Written and Produced by Matthew Adams
Matthew Adams - Vocals, Guitar, Banjo, Dulcimer, Percussion (1-9)
Bex Baxter - Vocals (1-9)
Hannah Browning - Vocals (1, 3-5, 7- 9)
Mike Stanton - Piano, Vocals (1-9)
Jane Robertson - Clarinet (1, 3-5, 7-9)
Fran Andre - Cello (1, 4, 5, 7-9)
Ian Towers - Double Bass (1-5, 7-9)
Tim Cotterell - Violin (1, 4-9)
Matt Sunderland - Drums (5, 7, 9)
Christopher John - Accordian (8)
Artwork by Emily Swann
Hear 'Relics - A Musical Journey' - A mix of songs that inspired and travelled with me throug making this album at:
"Guess what: God created beings not to act in a morality play, but to experience what is unfathomable, to elicit what can become, to descend into the darkness of creation and reveal it to him, to mourn and celebrate enigma and possibility. The universe is a whirling dervish, not a hanging judge in robes." Richard Grossinger
These songs came together through a series of accidents and mistakes off the path of (some) conscious intention.
The last album (The Slow Death of Julius Way) was, as perhaps its title suggests, a bit of an ordeal to make. 3 months pretty much alone out in Dartmoor became quite a personal, inward process. Bearing that in mind, I think I had to trick myself in starting this one. it kind of commenced without me realsing or acknowleging that I was once again diving into the process of creativity....
After emerging from Dartmoor in the Spring of 2012 I found myself suddenly with a gig booked at Buddhafield festival and a little unsure of what to do with it. I really wanted to take a break from music and my songs and again, after the process of making Slow Death I was a little wary about opening up the bag of tricks tht is my relationship with my songs again.
So somewhere along the line I came up with a coping strategy - I'm only going to do what I enjoy. Funny idea. After 3 or 4 years of hardly playing any gigs my memory of them was a bit stale. I had lost sight of why I was doing them at all, had gotten caught up in what I was trying to get out of them. So they became exercises in frustration and dis-satisfaction. Naturally I did not fancy returning to those realms. Yet I was curious, I'd always wanted to play at Buddhafield and some other festivals, and I had a long-carried desire to materialize some songs with a full band, something I had not done for a long time.
So a magnet seemed to spring up in Bristol where I went to meet Bex and Mike. Ailsa was playing at a gig Mike put on in St Stephens Church and came along to play some cello with us. Hannah happened to be living with Bex and was hanging out in the lounge when we started playing so started singing along. From there our little troupe was born which was later at various times to include Jane on the clarinet and Fran on cello, and more fleetingly Matt Sunderland or Rebecca Cant on percussion.
From those live sets some ideas of arrangements for new songs started to emerge, the egg of a new album was forming. Time down in Dartington that summer and working on a building site in Wellingborough just above London, as well as apple picking in Forest Row, new songs were knocking on the door that wanted birthing into the world.
The next year, 2012, I moved to Bristol to live. I had ideas of doing all sorts of other things, but soon enough those orphans wouldn't let me do anything else so I gave them my full attention. April 4th I took a studio room at Coexist in Hamilton House and began unpacking the suitcase to see how the orphans could be nurtured into existence.
I had about 40 or 50 all demanding their own room, fully decorated and en-suite. So i started building the house, excited but a little overwhelmed, not sure how it was going to play out or how I would pull it off, but decided the best thing to do (as always with these things) was to roll with the process and see wht happened. Let it play itself out, show up, get involved and try not to get in the way too much.
Fast forward 2 or three months and a lot of time spent working on lyrics and guitar parts for all these fellows, I was feeling heavy, exhausted, not really enjoying myself. There was a moment on putting down a vocal take on one song when I burst into uncontrollable laughter and couldn't stop every time I tried to sing the words. My relationship with the sentiment of the song had transformed from one of total identification, living in the heart of that song, to it then being outside my body, observing it and finding it highly amusing as opposed to deeply personal and meaningful.
I decided there was not point to carry on down the path of recording those songs. When I tried to perservere with them it felt horrible, like putting back on clothes that have been removed to go in the wash. Like returning to an old identity I had grown out of. something that once upon a time was cathartic, good and necessary, that was now suddenly hugely inappropriate.
Thankfully this process allowed me to let go of the vast majority of songs I had in the pipeline to record. There was some tearful parting of company, some parts of me that wanted to hold on to those parts of me. But on the whole it was a very overwhelming Yes in my body's desire to let them go, let them drift off and disappear into the ether without any other soul hearing them....
Many which stuck around were songs we had put together in the band over two summers of gigs in 2011 and 2012. The ones that remained felt lighter, more free, less weighed down. I recently listened to Slow Death upon completing this album, and was surprised at the tension of emotion in there. Whilst I hate to say too much about the music I make - my interpretation of it is only as valid as anyone else's and would never want that to get in the way of someone forming their own personal relationship with a song/album - still..... Slow Death was quite an isolating experience to make - it was mostly me on my own up a hill in Dartmoor with a dog. I was pushing out, or perhaps inviting some demons in, and whilst I feel the results still to be beautiful, it was a thing of a time and place and not somewhere I want to return to.
I'm not usually one to push darkness away in favor of light. I'd rather allow them both to be there and live in relationship with them both, balanced, in harmony, working together as day works with night. Still, it would feel equally inappropriate to push light away in favor of darkness, so when I realised that I was inadvertently stumbling into a world of lighter music, it took me a little by surprise, feeling a little strange in unknown territory.
The question was, as ever, what feels important here? What's real?
For me expressing a song is feeling something inside, getting an intuitve notion of it then slowly pushing it out of my skin until it's fully formed in the world. What still surprises me is that after it's been said, it feels as though it has left. It no longer fits me. there came a point this summer towards the end of festival gigs when I could not relate so much to the songs in real time. They didn't feel like part of me anymore. There was relief. Hence the title, Relics.
These are weird and in many ways unintended off-shoots of a larger process Istepped into - following the intuitive directions coming up in the creative process. Hence accidents, mistakes, chaos, songs that never made it, things recorded that will never see the light of day. Just the leftovers from everything else that happened, crytalised into this strange little rock that lies before you now. I know not where it came from, but it is now out of me so that it can sit before you, it is no longer mine, it is yours. I am sure it will fulfill it's purpose out there.
Many thanks to all the musicians in going with the inspiration to join me on this journey, I couldn't have done this one without you, I could not have been on this journey without you, I wouldn't be who I am without you, that's quite a special thing : )
released 16 September 2012
Matthew Adams, Bex Baxter, Hannah Browning, Michael Stanton, Jane Robertson, Tim Cotterell, Fran Andre, Ian Towers, Matt Sunderland, Christopher John