Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Sketches for Alexandrine [3] by GRICE

The third part of a series of posts by way of keeping a virtual journal on the work for the album Alexandrine by GRICE.
The Gem is now set and the work is done…. Steve Jansen has mixed Alexandrine and has also lent his unique audio treatments and touches as well as his digital and acoustic drumming and percussion skills.
Richard Barbieri has also been a tower of sonic strength and has played and even co-produced a couple of tracks. I feel truly blessed and elated at their involvement and their guidance. 
They are legends of course but also hugely important current contemporary artists who continue to pioneer new and exciting sounds and charter avant sonic territory.
I wish to set down for the record some insights and recording and mixing notes to accompany some of the songs on Alexandrine, for any who are listening who may be interested but mostly just to document the time and immense creative energy shared and spent during the writing, recording, designing and mixing of the album. GRICE

She's in my Garden

She's in my Garden
The first single from Alexandrine. Available to listen and download now ahead of the album release date (22 June 2015). The physical CD is also available to order now from the legendary burning shed store.
More soon GRICE

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Sketches for Alexandrine [2]

The second part of a series of posts by way of keeping a virtual journal on the work for the next album Alexandrine by GRICE.
The past few weeks have seen the core band return to Sound Gallery studios for a few days of improvising and recording and to work further on some new tracks that have emerged for the live set, (btw we will be airing some new material at Acoustica Festival 12 September and as part of a live session for Phonic FM which will be broadcast on-line on 30 September) some of these tracks have become contenders for the next album Alexandrine - possibly a pre album single release is on the cards.

12 Syllables (sketches for Alexandrine) - preview

12 Syllables is a track that falls very much into new sonic territory as this track was conceived from core band improvisation with the cool signature rhythm section provided by 05Ric (Drums) and Al Swainger (Bass) alongside layers of guitar-scapes and vocal treatments (provided by Grice). The track was then worked on collectively by the ├╝ber Talented Richard Barbieri (mentioned in my earlier 'Frozen Water' post) who created some incredible movement with vintage sample and hold technology and presented a collection of rare audio gems to compliment the Tablas, Riqs and Duffs of master Egyptian percussionist Hossam Ramzy
Richard and myself are now working on the production and arrangement for 12 Syllables. The result is unlike anything that we have recorded before for the album and feels like the evolution of the signature [Alexandrine] sound…. glitchy rhythms combined with an ethnic soundtrack from a distant future.

In the next post I will be focussing on the core band and their unique contributions, in this post I would like to talk more about Hossam Ramzy and what he brings to this album.

Hossam contacted me following the release of Propeller, he was inspired and very positive about the last album and we arranged some meetings to share music and vision for some future work together.
We quickly discovered a unique link that we shared over this next project. Propeller was dedicated to my late Father (CJP DFM) and was conceptual in as much as it was designed to work as one piece (though also cool to be administered individually in measured doses). It had a distinctly British feel (my father born in Kent and a distinguished member of RAF) but with some world elements.
Alexandrine is the second part of the journey as it is dedicated to my Mother who although European, was born in Alexandria in Egypt and lived on the banks of the Nile.
Hossam Ramzy was born in Cairo and is a world master Egyptian percussionist, he is also a gifted arranger of strings and works with his own unique stable of Arabian artists. He has worked with Peter Gabriel on a number of albums including 'Passion' and the sound track to 'The Last Temptation of Christ' (the film adaptation of the work of Greek author Kathansakis) and the album 'Us' (both are works that I admire very much). Hossam also worked with Led Zepellin forming a band of Arabian musicians to work on their reunion album 'No Quarter - Unledded'.
Hossam created a series of rhythms and facets that formed the percussive drive for a number of Alexandrine tracks. Some of these contributions have been mangled and treated in the Grice production camp and some remain pure. The introduction of Richard Barbieri's innovative style of sonic programming, glitch and scaping has resulted in an abstract and unique sound - a fusion of East and West - this was the intention from the start and as the album evolves, the vision becomes clearer and the sound multi-faceted - like the gemstone that the album title refers to (with its reflections and perfect flaws).
The outro of the track features a rich tapestry of noise, the core mangled synth melody thrown purposefully down by Richard Barbieri entwined with layers of [Grice] ebow guitars.
There is some work to do on this track but what we have feels right!

I will be spending more time with Richard working on this and the other tracks for the album as his role as both friend and mentor, contributor and co-arranger/producer increases and becomes integral to  Alexandrine.

More soon - GRICE

Monday, 16 June 2014

Sketches for Alexandrine [1]

The first part of a series of posts by way of keeping a virtual journal on the work for the next album Alexandrine by GRICE.

Following the release of the debut solo album Propeller - I have been back in Sound Gallery Studios with the core band (Al Swainger, 05Ric & Duncan Chave) working furiously on Sketches for Alexandrine - the second album due for release in some format by the end of the year.

Collaboration with the sonic innovator and electronic music pioneer Richard Barbieri, of Japan and Porcupine Tree infamy and a new association with master Egyptian percussionist Hossam Ramzy (who worked with Peter Gabriel on 'The Last Temptation of Christ' as well as the solo album 'US'), has been a true inspiration and this union has lead to exploratory voyages into new and unchartered sonic territory -  there are also unique contributions from Pedal Steel Guitarist, B J Cole who featured on Propeller and the sublime freeform Trumpets of Luca Calabrese add to the signature sound. Al Swainger has been developing his own brand of sonic bass loopage and sound sculpture to add to the mix and I am joined again on this album by 05Ric (Drums) who alongside Al Swainger (Bass) form the rhythm section to the album and the recent live shows.

This work has resulted in 12 tracks (and a few extras loitering with intent in the shadows).

In this series of posts I will be focussing on 5 tracks and featuring the accompanying musicians and artists, the concept and the process and development of the album….

FROZEN WATER (Sketches for Alexandrine) - preview

FROZEN WATER - A track that was conceived a while back and based on a demo recorded at Swanston House, a dilapidated Georgian Mansion that was my musical home for many years. Working on this track with Richard Barbieri has been a true honour - his ability to manipulate, develop and process sound is a unique talent, equalled only by his ability to put the right note in the right space at the right time - a true master. After some discussion over the mood of this piece we began tracking and his contributions have been cool, emotive but calculated. Capturing a suspended stateless mood was important and his work on the intro and outro (especially) are integral and inspiring.
There is a retro feel to the track with the addition of horns and pulsing Fender Rhodes piano that conjure a warped Brian Wilson-esque vibe - the wonderfully creative freeform Trumpets of Luca Calabrese compliment the soundscape but transport the music into a quite different and fluid space.
I worked with Luca on Propeller and fell in love completely with his feel and his talent - a year later I met up with the man in Halmstad in Sweden and had the privilege to sing some backing with Steve Hogarth (Marillion) and Richard Barbieri alongside Luca, Julie Slick, David Torn and a wonderful cast of musicians at The IB Expo 2013. Luca is a great musician and his playing and the FX and treatments that he employs totally do it for me - he also happens to be a thoroughly lovely bloke (and a great cook).

The full track is a full 9 minutes long currently (and will most likely remain this length) destined yet again not to be a mainstream pop classic exploited by radio 1 but hopefully championed with any luck again by the likes of Tom Robinson on BBC 6 Music (who I know is a fan of Barbieri and who played the Highly Strung Remix on his radio show).

More soon on the formation of Alexandrine, further live dates and exclusive releases….

Thank you for listening and allowing me to be myself again! GRICE

Hossam Ramzy - Richard Barbieri - Steve Jansen