Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Unaccentuated: liner notes

"Unaccentuated" front cover (Gareth Monger/Andy Brain)
April 2015 sees the release of a 10-track Keshco EP, "Unaccentuated", courtesy of Chicago netlabel Pan y Rosas Discos. It's already had nice reviews at the Modern Folk Music Of America blog and Decoder Magazine. How did it come about? And what do we mean with the name?

Keshco these days is a remote recording project, something to be squeezed in between busy lives in different cities/countries. It's also a tad more streamlined stylistically. So, the title refers not only to the rushed and fragmentary recordings enforced by this geographic separation (and having things to do, almost as if we're proper adults now), but also to the absence of comedy moments and silly voices, one of our hallmarks that's been divisive since day one. Does humour belong in music? Well yes, undoubtedly, but on a collection like this, you can enjoy Kesh music unencumbered by lyrical concerns. Don't worry, everything has its day and we'll have some songs for you soon.

The cover art by noted dinosaur sketcher and grand old Keshcologist, Gareth Monger, plays on the title with a microscope's view of assorted protozoa - unaccentuated life forms.

Film-makers and remixers should enjoy these soundtrack-worthy selections, which are released under Creative Commons licensing for ease of use (with attribution) in your own projects.

As it turned out, Luke and Bob were unavailable for the hectic overdub process, and what was to be a brief EP expanded when Ines contributed three pieces recorded in her Buenos Aires apartment block, in which there is an empty residence containing only an upright piano, and a few photographs. To fill out the sound, Caroline stepped up with recorder and (broken) clarinet, and I've got back into beatboxing and scraping on the violin.

The EP begins with 'First Flush', an aching piano melody from Bob played in Sowerby Bridge. I've added a pair of synth lines played on the band's favourite school-age keyboard, the Yamaha VSS-200.

'To Reach The Outpost' is the kind of Andy synth tinkling that feels a natural extension from 1990s Kesh. In a parallel universe this could have been our main style of output.

'Blocked Signals' began with some washes of a brittle, dusty keyboard sample. This was augmented by Ines with guitar harmonics, which were further treated, and some guitar hum that rumbles up from the depths to overwhelm the fragile melody line.

"Unaccentuated" back cover (Gareth Monger/Andy Brain)
An instrument sample, once inside the VSS-200, was found to have a percussive blip, which became the foundation of 'Tiny Transmission', and to which my other layers are gamely trying to maintain a grip. Cold funk.

The mysterious piano makes its first appearance in the downbeat 'Unaccentuated Motive', occasionally backed with the sounds of Buenos Aires, and against Caroline's recorder and (broken) clarinet. In the far distance I scrape on violins. The reverb is a mixture of the big room sound and the favourite Buzz plugin, Sonic Verb.

'Wipe My Face Away' was nearly a song, so you can consider yourself blessed. It's an incidental Andy, apparently channelling Simon The Sorcerer.

Life on Earth. From out of the swamps, out of the trees. 'Borneo' began as a fine flute improvisation by Luke, with me playing pedals. Caroline was tasked with negotiating the rocky harmonic path alongside this, with recorder and (broken) clarinet, making up alternate fingerings to keep the thing in tune.

'Royal Flush' brings back that opening piano melody from Bob, in a longer meditation. The piano is surrounded by the woozy swirls of the take itself having been elongated via the paulstretch program, then re-compressed to the correct length. In the middle distance, I scrape on violins.

'Busted Flush' is the final bar of Bob's previous take, stretched out, wobbled and reverbed.

We end with an upbeat, open-hearted, open-minded, bombastic stomper - Ines' piano leads the way on 'Lunar Accent', a refreshing closer. I've added a pair of VSS-200 lines, wind chimes, percussion (pizza base, pound shop drum) and reasonably distant violins.

We're very happy if you enjoy the EP, which can also be downloaded via the Free Music Archive. Gobble to your heart's content. Hope to hear from you all soon.