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Behind The Song Let's Build An Airport EP

Behind The Song: [Everything Is] Broken

A Break

At the tail end on 2010 I had quit leading worship at my church, planning to spend a year recharging my batteries, learning about songwriting and writing every day. [Everything Is] Broken was one of the first of the new batch of tunes, though the basic lyrics date back to 2004.

At the time the concept ‘if a good God make the world why is it so messed up‘ was to me little more than an ‘apologetic’ device – an explanation for ‘non-churchgoers’ that might persuade them to sign up. But in the years since I wrote the song it’s given me a frame of reference to understand the ever-present darkness in my world, helping me deal with it in my own life and allowing it into in the art I make.

All These Broken Things

From the start the concept was that the structure of the song itself would reflect brokenness (something I call madrigalism), musically I decided to write the verse in mostly 7/4 which gives an impression of a missing beat. I wanted to use a string trio, or rather, a ‘broken’ quartet with the second violin missing. (This is why I ended up using a trio on Brother Bull and Better For Me too). There are no drums for the same reason. The song breaks down towards the end interrupted by ‘random’ samples and the vocal degrading and the last word missing.

In the lyrics there are 18 broken things

Shattered frame
Torn photograph
Broken home – his daddy doesn’t live here anymore
Wedding vows – unmade
A mug that’s chipped
Broken skin – cuts her lip
Broken sentences – staccato, each incomplete
Stillborn baby
CD player
Broken peace treaty – torn up
A hairline fracture in the universe
Broken Earth – cranky and she’s getting worse
Broken city – split by an earthquake
The church boiler
The church heating pipes
The choirboy’s voice
The communion bread
Christ’s body

Development

The song was written as a distorted solo rocker in Am – imagine if If Billy Bragg joined a discipleship group led by Derek Webb, or if CS Lewis secretly hankered after playing in Iron Maiden. On the demo, the distorted guitar, my amp crapping out and my voice cracking as I screamed my head off all seemed to reflect the subject matter, but my producer friend Mark pointed out that the song didn’t sit with any of the other material on my EP. So I dialled back the mayhem, transposed it down, played fuller chords capoed at the 3rd fret. When I tracked the guitar I did what I call a ‘Lennon Extension‘ by accidentally adding an extra beat into one of the prechoruses. A happy accident.

I agree with Chris Cornell from Soundgarden when he says he likes writing in odd meters because it feels like there’s only one melody that it can possibly be.

Wachowskitarianism

Observant Christians might wonder what’s up with the weird church service. It has real bread (not wafers) like a pentecostal church but has a Priest and an old building (like a Catholic church) and they have the wine before the bread (like no church I’ve ever encountered). I guess that’s what they called poetic licence. In my mind it’s church as imagined by Frank Miller or the Wachowski brothers. (I do not attend a church like this).

The concept of a fracture in the universe comes from a 2009 Easter sermon by Matt Chandler, “red wine burning in my chest” came from a journal entry about taking communion in an Anglican church and “the earth is cranky” came from somewhere else that I can’t remember.

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A Blog's Life Let's Build An Airport EP

Let’s Build An Airport – The Demos

Last chance for demos!

I’m getting very close to releasing my EP Let’s Build An Airport. The single will be available from Feb 14th and the EP goes on sale on Mar 18th. At the moment you can hear demos of all the tracks on my Song Vault page but I’ll be taking them down forever at the end of next week.

So whether you’re a Matt Blick completist or just a cheapskate here’s the direct links

[Everything Is] Broken – original ‘heavy metal’ version
I Got Lost – original FAWM demo
Let’s Build An Airport – 2nd demo
Better For Me If I’d Never Been Born – home demo
Brother Bull – ‘Live in the studio’ pre-production version with deleted verse and original coda.

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Let's Build An Airport EP

EP/Mini Album Update

 

The EP/Mini Album Let’s Build An Airport is finished as far as my input is concerned so now I’m waiting on mixes and album artwork, so now I have time to catch up on a few studio video diaries that I never got a round to editing.

A lot of the fiddly little instrument stuff (three seconds of glockenspiel here, two seconds of bell tree there) was done at different schools I teach at and then flown into the master tapes.

The fact that we neither fly in or have tapes anymore is neither here nor there…

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Let's Build An Airport EP

Studio Update #1

So here’s the plan for 2012. (Place “I’m going to attempt to” before ever phrase and “this is subject to change” after).Record a 4 track EP and 1 extra bonus track to give away
Title: Everything We Lost In The Fall Rootless/Artless
Base it around electric guitar and vocals with one or two eclectic instrument choices per track
Con as many friends and family as I can into playing, photographing, doing artwork etc
Release in early Mar (this is already feeling too optimistic)
Release it (download only) via CD Baby to iTunes, Amazon and probably Rob’s Record Mart  too
Con as many friends and family as I can into buying it
Learn a massive amount about putting together a project
Repeat until financial solvency or clinical depression occurs

Right at the tail end of last year I did some pre production at Old Library Studios, Mansfield with producer Mark Allsop, and a couple of weeks ago I laid down guitar tracks for 31/2 songs.

Here’s the songs I originally shortlisted

Let’s Build An Airport
The Weight Of Glory
Better For Me If I’d Never Been Born (demo of this will be up soon)
[Everything Is] Broken
Brother Bull (I never did a proper demo of this, but will post the live preproduction version)
The Morning After The Day You Saved The World
and two versions of I Got Lost

Having now dropped Weight of Glory and Morning After, five songs remain. The four that fit together best/turn out well will go on the EP.

Simples

I’m really benefitting from having another pair of ears go through the songs with me, and making some edits, subtle and otherwise! My pace of writing has been so quick last year, that some of these tunes were finished, recorded and then never played again!

Any questions let me know.

Here’s a sneak peak behind the scenes…

Other free songs by Matt Blick

[If you’re subscribed to this blog via email, you will have to click on the post’s title to watch any video content (the link will take you my site).

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A Blog's Life

Time For A Break

Things have been a bit quiet here blogwise but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. For a music teacher ’tis the season of multiple christmas concerts, school assemblies, and general craziness. Dad of four? You get the picture. But that doesn’t mean all songwriting has ceased. On Monday night I was in Old Library Studios doing preproduction for my first solo EP. More about that next year!

I’ve also finished writing song #47 Better For Me If I’d Never Been Born. A cheery title perhaps, but when I tell you it’s about Judas Iscariot it might make more sense. That song’s had a long history – I wrote most of the music in 1992.

So with a remix of Tedashii’s song Riot and a lullaby/prayer song in the works I hope I may still finish 50 songs this year. I may not get em all recorded, but I’ll sum up what I learned from the year of ‘writing dangerously’ and strike out in a slightly new direction.

Thanks for listening!

  Free songs by Matt Blick