I’m proud to present my new album-
And here’s a taster:
Some years ago the Living Archive Band considered taking on the story of Bletchley Park as a musical documentary drama. The project never got off the ground, but I did sketch out some musical ideas at the time, and even had one song fully written.
One particular motif attracted me. Seated one day at the midi keyboard, I was weary and, well, ill at ease. My fingers strayed from a Dm to an F#m. Oo-er! Spooky. The stuff of mystery and suspense, with a hint of resignation and gloom. Perfect for illustrating a convoy fearful of U-boats, or a cryptographer sitting up all night trying to find a way into an Enigma key. As in:
Nothing is new in music, of course, and I was very soon to realise that, far from being the guy dat found the lost chord, I had been beaten to it. In fact I was coming in a long way last. Again. That harmonic progression is everywhere, particularly in soundtrack music where a hint of mystery, suspense, resignation and gloom is required.
But, hey, I liked it. It was worked into several atmospheric instrumental sketches for Enigma, as I had dubbed the non-starting project to myself.
Another little snippet was a simple piano melody based on rising arpeggios, which I titled Turing Theme. Alan Turing is a great hero of mine, and not just because we share the same birthday. I admire his genius immensely, but perhaps I do also harbour a desperate hope that being born on the same day of the year as him, albeit forty-two year later, and sixteen days after he died, I might inherit the tiniest bit of that genius. You never know. Well yes, ok, you do.
Over the next decade or so I would open the drawer in the old bureau of the spare room on my hard drive, take out the creased old folders, blow the dust off and consider the music within. Each time I would resolve to do something with it, because there was something there worth pursuing. Each time I got nowhere.
Then last summer, having completed a project, I was casting around for something to fill my time. I listened through the Enigma Tapes one more time, and was off and running. I finally twigged that this was never going to be a collective project with the band, let alone a stage production. We had been through that with The Horse & The Tractor. It would be a solo project.
And now it is done. Seventeen tracks: ten new songs, one old one (see above), three instrumentals and three slices of audio verité with spoken word and soundscape. There’s simple piano plus vocal to full orchestral, by way of lounge jazz, rock, pub sing-along, Vera Lynn, Eric Coates and even ‘a bit Pink Floyd’, as one listener said.
It is a solo project but I wanted the singing voices to vary, reflecting the different characters in the spotlight. So we hear Brad Bradstock and Marion Hill from the Living Archive Band; their duet on Dance Round The Bonfire is particularly poignant. Sheena Masson, a colleague from Stocai, gives a beautiful rendition of I’m Listening To You, and my sister Terry Brown sings the song of a young woman on a long night-shift worrying for her brother, a naval officer on convoy duty.
Instrumentally, Dorien James provides saxophone and Andrew King plays bass and electric guitar. All the rest is me, translating my rudimentary keyboard playing by way of midi and powerful modern sampling.
I am immensely proud of this. I hope you find something in it to enjoy too.