Wednesday 26 August 2009

An autumn of epic tracks

No sooner do Porcupine Tree announce a 55 minute epic on their new album (reviewed here by King Crimson biographer Sid Smith), then Transatlantic go longer with the announcement of a 77 minute track on their forthcoming release.

Our own little contribution to an autumn of epic songs comes in at just over 22 minutes.

However, despite the relatively piffling length of our tune and the undoubted pedigree of our fellow prog bands, I'm confident that our song will make some waves.

There is not long to wait now before it gets a hearing. Whilst The Underfall Yard CD is due on 15th December, all 22 minutes of the title track will be available as a free download from 30th September as a taster for the album.

More news soon.

Sunday 23 August 2009

Vulcan overhead

You may have noticed from my endless twittering yesterday that I was on the beach enjoying the Bournemouth Air Festival. I am pleased to say that the Vulcan made just as deep an impression on my 13 year-old son as it did on me when I was a child back in the 70's. It's the combination of thunderous noise, the extraordinary beauty of the design and the vast size that does the trick.

Today, I've been sitting in my back garden and I can hear that the Vulcan is back. It's about 3 miles away, above the seafront but is still filling the sky with thunder.

In the early 1990's, they used to have an airshow at Hurn airport, just up the road from me, and I remember a visit from the Vulcan back then. It did some aerobatics a few hundred feet above my house. Every window shook in its frame.

Almost as loud today and yesterday was the Typhoon. What a class act that is. It appeared seemingly out of nowhere, rearing up above the pier. After a ten minute display, it made an awesome exit - vertically upwards at speed, where it disappeared into a bank of cloud.

Sunday 16 August 2009

Dave Gregory with Big Big Train

Dave Gregory: not lazy at all (photo from Guitargonauts)

I am pleased to announce another very special guest joining Big Big Train on The Underfall Yard. Dave Gregory is the guitarist and keyboard player for one of my favourite bands, the glorious XTC. His astounding discography includes appearances with Peter Gabriel and Porcupine Tree.

Dave's guitar, sitar and mellotron playing has become a major feature of The Underfall Yard and I can't wait for you to hear the performances that he's turned in for Big Big Train. They are, quite frankly, brilliant.

If we do decide to return to live performance in the next couple of years, I very much hope that Dave will be joining us.

More news on The Underfall Yard soon.

Friday 14 August 2009

Jem Godfrey and Francis Dunnery with Big Big Train

Jem Godfrey has these kind words to say on the Frost* forum:

'Happy to say, I've just contributed a couple of keyboard solos to the excellent sounding new album by Big Big Train. The track is called The Underfall Yard which is also the title track and is nipping at the toes of 23+ minutes long. I got a chance to really cut loose in a way I don't think I've done before, I used pretty much every controller available on the V-Synth using a sound I programmed especially and I'm really pleased with the end results. It's not often I get to have a good old thrash in 11/8! The track also features a rather immense solo from that Cumbrian scamp Francis Dunnery, so although we never met, we do end up sharing a song together which is rather nice.

BBT's new singer is a bit of a revelation too and the whole thing is shaping up to be, IMO, their best work to date. I can't wait to hear the whole thing. BBT have a wonderful Englishness about them and they do things very much their own way which I deeply admire. They're prog's best kept secret and now I can count myself as a contributor to their history. I'm dead proud of that.'

Having had the opportunity to hear Jem's and Francis' performances at close hand, I am pleased to report that they are, indeed, immense and add a huge amount to The Underfall Yard.

More news on another very special guest at the weekend

Wednesday 5 August 2009

Rough mix of The Underfall Yard

Before we go into Aubitt for mixing, we like to put a rough mix of the album together as a final check.

I've just had a listen to Andy's mix and it's proven to be illuminating. It's all sounding rather splendid (although I would say that, wouldn't I) but it shows we have a few parts to replace or improve including some cello, some dodgy guitar playing that's been there since the original demo and one or two other bits and bobs.

The most interesting thing for me is that the track order, which has been set in stone for some time, has turned out to be wrong. The album starts with an instrumental track and I always intended this would be followed by Victorian Brickwork, one of the two epic songs on the CD. However, Victorian Brickwork has a gentle start and it just feels like the album drags a bit before it gets going. So I'm moving Master James of St. George up the order to track number two.

Hopefully, that will sort the pacing out.