Yes that’s right. Tim and I started to co-write for my solo album ‘Slope’ in ’06 and while the recording was still in progress I was invited to join Yukihiro Takahashi’s ‘Something Blue’ tour that same year. Tim and I opened the show with a selection of tracks from ‘Slope’ before it was completed (‘Ballad Of A Deadman’, ‘Sleepyard’, and what became ‘Sow The Salt’ but was at the time featuring a different vocal by Tim). Yukihiro’s set followed and was a laptop performance which I joined. This small tour obviously pre-empted the one-off ‘Slope’ live performance in Tokyo in ’08 and was the first opportunity to work with visual artist Shoko Ise who went on to make all the back-projection films for my show. Tim is one of my favourite people, always great company and a very talented songwriter.
I took on the vocals for The Dolphin Brothers because of the nature of the deal on offer from Virgin Records at the time, they wanted a more commercially viable album (our first collaboration was an ambient album). Richard and I felt that we could develop this alongside our more ambient/instrumental work. Turned out Virgin were not up for a long term investment and post Dolphin Brothers we made the decision to focus on the less commercial side since I didn’t enjoy the role of front man and I knew my limitations as a vocalist. A second vocalist in the band JAPAN was never considered.
Hi Noel. I assume you are referring to recording rather than live performance. I think there are levels of distinction when working with improvisational artists. Inviting a group of experimental musicians to improv together in the studio could be, (with digital recording), more a means of gathering a wealth of original samples to then manipulate into something representative of your own ideals, in other words plagiarising. If the improvisation were not tampered with in any way, and was a true ‘live performance’ recording rather than edited and manipulated then I would take no issue with it, but whether it’s any good or not is another matter. I prefer wrestling with composition without any hint of improv. To my mind this is much more daunting, particularly if you’re composing outside of more standard forms. In answer to your question I don’t believe this has anything to do with a sliding scale in ‘pop’. Perhaps each music genre has its own sliding scale of depth and ingenuity but they each serve a different purpose.
Thanks Mike. The drum fills were most certainly improvised and the aim was to create some suspense and to momentarily lose some of the momentum in the repeating 4 bar cycle. The strings added to the drama and in fact a couple of the string moves were written to follow the drum fills (approx. 6m and 6m20s) and therefore give the impression that these small events were a coordinated effort between the orchestra and drums when actually it was an afterthought cunningly employed by Ann O’Dell.
There were many laughs with Mick. Backfiring practical jokes were a common theme. One that always makes me smile occurred during a drive from London to France, probably to record Rain Tree Crow. Mick was at the wheel and pulled off onto a dirt road and for whatever reason, who knows, perhaps in an effort to unnerve me, or perhaps he was inspired by the crunch of the gravel underneath, decided to attempt a fancy spin at an unimpressively slow speed. It was enough to send his beloved, metal cigarette case that was sitting on the dashboard sliding out of the window and subsequently get flattened under the rear wheels. It seemed impossible to drive over your own belongings that were, until a few moments before, inside the car but somehow he managed it.