Sunday, 16 December 2012

In order to fulfil a promise I made to young master Mike Hicks in which I said I would clarify which old Enid pieces were quoted on To wake the King, I hereby set out in plain (ish) English a list of those very pieces. 
The Prelude has just a hint of the Chorale from Sanctus in it. This chorale was written by Willie and based on an English folk tune The Lowlands of Holland. 
Ecchoing Green uses a different harmonisation of the same melody in the slow section.
On Merlin's Ground directly quotes the guitar riff from In the Region.
The Track of The Moon on The Water carries a reference to The Dreamer
On Secret Green harks back to Aerie Faerie Nonsense and Ondine (believe it or not)
Lady Morgana's Orrery has a hidden reference to an old and unrecorded track called The Star that was dropped from In the Region.
Camlann has the Dies Irae prominently displayed, just like Judgement from In the Region.
And of course Nimue has a quote from Fand.
There you are, that's them. I expect you got most of them, but not Secret Green and Lady M.

F x

Monday, 10 December 2012

So now it is out there. For good or ill, Far and Forgot has been released into the wild. I'm suffering a kind of post-natal reaction I think. I've lived with this project, day and night for such a long time that now it is finished, I am quite tearful and anxious. Oh Well, such is is.

Some people out there may be wondering who on Earth is Sir Giles Holybrook, and you would be right to wonder. His REAL name is Holybrook Wynch, illegitimate son of Fishkin Wynch the composer and a lady tobacconist who kept shop in some small Berkshire town. One day, the good lady was busy in her shop and her horror can be imagined when, with an apocalyptic crash, the floor gave way and she was plunged into the abyss below. It wasn't solid ground that broke her fall, but the waters of the Holybrook that flowed beneath her shop, for you see, the shop was artfully constructed upon a bridge over the Holybrook. Fortune smiled that day. She fell upright and her full length Indian cheesecloth tie-dyed earth mother skirt (remember those?) opened out to keep her afloat as she was swept into the darkness beneath the bridge.To her credit, she maintained her poise and was carried out into the open stream, where she was quickly rescued. She was unharmed, but rather shocked, as well she might be for she was pregnant at the time. In due course the baby was born and the lady tobacconist decided that Holybrook would be a suitable name. That Sir Giles appreciated the name is doubtful. 
Holybrook Wynch went on to pursue a largely unsuccessful career as a composer. Following the trend set by his estranged father, he composed music entirely for bassoons. Only one of his many compositions saw the light of day. "Monotone for 30 basoons" was performed once in Kazakhstan, to be hailed by a critic as "Bewilderingly dull". He wrote any number of bassoon concertos and one opera, based on the life of Simon Wilkinson, the assistant manager at his local PriceRite supermarket. I came across Sir Giles busking in an Inverness subway whilst I was on a visit to Mr Willie Gilmour. I remarked that a contra-bassoon was an unusual busking instument. He suggested I f***k off and the rest is history.

There are various methods by which one may achieve ignominy and shame.Murdering a large and respected family in cold blood and afterwards depositing their bodies in the local water company's reservoirs will gain you much unpopularity in the neighbourhood of your crime, but if you desire to drain to the dregs the fullest cup of scorn that a fellow human creature can pour out for you, let an atheist hear you say that you have faith in some sort of higher power. One's best plan in the circumstances is to smile and nod and slowly, yet deliberately, back away. Whatever you do, don't try to enter into any sort of discussion. Atheists know everything and your naivety and lack of intelligence will only leave you floundering beneath the mighty force of their arguments. 

So I do hope you enjoy Far and Forgot, even if you are and Atheist. Oh, and as a final word to those elevated ones, I don't believe in the  god that you don't believe in either.

Lots of Love

F xxx

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Chapter 67. Comprising an unpacking and illuminating of the great Aaarrgh, and involving a serious discussion of certain hitherto-for unmentioned beings and topics.  

It must occur to anyone who has at all and in anyway invested even a small amount of time and energy in reflecting upon the real and objective nature of this mysterious cosmos within which we blunder about, frightening the living day lights out of one another and constructing preposterous notions as to how and why and what, that in this great and mysterious creation there surely must be other beings of a more or less higher, or at least 'other' level of existence, not all of whom are necessarily kindly disposed to the comings and goings and overall evolutionary conduct of that aspect of creation that has come to be called humanity. For myself, ever since I met the god Shiva in room 369 of the Imperial Hotel, New Delhi, India, I have had little doubt of the existence of such entities and in particular the sun demons that are called in India the Asuras. Indeed, anyone familiar with the works of such authors as Charles Williams, C.S.Lewis or even Shakespeare will no doubt recognise that I am not alone in my convictions. 

