Alternate Stuff….Posted: June 27, 2012
Here we are then, steaming through the USA with the usual shifting set list. We’ve added “Flight” to the mix this time – something of a daunting prospect when we first started working on it but now an integral and exciting part of the set.
What we’re not doing, of course, is promoting the latest VdGG release, “Alt”. But maybe it’s time for me to pen a few words about it….
Even by our standards this is an unusual release. On the tin it says “Instrumental Improvs and Experiments” and that’s about the size of it. It’s not, though, a musical world which is alien to us, even if some of it is at the far shore of our communal music-making map.
Collectively and individually, we’ve got previous for this sort of thing. The second CD of “Present” showed up some of the wonky improv that has always been a part of VdGG sound world and is possibly the nearest neighbour to this new release. But going back to the Seventies – particularly on “Pawn Hearts” – sonic interludes would poke their heads above the surface, either as episodes within songs or, as evidenced in the expanded and remastered set, as stand-alone pieces.
My own solo “Sonics” series, which began with “Loops and Reels” is similarly concerned with raw and concrete sound. And my collaboration with Guy, “Spur of the Moment”, was another purely instrumental and almost entirely improvised piece of work.
So, as I say, there’s precedence…you have been warned!
The recordings which make up “Alt” have been with us for some time. The earliest – purely improvised and brutal of recording quality – date from the very first rehearsal period we had as a trio, at the Gaia centre in Delabole. At this time we didn’t really know what kind of group we were going to be, what kind of sound we were going to make IF we managed to go forward, so these recordings are somewhat historic, marking our first steps towards the band we’ve now become.
By the time we returned to Cornwall for the recording of “Trisector” we had some idea of our identity but retained a degree of openness about the nature of the album we were making. As it turns out, of course, “Trisector” was very much an album of songs, but at the outset we had under consideration several other pieces of more experimental aspect. Some of these were overdubbed at the time with a variety of strange contributions….
So this alternate album had a life of its own from that time on. From time to time we updated it, with the addition of material captured during sound checks for instance. Gradually some of the more excessively sonically challenged pieces were edged out. It became clear that the identity of the work was making itself known….
A couple of late entrants rounded things off and we’ve ended up with the album as it is…a mixture of the considered and the casual.
Actually, “the album” exists in two quite different forms. The CD is, of course, long form, with 14 tracks of varied length. On vinyl, naturally, there’s the division of side-turning and a reduction in the number of pieces. (Though there is also one tiny loop piece which doesn’t appear on the CD.) The works chosen for the LP version are all in the considered category – so for my money at least this gives the collection an entirely different feel to the CD one.
So there we have it. Don’t expect songs. But do expect music which, in its own strange way, is imbued with VdGG spirit….
What I forgot to say in my initial post Is that we started making some of this music public at an early stage: we used early versions of “repeat after me” and “here’s one…” as into music for the very first trio tours….