Мързел! Мързел! И пак мързел!
Нямам желание за нищо тези дни. Толкова неща искам да свърша и липсата на желание за каквото и да е. Все пак днес (но не защото исках чак толкова, а защото си занесох лаптопа от офиса в къщи и сега на работа трябва само да… работя :Д) се постегнах и набрах на един уърд документ биографията, която Мик Мос представя в лимитираното издание на юбилейната компилация на Antimatter. Идеята беше като цяло след това да я преведа и да я кача на страниците на gothic.bg, но… Се оказа прекалено лична и насочена специално към парчета в самата компилация – тяхната история. Това, разбира се, не означава, че няма да я кача там, но ще се наложи солидна редакция и ползване на допълнителни източници, за да мога да изградя една хубава и пълноценна биография. Но това едва ли някой го интересува. Все пак, за да отива по дяволите днешния ми труд и време (Все пак близо 4 пълни страници е), ето самия текст. Всички права върху него принадлежат на Мик Мос и Prophecy Productions, които са лейбълът, издаващ компилацията.
Мързи ме да си го проверявам за грешки, а и едва ли сигурно някой ще го изчете цялото :Д
At the time of writing it has been a decade since myself and Duncan Petterson entered Academy Studios in Dewsburry to record Antimatter’s debut album “Saviour” back in 2000. The ten year anniversary is a standard milestone in any career, prompting a retrospective release such as this. Except with “Alternative Matter” we have decided to forego the usual rehash compilation, and have opted instead to release 22 pieces from our personal archives. These are recordings that went on behind the albums since Antimatters inception in 1998. Some are simply demos – sketches that were made to test the frame of a track before entering the studio. Some are live recordings that have been passed to us over the years by soundmen or audience members. Some are acoustic versions rendered after the event, and others are remixes and even re-recordings created especially for this collection. I have taken the opportunity, where possible or necessary, to enhance a number of these recordings to bring something fresh to the mix, and also to feature musicians from the history of the project. Other tracks remain in their original form…
Chronologically we aptly begin with “Saviour”, the first track from the original demo. Antimatter, or the idea behind Antimatter had begun back in 1997. During that period Duncan Petterson was in the process of living Anathema, and he had been paying me quite a lot of visits as my place was somewhere for him to unwind and drown his sorrows. At the time I was playing with a few friends and also building up a backlog of 4-track demos for myself personally, and it was customary for me to bore the shit out of whoever had knocked over at the time by playing them my new recordings. One night I played him my demo of “Over Your Shoulder”, and he then proceeded to play me his tracks from “Alternative 4”, and it was very clear that we had both stumbled onto making music very similar to each other. This is quite bizarre, as if you rewind history back 18 months before that I was trying to make music akin to Ozric Tentacles whilis Anathema were still on the Paradise Lost trail. By 1997 Duncan had moved to the right and I had gone to the left, and we both accidentally ended up on the same square…. I had begun to veer towards a very dark place both lyrically and musically, and obviously this had appealed to Duncan who must have already been weighing up his post-Anathema options. Before too long he had suggested that we pool our songs together and began making plans for his future. He left Anathema in 1998 and then re-recorded three of my 4-track demos on an old reel-to-reel 8-track machine that had apparently been previously owned by 80s electro-pop songstress Marc Almond (namedrop). I was completely in awe of the 8-track, having previously been confined to a 4-track Tascam cassette deck. Duncan spent a lot of time on these demos and grafted in Michelle Richfield on vocals. Back in those days I was resorting to having to drink whiskey before every vocal take and the idea of me singing on any of this stuff (which I deemed to be incredibly important) was completely out of the question. Duncan had his heart set on using Michelle anyway, which was fine by me. I visited him in Dewsbury to help out a few things, but by that time he had done the lions share of the recording and I simply played a few instruments here and there. All of the instrumentation had been set in stone anyway on my original recordings of the same tracks, so there were pretty much faithful re-constructions of my low-fi originals, with Duncan adding an electro twist. Sometime later Duncan visited me in Liverpool with a cassette containing his demo of “Holocaust”, which is unique in the fact that this is the only of Duncan’s Antimatter tracks that he ever recorded a full demo for. This came in 1999 after the recording of the original demo reel, and was the first time I had heard any of his tracks that he was to put forth for Antimatter. At the time I had just finished my final two tracks for “Saviour” (“Psalms” and “The Last Laugh”), and a strange thing happened again. Duncan came over with his demo of “Holocaust” and I played him my demo of “Psalms”, and once again the similarities were striking even though we had not heard each other’s new tracks. Back in the early days there was a lot of this going on between us, we were very much on the same page.