Without sounding over grandiose, it is difficult to covey that which I would wish to convey to you, dear reader, and so I must take the chance and hope you will garnt me some sort of licence in this matter. There are in my musical endeavours certain elements that have, by dint of sundry expeditions in the Himalayas, India and North West Spain, a particular, lets say, provenance. This provenance might, just possibly lend these elements a quality that may, so to speak, light them up in such a way as to attract the attention of let us call them 'others', not necessarily sympathetic to the potential effects brought about by these certain elements. 
Anyone who has read Hell will be familiar with the "Horrid Perhapses" that beset Dante when he is abandoned by Virgil. Of course it could have just been a Horrid Perhaps or an accident by which Seeds of the Sun ended up in Mono! By the time this ghastly anomaly had been discovered, Far and Forgot had been replicated, sealed and packed ready for delivery. This just could not be, and so dear reader, you will, I beg you excuse a yet further delay in the delivery of your copy. This horrible circumstance has also proven quite expensive, but there is no way I would allow such a thing to be released into the public domain to reek havoc with your most refined and delicate sensibilities. 

Light Love and Life

Francis xxx


Saturday, 17 November 2012

Chapter 42. Which deals with much of what has gone before and details a most pleasant reunion.

It is always a source of some frustration when the world in general sees fit to play at leapfrog with ones plans and projections and urges its sappers forward to collapse the walls of certainty which one has diligently constructed with all the confidence of an Alexander or a Napoleon ( I always forget that last o). It is in the light of these imperious circumstances that I find myself once again apologising for the lateness of Far and Forgot and begging your, dear reader, indulgence for just a brief time more. 
Last Wednesday I spent a very pleasant indeed couple of hours in the company of my old compadre (if that is how it is spelled) Mr Martin Russell. Martin has given the great benefit of his considerable studio experience and valuable time to the polishing and burnishing the finished product that is Far and Forgot. I am really most grateful. So we met at a half past eleven beneath the clock at Waterloo station and from there repaired to the tea rooms at the Royal Festival Hall for Earl Grey and conversation. Seeing as how we had neither seen nor heard nothing of one another for over thirty years, this meeting was remarkable for its lack of self-consciousness or awkwardness. 
Inevitably the talk turned to reminiscences of the old days in The Enid, both of us sharing the same mix of pride and horror over what had occurred way back then. There was a lot of fun and a lot of trauma, but our conversation has left something of a need in me to say to anyone who bought the Birmingham Town Hall DVD and watched the interview with Robert Godfrey and heard his fabrication of how I came to leave The Enid, that that version was simply untrue, a lie in fact. Still, never mind, if you choose to believe that stuff, who am I to nay say your cherishment?
Over tea, Martin made what I think is a very good suggestion. Why not do a HD surround sound version of Far and Forgot with video footage of yours truly narrating the story, for Far and Forgot has a story, and of the various esteemed musicians playing their parts in the making of the album. What do you, dear listener, think of this notion? Is it something that you feel you might enjoy? I so hope you do.
Might I make a plea to everyone who has so graciously bought Far and Forgot? You see, it is a gestalt, a whole and thing of itself and whilst music has the mystical property of existing only in the present,( you cannot listen to a piece of music all at once and yet you have to have a conception of the whole in order to appreciate and understand the parts) could I ask that if at all possible you listen to the all of Far and Forgot in one go? Of course this may be neither possible nor desirable and I fully understand if you choose otherwise, but it is written as a sort of a journey; a story even if the threads and plots and characters of the story may not be immediately apparent or obvious. They are there, somewhere beneath the surface. Also please play it as loud as you possibly can without risking the displeasure of your immediates and proximals. Far be it from me to drag your patently sober reputations into the mire of local opprobrium. 
Great to see you again Martin, lets do tea again real soon, as they say in the colonies.
Lots of Love to all.
Francis xxx

Monday, 29 October 2012

And so we are left with the final track, The Disenchanting. All 29 minutes of it! This track sums up the spirit of the entire album, moving as it does through several sound worlds.
It opens with Willow Hill, a straightforward song lamenting the faeries leaving England. This notion can stand as a metaphor for the aggressive rationalization that has beset humankind since the Age of Reason and the so called Enlightenment. It  protests  the rise of mechanistic science and the superstitious slavery to facts to which society seems to be in thrall. Facts are not truth! Any mature investigation into what has come to be called science these days may well  reveal a lucrative career built upon a theory that has been ruthlessly championed irrespective of its real merit. Often, political agendas overwhelm integrity in this area.
Anyway, Willow Hill keens the loss of our disconnectedness to what one might call the Real World as set out by the likes of Goethe, Steiner, Gurdjieff and any number of Indian Sadhus and Masters
It Goes:

Willow Hill.

