We’re releasing an album soon. It is sort of our fourth album, in some ways it feels very much like a haiku album (in melody and tiny noises and texture) yet in others it feels very different. More brooding and contemplative and darker in places. The record is a soundtrack album to Buster Keaton’s 1926 film ‘The General’ which we were commissioned to write and perform by Nottingham Contemporary for the BFI Comedy Genius Season. We started writing early November 2018 and the first performance of it was early January 2019 in Belfast, we wrote and rehearsed this album in two months, and listening to it again now I’m not quite sure how we managed it.
It’s the first album we’ve recorded, mixed and produced entirely ourselves in the studio we rent at the edge of the Peak District. There are windows on all sides but one of the studio and in the summer the sun floods in and bounces off the white walls . Through the windows I have seen a thousand honey bees swarm, and bats swoop over the allotments. Dreamy. Except we didn’t write ‘The General’ in summer, we wrote it in winter, and in winter frost forms on the inside of the windows and in the very marrow of your bones.
The album is eighty minutes long and comprised of 23 songs/musical pieces and is officially released on 2nd August. We’ll be releasing a series of singles in the run up to the album release, and I thought it might be nice to share a little bit of how these songs came into existence.
A couple of weeks back we released a double A side: ‘Loves’ / ‘Going Back’. Here we go…
'Loves' is probably the most sentimental piece we wrote for the score, it soundtracks the part of the film where Johnny’s love for Annabelle is established. We wanted to write something wistful and dreamy. To achieve that Gemma put the electric guitar through a pedal which sounds like a warm and happy memory returning from a distant past. The guitar and piano interplay mimicking the tentative body language of Johnny and Annabelle until the news of the war breaks and the melodies drop away. At the very end the guitar sounds reminiscent of an old warped vinyl, sounding cautious and uncertain.
'Going Back' was one of the last pieces we wrote for the score. That section of the film is full of trains moving at speed and then reversing down the tracks. The film gave us so much to work with and it kind of just flowed out. It begins with a very austere arpeggio which bends and melts into a reverse guitar part which is one of my favourite bits on the record. I love the way that reversing audio can bring out hidden emotions and harmonies, and Gemma’s guitar part creates a feeling of nostalgia which feels sad and peaceful at the same time. The ending has a general feeling of triumph and momentum as the train speeds away. The marching snare at the finish was created by mistake - I had written another melody part and was dragging the clip from one instrument track to another, I accidentally dropped it onto a drum track and it created this really proud and hopeful marching snare pattern. The best things happen by accident.
If you’ve read this far thank you 🙏and thank you for your continued support, it really does mean a lot to us. One of the best ways to support artists is by buying merch, sharing links, and adding us to your playlists. It’s also nice to hear from people who are enjoying our music, it’s a good way to know we didn’t freeze our arses off in vain. Any questions, hit me up.
Our next single taken from the album is coming on Friday. More on that next week. Bye for now. Sophie x