Track By Track: Crewdson – Toys
It might seem like Crewdson, the alias of Hugh Jones, has taken a five year hiatus having only released one album to date- 2011's gravity- and an EP in 2012.
But the producer, musician, composer and instrument builder hasn't been resting on his laurels. He's provided remixes for Ninja Tune, Lo Recordings, Sunday Best and Brownswood Records, as well as working alongside Matthew Herbert- both on stage and running Herbert's label, Acciental Records.
Crewdson has also been busy building his own weird and wonderful instruments, from The Oddbox and The Concertronica to The Eggiophone and The Sonic Bonnet. It's these instruments that are the main focal point of latest offering, TOYS, out tomorrow on Slowfoot.
Here we welcome Crewdson to guide us through the creation of each track on the album.
I was actually a bit nervous about putting this as the opening track on the album as its a pretty chaotic piece of music, although this is what I like most about it – it never actually settles down, its constantly shifting and morphing into different shapes. A lot of the samples that create the backing are taken from an mp3 ripped from a Soundcloud stream (hence the lo-fi sound) of a live on air improvisation on Resonance FM between myself on concertronica, drummer George Bird playing a shelf full of random objects and Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian on harp.
This was the earliest piece of music that ended up being on the album so its actually been kicking around for a while in a few different forms and has been part of my live show for a few years. Its pretty simple with not that many layers actually going on. Its all about the rhythm of the sax and how it sits over the beat that makes it work.
It's a love song in the most obscure way! I wrote it for my girlfriend and also for my love of maps and geography, it's a real geek out.
The title suggests the entire beat for this track was made out of a card and metal box that housed a bottle of whisky. It was just one of those random objects that was lying around the studio and turned out to sounds really amazing once I started tapping, tearing and banging it. This is also my guitar track although when I play live I play the guitar parts on a self built midi violin.
Another track that does exactly what it says on the tin. Its the sole domain of my sax and some bells with a whole load of overdubs and some harmonic processing and effects. Using some clever sound processing technology I am able to play this one live even though I only have one saxophone.
Bottle Rain Smoke
This is one of my favourite tracks on the album. It was something of a turning point for me writing this tune as before now my vocals had always been very heavily effected and I tended to hide them away within the mix. This track was my first proper foray to the forefront for my voice which is accompanied by samples played on the concertronica.
A piece of glitched out club nonsense. This is probably the closest thing on the album to a 'club' track and probably the most reminiscent of my earlier work from my previous album Gravity. As one of my friends likes to describe my music: 'dance music that you can't dance to'.
I kind of see this as the cornerstone of the album, it is a real key track. It has all the components of the albums sound encapsulated into one track – my vocals, glitched up sampled strings and a definite Crewdson plodding beat. If I had to choose one track to give someone a flavour of the music I'm making at the moment it would be this one.
Eyes In The Back Of Your Head
I am really intrigued to know what kind of reaction people have to this one. Its the most 'folk' of my 'folktronica' album. Its written as a kind of traditional murder ballad thats both dark and comedic at the same time. Its either one that someone who is into folk music is going to be really into or will massively hate.
I don't even know how this track came about, its by far the most ridiculous thing on the album. I think it might have been the result of a mistake that started to grown. I'm sure it would never have seen the light of day but for Frank Byng from Slowfoot Records having heard it and decided that it was a must to be included! Loads of the sounds are samples of my friends taking laughing gas balloons, you can clearly hear them right at the end of the track.
Both Rawhead and the earlier track Stanner Nab are named after places in Cheshire where I am originally from, they are actually both peaks of hills that I hold very dear. This track is a reflection on that place and is a journey through a walk around there. I'm playing a lot of different instruments on this one: guitar, clarinet, oddbox, concertronica, eggiophone… that' s the aforementioned Frank Byng from Snorkel on the drums though.
A lament on youth and times gone by, the closing track is also one of my favourites from the record. The beat originally came from a remix that I did for someone that ended up not being used that really fit the vocal line that I had written separately, another happy accident. I don't know what kind of genre a track like this would be traditionally thought of – answers on a postcard (or in the comments!) please…
TOYS is out 14th July on Slowfoot Records. Pre-order HERE.