This was my garden, sweet as May
For every living thing and a palace for the King.
I gave but a whistle and then I looked away
And when I turned around it was nowhere to be found.

I danced for the Midnight Court on Willow Hill
When the moon was low,
And the starry clusters trailed a glittering thrill
On the Earth below.
With a faerie’s child ‘cross the moonlight wild
Just to run through the even flowing hours.
By hedges and styles, through the meadows for a million miles
The universe was ours.

The wasteland sprawls across the distances unfurled
The long night falls upon a cold and tragic, daylight on magic
A phantom haunted world.
As good as gone.

I sat with the Vanished Gods on Willow Hill
A forgotten spark.
In a cloak of dreams against the evening’s chill
In the fire lit dark.
I heard chaos sing with the unborn king
In the silver hills of heaven
My heart fought to find ancient echoes on the Willow Wind
A gift from the Sacred Seven.
This was my garden, sweet as May
For every living thing and a palace for the King.
I gave but a whistle and then I looked away
And when I turned around it was nowhere to be found.

I watched the Atlantic roll from Willow Hill
 On its Western coast.
With a thousand sails across the evening spilled
The Enchanted Host.
To an ancient tryst in the distant mist
Where ocean to ocean roars
Their ships running free far across the swelling summer sea
Towards the impossible shores.

Now when the moon is very, very low and gusty echoes come and go
Down through the ages clear and far, the horns of Elfin blowing from the morning stars.

This was my garden, sweet as May
For every living thing and a palace for the King.
I gave but a whistle and then I looked away
And when I turned around it was nowhere to be found.

The Spring shall come again to Willow Hill
Down the primrose lanes
And Spring shall bring the bees and daffodils
Bring the April rains.
But from that blessed shore they will sail no more
Now the future is paying for the past
They have locked fast a door that was never ever shut before.
The withering spell is cast.

Betwixt and between the verses, there is a section that evokes a picture of the Atlantic Ocean. This leads into a cheery little Hornpipe and from there into a vision of Lyonesse, the ancient mythical land out in the Atlantic off the coast of Kernow. This glimpse of the legend is heralded by the words "Now when the Moon is very very low" and one could imagine standing on a high cliff gazing Westward into the mist and the mist parting in a blaze of gold and rose  to give a glimpse of the wonderful Lyonesse. All to quickly , though the vision fades and nothing is left but shreds of windblown mist.
We are then back to the Willow Hill theme by which we are led into a new realm. The Berceuse, or lullaby, called The Rain Curtain indicates a shift in reality. Gone are the symmetrical shapes and forms that went before, now everything is moving and flowing light and shade as we find ourselves in the forest of Broceliande, the garden told about at the beginning of Willow Hill. The world has changed, now form gives way to texture and shifting light and shade. I have tried to create this musically by keeping all the melodic lines asymmetrical and yet unchanged. Tricky. After wandering for a while we may come across the Oak tree in which the sorceress Vivienne entrapped Merddyn. 
The strings and solo guitar announce the Faerie's Funeral. At first just a hint in the distant wood  then moving into a funeral march that draws closer until it bursts into the clearing in which we stand and passes by in an angry blaze of drums and horns.
This album does not have a happy end. It leaves you with a question really.

Lots of Love

Francis xxx 

Friday, 26 October 2012

Even as I write, the mixed master of Far and Forgot is winging it's way into the very capable hands of Master Martin Russell, whom I sure you will all recall with great fondness. As soon as I receive the mastered master (!) back from Martin I shall send across to be pressed or cut or whatever the correct term for turning the master into a thousand playable-on-your-cd-players-at-home cds is. After that process is over, I will pop the appropriate number of cd's into their correctly addressed jiffy bags and you, esteemed listener, should shortly receive a shiny new copy of Far and Forgot, From The Lost Lands by Me, Francis Lickerish.
So there you go.
As I recall, I was giving you my take on the underlying resonance of Far and Forgot. I think I had more or less covered Brides of the Wind except for one quite important thematic item. After the opening horn call, you will here a short brass chorale. Notice, dear listener if you will, that the last chord of this brass chorale is both major and minor at the same time, that is to say it has both major and minor thirds sounding at the same moment in time. This is a clue as to the underlying tone of the whole album. Throughout and in every song there is an interplay 'twixt and between major and minor with the express intention of creating a sense of doubt and equivocation. Whether or not this device succeeds I leave up to your delicate judgement. It is especially pertinent in the final piece, The Faerie's Funeral as you shall see.
After Brides of the Wind comes The Shining Hour. A straight forward second movement minuet aimed at clearing the air and lightening the atmosphere. It's a kind of operatic duet between Hils and Jenny Russell that re-tells the age old Tam Lynn story with a bit of a twist. Here's the lyric.

The Shining Hour

When the light fades in the forest from a blue and breezy afternoon
When the shadows fly along the hills beneath a slip of a new moon
When the white owl sweeps the lowering dusk along the mirrored  river's glide 
Ah, it's now forgetful grow the valleys and the Elfin court does ride.

Where was he taken? 
I can't tell you.
By the mill bridge last I saw him in the dusk.
Dark eyed Queen of Elfin
Caught him in the twilight, in the Shining Hour  
Took him in the Shining Hour.
Now his eyes are strange
Yes and his cheeks are cold
As cold as the cold sea-shells
Strange and secret he grows 
Fell as a shadow he
Wills his own forgetting  hidden among the enchanted  hills.  

This night it is May Eve when the Elfin court will ride
And if you would your true love win back by the mill bridge you must hide.

And then First will run the black horse
 And then after her will run the grey  
Hold the white horse fast and fear not
You hold him fast till near day.

Dark grows the world
And the white star hovers low in the West
Now as evening  dews the flowers
With soft delighted showers
That fill the Shining Hours

Heartless she is 
As a frost upon a  May morning
All the Earth to her is young
Unkindness yet begun
All sad songs still unsung.  

In the dead hours after midnight she heard the horses bridles ring
And that fey sound and unchancy chilled her heart like no good or earthly thing
From the hollow and enchanted hills there rode out elf on elfin steed
And the new moon faded fearful and the stars grew dim with dread

This night being  May Eve by the mill bridge she did bide 
As she waits to glimpse her true love as the Elfin court does ride

And then first run by the black horse 
And then after her did run the grey And then raced by the white horse She held him fast till near day She held him fast and feared him not
A-Crying my love I have won you.

The thunder rolled out across the sky and the stars they blazed as bright as day
And a cry came from the Elfin Queen " My young captive He's away"  
"My young captive he's away" she cried out in her anger and her pain 
"And alas tmy Young Lord he is lost and gone, and will never ever come again"

Where was he taken taken?
He won't tell you
She whom he loves is hard to catch and conquer
Dark eyed Queen of Elfin
Caught him in the twilight, in the Shining Hour  
Took him in the Shining Hour.
Is his heart still true?
Yes it is very true
To the fey queen in the hills.
By his return he was 
Dealt an unkindness
And now he waits by the mill  bridge till the Elfin court shall ride again. 

So that's The Shining Hour.

Then comes a sort of a scherzo called The Man Who Sold Magic. This is an instrumental portrait of an alchemist. Count St Germain, perhaps, or Fulcanelli. Think C19th, Vienna, Alps and a mystical midnight forest interlude. 

And then we have Seeds of the Sun. A lament. Not much more to be said about that.

The Disenchanting. This requires a whole blog unto itself and so I shall, dear reader, bid you adieu until such times as the internet weaves our lives together once again.

Light, Love and Life.


Friday, 12 October 2012

Yes I know it's late! What did you expect? It is, however, almost done. I am hoping that this weekend will see an end to mixing and then it is mastering and pressing. I think I have told you already that my old mucker Martin Russell has very kindly offered to take care of the mastering and then I just have to find the cash to have the thing pressed, or whatever it is they call it these days. I've spoken to Gareth, the presser as I like to call him, and all being well it could be out by All Hallows or Samhain as it really is. That flows quite nicely from To Wake The King which was released at Beltaine, the opposite end of the year and so a certain pagan  
symmetry is preserved that is not altogether in-congruent with the overall ethos of the stuff what I write. 
The main cause for delay has been funds. Don't get me wrong, I am not asking anyone for anymore cash. I don't subscribe to the "I'm an artist and so the world should recognize my worth and pay up accordingly" school of Arcadian pomp rock. People have been most kind and most trusting and a goodly proportion of the cost has been offset by advanced sales and donation, but nowhere near all of it. Unfortunately I am unable at the moment to give all my time and energy to music. I have other responsibilities and have to earn money in other ways to meet those obligations. Ne'er the less, all spare, and some not so spare, cash has been tipped into the gaping maw of this voracious project to the end that I shall be more than content if I manage to break even.
Anyhoo, patient reader, you need not concern yourself with these considerations.

What I would like to do is provide something in the way of programme notes to Far and Forgot. This is not to impose any meaning upon you as an esteemed and respected listener, far from it. It is merely to give you a glimpse into the beliefs and processes that swirl and cackle around my inner world.
So then, today let as take a peep at Brides of the Wind. Here are the lyrics.

Brides of the Wind
 Sisters awake! The Sun is on the mountain
Wake with the widening world
Ride out on the rising wind.
Sisters arise! The bees are in the heather
The song of the nestling air.
Ride out with the gathering wind

Aieah! Aieah!

Ride again through the deep sea rain to old world’s end.

Sisters well met! The moon is on the water
Walk with the Vanished Gods
Ride out with the wandering wind.
Sisters well met! New stories must be woven
Wild as an old wives tale
Ride out on the whispering wind

Aieah! Aieah!
Ride again through the deep sea rain to old world’s end.

The year’s sick and cold and the iron skies are grey and old
Home ever home where the Western stars ride high.

Sisters awake!  The long dream is ended
Wonder and war await
Ride out with the warrior wind.

Dana, Danuna,
 Diana, Damoyna.
Dark and dread are everywhere
Ride out with the wind
And Earth shall answer the wild air
Brides of the world wandering wind.

Les jour de paix arrivera
Quand les cloches de Ciel se sonnera les Fleurs D’Avalon
Touts les joli oiseaux  vont chanter comme les rossignol
Sur le Verte Secret.

The days of peace shall surely come
 When the bells of Heaven shall carillon the Flowers of Avalon
All the birds of the air will sing with the nightingales
On the Secret Green.

Sisters awake! Tree and leaf have spoken
The land poisoned at the root
Ride out with the travelling wind
Sisters arise!
The final oath is broken
The curse of the half-made men
Ride out on the levelling wind.

Aieah! Aieah!
Ride again through the deep sea rain to old world’s end.

The year’s sick and cold and the iron skies are grey and old
Home ever home where the Western stars ride high.

Sisters awake!  The long dream is ended
Wonder and war await
Ride out with the warrior wind.

Dana, Danuna,
 Diana, Damoyna.
Dark and dread are everywhere
Ride out with the wind
And Earth shall answer the wild air
Brides of the world wandering wind.   X2

So what's it all about then? Well, before we embark on any exploration of meaning I think it is right, proper and necessary to have some discussion about hats.
If one holds certain beliefs, hats can become something of a problem. Let it be generally known and acknowledged that I seldom wear a hat, and so find it a little tricky, not to say galling, to be often having one thrust upon my head.
Let me clarify. If I were to say, for example, that I find a great deal about the current theories of evolution and Darwinism quite preposterous and not to say rascally! Immediately I am aware of several hats being forced upon my unwilling head. The Creationist hat, for example, or the Intelligent Design hat being another. Let's have none of it! If I have to wear any hat it id the It's still a mystery hat! All else is dogma and wiseacring in my view.
So I hope that makes my position clear and lets have none of this "So you don't accept Darwin so you must be some sort of religious creationist!" tripe.
Brides of the Wind is in the nature of a prayer or supplication, if you will, to the Earth Goddesses to intervene on the behalf of us humans. Dana, Danuna, Diana, Damoyna are all the names of Mother Goddesses from different parts of the world and various ages of mankind.
That's it really. The rest you can surely piece together without my help or intervention. It is, however, worth noting that all these names begin with the letter D, which is a particularly earthy letter. Try it for yourselves. If ever you are feeling fragmented, disconnected or discombobulated pronounce out loud several times the sound "Duh" whilst walking on your heels in time to your pronouncing. If you don't believe me, try it and see.
You will notice there is a French bit in the middle. This is just because I find the French language to have a certain bird-like quality which to my ears suits the melody at this point very well.
Then we have an instrumental passage that uses the English tune "The Cutty Wren". Possibly one of the oldest songs in England, it dates from the peasant's revolt of 1381. The Cutty Wren may have been Richard II or more likely, the name given to the special police force that was raised to quell the rebellion.
 Oh where are you going said Milder to Moulder
Oh we may not tell you said Festel to Fose
We're off to the woods said John the Red Nose
                                     We're off to the woods said John the Red Nose. 
It goes. 
We could do with an uprising here in the UK just now, and with the help of the Mother Goddeses, we may be able to affect some very positive changes. I roundly know that we ignore the Durgha energy, the Goddess energy at our profound peril.
Now I'm off to Crystal Palace to hopefully finish mixing. Wish me Luck!!
See you soon.
Light, Love and Life

