Last Saturday, Thomas Kalleske and I played the last of three Garden Ruin gigs at the Edinburgh Castle as part of Guitars In Bars. On the Garden Ruin front it’s been a busy year with a string of performances around Adelaide and demoing new material for an EP. The Guitars In Bars gigs were particularly special since they were longer than usual sets (stretching past a hour – a real test of endurance!) and featured the addition of my friend and excellent musician Thomas Kalleske on backing vocals, guitars, banjo and ukulele. Tom would join me for the middle section of the show, breathing new life into older Garden Ruin numbers (“Ladybayonet”, “Blackberry Rust”) whilst adding his lovely touches to new songs like “Queen Tide”. A selection of cover songs were featured over the three gigs including Robyn Hitchcock’s “Flanagan’s Song”, The Byrds’ “Everybody’s Been Burned”, Elvis Costello’s “Love Field” and Songs: Ohia’s “The Gray Tower”. Good times, all round.
Now that my sound design commitments with Emma Beech’s Life Is Short and Longproject are taking priority, I’m looking forward to taking a little break from Garden Ruin activities. However, hopefully there will be time for the occasionally gig in the latter half of the year as well as recording some new material which I’m very much looking forward to sharing.
Recorded live at the Jade Monkey, 19th June 2011.
TLR: vocal & guitar.
1. Ladybayonet (2:28)
2. Handful of Starlings (3:46)
3. Blackberry Rust (4:40)
4. Country Angst (3:09)
5. Little Creek (5:28)
6. Nesting (3:52)
7. Nite Flights [Scott Walker] (3:07)
8. Broken Piano (2:31)
9. Carpet of Leaves (4:33)
10. By This River [Brian Eno] (5:41)
Over the weekend I managed to record some songs. Yes, actual songs…the kind of thing I used to do a few years ago, at an alarming rate. Over the last couple of years songwriting was not really interesting me that much, I hadn’t been playing guitar that much either – I guess the appeal of electronic music/sound art was winning out. Over the last year I re-engaged with songwriting and guitar playing, working on a selection of songs and attempting to record them. This process was fraught with issues – I was getting lazy with recording songs, setting up a crappy laptop mic and recording inferior quality versions of under-developed songs. I had to get my act together, finishing the songs and setting up a decent recording environment. I set up a suitable recording nook in our study this weekend:
One of the big decisions I made was to eliminate the laptop from the recording process instead using my old Tascam 424 Portastudio, recording straight to high speed cassette tape (remember those?) with a couple effects returns. I would only use a computer for the purposes of capturing the tape recording, normalising the signal and encoding as lossless and compressed audio formats. Obviously this approach compromises the audio quality but as far as I’m concerned the pros outweigh the cons – there’s a greater spontaneity to the performances and limitations on overdubbing/overproduction. The songs below are finished tracks – decidedly lo-fi, ramshackle and raw, but in my opinion far better than anything that I’ve attempted in the past couple of years. This lo-fi approach is now going to be the Garden Ruin aesthetic.
The songs can be downloaded/listened to as mp3s or alternatively streamed via MySpace here.