It’s with great pleasure I can finally announce that my third album ‘Where the Wasteland Ends’ is now released.
It’s available on CD, as a digital download, or you can stream it on Spotify. It’s also up on iTunes if that’s your thing. The best deal for me though is if you buy the download through the bandcamp site.
‘Where the Wasteland Ends’ is the culmination of my political evolution over the last few years. The first album I made back in 2010, ‘Heathcliffian Surly‘, was a sort of messy mix of politics and nihilist clown love song. The second album, ‘Sweet Dregs‘ from 2013, focused squarely on the morose ballad. The new album takes on the politics that were always present, but refines them considerably.
Which is why I decided to include a live version of ‘If This is Civilisation’ that originally featured on the first album. This song pretty much nailed it on the head first time, lyrically, but I’ve not been so happy in hindsight with the original recording. The vocal had that posh drunk slant on it I was so obsessed with at the time. It had a more lounge feel to it, despite the bass riffs, the guitar solo, and the heavy words. As a band since that record came out, we evolved somewhat.
Taking on an electric bass player and side-lining the piano for a distorted organ. After years of playing ‘Civ’ (as we came to shorten it to) with these ingredients, we found the edge the song always yearned for, in my opinion. At the ‘Sweet Dregs’ album launch in the legendary Servants Jazz Quarters, we were fortunate enough to record the whole show. One of the stand out recordings was ‘Civ’, and I thought after hearing it, there was no point or need to rerecord it afresh in the studio, here it is in all its glory.
As for the message of the record, I don’t want to spell anything out too much, that’s what the music is for. Roughly speaking though, I would say it’s about domestication, captivity, colonialism, or in other words, civilisation. How it manifests in modern life coupled with an attempt to trace it backwards. The title of the record was taken from the name of an essay by Theodore Roszak written in 1972. It was similarly along these lines, how the artificial world encroaches insidiously, continually, towards its transhumanist end. It felt like the right name to give to it.
If you buy the album on CD, you’ll see the packaging is the same as the previous two albums. A single piece of folded cut card that houses the disc. Hopefully the uniformity appeals to some. Perversely, it does to me. The artwork was designed by Studio Rollmo, who also did the last record. They used a photo I took from a trip to Japan I made back in 2010 and worked pure magic over it. Here is something I wrote about that for the album’s liner notes:
I spent a long time thinking about which image to accompany the title of this album. I was originally thinking in very obvious terms, with pictures of clear wastelands, crumbling facades, Buddleia springing from collapsing walls, nothing I actually had any connection to. Then an image leapt out at me that I’d been using as a background for my tw*tter account for years: the scene of traffic out the back of the bus on a rainy Kyoto afternoon. It’s a hopeless dreary image, it gives a sense of claustrophobia, protection from the awfulness outside and yet no escape, prolonging the inevitable. The trip to Japan I took back in 2010 was quite symbolic in a way, as I was searching for the overwhelming natural beauty of Japan that I’d read about in Mishima novels, swooned over in Mizoguchi films and in ukiyo-e prints. I found every last bit of Japan in a state of total domestication. No stone had been left unturned. Everything, no matter how beautiful it appeared, be it clearly designed or not, was contrived, planned within an inch of its life. After only a couple of days in the countryside I spent searching for this, hapax of sorts, I scurried back to Tokyo and got drunk night after night until it was time to go home. Home, of course, was just the same.
I was a lot less purist about making this album than I was with ‘Sweet Dregs‘. We recorded most of this to 2 inch tape at the now defunct Alchemea Studios, then bounced down to Pro Tools. I did the odd overdub, all the backing vocals myself, the sax was recorded at the home of the sax player and sent via the internet and dropped into place. Two tracks were recorded on a little Zoom sound recorder that I use to get demos down. Steeped in reverb and distortion, who’s gonna know if it was on tape or not, and the main thing is the vibe is there. Heresy maybe, but as much as I’d love to work like Bowie in the 1970s, just knocking it all out with the band in the studio all in a few weeks…we all know the realities we’re dealing with here. So it’s a mash of recordings from over two years that I mixed in Logic on my lap.
Here are some credits I also wrote for the liner notes:
All songs written by Marmaduke Dando, except ‘Angles’, the lyrics of which were taken from a Paul Kingsnorth poem of the same name and modified. The music for ‘Angles’ was developed by the band, which are as follows: Marmaduke Dando on vocals and acoustic guitar, Sonia Gurdjieff on organ and piano, Alasdair Steer on bass guitar, Pete Maidens on electric guitar, and Andy Marvell on drums. Additional saxophone was provided by Jeremy Radway. The album was recored to 2 inch tape at Alchemea Studios by Thom Ntinas. It was mixed by Thom Ntinas and Marmaduke Dando, produced and mastered by Marmaduke Dando. The design of the artwork was developed by Rollmo design. I thank the band, Thom, Rollmo, and all who have made playing this music to a great pleasure.
Well there it is. I hope it’s an exciting thing to hear, it’s certainly the most exciting thing the band and I have played so far. If there’s anyone out there reading this that has heard it and that is stirred enough to want to write anything about it, please get in touch. I could certainly use some press.
Take a listen below.