Friday, July 10, 2015

Get Out And Vote: liner notes

"Get Out And Vote" front cover artwork (Bob Follen)
A recent Keshco release which may have passed you by is the election-themed "Get Out And Vote". This
six-track EP was released with satirical intent on the night before the UK General Election, and due to the FMA servers neither allowing it to be downloaded for the first week, nor displaying it on their list of recent uploads, and also I suspect the political theme and therefore people's parochial assumptions, it got very few plays. That's a shame, as it's no less deserving than the 110,000-time-downloaded "Accountants By Day" (still available here!).

So yes, the theme. In the UK we're still recovering from the poll-busting disappointment of May's General Election. "Get Out And Vote" commemorates this sad fart of a campaign with some brief dissections of the characters involved.

The opener, "Oh What A Ding-Dong", is hosted by a rambunctious ringmaster reeling off the candidates in a local by-election. This is bedded into a springy circus theme tune that Bob came up with a long while ago, to which I've added some layers with our favourite nostalgic synth, the Yamaha VSS-200.

What does the figure 1% make you think of? Perhaps the public sector pay constraints for the next four years. But generally it's shorthand for those who accumulate money and influence, when everyone else is short of both. Wherever there is unchecked power, there is corruption. "Stock Share Shuffle" is a skiffle-feel good-time tune about the crooks at the top, whether that's the local council or the IMF. They're not all at it, but you'd be hard-pressed to find the ethical ones. As well as my acoustic guitars, Luke adds bottle (literally - blowing across miniature bottles filled to different depths, carefully tuned at the kitchen sink) and Bob adds two mono drum kits, recorded at Goldwave's tiniest (and tinniest) of file rates: 11 kHz. Lo-fi heaven!

So, enough carping, you want policy, eh? Well here's one for you: "Lend For Free". An easy-to-understand policy, in easily-digestible micro-song form. Drop the debt. Eliminate compound interest. This brief tune has, as well as my vocals and guitars, Luke on slide Gretsch and keyboard swells, and Bob on progtastic but low-res 11 kHz drums.

One of the many embarrassing sights during the campaign is the battle bus, careering around the country to disgorge stuffy caffeinated ministers, aides and hopefuls, eager to press the sweaty flesh before squeezing back on for another motorway lunch. "Circus Wagons" recaps the opening theme with a series of campaign buzzwords. Luke's using a 'backwards' setting on his amp, I'm drumming on a biscuit tin, and trainee Keshcologist Alex Sample assists with the fluttery keyboard backing.

After the campaign comes the interminable twilit repetition of "The Count". Imagine yourself with a massive stack of voting forms. All you have to do is log them correctly. Again and again. For hours. Long hours. This instrumental, based around Luke's delay-soaked guitar, overlaid with yawning crunching synth burps and a heap of rapid-fire mini percussion (weighing scales, teacups), conjures up the filmy-eyed feeling at the end of election night.

So, the results are out, and who is the winner? Not most of us, that's for sure. Life goes on across the country, and for most of us that means getting by in cramped conditions. So here's a dance especially for those moments when it's all a little too cooped up. The Kitchen Shuffle started with a set of lyrics by poet and strident Socialist campaigner Drew Walton (go read his fervent blog here!), written in about 2002. After re-discovering them in an old folder, I've juggled them round a bit and added some extra lines. For the shuffle beat, the Yamaha and Amstrad options in the arsenal just wouldn't do, so I took advantage of the Casio MT-100. The electronics (from slider to speaker) sound like they're slowly perishing; I hope it keeps going a while yet. The sparse, echoey feel of this track recalls Gary Numan, or perhaps Soft Cell's 'Bedsitter'. Overlaid is some dense human beatboxing, and an extended instrumental section featuring Luke's brainwave of an entirely different melody which comes off his Yamaha PSS380.

Do you recognise Bob's front cover image? That's the old Labour icon Tony Benn, and you can select from a massive range of Bob's other portraits on his eBay page here.

So, a new Keshco release - six tracks released for election-time, but worth a listen any time. You can download the EP via Bandcamp: