDER DONATING to the MS SOCIETY. Think of it as 'sponsorship' for the music... Thank you :-)

The best way to support the fundraising is to make your donation via the special 'Just Giving' page I've created for the project, (either click on the image above, or go HERE...) Just Giving pass the money securely and transparently to the MS Society, so it's a clean and simple way to get involved.

Alternatively, any donations made via the Bandcamp page for 'The Cracks Within' will be manually transferred by myself to the Just Giving fund. Some folks have already done this... PLEASE NOTE however that Bandcamp take a 15% cut of the transaction, whereas Just Giving will pass all your money onto the charity.

The choice to donate or not is yours... Either way, we hope you enjoy the remix collection and ask that you share all the relevant links (Bandcamp download & Just Giving) with any friends and contacts that you think may be interested. Thank you!

Lee x

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

FiWT Voted 'Best Album' by Progopolis

The lovely folks at (US radio show) Progopolis have chosen 'Faith in Worthless Things' as their 'Best Album of 2012' in the show's annual "best-of" roundup :-)

I'm hugely grateful to hosts Vince & Daisy Jane for their ongoing support. Some of you may recall that Vince previously published positive reviews of both 'FiWT' and 'Propeller' (a previous production of mine), both of which are reproduced in the Reviews section of this site.

Previously broadcast Progopolis shows (including the aforementioned episode) are available to stream or download HERE, or by clicking the image below...


The show is always great fun, with a truly eclectic mix of tunes that go way beyond what one may readily think of as 'prog' music...

You'll also find them on the ol' Book of Face (of course).

Stay safe.

Lee x

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Tribe Magazine

At the end of 2012 I was approached by Tribe Magazine (digital purveyors of contemporary arts) and invited to join the management board as a Trustee. Having followed their excellent work from issue one it didn't take me long to accept...

Today marks the organisation's first birthday, so what better time to properly announce my association and encourage friends and followers to check them out :-)

More than a 'just' a digital magazine, Tribe is an arts platform created with the sole intention of showcasing the best in creative arts practice from around the world. Free to the end user, with no adverts or sponsored content, yet the same high standards one would expect from a premium print publication.

Whilst the focus has primarily been on the visual arts to date selected musicians (such as Steve Jansen in issue one) have been under the spotlight too. Over time this element will increase, not only in the magazine but via the website's associated features - This is an area where I can give particular strategic assistance to the editorial team...

Naturally there's also the obligatory Facebook Page for those who like to "like"... And don't we all? ;-)

Please show them some love - They'll love you for it, (and you may discover some wonderful art in the process).


Lee x

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Interview - Pt 1

Denis Rodier of Specimen 13 (whose 'Echosystem' EP I mastered) recently interviewed me for the S13 blog. You can view part one here, (or by clicking the image below).

The second instalment will be published in about a fortnight...


DJ / Producer / Composer Ingo Vogelmann also links to the above-mentioned interview in a recent blog, as well as sharing his thoughts on 'Faith in Worthless Things' (which he describes as "one of my top albums of 2012/2013...") Again, click on the image to get there.


Thanks guys! I'm honoured to have the support of such talented folks :-)

Lee x

Sunday, 30 December 2012

2012 Roundup

Blimey is it that time of year already?!

After the peaks and (at times pretty deep) troughs of last year, 2012 by contrast turned out to be rather unblemished professionally-speaking. In fact the goals that I set myself on January 1st were all met, with several surprise happenings of the happy variety also occurring, so I can’t complain eh? I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions, but perhaps I ought to from now on - In fact, there’s the first...

Looking back I’m pretty staggered by the tally of achievements: In summary, 2012 was the year in which I released a semi-solo album, produced / arranged / mixed this and another critically acclaimed project, co-produced a third, began mixing another, mastered thirteen more (plus several standalone tracks), ran a successful crowd-funding (PledgeMusic) campaign, received generous reviews via the blogosphere and selected international print press, guested on numerous radio stations (inc. the BBC), got radio airplay via these and specialist web stations / podcasts, had my production / arrangement / mix work featured on an international cover-mount CD, appeared on a music industry panel, gave audio master-classes, launched my online film series, agreed to became a trustee of a wonderful arts organisation, and won the South West Music Awards 'Best Producer' accolade. And this is just the stuff I can recall off the top of my head.

It was also a year in which I met lots of great people and had the pleasure to work with some of them. My musical family continued to grow, but I still managed to see existing friends from afar playing up-close, which is always a pleasure. Plus, I turned some stuff down...

Thank you hugely to all who have been on the ride with me, and to the many (old friends and new) who’ve supported my work. It really does mean a lot :-) I can’t wait to see where the cards land at the end of 2013! There are several exciting projects already in the works that I haven’t yet fully announced, with others in the planning stages. Oh, and I’m continuing to listen to "the inner voice"...

"Happy New Year" folks!

Lee x