The year’s almost done and it’s only a matter of hours before we welcome in 2014.

Of course this also means that there’s only a little over a month before the release of my collaboration with Gary Lucas, “Otherworld”, which is out (on Esoteric) on February 3rd.

When Gary arrived at my studio in January we didn’t exactly have a grand plan about what we’d attempt. We were simply going to dive into some work and see what emerged. Gary had promised to create some dark guitar soundscapes out of improvisation and also had, in his words, some instrumental frameworks which might become actual songs.

For my part I’d prepped – in the most open way I could – for the project by  recording some semi-ambient pieces using loops and long delays and I, too, had come up with a couple of loose song ideas. (These latter were, of necessity, some way away from the “current” solo album in style.) I also had a couple of basic beats which I thought might act as a springboard for other ideas.

Obviously we were coming at things from slightly different angles, since Gary’s a guitar virtuoso and I – though I can hold my corner in  my own peculiar way – am decidedly not!

After the usual technical set-up stuff, we were immediately away into the first of several soaring improvisations by Gary, ranging from the ethereal to the fully unhinged. Wonderful stuff. Then he began on the “instrumental frameworks” – which turned out to be pretty fully realised backing tracks, impeccably performed over a couple of takes each.

Advancing to “my” pieces, Gary then overdubbed in a fully sensitive improvised manner.

We charged through the work in a couple of days and ended up with a whole load of material of wildly varied character. It was clear that not only were we on the same wavelength  regarding the project but that we emphatically had the makings of an album in the bag.

For my part, I still had a great deal of work to do. The main task was to find the top lines and, of course, lyrics for the “actual song” pieces. There was also considerable editing to be done on the more spacey material and of course I also got to do my own overdubs on top of Gary’s parts.

Eventually the shape of the whole thing was there and Gary returned for a final couple of days of dubbing, this time somewhat more considered.

We’ve ended up, I think, with something quite strange but also strangely powerful. The music veers from some kind of roots territory to wild sound collages. All of it – bar a couple of pieces of found sound – is produced by our guitars and my voice (those beats, having served their purpose, were removed from the mix!).

It has, I suppose, some of the characteristics of a warped folk music…from another world.

Next, as a further challenge, we’ll be performing the stuff live, in a one-off show at the Union Chapel in London on February 21st. Very exciting and somewhat daunting!

Here come some links….

For a sneak preview of the music you can go here: fb.me/6CavaHkPR

To order a copy in advance: http://www.sofasound.com/misccds/otherworld.htm

To book tickets for the London show: http://bit.ly/IPqmA1

And with that I bid you all a Happy New Year. More, different stuff to come in 2014!