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Steve Vantsis and I had a productive time last week when he was up but I have to admit I was pulling myself out of a creative swamp for the first 4 days and had to sit back and let him conjure some magic until I got on my feet. I have to be truthfully honest and say I have taken on a lot bigger job than I thought and we are both realising that we have been overly optimistic on timings. That’s not to say we are struggling for ideas; in fact we have too many but none of them are anywhere near ready for performance. This could result in having nothing new to play live in December. That may sound disappointing to some of you but there’s a huge ‘Yang’ in all this.
As you know I have nominated ‘Weltschmerz’ as my last studio album and I have always intended this to be special. There have been fragments of elusive lyrical ideas floating in my mind for quite a while but now I am in a position to start catching and pinning them down to create frameworks that make sense. Steve has given me around 15 musical ‘doodles’ to play with and from them I think we have the seeds of about 4 songs and a number of pieces that can be added to structures that are becoming more elaborate as we enter into the writing sessions proper.
My problem is that I am writing screenplays or short stories and creating huge challenges for myself.
I’ve already been documented as saying that I don’t want ‘Weltschmerz’ to deal with the big business/ corporate/ kings and queens/ empires/ world perspective but to pull it down to focus on people dealing with the current world we live in and their struggles, trials, pain and anger. I’ve developed a few characters with their own scenarios, all different but all linked by ‘Weltschmerz’.
For example I want to write about a young woman who is self-harming because she can’t vocalise her pain and anger and other issues. I wanted to bring in an older male character that is preying on her vulnerability and in fact ‘grooming her’, disguising himself as a younger person when he contacts her online. Steve has 2 musical pieces that both fit the characters but they are very different and I was trying to find a way to work them together. I wasn’t comfortable relating the second character in first person and needed to relate both in third character in a similar way to the ‘Zoe 25’ lyric. As the 2 musical “characters” weren’t compatible I realised that this was a 3 act play and it was only today I realised what I needed to complete the triptych and provide a resolution. It has evolved into a very dark neo Gothic horror tale and it is still being added to. There’s so much scope to play around sonically with and there’s all sorts of things to be added to the mix as it develops. At the moment the only musical input has come from Steve and we are both genuinely excited at what others can bring to the feast. The working title is ‘The Cutter’ but that will definitely change. ( ‘Echo and the Bunnymen’ already used it).
I’ve also not made it easier for myself as I have decided that every song on ‘Weltschmerz’ must be associated with or have a link to a flower as gardens and growing will play a symbolic role on the album.
‘Market Garden’ is another title for a lyric about an old Dutchman living in Arnhem who is suffering from Alzheimer’s and who is clinging to his memories from youth when Allied paratroopers dropped on the city during an ill-fated operation with the same name as the title.
The man is still married but can’t remember his wife who is heartbroken at “losing “him and who is now a stranger in their house. His days are spent wandering the streets always ending up at the bridge that was brutally contested in 1944 and where it was the last time he saw the body of a young Scottish paratrooper who crashed through his father’s greenhouse during the initial parachute drops. The memories for those days anchor his life and everything else, even the writing on a page is forgotten once it’s turned. The lyric has to take in his memories, the relationship between man and wife from both sides and his struggle coping with a modern world that’s been built around him and which he doesn’t recognise or relate to. The flowers related to this lyric are ‘forget me not’s’.
Again it’s a difficult and delicate subject matter to deal with in a simple song structure and lends itself to a palette of sounds and musical movements identifying the characters and timelines. I started work on this with Steve Vantsis and John Beck but we have only just scratched the surface.
‘Man with the Stick’ a lyric about aging and about how we use sticks throughout our lives ( conductor, pipe band leader, riot control, boys fishing rods etc etc), ‘Guardian of the Flowers’, inspired by a Channel 4 documentary about a gardener in Aleppo, are another 2 ideas in progress. All stories with characters and as I have said many a time in the past ( and which I should have copyrighted as so many people use it these days) I find myself writing movies for people’s ears.
There will be other musicians involved in the writing process of ‘Weltschmerz’ with John Wesley willing to contribute as well as Romain Thorel from Lazuli who wants to get involved at some point and who has already worked with me earlier in the year on an idea which as yet is untitled.
And here is the ‘Yang’ of it all. I may be struggling to get songs together for the tour but with the door now opened and the first 5 months of 2018 dedicated to writing with a wealth of material starting to bubble up and out I am now looking at signing off with a double album. I discussed this with Steve when he was up and after a few glasses of wine we are both convinced this is achievable having been only 30 minutes or so short from one with ‘Feast of Consequences’. A double album gives us space to breathe and for solos and other ingredients to be played with and extended upon. The subject matter abounds and I’m being provoked every day into new ideas and directions. It’s a big call and I am very aware that this will become a very expensive project as session musicians, studio time and producers’ commitment all increase accordingly. It’s more than just a serious consideration just now but I have an underlying confidence that I can pull this off.
Mark Wilkinson is excited as he too has been developing ideas and is totally inspired by the subject matter bouncing around. He is confident he can put together a phantasmagorical collection of images and present them in a package that is fitting for my last call.
I may have to look at crowd funding to finance this as the commitment will be a huge drain on finances but I want to bow out with a big statement. With the lyrical content blossoming into near film scripts and bona fide stories you could perhaps call this a crossover album.
copyright Derek Dick 2017