A Saxon under the pavement
Listen to The Bows, a preview track from the album, on The Wire magazine online
(magazine subscribers can also hear the album track Cow Heart Pin on their Below the Radar compilation)
I have a new album in the works:
Ealing Feeder is my first solo album. I’ve been working on it between forays to the Pervasive Media Studio, Bristol, and HMS Alliance submarine, Gosport (where I’ve been installing a sound piece). The title was lifted from the control room of Battersea Power Station where feeders were used to send power to the various boroughs of the city. Ealing Feeder is also the name of my robotic carillon which features on the album.
The album is a love letter to London, one which relishes those stories from the city that get under my skin: a Saxon under the pavement; a votive in the surgical museum; Cold War espionage in anonymous office blocks. There are references to the Vauxhall songbook, the writings of Edward Lovett and other archival sources. But this is very much a contemporary work, infused with my electroacoustic sounds and field recordings around the city. You’ll hear wrestling clubs, sky scraper lifts and voices caught along the foreshore.
I’ve been working on the album with graphic artist Chris Snow. Chris’ line drawings perfectly capture the themes of the album. Here’s a preview of the cover, showing a view along Roupell Street, Waterloo.
Ealing Feeder will be released soon – I’ll be playing music from the album in the Saisonscape music series, London and Bristol, November 2015. There’s no Kickstarter for Ealing Feeder but if you’d like to know when you can pick up a copy of the album, do send me an email or join my mailing list. If you’re from an independent music label and would like to help me get this album out the door, I’d love to hear from you. Do get in touch!
In the 1990s, my first London job took me to Smithfield where my employers, an engineering company, were fitting out a new office block (I was a junior building acoustician). Behind a wooden hoarding, civil engineers dug a huge pit and the city was vertically sliced before our eyes. Darkened by diesel fumes and chimney soot, the top layers of earth were pocked with shards of pottery and broken clay pipes. A few feet further down was a thick black layer, the scar of the Great Fire. But the pit went deeper than this – the diggers scraped the soil from buried Roman streets. A few days into the digging, a skeleton was found, then dozens more, including a child’s corpse, curled up like a cat. We downed tools while the London Archeology Unit dusted the London grime from the scene around us, revealing a Saxon burial ground.
I’ve had those days in Smithfield on my mind while I’ve been composing Ealing Feeder. Sometimes, when I’m feeling low about the city, London can feel washed up, a theme park imitation of its former self, in the thrall of those who treat it as a financial playground rather than a home. But when I walk past the glass curtain walls of the city’s tallest buildings, I remember the clay that sits below the scars of 1666 and those sleeping Saxons. London is a city with immense capacity for change. She’ll be here long after the best and worst of us are gone.