|Peter Blegvad & Andy Partridge — Gonwards (2012)|
Peter Blegvad & Andy Partridge — Gonwards
Location: London/Swindon, Wiltshire, England
Album release: October 30, 2012
Record Label: Ape House / APECD046
01] The Devils Lexicon 5:45
02] Sacred Objects 3:16
03] Looking At The Sun 2:14
04] St Augustine Says 3:58
05] The Cryonic Trombone 7:17
06] The Impeccable Dandy In White 4:00
07] What A Car You Are 5:21
08] The Dope On Perelman 3:43
09] From Germ To Gem 4:42
10] Worse On The Way 4:51
• 2012 release, a collaboration between two of the UK's most original and unique. artists: Peter Blegvad (Slapp Happy/Henry Cow) and Andy Partridge (XTC). Apehouse: http://www.ape.uk.net/
• Limited edition of 2,000. Includes lyrics book, card game, extra tracks and promotional videos.
• Gonwards is the second release by Peter Blegvad and Andy Partridge.
• Mixing spoken word and songs, the material is voiced by Blegvad and features music played, programmed and assembled by Andy Partridge and Stu Rowe (in whose Swindon-based digital studio the recordings were made).
• The trio has produced an album that began as a re-imagination of the myth of The Blues and grew from there to encompass a multitude of musical and lyrical themes; the latter including a roll call of words and terminology for use in The Blues, musings on alcohol and St. Augustine, the role of the car and much more.
• A typically brilliant and playful fusion of disparate elements from two of Rock music's most inventive eccentrics.
• The cd edition comes in a high quality card gatefold with lyric booklet insert.
Birth name: Peter Blegvad
Born: August 14, 1951, New York City, United States
Genres: Avant-rock, Experimental
Occupations: Musician, Lyricist, Cartoonist, Illustrator
Instruments: Guitar, vocals
• The Naked Shakespeare (1983, LP, Virgin Records)
• Knights Like This (1985, LP, Virgin Records)
• Downtime (1988, LP, Recommended Records)
• King Strut & Other Stories (1990, LP/CT/CD, Silvertone Records)
• Just Woke Up (1995, CD, East Side Digital)
• Hangman's Hill (1998, CD, Recommended Records)
• Choices Under Pressure (2001, CD, Voiceprint Records)
With Andy Partridge:
• Orpheus – The Lowdown (2003, CD, Ape House)
• Gonwards (2012, CD, Ape House)
Birth name: Andrew John Partridge
Also known as: Sir John Johns, Mr. Partridge
Born: 11 November 1953, Mtarfa, Malta
Origin: Swindon, Wiltshire, England
Genres: New Wave, pop
Occupations: Musician, songwriter, record producer
Instruments: Guitar, vocals
Notable instruments: Ibanez Artist, Squier Telecaster, Martin D-35
Official site of Erica Wexler, Partridge's partner: http://www.ericawexler.co.uk/ © Andy Partridge
Music Hall. Toronto, 2/2/80; Andy Partridge of the band XTC
Date: 2 February 1980 / Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlacpo/5034899/
Author: Jean-Luc Ourlin
A harder Blegvad November 19, 2012
By Martin Barrs / Rating: *****
• The funky, wordy feel and variety of the tracks was unexpected, but the quirk and bent of it all was Blegvad. Perhaps to much reminiscent of structures and mechanisms of PB's earlier work, I was initially underwhelm on my first couple of unfocused run-throughs of the CD.
• Why has it been in constant play then?
• Intriguing imagery, fantastic music and production, and perhaps a meaner PB: On "What A Car You Are", I hear accusatory venom that reminded me of Diamanda Galas. There are other instances of poetic passive aggressiveness to be enjoyed too, all with a harder edge than I could have expected. But I like it.
• A delicate recoding that belies the spines that support its placid surface. PB & AP work very well together. If only there were more :O
• “Acting as ersatz producer of, as well as a musical contributor to, the Gonwards sessions meant that I had my beady hands all over the tech side of things. Let me see. • What can I tell you?
• We recorded mostly at my pal Stuart Rowe’s studio in Swindon, (he is a musician/engineer and producer in his own right), with some programming done at my home in ‘The Shed’ (also in Swindon of course) and one of the vocals from Peter recorded in his attic studio in London.
• Right from the start we knew that it must sound as high quality as possible – the best we could get out of our limited gear – so we decided on working at a 24 bit/96khz rate. This was to cause a few problems later as this high rate, coupled with computer exhausting plug-ins and the occasional high track count, crashed the poor computer quite a few times.
• We circumvented this by making real audio events of as many programmed sources as possible, freeing valuable resources for further recording and mixing.
• This, combined with bouncing/committing any multiples of ‘same’ sounds, such as backing vocals, brass parts etc. helped smooth the flow. The need for bouncing theoretically ended sometime in the 1970s but I can assure you that it is just as valid today if faced with a reluctant computer, especially as the smoother running machine that results, offers none of the detectable sound degradation that inevitably accompanied the tape bouncing of yesteryear.
• The whole album was recorded into a Power Mac running the Logic studio 9 recording programme, routed via an Apogee Ensemble interface. The microphone of choice for virtually everything live was Stu’s Shure KSM 44, which felt good for vocals, acoustic guitars, flute – you name it. Stu and I decided that we needed to use only the best EQ we could get our hands on and after several phone calls to studio wizards I’m lucky enough to know – John Leckie, Haydn Bendall and Nick Davis amongst others, they universally recommended the Sony Oxford plug in EQ, which proved to be a great move.
• The Oxford handled everything with the clarity of crystal – allowing us to mould each sound for its allotted space in the mix. Our reverb of choice was Altiverb. This is a wonderful convolution reverb that gives the user access to many real spaces, from a cupboard to a concert hall. This played an important role in the mix stage.
• The sonic landscape of the record was a mixture of old and new sounds – some of the older ones made with Mellotron rhythm loops. These were made for Mellotron though probably recorded in the US in the 1950′s by the Chamberlin folks, (the forerunner of the Mellotron), and were used as ‘band accompaniment’ for the keyboard player to play their melody over the top. Basically, they were recordings of session players vamping on one chord in a set tempo. You can hear them on the songs SACRED OBJECTS (where they are heavily diced up) and WORSE ON THE WAY, where longer stretches were used. They have a great ‘dusty’ and dreamlike quality.
• Some of the newer noises were courtesy of many layered Ebow guitars; that’s the droning heat you can hear on CRYONIC TROMBONE, or us screwing with Logic’s inbuilt sampler to bend and warp sounds to fit. Throw this in with ukeleles, distorted vocals that sound like lead guitars (GERM TO GEM), saxophones, fiery harmonica, female voices, finger clicks, Hammond organ, mandolins, brass and, of course, Peter’s beautiful words and you have quite a sonic stew.
• When all of the contributions from Peter and our other players were recorded, Stu and I got ourselves up to our elbows in mixing. Although we shaped sounds on quite large Mackie HR824 monitors, we would always switch to tiny JBL self-powered speakers to hear instrument levels. The aim was to make the stereo space as 3D, as cinematic, as possible without getting into 5.1, (though now that I’ve thought of 5.1… hmm, I suppose that’s a whole other possibility at some point?) We wanted people to be literally ‘inside’ the tracks when they hear them. I think we achieved this pretty well. Some wide panning and reverbs that place sounds seemingly behind the listener’s head help this feel. On the predominantly spoken pieces this tactile stage setting was even more essential.
• The final piece in the puzzle was the album’s mastering, courtesy of legend John Dent at his facility Loud Mastering in Taunton. We passed all of the mixes through his modified Studer tape machine for extra analogue warmth and glue. We hope you like the results.”
