The Making of ‘Metaphysical Attractions’

I have a new album out this year. It’s called ‘Metaphysical Attractions’ and it’s turning out to be my favourite John Irvine Band album yet.

It’s taken me five years to get this one near completion. Mainly because I decided to write a sci-fi book trilogy after the completion of ‘Next Stop’ in 2013. But it has gradually come together.

It’s amazing how that happens; how the brain takes it’s own sweet time making the decisions (or at least mine does) that put things together. I find the difficulties are largely structural. The actual musical material is easier to create (we all have a limited stylistic pool of ideas) but getting everything in the ‘right order’ is hard.

First world problems, of course, but I also find that it does get more difficult with age.

You see, self-criticism is, and has always been, a massive problem for me, in my professional and personal life, and I find I can only spend a short amount of time on things before I bring myself down with some existential issue; an ‘I can’t take the problem at hand anymore’ situation, so I do something else instead. Unless, that is, I get a rare vein that strikes something resembling a gold colour, then I’ll keep going, but these times are very rare. Mainly it’s grunt work. And it’s good to have positive, supportive and encouraging people around when the black dog of doubt wants a drink from his bowl.

But enough of that…

The title? Well, having read a fair bit of philosophy and esoteric thought over the years, as well as dabbling quite heavily in the Tarot, it was time for me to continue the ‘two word title’ tradition of The John Irvine Band releases and get going with something a bit more personal on this one.

Let me explain… In philosophy there’s alot of debate about the revelance (let alone existence of) metaphysics. Philosophers like Kant, Hume and AJ Ayer are the main culprits here, and also those stuffy types who don’t like you asking about things like the existence of God, or whether the world exists outside the mind, or ghosts, or spirituality, and so forth. If you can’t measure it then it’s not revelant. But I don’t really care what people think anymore. And that is reflected in this new record, where I feel I’ve gone further with things and changed some other areas of the band line-up to amp up the complexity and genre bending.

So, here’s the current track lisiting:

Metaphysical Attractions I
Hymn To The Winter Sun
Some Bright Sparks
(Into) The Scrying Glass
Metaphysical Attractions II
Me And My Idiophone
Sahara Yadouin
Lucy’s Brainwave

The lead off track ‘Metaphysical Attractions I’ is a short one, as per usual, but not an atmospheric one like on previous albums. In fact, if I had to do ‘Wait & See’ and ‘Next Stop’ again I would leave off the intro stuff and go straight to track 2 on each. But ‘MA I’ is different, it’s an uptempo ‘spazz-rock meets Bill Connors ‘Step It’ era’ number, that I’m very pleased with and sets up the album really well. There is a ‘MA II’ halfway through which divides the album into two halves, like an LP – as this was a perfect format – timewise – in my opinion. The first half is more intense jazz-rock stuff while the second half is less so – but, in a funny way, is a more demanding listen.

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The guitars and keyboards are all finished.

On this album I mainly used my blue Reverend Jetstream (above), which is a change of axe for me as I normally use headless guitars or Gibson-style things rather than Strat-oriented things. So as a result there is more ‘twang’ on this one, but my version of twang is not Mark Knopfler’s version, so do not worry, it still sounds like that bastardized Metheny/Lifeson sound that I go for.

You can also see above, my old Yamaha DG Stomp pedal and my Hughes & Kettner Tube Factor pedal, in the rack – and also my Koch tube power amp. All this stuff has taken a good few years to assemble and provides everything I need to get my guitar sound.

The H&K Tube Factor is a terrific pedal. I use it as a warmer-upper before the DG Stomp as it has a single 12ax7 valve in there and some other knobs that colour the sound exactly as I want it. It gives loads of compressed mids and a tiny bit of grit that keeps the more clinical sounding DG in check. Beautiful pedal.

Anyway, the drums will be recorded by Rich Kass in September at Castlesound Studios, in Pencaitland, with Stuart Hamilton at the helm, and then mixed/mastered soon afterwards, with a projected November release date.

JKI

 

 

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