This is the sleeve for Now Here

The following collection of material was initially compiled in 1997 from recordings made between 1994 and 1997. By this time, I was reaching the end of my time recording with a four-track cassette recorder and was moving over to the digital domain. As I remember it, a lot of the track here were recorded by bouncing down from two tracks to another, as a stereo pair, thus retaining some of audio fidelity of a stereo recording.

The downside to this technique was that once you’d committed yourself to a take there was no going back. It was like recording in concrete, you were stuck with your takes and mistakes. At this juncture, I’d pretty much given up writing “proper” songs and instead was quite taken with recording strange instrumental pieces. I’m not sure where this sprang from, probably because I was working and finding harder to galvanise myself to write lyrics that were pertinent to my situation. I don’t know, my memory is fogged up over this period.

I know that during this time I was experimenting with two different FX pedals. I traded in my Zoom 9000 and used a Korg AX30G for a while, which was interested because it had a pressure sensitive button instead of a traditional rocker pedal and it allowed you to pull off some funky pitch changes and almost synth-like effects. Later, this was traded in for a Digitech RP10, which was a pretty impressive piece of kit for the time. Though my enduring memory of it was having an almost brittleness to some of the guitar tones.

Of course, it is at this point where my first dabblings with guitar synthesiser can be heard. In late 1994, I purchased a second-hand Roland GR-1 (which I kept for almost a decade) with some money I’d inherited. I remember demoing in the GR-1 in the shop and being completely astounded that you could make a guitar sound like a piano or a trumpet or whatever. But it is on this collection of recordings that you can heard my first fumblings with the GR-1 and my first faltering steps into the genre known as ambient.

01 Now Here
I have absolutely no memory of recording this, but it sounds to me that I was experimenting with rudimentary looping. Perhaps the Korg or the Digitech had this function, I don’t know? But there’s something relaxingly hypnotic about all the bouncing guitar, even though the guitar synth line sounds as if it was recorded underwater.

02 Slipaway
Again, very little memory of this. The original masters were lost, so this is the original WAV file revibrated with a bit of EQ and squirted through a mastering plugin, though it still sounds muddy. There’s an idea in there somewhere but I think the lack of editorial judgement and inability to undo mistakes limits this to the “shit” pile.

03 Reverso
Now I do remember recording this one. It was a summer’s evening and I was still living at home and I had my bedroom window open and the sounds of summer were filtering through my headphones when I discovered this great reverse echo delay effect on the Digitech RP10. The main guitar line holds the song together with the bass and guitar synth following. Of course, the guitar was done in one take, no edits and everything else added afterwards. I really like this one because it is unique, even though some of the bass playing is very, very ropey.

04 Hevisqal
This was recorded using the Korg AX10 and a few of the subsequent tracks were done in a similar fashion with a pre-programmed drum pattern triggered and me laying down the lead guitar lines over the top, adding bass and whatever last. The idea was that you just played and played and somehow made it fit. There are some good sounds here but it needs to be recorded on a proper multitrack system, edited and mixed properly – rather than this stupid stereo bouncing system I was using.

05 Acoustisynth
Me trying to pretend that I could fingerpick and some splurgey guitar synth mush in the background.

06 Joe ’96
Now I have memories of recording this using the Korg AX10 and the guitar synth at the same time and jumping around on one leg from pedal to pedal getting these weird squeaking noises – because the lead line and all the squeaks and pops were played live with just bass added later. So you have this weird layered stereo wall of sound – it’s still too long and meandering. Parts of it reminded me of the Joe 90 theme tune, so hence the cribbed title.

07 Nothing to Do
A song about unemployment that shouldn’t even be on this collection…

08 Deelai
Again, this is a track let down by bad editing and me just running out of steam on it. Yes, by this time I had discovered the delay pedal and was intent on making the listener sick of hearing it.

09 Jazza
This is another track where the lead guitar line was triggering off a guitar synth at the same time and mixing three sources into the mix at once, with the bass and guitar synth added later. Could have been better if I’d done this on a digital system – to many fudges and lacklustre playing to be taken serious, but I make a little go a long way.

10 Tinkitar
This is the end section of another track called “Let Your Fingers Do the Walking” but it was castrated and set free to exist in this format and gives an indication of ideas to come – thinks certain sections on “START” and “Tempest”. The lead guitar is just too busy and too flakey.

11 Descender
I quite like this one – again we have three or four multitracked guitars holding down the groove with some bass backing. This is beginning to indicate where my recordings would be going in the future and is really a “missing link”.

12 The Road Home
More ambient nonsense with me noodling around on the Roland GR-1 with the sustain settings set to max on the patches so every note sings for a long time and you can layer notes on top of each other. Not quite soundscaping, but recorded absolutely live in one take…

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