Burrdock

by edwn

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about

Thanks for dropping by. I'm edwn.uk and this is my Burrdock album.

The album is a loosely-figured narrative of twelve songs about a composite persona made up of various artists, scientists, poets, inventors, mathematicians, writers and natural historians who have inspired me over the years, all of whom work alone at home, on hard projects that take years to come to fruition. They work obsessively, all hours, in basements, lofts, cabins, home studios or their study, gazing out the window, walking in nearby woods, writing or drawing by candlelight deep into the night.

People like James Lovelock, George de Mestral (whose invention of velcro was inspired by finding the sticky burrs of the Burdock plant in his dog's fur, giving me album's title), Charles Darwin, Miriam Rothschild, Neal Stephenson, Georgia O'Keefe, Andrew Wiles, Joan Mitchell, Mary Oliver, Domenico Scarlatti, Gilbert White, Arthur C Clarke, Frank Zappa, Edward Thomas, J M W Turner, Stephen Hawking, Dylan Thomas, Peter Lanyon and John Clare.

I was familiar with their work, but lately I've looked into their lives, read their biographies, seen photos of their houses, watched their biopics, and got wondering about their home lives, their work lives and the intersection between them, the nature of and parallels between working on art or on science, of working independently, outside established institutions and conventions, but within a small locality of home and garden, a self-imposed closed universe of vast blocks of uninterrupted time and the madness and genius such hyperfocus brings ... that's what this album is about.

Musically, this was an experiment to fuse together my multiple musical personalities -- a capella modal folk ballads from before the guitar was even invented, to electric guitar jazz-fusion à la Wayne Krantz and Guthrie Govan, from renaissance and baroque polyphony to the intertwined, riffy, non-chordal music of Everything Everything (thanks to @expendablefriend for turning me on to them). In January 2015 I wondered if I could put all these styles into one song? After a few experiments, I found that I could actually integrate all these facets of myself, and it was a good feeling .... :-)

I wrote all twelve lyrics before writing any music. First, I wrote them all in plain English as an outline of what each song should say, then I took those and turned them into free verse poetry. Then I took those and gave them rhymes and metre and finally I allocated the stanzas into verses and choruses.

Parallel to this but independently, I wrote snatches of melodies by whistling or singing as I went about my day. Some of these survive as as ambients and samples, recorded in the multistorey carpark at Waitrose Caterham (Family), next to an escalator at Ikea Croydon that was squeaking in a repetitive way that gave me a melody cell (Drawing), walking back from the train station at night (Code), driving a tractor (Drawing), and still in bed at dawn listening to the monotone 'caw-caw-caw' of our neighbourhood crows, which gave me the 'new-new-new' phrase in 'Walk'. This process gave me a big pile of little .wavs, which I sifted through and allocated to each song to use as melodic seeds.

The process of mashing together the unrelated melodies and lyrics worked surprisingly well, with just a few tweaks to either the scansion or the melodies needed to achieve a happy marriage. The intent was to be melodically-led and use chords only later as harmonisation, if at all. Of course I ended up using a bunch of guitar chords anyway, but still far less than I normally would have.

Played on my Hohner Steinberger with a lil'59 PAF in the neck, DI'd into a Focusrite Platinum Trakmaster (original model) and a Tapco Link.usb interface. I also used Sadowsky and Westone basses, and my homemade Telecaster with nylon strings. Drums were the simple and reliable MaxSynths DrumKit1 VSTi played on my Akai LPK25 mini-keyboard. Vocals on my trusty 1988 Radio Shack PZM boosted to 12 volts, also through the Trakmaster with 36db of gain and a dollop of compression going in.


Many thanks to www.expendablefriend.com for the generous and insightful guidance and general inspiration ... go and listen to her music now!