Two years later, in 2001, Antimatter was in limbo after having signed to a record label that was in the process of imploding and not in any way adept at releasing an album. With “Saviour” already almost a year old and still unreleased, Duncan was looking for ways to break the rigor mortis that had set in. I was completely out of my league in terms of business side of things and had no idea what to do. I started to build up a case against them with the Musicians Union, putting together what I could in terms of a damnation against the label, but really we were doomed from the offset as the contract had been signed and nowhere in the contract was a clause stating what our position would be if the label failed to do a good job, or (as in our case) any job at all. At the time I was on a 6 month course in Paul McCarthey’s (namedrop) performing arts school “L.I.P.A.”, and part of my course involved getting a few days studio time. This coincided with one of Duncan’s ideas from around then, which was to record as many alternative versions of “Saviour” songs as possible, that way if things really did go wrong and we lost the album at least we would have something that we owned the rights to, albeit in a lesser form. He persuaded Danny Cavanagh to accompany me for a few days, and in we went, Danny and myself, and recorded acoustic versions of almost half of the album, two of which appear here, “Over Your Shoulder” and “Flowers”. The former track was in the first ever Antimatter recording (apart from my demos) that I solely contributed vocals to (“The Last Laugh” from the first album being more of a kind of duet with Michelle Richfield). Danny sang the lead to “Flowers”, his voice being much more suited at the time to interpreting Hayley Windsor’s take from the original. Anyway, as history has it, we never needed to revert to using alternative versions of the first album, as the dying label released us from contract and we swiftly signed to Prophecy Productions and The End Records.
Fast forward a year, and somewhere in 2002 with “Saviour” now released (almost) worldwide, the decks were cleared and I dusted the 4-track off again (which had now turned into a 3-track due to one of the recording heads dying a sad death) and set about recording some new demos for Antimatter.. Around that time Danny had briefly left Anathema with the view of joining Antimatter, and had left a huge, expensive keyboard with me that I put to full use (along with some sequencers and guitars) in producing these demos. After having sung on the L.I.P.A. acoustic sessions my confidence was growing as a vocalist and I took the lead on “The art of a soft landing”, with Jenny O’Conner accompanying and also taking the lead on “Dream”. Jenny was my neighbour at the time and I had already user her services before on the aforementioned acoustic sessions. I had great pleasure in 2009 digitalizing these old analogue recordings, removing hiss, repairing tape damage and adding new elements, including violin by Rachel Brewster, which really added an extra dimension to “Dream”.
So, back to the past. Duncan put together our first tour in late 2002. I was absolutely terrified to be singing lead vocals (especially for Duncan’s Anathema songs, for which our audience would already be accustomed to hearing someone else’s voice on them) so much so that I was in fact on tranquillizers for our first gig in Belgium. This version of “Far Away” was recorded on the second night, and listening back now I must have gone through some kind of amazing transformation since the opening night, as I sound quite relaxed and capable on this recording. Duncan and myself had gotten ourselves lost in the middle of France that night before the gig, and we were all over the show trying to get ourselves to the venue. We turned up just in time to buy a bottle of tequila and get on stage (tequila was very often the silent partner in most early Antimatter gigs… study some old photos and you may just spot a bottle here and there on stage with us). The show was recorded, and Duncan launched his record label “Strangelight” with this release, “Live@K13”. “Far Away” didn’t make it onto the album, but is in fact my personal favourite from that gig.
A few months later we were back in the studio to record our second album “Lights Out”, and compared to the making of our first album, our stay in Sun Studios, Dublin, in February 2003 was a long one. We had the run of the studio for a month solid, and that included mornings, afternoons, evenings, nights, and that ethereal bit in between night and dawn that hasn’t really got a name because you should really be asleep. Needless to say we recorded a lot of that album during some very unsociable hours. I took advantage of the abundance of time to record these acoustic versions of “Everything you know is wrong”, “In stone” and “The art of a soft landing” from the same album. The acoustic versions turned out great at the time, but I also felt there was a lot of space in there that just invited me to go meddling around in for this release. I took them along with a few other tracks to France in late 2009 and enlisted the services of drummer Colin Fromont, who had toured with us in the previous year. Colin played a range of percussive instruments on these recordings that I took back to Liverpool and edited, then moving on to violin, cello, piano and acoustic guitars. There pieces have turned out beautifully.
