An Extended Player, and other music
Two Free Hands - The Extended Player, featuring Michael Upton.
I'm thrilled to release Two Free Hands in old-fashioned Extended Player form today. It is only available from the shop here, or from bandcamp below. In both places, you'll get the digital file right away, while the CD version starts shipping around November 3. If you've already ordered it but haven't received the download yet, check your spam - you may have an email from Canapé King Records.
For me, this EP is a chance to create something on a quicker turnaround than an album, and make use of collaboration and different approaches to songs in way I haven't on a release before. It's been fun to put together, and I think it's 20 minutes of music that, while developed separately, responds to and riffs off the new single and direction.
The EP wouldn't exist if it wasn't for Michael Upton - a Wellington electronic artist who goes under the name Jet Jaguar. He has an amazing catalogue of music - all of which can be listened to and purchased at his bandcamp here.
When I started collaborating with Michael on the song that would become The Estuary - I was challenging myself to work in a different way, against a very different soundscape. But by the time the song was finished, not long before Two Free Hands, it had become a difference only in degree - and the two songs sat together quite well.
There are pleasing differences working with a dedicated electronic artist though. I love the atmosphere and deep sense of texture that comes through in Michael's work - where even a drum part can be buried underneath a sound effect or merged with a found sound - he has no allegiance to rules that say which instrument should be which volume. Michael has also pulled me up on some of my more enthusiastic electronic touches on Two Free Hands, that, I suspect sounded to him like a guitarist had gotten hold of DJ equipment for the first time (not far wrong).
As well as The Estuary and Michael's joyous remix of Two Free Hands, I've included a new version of Railway Lines. I've done this because Railway Lines was the first song that I rearranged for something like the format I'll be touring New Zealand with in November.
I've fundamentally changed performance styles a few times - from three piece to five piece + front person, from full band to solo with guitar and piano, from organic to semi electronic. Each time, I've used older, trusted songs to test the new methods. If you know the song is watertight, you can accurately test the performance.
Railway Lines was written on a piano, but when I played it solo with an electric keyboard I could never get the ending the end to rise and swell the way an acoustic piano with a pedal would. So, with the help of a Music Electronics Library VHS matrix mixer, guitar pedals and a drum machine, I found a way to change it completely instead.
That performance led to writing Two Free Hands, and other new songs, and I'm glad to capture it here.
My attention span has suffered as much as anyone's in the modern era - I rarely finish a youtube video, but I've watched all 13 minutes of this performance by Randy Newman for Tiny Desk Concert a dozen times in the past few days. It's a career's worth of skill, toil and pain condensed into a down-to-business four song set, with no past hits - just new songs that equal or top anything Newman has done.
Elizabeth Stokes, who played French Horn on Two Free Hands, has a band called The Beths. They're amazing live, and they are on tour - they play tonight (27th October) at The Darkroom in Christchurch, and November 10 at Galatos in Auckland. Jonathan Pearce is in the band, and they made this brilliant moving cover art in his studio.
Great North's album, which I mentioned in my last post, is out now - it's called The Golden Age and you can get it here.