Yesterday I picked up copies of the latest Improvizone free CD from the pressing house (Amstore). They were ready last Friday, one day after the gig for which I had pointlessly hurried to prepare them in time. Today I've already spotted one spelling mistake on the back, of the most diabolically heinous and irresponsible nature. I am an idiot and should barely be trusted to type my own name correctly (although I managed this time).
Apart from that, it's great. This is one of two CDs I had on the go at the beginning of the year. The first was made up of most of a gig at Ember, the second a collection of bits and pieces from The Plough and elsewhere. Because our first gig this year was at the Plough, I put the second CD into production first. I expect to be pressing copies of the Ember CD in a few months, depending on how often we gig and how quickly we get rid of these. We'll be giving them out at forthcoming Improvizone gigs, but if you want one outside of a gig, you can get it through PayPal from our shop.
Making these CDs is an opportunity to do something a bit different from the downloads. The Plough has a stage and people sit and watch us, rather than chat to each other as they would in a bar with us playing background music, and that makes a big difference to how we play. In fact only about half of the material on here is from the Plough, but overall it falls into the same category of being slightly better if you listen to it than have it on as background music.
So this CD shows us more in performance mode rather than abstract background mode. Some of the pieces on the CD are heavily edited constructions, with large chunks chopped out or moved around, not necessarily honouring what happened on the night.
Recorded at Imbibe on 24 April 2007, this is taken from our third ever gig, and has been sitting around on my hard disk for 18 months waiting for me to do something with it. At 13m29s long, it was too big for a site download. In fact I had no intention of using it as a download because it was much more rocky and uptempo than the relaxed chillout vibe of most of the material here. I edited it together especially for our first free CD (SE1), but then abandoned it for the same reason.
It begins with a Mike Bearpark guitar solo that in fact is taken from his duo slot with me at the previous gig. From there it quickly swaps over to Jeremy Tranter's flute, introducing a blistering live drum-n-bass power trio workout with bassist Simon Laffy and guitarist James Hender. It then flops down into a loose half-tempo jam, during which I beckoned Mike over from the bar so he could join in. The piece ends with a repeat of Mike's intro phrase, with a couple of other looped up guitar bits as the fadeout.
Pretty much a normal Improvizone piece, this one happened at the very end of our 05 December 2007 gig at the Plough. At the time for some reason I didn't want to use it as an upload. A year later I have totally forgotten why, and see it now as a calm counterpoint to the frenetic previous track. What character it seems to lack when I imagine it in my mind, it always makes up for when I actually play it. I don't know why.
If one single piece were my motivation for making this CD, it would be this track, taken from somewhere in the middle of our 05 December 2007 gig at the Plough. It's basically Pulse Engine and Darkroom stirred together with some flute from Achilleas Sourlas. Nick's bass in the middle section is an absolute blast. The complete section from the gig was about 20 minutes, all well played and presentable, which is why I didn't want to chop it into a download at the time, and thought of putting it on a CD. By the time I listened back to it recently, I had gone off most of it, and pruned it back to about 8 minutes. Ironically that made it short enough for a download, though I still didn't want to use it in a collection of supposedly chillout stuff.
A spare from the Ember gig on 28 May 2008. If you recognise that gig as the sole source material of the other free CD I have been planning, you may well wonder why I have included this piece here, and not in that collection where it surely belongs? Good question, as in its currently edited state it would squeeze on. Thing is, in its original unedited state it didn't, and of all the sections of that gig, I though it was a bit of an anomaly, an odd-one-out. But here, its creepy sinister funk and ambient-noir atmospherics fit very well with the other noisy uptempo stuff in this collection. So here it is.
The very beginning of our 05 December 2007 gig at the Plough. I didn't use this as a download at the time because it was far too long. Of course, now that I've edited it down to go on a CD that's supposedly meant to contain abnormally noisy stuff, it is now quite short enough and stylistically exactly suitable for use as a download.
Although the Ember CD will be a bit more representative of what we do in a bar gig, in some ways I'm glad I made this CD first. While I was editing the two in parallel over the new year, I found myself much more keen to listen to this one. I was supposed to be getting the Ember CD finished, and this was a distraction. Wherever possible, I like to honour the point at which I start to enjoy doing things I'm not supposed to be doing, and carry on with it for as long as possible.
And I guess that is what we were doing here in these five tracks, of recognisable but usually more souped up output than the Improvizone I like to advertise, of mainly noisier or busier stuff than I would normally use for downloads. I needed a title for the CD. So I came up with, ahem, mainly noisier or busier stuff. Yes, well, sometimes my imagination dips so low it actually goes negative.
Also I needed some titles for the tracks. If you think I'm joking about having no imagination, maybe you can see from that folded-out image of the sleeve that, truly, I have none.