A rush as usual - here I am on the night before I leave for the tropics, radiator refuses to work so I've pulled two jumpers on, and for hours now I've been trying to get the masters for these bloody songs right. My overhead light's blown out and I'm out of candles so I'm probably destroying my eyes right about now.
It's been a very exasperating thing, working on this little compilation. It's just five songs, but Christ, the indecision! Let me tell you the story. Way back in March, after spending two months in Morocco writing a decidedly shoddy novel, I enthusiastically rubbed my hands and decided that with the book done I'd better toss off a new album or two. I had big ideas for this album. It would be, like, totally honest and heartfelt but with, you know, like, GRIT this time around - idea was it'd be some sort of sinister, disorienting Radiohead-style journey through a series of bad dreams I'd been having around that time, disjointed and digital-sounding. I'd been playing with synthesizers for quite a while and I figured I was about ready to show everyone my Warp Records influences and prematurely alienate my fans. So between April and May I rented an apartment in Madrid, spent about a month writing new material, and promptly decided to scrap nearly all of it. One song from that period has survived in acoustic form, it's called "Slip in Silence, Slink Away," the last track on this EP. In June I found myself back at the drawing board in Amsterdam. Then a number of things happened and music didn't seem like the most important thing for a while. I must've started writing the beginnings of "October Song" around that time, although it clearly wasn't called that, yet. July, August, travelling through Eastern Europe by firetruck with German friends, camping out by rivers and fields, small mistrustful villages with attractions ranging from goat skeletons to ice cream cones at thirty cents a scoop... the Slovakia rainbow gathering, Prague, and a creeping realisation that this music writing business was really getting neglected rather too much. I started writing a lot of songs in Prague. I had plenty of time because I was making too much money and too few friends. "Sailor Song" was written in Prague, as was most of "October Song," and a whole load of others that you might get to hear some day. Soon enough I found myself back in Amsterdam again, where I realised that most of what I'd written was already outdated. I figured I'd better just stick to the plan regardless and write new material as I went along. I spent three weeks doing two recordings of songs with the full production extravaganza - synthesizers, drum machines, all that. I spent so much time working on them that my ears went numb; before long I could no longer work out what exactly I'd made, whether it was any good or not. Who would've thought it could be so hard to be the next Thom Yorke? Inconceivable. I sent one of the songs to a few friends of mine and told them to please be honest. They certainly were. I decided I'd better scrap my electric ambitions and after a week or two of moping resigned myself to doing an acoustic album. I wrote about eight or nine more songs after that, of which only "So Far" and "And Then Came Another Day" survive. Believe me, the others were rubbish, you're not missing much.
Which brings us to this stunted little collection! Sad little orphan songs! I brought them closer together by recording them all in one afternoon, as per the "So Long!" tradition - it wasn't raining this time, sadly, but it was very cold. Well, and here I am now, sleep-deprived and somewhat jittery, wondering if my ears might still be playing tricks on me (YOU try fiddling with parametric EQs for four hours straight on three cups of coffee and no sleep!).
Well, all the same, ladies and gents, I present to you with great pride, my latest recording,
"Sense of Distance"!
released November 20, 2012
Songs written, performed, and recorded by Robert Leslie. Album artwork by Robert Leslie. Robert Leslie by Robert Leslie's Mum and Dad, and the Dutch education system, and Robert Leslie's peerless peers, and the cultural heritage of humanity, and the gulf stream, etc.
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