Author: Andy Partridge (http://blog.bowers-wilkins.com)
Reviewed by Sam Bates (http://www.greenmanmusic.biz)
• I’ve struggled with how to begin this review for a long time, it seems. So I’m going to approach it in slightly oblique (and strangely fitting) fashion – at the end. ‘Gonwards’ by Peter Blegvad and Andy Partridge is a wonderful record; a dense, dizzying, joyous and sometimes scary journey of juxtaposition and contradiction. It deserves a place in the collection of anyone who enjoys the challenge of really living with an album, rather than treating it as a forty-five minute distraction from the horrors of the tube journey to work. So there; I’ve given you the verdict. If you want to know why, then read on…
• This is an album that gleefully revels in contrast. There are recurring lyrical themes that take new meaning in their shared context: man and machine become one, in the cases of ‘The Cryonic Trombone’ and the piano-led Lennon-esque stomp of ‘What A Car You Are’, while religion sits tight with science and technology elsewhere. This discordance is often repeated in the sounds and textures on offer – ‘From Germ to Gem’ mixes pseudo-Gregorian chant with a slow, liquid funk (and horns blaring straight from Bernard Herrmann’s ‘Taxi Driver’ score), while ‘The Devil’s Lexicon’ superimposes howling blues harp with heartbeats, programmed beats and gang vocals reminiscent of The Birthday Party.
• There is often a feeling of tension and release, too. The album’s centrepiece, ‘The Cryonic Trombone’, is a nearly eight-minute exercise in sustained unease. Blegvad’s prodigiously deep voice seems to appear right inside your skull, telling a cryptic tale of a trombonist that becomes one with his instrument. The song builds over a wash of shifting textures, with clashing pitches and timbres palpating against African hand percussion. Just as it builds to a crescendo, it drops away into a beautiful orchestral arrangement, made all the more welcome because of the nightmare before it.
• It’s not all oppression and heavy mood though – Blegvad has been quoted as saying he is, ‘to [his] bones a flippant individual’ and this playfulness comes to the fore on tracks such as ‘St. Augustine Says’: a brilliantly wonky pop tune that’s like Brian Wilson rearranged by Adrian Belew. Later, ‘The Impeccable Dandy In White’ is an impossibly catchy calypso with the fantastic line, ‘His slacks are cut so tight/He’s unable to relax his smile’ and a slippery, meandering tin-can guitar solo that wouldn’t sound out of place on Gracelands! There are moments of serenity too; ‘The Dope On Perelman’ boasts a luscious 6/8 groove drenched in a descending string arrangement that would not sound out of place on Beck’s ‘Sea Change’. The album closes on a wryly sarcastic note, with the final track ‘Worse On The Way’ an upliftingly sad waltz as broken and cracked as the Soviet-era Russia it evokes so well.
• The production, ably performed by Andy Partridge and Stuart Rowe, is fantastic. Every track is given it’s own sonic environment to inhabit. There is a depth and dynamic here not found in a lot of modern production – sounds exist in their own space, and sit in a three-dimensional plane with each other: some bursting to the front, others lurking behind. Writ large over it all is Blegvad’s sonorous baritone; at times confessional, intimate and others exultant and manic. Part spoken word, part sung, and underpinned by Andy Partridge’s dense harmonies, the vocals provide the detail to the dense landscapes of found sound, old and new instrumentation and otherworldy effects.
• I’m running out of superlatives, to be honest. So I’ll quit while I’m ahead and just reiterate what I said at the start of this review: This is a stunning album, it’s a triumph of uneasy listening and it deserves a place on everyone’s Record Of The Year lists. Considering it’s sitting pretty with the likes of new releases by Grizzly Bear, Tame Impala and Animal Collective, that’s high praise indeed.
© Photographer, Michael S. Eisenberg. Peter Blegvad with the Peter Blegvad Trio performing at a Rock in Opposition Festival in Southern France in April 2007.
|Peter Blegvad & Andy Partridge — Gonwards (2012)|