Vox Artis is a quiet triumph.
The original concept was to do with striving for unhindered expression, but there’s a great deal of uncertainty running through it, too. A contradiction? Perhaps. But this was the very reality I was living in the six confusing years it took to complete.
The phrase Vox Artis is Latin for ‘artistic voice’. I chose that name because my creative voice was something I was struggling to find. I felt that, despite my best efforts, a lack of authenticity still remained in my work and writing.
What was missing?
I took numerous detours on the journey, investing time and energy into side projects that served to galvanize my feelings of disconnection. The truth was that for all those years I didn’t believe I was ‘meant’ to be a musician and I eventually allowed this mentality to poison my creative source.
In spite of all this, I kept secretly plugging away and poking at the little album that wouldn’t let me leave it alone.
“Finish me!” it would cry every time I started up my computer or flipped through my notebook. It became a burden I was tired of lugging around with me as I tried to work on other things.
“Okay!” I yelled, “I’ll finish you, but only to shut you up!”
Vox Artis is what music sounds like when it has been pressed, pushed, screwed up, thrown away, picked up, flattened out, and reimagined. Music that survived. Music that wouldn’t let me let go.
And surely that is music worth investigating.
About the Songs
Track 1: 12:26
Not many songs mention Blackpool, Poulton-le-Fylde or Kirkham, but due to my writing location it turned out to be the most natural thing.
I began scribbling down the lyrics while sitting at Platform 1 of Preston railway station. I remember I had been very flustered because I thought I was going to be late for my train to take me to visit my parents, but it turned out I was three minutes early and needn’t have panicked quite so much. Story of my life… That’s why the working title of the song was ‘Three Minutes Early’, though I later decided to name it after the time of the train I had caught.
The sampled voices and rumbles that can be heard at the beginning and end of the track are dictaphone recordings (taken on a separate occasion) of a station staff member announcing the Manchester Piccadilly train coming into Preston while another pulled into the platform where I was standing. The latter sample was tuned somewhat and chopped up to make it sound like she was singing.
Track 2: Sleeping Beast
This song came out of an obsession with the music of Bjork that grew very suddenly for me after writing a presentation on her work during my first year at university.
It then evolved into a strange post-rock jazz sort of fusion with some added ‘Contemporary Christian’ for good measure.
I enjoyed doing the guitar layers in this one. Very satisfying.
Track 3: State of Alert
I used to work for the government, you know. What did I do? Well, if I told you that I’d have to kill you…
Actually, it was nothing like as exciting as ‘working for the government’ might sound. However, part of the rules and regulations of buildings used by the public sector was that the ‘state of alert’ was always on display in all the corridors. I thought this would make a fascinating title for a song.
The song itself is much more to do with the alertness that comes from realising the work to be done in the world, and addressing the problems we have the power to solve.
Track 4: Aftermath
One of the habits I had left over from my degree was to take a sound and adjust its speed to see what other frequencies would be brought to the fore. I decided to try this with a strings sample from State of Alert. I slowed it down and reversed it, adding a few different effects to give it a shimmering sound.
Track 5: I Might Have Heard Your Words
This track is a cover of a song written by interdisciplinary wizard, Andrew Huang. You might know him better as Songs To Wear Pants To. He himself has already reinterpreted the words and melody numerous times (I Might Have Heard Your Song, I Might Have Heard Your Voice).
I thought it might be fun to experiment with some different chord progressions, smoothing it out and adding a bit of romance and mystery.
You might remember the Glitter Punch version that we made shortly after I showed the finished track to Matt. You can read more about this adventure here.
Track 6: Micropause
Micropause is a bit of a rescue-tune. I wrote it in a non-committal sort of way on the back-end of 2005, borrowing very heavily from another song by Andrew Huang called YOUR HEART (released under the alias SPOKESMAN).
Realising I was basically plagarising (!), I adjusted the verse melody while adding a dramatic falsetto chorus and a more Caryl-esque bridge.
If you play the two songs together they actually sound quite pleasant. Try it.
Download from Bandcamp
Vox Artis is for sale as a ‘name your price’ album, so you can enter what you think it is worth. Enjoy!
Listen and download now