Credits: Album art image courtesy of Markus Nolf, www.thinkoholic.com

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released March 18, 2015

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Track Name: Walk
Five hundred and fifty five paces
And the shallow morning sun
Has turned just two degrees
Casting long shadows on the greensand path
Things are warming up
And I'm rolling up my sleeves

Each footfall a choice
Each crushed leaf a voice
Solvitur ambulando

Every stride
Opens up my mind
Lets the old thoughts out
Leaves a space where I can find

The new new new
I'm exploring inner space
When I'm walking not thinking
That's when I'm touching grace

Just outside the corner of your thought
There's a pencil in the tree to your right
You've dislodged a tiny clue in your walk
Drop down on one knee -- and write

Each footfall a choice
Each crushed leaf a voice
Solvitur ambulando

Every stride
Opens up my mind
Lets the old thoughts out
Leaves a space where I can find

The new new new
I'm exploring inner space
When I'm walking not thinking
That's when I'm touching grace

These woods are full of riches
Waiting to be plucked
From the thick ferny air
From the husky foglets
Ideas dripping from neck-wetting snag-leafs
Bramble foot-snares tug at my ankles
Imploring new thoughts and budbursts
And vortices of mindfulness
Track Name: Drawing
Truth in a line
Destiny in a curve
The stroke of a pencil
Reveals

Graphite on cellulose
Crystalline slip
Carbon creation
Slides from the tip
Of the P209
These lines are not mine
Controlled from above
These shapes are pure love

Graphomania
The pencil's always moving
Sketchbooks filling up
The big picture's growing

Drawing on the walls
Marker on the window glass
Finger on the tablet
Truth within grasp

Scribdoodle scribdesign
Circuit patterns flowchart signs
Months and weeks
Reams and yards
A pattern emerges
A map of the stars
Subatomic interlinking
Macro-universal etching

Truth in a line
Destiny in a curve
The stroke of a pencil
Reveals
Track Name: Solution
Got a lot to do
Before I die
There's one more thing
I want to try
Life is short
Art is longer
Got no time
To belong here

I've tasted truth
I was parched and starved
Light and darkness in my heart
Emotion and logic
Combined as one
Fused together
More than their sum

Please take me back to the stream world
Bubbles of cold dark and deep
Laminar flow silk on my skin
Clinging burrs at the edge of sleep

The breakthrough came
Along with fame
But now I miss
The toil and loneliness
Would people applaud if I was a great plumber?
The sun is god, the sun is god

Chuck it all away
I'm bored with attention
The truth is easy
The second time around
The answer is an anticlimax
There's no frozen sea for my axe

Please take me back to the stream world
Bubbles of cold dark and deep
Laminar flow silk on my skin
Clinging burrs at the edge of sleep

Integrate me
Decompartmentalise
Don't celebrate me
Leave me to theorise
Track Name: Think
Stop my hare brained mind right there
Autocorrect me
I'm interstitial but nowhere
Dendritic like a snowflake

Scatter my thoughts across a chattering void
Satiate me

I'm like a cog
Think think think
In a Rube Goldberg machine
Looking for my own
Think think think
Rosetta stone
Think think think


I saw the best minds of my generation
Writing spam filters
But I want to be unflappable unstoppable
Building the 23rd Century

We can make the next great leap
So why don't we?
Track Name: Isolation
Clock in the dark
Sings 34 past
I'm up with the lark
And the mission restarts

Deep exploration
Of my inner world
21 days before I notice
I am alone

I fear what I might find
In the shadows of my lonely mind
I'm locked inside a room with me
I make strange company

Alone in a box
Could be hours could be days
I'm forgetting what I've lost
Past and future in a haze
Present is the focus
I dream under a lens
Fears left unspoken
All means to an end

42 days
Longing for touch
A word from a friend
A stirring in the dust
88 days subsumed to the cause
The work is consuming
I'm deep in the core

I fear what I might find
In the shadows of my lonely mind
I'm locked inside a room with me
I make strange company

Alone in a box
Could be hours could be days
I'm forgetting what I've lost
Past and future in a haze
Present is the focus
I dream under a lens
Fears left unspoken
All means to an end
Track Name: Code
Objects in her mind
Orient in space
Words and symbols
Forming a quatrain in lower case

