We recorded it with Matt Musial at The Burrow studio in Bournemouth. It was mastered by our long-time friend and hero, Gary Hudspith.
Here are some facts about the tracks:
Avalon Broke My Back (And I Wept)Time signature: 9/8
Adorned with horns arranged by Dave and Andy, and played by ridiculously excellent jazzcats Ed Johnston (ts), Louisa Revolta (as) and James Lush (t), this tune made us seriously consider writing horn parts for the other tracks on the record. The outro features The Burrow's thumb piano and some eye-rollingly atonal frozen guitar chords courtesy of this. The rhythm section is augmented by overdubs of the Zaardware ZB6 and a keyboard we know as "The Brown", which is a Siel Cruise synth manufactured in Italy the early '80s. This instrument is an odd combination of a very limited monosynth and a very limited stringmachine-type polysynth. It's neither very good or desirable, but it does have its own distinctive set of sounds that we made extensive use of. I think it must have the highest switches-to-usable-sounds ratio in the history of synthesizers, but we do love it.
|Mark and The Brown|
KotTime signatures: 12/8, 9/8, 6/4, 6/8
This was developed from a very old demo which featured the sound of a close-miked bicycle wheel being run through all the effects pedals I owned (a sound that didn’t make it to the final version, sadly).
When Zaardvark first started, we had five members (the three of us, plus keyboardist Kerrie and drummer Rich), and we were called Spacecunt. We never did any gigs with that name, but we did start work on several tunes that would survive the great downsizing that saw us become Zaardvark. This video is a run through an embryonic Kot in the echoey old hall we rehearsed in. The arrangement of the recorded version has undergone extensive change, with several new sections, all derived rhythmically somehow from the 3 times table.
The outro fuzz bass (a borrowed Squier Jaguar short-scale) played by Dave standing on an amp, making rock shapes. The track fades out via an automated high-pass filter.
|Kramer and pedalboards|
|Tiny drum kit - 16" Kick, 10" Snare, 8" hats, 10" splash|
VolveauTime signature: 5/4
A radical edit of the original 12" dance mix. Features two drum kits - a normal sized one, with each drum recorded individually to a click (like Heart of Glass), plus a tiny one played conventionally - and three basses (Jazz bass, synth bass and Zaardware ZB6). The melody was written using an audio variation of William S Burroughs’ cut-ups method, and at an early stage there was going to be guttural pseudo-singing. The dub guitar noises were made with the precision multi-fx.
|Dave (L) and Matt (R) measuring for overhead mic placement.|
Square LegTime signature: 4/4 (with the odd bar of 3)
A legacy of our Spacecunt phase, this combines a very old tune of Dave's (jammed here at great length) with a much better tune written by our friend and former keyboardist Kerrie, around which Mark devised the harmony / delay guitar line and Andy came up with the bass solo at the end. The modal noodling was done with Thumbjam, an app we downloaded to amuse the small children in our lives. The guitar 'solo' at 3:00 is mostly Moogerfooger Ring Mod on one of its gnarlier settings. In the first half Andy plays samples of Mark (more frozen guitar chords) with his feet.
Malignant ImperialismTime signatures: 5/8, 6/8, 10/4
This probably should have had horns, but has skronky guitar, stylophone ensemble and The Brown instead. The initial groove/riff was the result of a challenge Andy set himself to see if he could come up with something that would confuse his band mates but still sound good, and once we'd eventually gotten our heads around it, the tune was developed into our proper first three-way collaboration. The repeated vocal sample is a choir of Andys (played on the organ pedals), the breakdown has a chord sung by a small choir of Daves, and the end section has the three of us singing joined by Catherine and Tiff, who could reach the notes we couldn’t. This is another tune where Andy triggers samples of sounds pre-recorded by Mark. Old footage of early development efforts can be "enjoyed" here.
|Andy cheating by using his hands to play the organ pedals.|
Psychic RoundaboutTime signature: 3/8
This is electronically varisped so that it very gradually gets higher and faster from start to finish. The ascending guitar line 30s in is a Moogerfooger FreqBox set to track the guitar note, but with a pleasing level of incompetence.
|Dave overdubbing with Matt's Jazzuar.|
ElfmeterTime signature: 11/8
Andy plays some lovely Hohner Electra Piano on this. When we perform this live Mark uses a 17-second delay to play the guitar part in canon with himself. The guitar 'birds' at 3:08 were created by driving a Moogerfooger Lowpass Filter pedal's frequency and resonance controls from noise sources built into the Pedalboard Controller.
|This Steinberger baritone didn't work out and went back to the shop.|
Planet Of The Plastic MinersTime signature: 4/4
One day our descendants will be employed to dig through our rubbish to recover plastic we threw away when it seemed the oil would never run out. Again, this really should have had horns on the big unison riff. All three of us are playing guitar on this one. The guitar sound at 2:54 is a combination of the LPF and RingMod 'foogers, with the LPF's envelope output driving the ring mod's frequency control input. Then from 3:01 an expression pedal is used to ramp up the wet/dry blend of the ring mod to increase the unpleasantness. Dave recorded some rhythmic mining noises for this, but they sounded a bit too Seven Dwarvesy, so they weren’t used.
This tune was the only one we recorded twice - our first attempt wasn't up to scratch, so we started again. The new version fixed the issues we had with the first one, but the original had noises in the introduction that we really liked, so producer Matt got out the digital razorblade and splicing tape and made the old intro fit.
|By the final drum session, we had a much bigger kit.|
HammoTime signatures: 9/4, 4/4, 5/4
Having evolved from a jam between Dave and Andy when Mark was ill and unable to make rehearsal, this came out as a sort of Turkish reggaeton. Features flourishes from a Yamaha FS1R synth, along with synth guitar, synth bass and synth snare drum. And a mellotron brass sample played on the organ pedals. Our tunes have no singing, so we don’t call the sections things like “verse” or “chorus”. Instead, they have names like "The Scrunges", “Slidy fantasia”, "WWJMD?", and in this case “Gary Numan”,“Barry Puman” and "Slack Puman". The melody at 0:50 is a Pigtronix Mothership guitar synth sounding much cleaner and more controlled than it is in real life. It's a twitchy beast.
|Mark prepares to double a guitar part with The Burrow's P-bass.|
Transmission de ValerieTime signatures: 7/4, 4/4
Comme la musique d'un Neo-noir drama. Banjo et mandoline, FS1-R et multi-fx de haute precision. En anglais:
the sustained guitar chords were produced by a combination of EHX Freeze pedal and EHX Pitch Fork, with the pitch control being modulated by a slow LFO from the Pedalboard Controller. The aim was to induce an uneasy, slightly queasy feeling in the listener. This is the one track where the ZB6 is used as a conventional bass - elsewhere (e.g. Avalon and Volveau) it's played in its higher registers, palm-muted, with a plectrum and with the pickups out-of-phase.
|Learning the banjitar part for "Valerie"|
|We can't remember what this represents. It might be a guide to comp together takes of something.|
|Andy's Bass VI|
|Dave tracking vocals.|
|Can't remember which track we tried this on - it didn't make it to the final mix.|
|An Alden Quadrastar and various lesser instruments.|