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Well, dear reader, I have to say that at this point I begin to get nervous. Stage fright I suppose, and my head begins to fill with Dante's Horrible Perhapses. What if no one likes the album? What if they all want their money back? What if it is ridiculed and so on and so. You see I have lived with this material for the last three years. Practically every day has been spent wrestling these tunes out of the recalcitrant aether and I have grown so close to it that I no longer have any idea at all how it sounds! I worry about my guitar playing, my composition skills, lyrics and just about any tiny element you could conjure up gives me cause for neurotic angst.
I'm not an especially good guitarist; I have had to learn certain aspects of composition, counterpoint and harmony as I went along.The whole piece did not come easy, so to speak. And I really want you to enjoy it and get something out of it!
Well that is largely up to you in the final analysis. Let me attempt an explanation. I am often asked what influences this stuff. I think that more than a few folk believe I come from the Enid, Yes, Genesis, King Crimson school of thought. Not a bit of it dear reader, not a bit of it. Whilst I admire that distinguished company I rarely if ever listen to their music and my stuff doesn't come from the same place. Perhaps the closest band, in spirit but not in music, to my approach is The Band. That may seem surprising, but it aint really. The Band wrote for a forgotten America. Their songs came from the Lost Lands of the US, I think; from a culture swept away in a tornado of social progress and  political and social change. Theirs are songs about a people no longer at home in their own country. Consider, for example, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. A fabulous song by anybody's standards. I feel they same about my music and England. 
England is a weird (or perhaps Wyrd)  little place. It has no indigenous mythology, no wonder tales, no great and ancient books of lore. In this sense it is almost unique in the world. Most every other culture has it's high stories, it's gods and heroes, but not England. What we do have though is by far the richest and most varied store of folk tales, folk songs and folk lore of anywhere in the world. You could call this A Hedgerow Mythology and it is extraordinarily rich and diverse. 
We are in danger of losing touch with this golden horde of ours and if that should happen, in my view the consequences would be horrible. I use the word WE guardedly because it has recently taken on a rather sinister and subtle social significance. If one listens to the radio, one will often hear phrases such as "In England WE now think so and so" or "WE have become a nation of this and that." To me this is a supermarket identity and supermarket thinking that supports the construct of a homogenized Many against any One who might be striving to become an individual. Many of the English hedgerow tales reflect and warn against this tragedy, this assimilation of the one into a mindless whole. Be warned, dear reader, be very warned!!
Anyway, I dearly hope you will at least enjoy this next album. If you do, it will bring me great delight and huge pleasure.
Speak Soon.
Lots of Love
Francis xxx

Monday, 3 September 2012

Good evening everyone. Pretty successful and enjoyable  few days in the studio with Fran and Tony. I also went to my old friend Tom Robinson's 20 yer house party which was great fun.
So the cor anglais and cello are done and sound truly lovely. They are such players, Tony and Fran. Seeds of the Sun features them both, in fact they take the lead through out the whole piece. The cor anglais, in spite of it's name which is in reality a corruption of the french for angled horn on account of it once having been bent, is such a quintessentially English sound. It can't help but evoke images of pastoral Albion. The cello also has such a deep emotional quality.
The Seeds of the Sun is a kind of elegy for an England past, it is subtitled, A Lament for the Hedgerows. I've tried to graft a very English mode onto a dark almost middle eastern wash. I think it works well.
Willow Hill is now finished, all 15 minutes of it. Brides of the Wind is pretty much there as is The Shining Hour. The Man who Sold Magic and Broceliande/The Faerie's Funeral are next. I have to say the guitar parts for both of these are quite difficult and need to be got just right. But notwithstanding all that, its onward and upward, as they say.
Lots of Love
F xx  

