finalised

 

2016

My ten years of dabbling with music as a solo-artist, has been an educational exercise in songwriting, lyric-writing, arranging, recording and mixing. In other words producing music, coupled with creating a distinctive packaging for it. Making music-videos, photo-sessions and having a creative dialogue with the graphic designer Nils-Petter. I never believed that my music could chime commercially anyhow, so therefor I have had much more freedom and independence than artist who are signed to record labels or the ones who are desperately struggling for admission into that world.


So what do I believe in then? I believe in short term happiness, like having a cup of Earl Grey tea with milk and practicing the fine art of biscuit dunking. Although it can be a hazardous activity. Many’s the shirt I’ve ruined...


Yes, I know that it was a flippant remark. Too flippant to dismiss ten years of hard labour. But it has been a labour of love and I’m so pleased that in this day and age my music isn’t just going to be stored away on DATs, left to mould in a drawer somewhere. Now it’s here available for everyone who wants to have a listen. I feel safe in that knowledge.


So why make ten albums in ten consecutive years, producing a hundred songs, then? Well, it’s pure mental arithmetic. Being a recording artist is 99% despair and 1% joy, but that 1% of joy seems to linger. So when I’m in my dotage with dressing gown and slippers on, sitting in my Chesterfield Wingback sipping my tea and smoking a pipe, I can look back on my music-making with 100% joy.


Finalised - Autumn 2016

Of course London's a big place. It's a very big place Mr Shadrack. A man could lose himself in London. Lose himself. Lose himself.

Lose himself in London!’


From the 1963 British cult movie Billy Liar.


When I was eighteen I had for a brief time a substitute english teacher. Mr Andersson was an elderly man, semi-retired and had developed quite an eccentric way of teaching. One day he took a piece of chalk and made a cross right in the dead centre of the chalkboard. He turned to ask the class what it was. We were all puzzled and baffled to the meaning of this and none of us could furnish him with an answer or at least a theory of what it might be. Mr Andersson looked at us solidly and said ‘this is London, don’t you realise?’ I’ve lived by that rule ever since.


So from the previous year’s trip on the countryside with all its beastly mud and oomska, to the slickness of the major city. London defeats anyone who tries to know it completely. But still here is my attempt:


Finalised Perfected

Music and Lyrics: Martin Philip

The lyrics are based on an event that occurred to me some ten, eleven years ago when I had the misfortune of running into a former girlfriend. She asked me if I was still making music and since I knew that she disapproved strongly of it, I replied that I didn’t. ‘Good,’ she said, ‘because it will not lead to anything, anyhow’. Well, I suppose that she meant was, if you can’t make a living out of your music, then it’s all a waste of time. A tragic attitude but then again, I can sympathise with my former girlfriend in the sense that it isn’t easy to have a relationship with a dreaming, good-for-nothing layabout who’s constantly away with the fairies. Maybe that’s what I have turned into after all these years, and an ill-tempered one as well, poncing about in tweed. A splenetic wastrel of a fop, that’s me!


Night Driving

Music and Lyrics: Martin Philip

Night Driving, just like Night Swimming, deserves a quiet night or at least a soothing atmosphere. I thought of the production style of Nellee Hooper for this song and it may not be that far fetched. I was lucky to find a clip on Youtube of the novelist Stevie Smith reading from her poem Not Waving but Drowning and I used it as a soundbite in this song because A. it suits the mood of the song and B. it should direct you to one of my favourite albums, Waving Not Drowning by Rupert Hine. 


Hard Hatter

Music and Lyrics: Martin Philip

‘But Martin, now you‘re mimicking the sound of the 1979 Sparks album Number One In Heaven’. Alright I confess, but then again that is what Erasure has been doing all along, so I’m in good company. Bowlers off for Giorgio Moroder, who invented that sound. The lyrics of the song are written back in the 90’s and might be a little nanny-ish. I needed this song on the album to raise the tempo and to speed up everyone’s metabolism a bit. So up on the dance floor everybody and wiggle your bums. 


Soho Seduction

Music and Lyrics: Martin Philip

The song is about a dangerous drunken walk around Soho at midnight. The story takes place during the heydays of Soho and around Paul Raymond’s tawdry Revue Bar on Walker’s Court. The character of the story experiences the sleazy seediness of the red light center but decides only to watch. While doing research I encountered a most eclectic mix of people who all made Soho what it was during its heydays. The eccentric artist Sebastian Horsley was famous for his frequent visits to the Soho brothels. ’Prostitution is obscene, debasing and disgraceful’, and he concluded, ’The point is, so am I’. With that in mind I wrote the lyrics for the song.


Mystery Unsolved

Music and Lyrics: Martin Philip

The song is about the predicament of the thespian in crisis and someone giving him a good talking to. Here’s a quote to remember: It is the most shattering experience of a young man's life when one morning he awakes and quite reasonably says to himself, I will never play the Dane’. During the middle-part there’s the voice of scepticism claiming that television is dead. To me that’s absolutely true. TV with its long legacy of linear programming, opposed to the random access provided by the internet, is actually fighting to stay relevant.


