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Thursday, 18 December 2008

the a forest: early demos, rambling

Amongst our friends, the as-yet unreleased The A Forest album has started to take on "Chinese Democracy" style mythical status. At least for the 2 or 3 people still waiting... We started on it in 2005, ditched the original recordings and have very slowly been piecing it together since 2006. We thought that at one point last year that it was finished, we had it mixed...then realised we still needed to tidy a few things up. There's still a couple of vocals that Cat wants to re-do, but hopefully it should see a release in some form next year.

I've been listening to the tracks that are likely to make up the album today, and I have to say I'm pretty proud of them. I've had my doubts at times, but I think a little bit of distance from the writing and recording has put it all into perspective. There are faults, but they don't upset me like they used to. One thing that struck me was that when it does come out, it will be 5 years since our split single with Mercury Tilt Switch, a re-recorded version of which will appear on the album. That's got to be a bit of a record delay between the release of a single and its appearance on a (non-compilation) album?

As well as the album tracks, I've been listening to other early demos and songs we recorded for the album, but discarded along the way for various reasons. The early instrumental demos have a certain charm, especially as they were recorded live in a practice room with a couple of mics and an 8-track. They are surprisingly good considering we've not always been the strongest live band. The album offcuts include songs that we played live quite a bit, but that just never translated too well into recordings.

In the spirit of the season, I've uploaded a few things. They're a bit rough around the edges and hopefully no-one else in the band will mind me doing this! You can listen to five songs from the album over at our myspace.

[MP3] The A Forest - Nursery
[MP3] The A Forest - Kids Jumping Off the Bridge

Two instrumentals from our first set of demos, before Cat joined. We definitely played "Nursery" at quite a few shows, always as an instrumental. This involved the peak of our instrument swapping, with me taking a shot on drums. The instrument swapping was something I was keen on early on, but we calmed down on it after a while. I don't think we ever played "Kids Jumping Off the Bridge" live, but may be wrong - we did play one gig without a singer before Cat joined. The title comes from the Perth tradition of kids in the summer jumping into the Tay from one of the bridges. I never did it, the idea terrifies me. Both tracks recorded live onto Chris' 8-track at Stage 2000 during September 2003.

[MP3] The A Forest - Waves

This has been available before but I took it down from the website, though it ended up on some playlist on a blog and turns up on, scrobbled from far flung corners of the world. It's based around a chord progression I'd had kicking around since school, having recorded a version of it myself at one point. The cello sounds pretty out of tune, and my guitar is probably knackered, so forgive us. We recorded parts of it ourselves at Stage and one of the sound rooms at Duncan of Jordanstone but got Robin Sutherland to do the final overdubs and mix it for us, the start of a beautiful relationship. Recorded spring/summer 2004, at the same time as "Dans L'aide du Levrier Retraite".

[MP3] The A Forest - There Is No Love Between Pigeons

This is an abandoned recording from the album sessions, recorded in 2006/2007. It sounds better than I remember, but definitely not good enough for the album. This was what we ended our set with for quite some time, often ending in some rather pathetic guitar abuse from me, a little over-excited. That poor guitar was kicked around the floor, thrown at walls, strings snapped and often knuckles bleeding... The title was inspired by the sight of some rather one-sided courting between two pigeons in Dundee city centre.

Hope there's something to enjoy there, for fun more than anything else.

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