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Yes, I know I am rubbish at keeping this blog up to date. I will offer the traditional 'very busy' excuse and beg you all, out of compassion, to accept it. Thank you. 
Very well, here is a progress report. All the vocals are now done. Drums and bass pretty mush finishes and guitars are about half way done. I am pretty pleased with how it is all sounding and it is extraordinary how another's input can change the whole sound of a track. I am very grate ful to young Thunderbags for his enthusiastic input. Brides of the Wind now sounds a bit like Steely Dan! Cool.
Tomorrow I'm back up to London to work with Tony Freer and Fran Newberry recording Cor Anglais, oboe and 'cello. I'm very much looking forward to this as they are both superb musicians and lovely people. On Sunday I'll be doing more guitar stuff. Probably going to tackle The Man Who Sold Magic. It's hard,and I've got a bit scared of it. Funny how you form relationships with your own music. The Man Who Sold Magic is the album's scherzo. Quick and dramatic and difficult to play. Well for me anyway. It's based on a character called Count St. Germain who I believe is the model for Dr. Who.
Tony and Fran are featuring especially on The Seeds of the Sun which is essentially a cor anglais and 'cello solo. Fran is adding to The Man Who Sold Magic and Tony has a cor anglais solo called The Rain Curtain that comes at the end of Willow Hill. 
Talking of which, one or two folk have inquired as to the reality and whereabouts of Willow Hill. It is a place. It is one of the 7 hills of Logres and from it one may look over Lyonesse, beyond the moon, before the flood to the mist-shrouded memory of Numenor, unless ones eyes have grown dim under the influence of the dark mythologies and superstitions that grow in the wake of scientific discovery.
I'll get some photos of Fran and Tony to post. Anyone who can recall the Hammersmith Odeon concert will remember Tony and his mighty oboe.
See you soon.
Lots of Love
F xxx

Friday, 27 July 2012

Back up to London at the weekend to finish off the vocals for Far and Forgot. Last weekend I was playing the lute at a small festival in Chicester with my friend Mike Hobson. I believe it went well.
All being well, we should get all the vocals for Willow Hill done this weekend, which means things are really beginning to take shape. The drums are pretty well finished and I reckon they sound great; if everything goes to plan (?!@?) the bass tracks will be done the week after next and that just leaves the guitars and some exotics like cor anglais and cello.
A wee bit more about the guitars. Because I tend to write orchestrally, the guitars don't really play very guitary things and are often asked to play weird and wonderful lines that are very tricky but don't sound it. This is very apparent on The Man Who Sold Magic; a very guitar oriented track that doesn't sound like normal guitar stuff, if you catch my drift. It isn't that I don't like guitarish lines, I'm no mean blues player though I say it myself, it's just that I see this music as a gestalt, as the Germans would have it, and the guitars are part of the overall sound. Beedle will have his solos though. My life would be a misery else.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Off to St Ives tomorrow to record three drum tracks with the inimitable Mr. Brooks. Brides of the Wind, The Man Who Sold Magic and Willow Hill. 
I suppose Willow Hill gives the strongest clue to what Far and Forgot is all about, at least as far as I am concerned. 
All my songs are protest songs in one sense, and Willow Hill is a protest against what has become known as reason or rationalism. It's all very well talking about an age of reason, but perhaps we need to ask what is really meant by reason. Willow Hill is a song about magic departing from England; magic and mystery as symbolised and embodied by the faeries. 
I have often got into trouble over my affiliation with the faeries, or the Sidhe, or the Shining One's, or the Tuatha de Danaan. It was at the root, I believe, of my leaving the Enid. Aerie Faerie Nonsense was RJG's insisted name for the second album.
So I suppose Willow Hill is me saying I am not sure that facts are the truth, and what is so very important is that which we do not know; the mystery, or perhaps The Mystery, after all it is probably That Which We Don't Know that is going to save us from ourselves, if anything is. 