Sometime after the recording of “Lights Out” Black Lotus Records got in touch with Duncan requesting that Antimatter cover a song from “The Lotus Eaters”, their planned double album tribute to Dead Can Dance. I had not heard of DOD at all, and went through Duncan’s collection to see what they were about. The minute I heard “Black Sun” I wanted to do it, and then talking to Duncan about it he told me that was the track he wanted to do anyway and was surprised that no-one had chosen to do it already. We reconvened to Sun Studios in October of 2003, 9 months after recording “Lights Out” there, with Stefano Soffia back in the engineer/co-producer chair. Duncan took care of all the music whilst I did the vocals, so for this track we kind of resembled an old 80s British synthpop duo. I am very proud of this recording, and I know that Brendan Perry (namedrop) of DCD felt an affinity towards our version. I am very happy to finally be able to include this on an Antimatter release, 7 years after it was recorded. After recording “Black Sun” we had a few days before we left to go on our German tour, and I think its around this time that Duncan produced this version of “Lost Control” which he asked me to perform vocals for.
Looking back now, 2003 was a huge year for us in terms of work, and by 2004 Duncan was in the process of fragmenting away from the project. By the time we got round to making our third album “Planetary Confinement” we recorded in separate studios and countries to each other. Two tracks from my sessions, recorded in studio 33, Liverpool in 2004 appear here in alternate form – one with less instrumentation that appears on the original, and one with more. The sparser of the two, “Epitaph”, came about when producer Ronni O’Keefe was working on Rachel Brewster’s violin tracks. He had faded out all of the other instruments and was fine-tuning the compression, re-verb and panning for the violins, and the sounds coming out of the studio monitors were just amazing. I asked him to grab a mix of that right there and then. I have since re-introduced the other instruments to the end section in order to lift the track and bring closure. “A Portrait of the Young Man As An Artist” on the other hand is the studio version with instruments added. This track started life as more of a lyrical idea then a musical one, and for me had always felt almost finished but never quite there, so again I seized the opportunity to go back and revisit where I’d left off. The addition of percussion, piano and female vocals has drastically altered the shape of piece, and allows me to see where I may have taken the track back in 2004 had I known what to do with it. The version of “Mr. White” from Duncan’s session for that album is him interpreting Trouble’s track from their “Manic Frustration” album, and this live version here is myself interpreting Duncan’s interpretation for the stage. We stayed in our mutual sets ever since. I had gotten so used to hearing myself singing with the little twist and turns, and yet there was no recording of this version anywhere. Eventually I was handed a recording of our Zurich gig from 2008, and naturally I skipped straight to this track.
On disc one we have the two tracks that were recorded especially for this release, “Flowers” and “Epitaph”. We had played “Flowers” quite a few times during our union tours with a number of different quest performers, all who had brought their own texture to the song. Colin Fromont added percussion in our Portuguese tour, Claudia Andrade hopped up and sang harmony in France, and Luisa Cuthberg contributed piano in our German dates. Yet none of these performers or parts had ever been brought together on the track, all had featured separately on different nights on different tours. I had been singing on and off on tours since 2002, so there was an urgency for me to bring all of this together and “Alternative Matter” was the perfect opportunity and excuse for me to do so. In late 2009 I got an email from a guy named Lukasz Langa who offered to remix an Alternative track, which was obviously perfect timing due to this release looming. I originally gave him the orchestral mix of “Epitaph” to sample violins from but instead he ended up completely rebuilding and re-imagining the piece from scratch, and once I heard what he had come up with I quickly decided to add vocals to complete the recording.
“Landlocked”, from “Leaving Eden”, was originally planned to have rainfall throughout the track, so in 2006 during the recording of that album I sent out an email asking for samples of rain. In the end I got about 30 minutes of rainfall that people had recorded from all across the world, and all was set except that due to the heavy workload I simply forgot to add the rain in the finished track during mixing. That had always bugged me, so at the start of 2010 I dug out the rain samples (I always keep everything) with the intent of simply adding the rain to the album version, and ended up doing a complete remix instead.
So now we have in our hands “Alternative Matter”. The amazing thing about this compilation is that these pieces were set to tape in many different places during a period of over ten years, yet collected together they form a coherent and united new listening experience, a fascinating alternative history that sounds unlike any prior Antimatter album. I would love to be able to hear this collection in its entirely with fresh ears for the first time, but that’s for you to do.