// you’re reading...


Barry Andrews from Shriekback talks about Cormorant

Barry Andrews talks about recording Cormorant…

READERSVOICE.COM: Time is a big theme on Cormorant.

One of your lines in Ronny says “and you know what they say: nothing real’s ever lost/ throw the thing away every night hereafter…” and in Load the Boat: “Back there in ’85 – that whole scene”.

Plus there’s the song Il Mystera del Tempo. How do you get your head around the world of the past, musically and personally? Or do you just discard it and keep moving?

BARRY ANDREWS: ‘History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake’.

I get temporal vertigo quite often.

We’re alone in an indifferent universe where the only certainty is death.

Let the Good Times Roll.

RV: Was Waterbaby the first song written that appeared on Cormorant, performed in your live shows in early 2003?

BA: As a finished song, yes.

RV: What sort of logistics and arrangements are required to record an album like this?

What were the first steps you took, and what choices did you have to make to get it organized?

BA: The New Machines make it possible for you to work more as a writer or a painter would work: do some sketches when you feel inspired; stick ’em in a pile; come back to them when you have some perspective; edit, transform, cross-breed.

Some of the grooves for instance (Huytfi, True Passage,Troublemeat) were part of the Stic Basin recordings back in 03.

People turn up sometimes; sometimes you have to ring them up.

It was all dead organic.

And the record company, in the shape of Mike Coles, came along half way through.

Which is rather cool I think- the thing gathering energy as it goes instead of all being predicated on a yes/no before anything can happen.

RV: Cormorant was recorded in the “on-the-hoof mobile in London and Swindon between April ’04 and September ‘05”. What’s the on-the-hoof mobile?

BA: It’s a name for my laptop running some sequencing software and some virtual instruments, a mixing desk and a sound system. And a mike.
That’s it. Elegant, no?

RV: What instruments, electronic elements, and vocal effects are used in Cormorant that weren’t present in previous Shriekback albums?

BA: Well all of the above. Plus the strange synergy that happens when you plug everything into everything else: the stew effect.

There’s been much more time to fool around, explore tangents; poke around in God’s broom cupboard.

RV: Did your recording methods with Cormorant differ from earlier Shriekback albums?

One article kind of joked that Cormorant was you with a laptop in a home studio (the one you built in 2000-2001?).

BA: No joke (see above) but the next generation on from that studio (that one was rubbish).

RV: Why did you use other studios, too, like Panic Studios for Martyn Barker’s drums, and Alchemy Studios for mastering by Kenny Jones?

BA: Panic for drums because you need lots of mikes and quite a bit of room and it makes a big racket, Alchemy for mastering because a 2nd pair of ears (especially Kenny’s) and some expensive plug-ins can make a big difference when you’re sick to death of hearing your tunes and dont know what’s good or crap anymore.

RV: What sort of things and directions do you want to try in future in your music?

BA: I’d like to try using other voices, to write a large scale piece to be sung by other people.

Something with a narrative but not shit. Shouldn’t be hard eh …well you just try it.

RV: There are two ambient tracks on Cormorant, and electronic music plays a big part in the album.

Also you’ve worked with Brian Eno. I was wondering if you could list some of your favorite ambience or electronic albums of all time, and which new releases of electronica or ambience you have liked.

BA: Well, there are 2 instrumental tracks which is not the same thing as ‘ambient’ I would suggest.

I think ‘ambient’ means that nothing’s foregrounded; that the music is content to serve as atmosphere.

‘Huytfi’ and ‘Passage’ have narratives, protagonists, and demand you get comfy, turn the lights off, maybe even order in a pizza, and give them your full attention.

Recently: the Books, God Speed you Black Emperor.

Formatively in the past: Terry Riley dub reggae Aphex Twin; I saw Steve Beresford and Steve Noble with a trombonist at the 12 Bar a couple of years back. Very exciting.

I had a phase of listening to late night pirate shows in London when Drum n’Bass was ‘Hardcore’ and found that kinda toxic but very interesting.

Afrikaa Bambatta and all those NYC chaps.

RV: What happened after you finished recording Cormorant? What did you have to do then as far as getting the album up and running and marketing it?

BA: Had a bit of a lie down. Fought off feelings of self hatred and disappointment.

Began a punishing drinking schedule.

Started bugging Mike [Coles] about press and artwork. You know.

RV: What’s your daily routine these days?

BA: So unutterably mundane I can’t express it.

RV: What are some of your plans with tours or future recordings, or any other activities?

BA: Firstly to get ‘the Eggs’ out: collectors edition 50 numbered polished resin cormorant eggs which have a memory stick in them unloading the album, 4 extra tracks and an interview.

Coming at you with many extras in a nice cardboard box.

I shall be undertaking a series of accompanying artworks called: ’50 Ways of Looking at a Cormorant’ featuring Vile Homunculus.

And writing towards the next album -I have half a dozen really quite decent grooves bubbling up.

I may be putting them up one a month for download.

And, of course, seeing where the Andy and Mart thing goes.

– Cormorant by Shriekback is released by the Malicious Damage music label.
– .