Being invited to contribute to this compilation was a great honour as TQ covers those dark corners of music where the light rarely penetrates. Also with the quality of the other contributors, I knew I’d be in good company.
For our interpretations there were three covers to choose from. I chose TQ 10 because it was concerned with objects, whereas the other two depicted locations in the form of maps. I had this idea to forensically dissect the cover, like an autopsy, to take the individual parts and reinvent them for the ears. I thought that if I could replicate those objects physically and the idea of the word ‘pendant’ could be realised, I might have the basis for a piece of music.
On 22.01.18 at 1.30 pm I walked along the beach to Whitby and collected three stones and a piece of driftwood in order to fashion a pendant. I used two of the stones which looked rather like the ones in the TQ 10 cover illustration. I also used a holed stone given as a gift from Gavin Parry. It was presented to me at the time in a tin with two other items. I incorporated the lid of the tin too, so three stones and a tin lid were suspended from a piece of driftwood by golden thread.
This pendant was gently agitated in various ways and the sounds were recorded. A week later, on a particularly windy night, I suspended a two stone version of the structure in a bush outside the house with contact mics attached to the threads on which the stones hung. These sounds of rattling and clanking, together with the strain and creak of the strings moving around on the driftwood created the basis for the track.
A field recording of a place known as Three Howes, a line of three Bronze Age round cairns South of Grosmont, North Yorkshire, provided the ‘T’ element. The day of the recording was cold and frost was lingering still. Puddles had a thin crusting of ice and gunfire could be heard carried on the winter wind.
A field recording of building work being carried out at The Quayside restaurant on Pier Road, Whitby provided the ‘Q’ element. I stood across the street and captured men’s voices, drilling, the moving of heavy objects and the ever present gulls. Every so often a tourist would pass by.
The column of triangles up the side of the panel on the cover suggested a simple repeated pattern, so I took this as a graphic score for a synthesised sequence which starts about a third of the way through the piece. The curved shape I took to represent a softer, more sinuous element. A repeated melody entering the sequenced pattern at some point, less harsh and less defined.
Maybe I overthought the whole thing, and maybe the choices and construction should have been left as a mystery? Maybe it would have been easier to just make a piece that represented an impressionistic view of the whole cover as a totality?
Either way, as I said before, this was an attempt at a forensic autopsy of a graphic concept. I think I’ve been watching too much Nordic noir?
So many thanks to Andy Wood and Chow Mwng, and of course all the contributors for making it what it is.