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Well then, here we are. Somewhat later than I would have liked, I own, but nevertheless here we are. "What has been going on?" I hear you ask "How does the album progress and develop?" As with all ventures, there are unexpected little twizzles and turnabouts that cause a chap to deviate. I blame Gurdjieff and his cosmic law of three.
However, the vocals have been done on all but the last track. Brides of the Wind and The Shining Hour are now vocalled, if you will allow such a gerund. As expected, Hils has turned in a sterling performance on both songs and her friend Jenny Russell, has joined her on The Shining Hour. Jenny is a soprano you see, whereas Hils is an alto. The Shining Hour is a duet, almost operatic in in's style and the two voices combined make a lovely sound. If I write so that Hils is at the top of her register, her voice takes on a vulnerable and silvery quality that matches Jenny's soprano beautifully. Jenny can hit a top e flat. That is quite high.
Anyhoo, a word about The Shining Hour. It is a sort of second movement in as much as it takes a minuet and trio form. The story is a re-working of the Tam Lynn/Thomas Rhymer legend where a handsome young blade is whisked away to Fairie by the Queen of Elfin. The King's Daughter, who generally seems to be called Margaret or Janet and always wears a green kirtle, comes across the unfortunate young fellow in a wood or some other appropriate place. Often there roses and all sorts of shenanigans going on, but I will draw a veil over those. So Janet or Margaret vows to rescue your one, and learns that she must wait in a certain spot (the mill bridge in the Shining Hour) at midnight on either May eve or Hallow 'een. This she does and sure enough all goes to plan and she regains her lost love. In the Shining Hour, however, the young chap is a whit disgruntled at being rescued. He was perfectly comfortable in Elfin and the Elfin Queen was no minger. So now it's his turn to wait by the mill bridge until the Elfin Court shall ride again and, hopefully, take him back to the hollow hills with them.
There, that's that explained. On Monday I shall be journeying afar to visit Young Master Brooks and his tubs of thunder. The plan is to get all the drums done on Monday! Wish us luck.
Lots of Love
F xxxx   

Friday, 15 June 2012

Well then, recording in earnest. Vocals for Brides of the Wind and The Shining Hour, some acoustic guitars and possibly lute. We shall be at Neil's in Crystal Palace for the weekend and all being well, Hilary being the professional that she is, we should get done most of  what we set out to get done. I'll try and get some photos and post them next week.
Sweet Dreams

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Good evening everyone and welcome to the Secret Green blog. I shall do my best to keep you up to speed with how Far and Forgot is progressing and see if I can give some insight into the process of making an album like this.
As I write, pretty well all of the orchestral parts are written. I tend to write for orchestra rather than for piano or guitar as I find often things get lost or muddied or otherwise discombobulated in the transition. So the orchestra forms the foundation of the whole album. I'm aiming to have five tracks  
on the album, laid out in some sort of symphonic form. A big and bold first movement, a more introspective second, a scherzo, a sort of intermezzo movement and a long last movement. The track titles that follow that scheme are:

Brides of the Wind

The Shining Hour

The Man Who Sold Magic

Seeds of the Sun

The Disenchanting

  1. Willow Hill
  2. Lyonesse
  3. Broceliande
  4. The Faerie's Funeral
And that is the basic structure. There is still much to do. Today I've been writing a Cor Anglais solo for the last movement. It's great knowing that Tony will be playing a real Cor Anglais on the album proper. 

I have also been fretting about the sound of the string samples. I'm afraid that the strings on To Wake the King sounded pretty scratchy and artificial. I'm experimenting with layering different articulations to create a more organic sound but it's still not right. My dilemma is whether to bite the bullet and fork out for another string library, to use in conjunction with the one I have, not instead of, or to just make do. The strings are, however so important that I don't want to compromise too much. What do you think?
Guitar parts are another issue! I seem to write guitar lines that are very difficult to play. Because I write orchestrally, the guitars very often have to play quite uncharacteristic lines. This leads Mr Beedle to curse me. I don't blame him.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, there is a story, or a concept if you like, to this album and it follows on from the last. It isn't an analogy and although it has a very particular meaning for me, I don't want to shove that meaning on to anyone else. I'd rather that the piece as a whole has a certain individual applicability and be open to anyone's interpretation or not.
Having said that, I suppose the titles are quite specific.

Any feedback, comment, suggestion or piece of advise that anyone would like to contribute would be most warmly welcome.

Speak again soon.

Francis xxx

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Hello World! I am now beginning to get excited about the new album, Far and Forgot (From the Lost Lands). I shall use this blog to keep everyone up to date and to try and describe the various processes so that everyone who wants to can feel involved in the recording; however, now it's a bit late and I need to be up early to got to my other job up London. Speak soon. Love and Light,
Francis x