Having related the circumstances in which the previous EP (The 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Sessions) was recorded, this following EP – the Misc. Sessions – was recorded under duress to a certain degree as well.
While I knew these were some of my favourite songs, I also knew they were not perhaps what people expected. And that the budget of recording just voice and orchestra would not be insignificant.
So in the early days of working on the arrangments with Rupert Cross at his studio in Hackney Wick from the songs, and my piano and voice sketches, I was a little apprehensive. Or at least concerned at what would be the response. Yet I knew that I wanted to avoid rhythm and record these songs in an old-fashioned way. Music like the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time was fairly old-fashioned. When Furious Angels was released, some thought it fell into a genre that it didn’t actually belong. Which affected how it was perceived. And with these two EPs, I wanted to get away from that.
The orchestral sessions were arranged and conducted by James Shearman, and the wonderful players were recorded at Abbey Road Studio 2.
Abbey Road Studio 2 has a pretty amazing history. You can look it up. The sessions were hindered a bit by the fact we filmed it too. But the recording over 7 hours (with breaks) of a 10-piece string section and a 50-piece string section went well.
Vocal, piano, bass, drum, backing vocal recording and mixing of the EP was at Air Edel Studios with Nick Taylor, assisted by Roman Turtev.
The EP has a dream-like quality. Much of that is due to the words. Here are some of my favourites to give you an idea.
“Dreams are like fireflies, floating in a sapphire sky
You try and catch them, but find when you do, their fire dies
We walked so slowly, then you said ‘I’ve finally realized enough’s enough! Enough’s enough!
I’ve been undone by London, London and a lack of love.’
from Undone by London
“A boxed-up TV in the hall
Wondering why it all went dark
An evening dress from ’92
Wonders if it’s lost its spark
The coat hanger with its steely question mark”
from She’s Leaving
“I have found my heart can get up off the ground
I taxi to the runway’s end and find when I take off, it’s not there
It won’t be long before it finally comes and dogs me down
It will come out of the moon one night and send me homeward in a ball of fire”
from Open Sore
“I met her in miscellaneous
She was biting on her lip
We decided that speech was extraneous
And embarked on a trip”
from the song Miscellaneous
The cover is from Gustave Doré’s Satan descends upon Earth engraving for John Milton’s Paradise Lost published in 1866 and is below. In fact, with all the images in the digital booklet, Doré’s illustrations are featured. If for no other reason to remind me of some of the themes of the forthcoming album and this EP.
Overall, I learnt a few lessons from preparing, recording, mixing, and releasing the EP. One was perhaps don’t be frightened to commit to a recording (and recording budget) while the songs are at a piano and voice stage. Another was trust that doing something that some don’t expect from you is not such a bad idea. The next EP starts to involve rhythm and more modern elements, as does the album.
Misc. Sessions 12 track EP including orchestral and instrumental mixes, 17-minute film, and 8-page booklet.