Even in her dreams
The code forms poetry
3D arrays of stanzas
An ode to pentametric functionality

Error messages
Take her two steps back
Coffee fuels forward
She is ^ grey text ^ on black

Another all-nighter
Pizza cold at dawn
In the electron ether
Her electron charms always live on

And we would talk about
Valuable evidence
And we would sing about
The things that you like to sing

Variable operator
Iamb dactylic spondee
Floating point field populator
Her constancy in monody

No time for the touch
Of humankind
Her mind is consumed all of the time
By the endless loops of her epic rhyme
Track Name: View
Euglena surface, mewling green
Ideas glistening in the slant-sun
Breaking down and building up
On the custard mud assembly line

Estuary hours pass
Ebbing stanzas curse and flow
Grey-lit through the salty glass
Before the tide washes the slate clean

What will you reveal today
A twist of leaf a curl of surf
A brush of cloud a waft of turf

Cloud-shadows scud over his desk
A squall sweeping in
Raindrops audition their tiny words

Clocking off before the tide
Washes their words out of their minds
Sandpipers speckle their garrulous glyphs
Fleeting phrases flickering
Across the oily page

What will you reveal today
A twist of leaf a curl of surf
A brush of cloud a waft of turf

Cloud-shadows scud over his desk
A squall sweeping in
Raindrops audition their tiny words
Track Name: Error
The Battery's up
The Battery's down

There's something I can't quite put my finger on
She's got that gold lame guernica luggage tag
Saab 92 in a three quarter view
And a Lactose is One Magnetic Notepad

It's just another one of my adventures in error
I'm resonating like a morphic fieldmouse

Very modern Mary-Lou
She likes animal origami
East of hope, south of faith
She's got a postdoc in calamity

It's just another one of my adventures in error
I'm resonating like a morphic field
Track Name: Future
The wings of a noon fly
Edged yellow-orange
Close-up compound eye
Brim-full of knowledge

I have seen her in the future
We have no common language
But we give each other objects to admire
And decode

We reverse engineer
Infer the traits and predelictions of their designers
Build new offerings and by this exchange
Share our hopes, quirkes and desire

In the white heat of ideas fusing
I see in her infinite speechless eyes
The first blossom of spring
White-petalled hope thrusting
Tiny delicate petals into the path
Of planet-chewing machines, mountains high
And stopping them in their tracks, gasping
Wheezing teetering, clogged and clueless
Empires dismissed with a flick of her eyelash
Galaxies overturned in a moment's eye contact

The fly departs northward, leaving our room sterile and empty white
And she is gone once more, her collection of
Enamoured objects floating a decoalescing to dust in the zero-g,
Crumbling to degraded disorganisation
Track Name: Focus
The veil is gone
The air's in focus
I can see familiar
I can new the old
I am released

A lark ascending up out of a bush
A welling inside, a dilated push

Accessing a well
Forty winter's deep

Yarrowed, thousand-leaved
Bifurcations, polyfurcate
Mesmer transductions
Sun direct to optic nerve
Nourishing this eclectic cascade
Antithesis of astroturf quadrangles
Pennyworts uncloistered and nymphless
Long-tongued butterbur quipping amongst the salix
Chirrups hang quietly in the dark air
Dor-slap happy like heat break drizzle

Onto the next one ...
Track Name: Family
Now I know why
It meant so much to you
Those early obessions
Always craving something new

Now I know why
You went that way
You had your pain too
But had to follow a greater truth

The picket fence we painted white
When we moved here that hot July
Now is flaked and tumbledown
Forgotten and alone
Track Name: Twins
This is the year
I peeked over the hedge
Tall enough to see

A 99% moon
Not quite fulfilled
A missing piece
Always an ache
I'm so curious about you
What you say about me
Your very existence
Is our destiny

Looking back now
Since our emerging
I saw it in you
Before you saw it in me