Best Regards

Music and Lyrics: Martin Philip

The song is centered around a Tamla Motown type of beat and relies on the phenomena that 8th notes are quite efficient, if they’re not being interrupted by too much syncopation. Best Regards is my way of saying a capital ’Thank You’ for all the great music that has emerged from London through the last 50 years, starting with The Beatles album Revolver in 1966. I doubt that the next 50 years however will be as creative.


Concrete Island

Music and Lyrics: Martin Philip

Concrete Island is a 1974 fiction novel by J. G. Ballard about a wealthy architect who finds himself stranded on a manmade 'island' (a section of fenced-off wasteland in the middle of a motorway intersection) between the Westway and the M4 Motorway in west London, and is forced to survive on only what is in his crashed Jaguar and what he is able to find. The lyrics are based around this and the music arrangement is made by software versions of the few commercial synthesizers that were around in 1974. To enhance the dystopian feel of the song, I was aiming towards Wendy Carlos own score she made for the movie A Clockwork Orange. I used the Bach piece Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring as the foundation for my song but instead of the Baroque music limitations of having fifths moving up and down through the scale, I introduced the major and minor thirds to them.


Make Believe

Music and Lyrics: Martin Philip

Musically Make Believe is Kraftwerk’s track Computer World with the bombastic sensation of the Synclavier-based sound from the Electric Café album. I like that combination of a funky, almost Prince-like, rhythm with the industrial sound of hard electro. Sneak off and listen to Cabaret Voltaire’s 1987 album Code and you’ll hear what I mean. For the musos out there I can tell you that the lead sound is from a Casio CZ-1 software plug-in. It’s great to have some cosmic phase-distortion sounds back in the mix again. During the instrumental break of the song you can hear John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, trying to keep the animal farm in order. Incidentally, the swine are placed to the right and the sheep are placed to the left in the stereo-field.


Trellick Tale

Music and Lyrics: Martin Philip

’So everyone living in Trellick Tower is a lonely sod, then?’ No that’s not the message. I’m only setting a dystopian mood to this story using the monumental, brutalist architecture of Erno Goldfinger’s Trellick Tower. The end part of the song features the voice of a Russian webcam girl doing her show and obeying her costumers demands, if she’s rewarded with tokens. The character of the song is however in denial and thinks that this is an authentic relationship.


Crouch End

Music and Lyrics: Martin Philip

My song Crouch End is actually about me being sleepless in a shabby hostel in Acton, but anyone who is keen of spirit, sound of mind and regular of bowels would never write a song about Acton. Sorry, Pete Townshend and Alan Wilder. Poor Miss Joyce’ is referring to Joyce Vincent whose death went unnoticed for more than two years as her corpse laid undiscovered in her north London bedsit. ’Ally Pally’s on fire’ is referring to the 1980 fire that destroyed half of the Alexandra Palace. Crouch End is my Journey’s End, because it all started there for me with Eurythmics. The band that made me buy a synthesizer in the first place


Best Regards - Video

Filmed in May 2016, while making a pilgrimage in pop and films around London to show you my influences. Here’s the list:

0:10 Battersea Power Station. Pink Floyd album cover.

0:12 The Church Studios, Crouch End. Former Eurythmics studio.

0:18 Alexandra Palace, Haringey. ‘The entertainment palace’.

0:50 Holborn Tube Station. Howard Jones New Song video.

0:52 23 Gloucester Crescent. The Lady In The Van.

1:00 Abbey Road. Grade II Listed zebra crossing.

1:23 Basing Street, Notting Hill. Former SARM Studios.

1:27 Trellick Tower. Popular music video location.

1:30 Tavistock Crescent, Notting Hill. The Mother Black Cap pub. Withnail And I.

1:53 Noel Coward Theatre, Covent Garden.

2:02 Alexandra Road Estate. Popular music video location.

2:10 Copperfield Street, Southwark. Former Blackwing Studios.

2:44 Kirsty MacColl’s memorial bench in Soho Square.

2:47 Brewer Street/Walker’s Court, Soho. Raymond’s Revuebar.

3:13 Trident Studios, St. Anne’s Court, Soho.

3:15 Heddon Street. Ziggy Stardust album cover.


The Finalised illustration is made by Nils-Petter Ekwall. Nils-Petter has made the illustrations for my last six albums and I can tell you why I think his artwork and my music fits hand in glove. His graphics are thought lead, not computer driven meaning that they start with pen and paper, later to be realised through the possibilities of modern computer software. Just like my music in fact. Nils-Petter’s style is eccentric, colourful and easy to identify as his. I hope the same goes for my music. Nils-Petter’s graphics contains a lot of details and they’re a joy to watch for a long time to discover new details in them. I hope my listeners will feel the same about my music. But that’s just my twopence worth of thoughts.


Finalised - The Crossword 

One of the links to the left leads to a PDF-file that contains a simple but entertaining crossword puzzle for your pleasure. If you care to solve it, I recommend that you listen through the album, read the lyrics and the descriptions above. Perhaps you even need to to a bit of Google-ing. The vertical word is an eleven letter one of Scottish origin and it means anti-clockwise. Thereby I have revealed the working title for a perhaps forthcoming retrospective project.