Tuesday, 25 April 2023

The Dead West - The Secret Dead West


Unreleased 2020.

01 The Secret Dead West (Part 1)
02 The Secret Dead West (Part 2)

Along with Marc Gillen (The Nightowl Sings, Brocken Spectre), David Thompson (Cat Of Tomorrow) and with the production and composition of Alastair Popple (Shelterland, We Are The Wooden Houses), I was a member of The Dead West.

We released a substantial amount of music between 2010 and 2014. They are all available through the Treehouse Orchestra Recordings Bandcamp.

The Dead West method was to turn up at Marc's on a Saturday afternoon. One of us would have a song or idea to attempt and because most of our equipment was pooled together at Marc's, we could have a finished (or close enough) result by early evening. There aren't too many genres of music we didn't cover; punk, avant-garde, pop, country, psych...

Great memories of very creative afternoons, making music with friends.

We have made no attempt at recording music since the last album in 2014, but we played together occasionally as a three piece for fun and some of these were (roughly) recorded. During the first lockdown of 2020 I made two collages of these recordings.

The email below was attached to the files when I passed them on, it provides more detail:

"Hello Marc and Dave.

So, I have had time on my hands and I've been sorting through my archives of pictures 
and music. The pandemic didn't just put the breaks on live music, it also prevented 
playing music with friends, improvising, everything. I didn't realise but I've done 
this consistently for the last 5 or 6 years now. I had all sorts of different audio 
to sort through, which brings me to, The Dead West.

Among the files were several recordings of the three of us. Sometimes audio from a 
phone, sometimes an actual Fostex portastudio recording, sometimes on a camera in the corner of a room.

I decided to get together these recordings, chop them up and make a collage. The 
result was two pieces of music recorded between 2014 and 2019, featuring only the 
three of us, presented here as two collages. Surprisingly, what you hear hasn't 
really been altered; I've selected moments, but not fiddled with them. Everything you 
hear has been culled from a longer source, but is played live. The only mixing occurs 
when one piece of audio goes into another.

The first 'The Secret Dead West Part 1' starts with an interesting live rehearsal. 
Shortly after we finished 'The Year Of Magical Thinking', we were approached by a 
festival organiser. He ran a psychedelic / experimental music festival, somewhere 
in the woods, somewhere in Cumbria. The catch was, we had two weeks. None of us 
played live at the time, so it was a probable no, but we decided to at least see 
what we could do. Improvisational, experimental and live was our aim. We had two 
tracks, the first of which 'The Power of the Witch' (named after a 1970's BBC 
documentary I'd found) takes up the majority of Part 1. I had prepared a drone at 
home, this was on the Fostex, which we using as an instrument. Dave manipulated 
that, as well as playing and effecting a radio, later appearing on drums. Marc was 
on guitar, I played violin and then sitar.

This is interspersed with moments from a very drunken night at my house, Kirriemuir 
Way, 2016. Dave played acoustic guitar with a bank note through the strings, just 
like Johnny Cash. I play percussion and banjo, Marc on electric guitar.

The field recordings you hear (on both parts) are from Dave's trip to America, 2018. 
As requested, he gathered as many field recordings as he could, but the Memphis 
tapes were too regional to be used in the Ghosts of Hobbs End project 

A live band improvisation from Warwick Bazaar in 2018 can also be heard. In the 
rehearsal room; me on drums, Marc on bass, Dave on guitar and both of you on 
demented vocals.

The main part of  'The Secret Dead West Part 2' is the second of the live 
experimental festival rehearsal tracks. 'Mo Western' was a drum loop myself and 
Alastair had been working on, this was playing through the Fostex. I'm on electric 
guitar, Marc is on bass and Dave is effecting the beats and again playing radio.

The other piece of music floating through was  another very drunken night at my 
house, Kirriemuir Way, also 2016. Dave on acoustic guitar, I'm on violin and 
melodica, Marc on electric guitar. The source was an hour long improvisation with 
bursts of 'Mystery Train' and 'Train of Love'.

I hope you enjoy this walk through fractured audio memories. How much do you 
remember? Some of these moments sound inspired to me."


Anonymous said...


A Psychedelic Mess said...

thanks, looking fwd to this