Alistair Murphy, habitué of Cromer, is also known as The Curator.
The Curator's next album Twenty-Six/12 is coming in September 2019.
Twenty-Six/12 has been years in the making...
"Twenty-Six/12 contrasts with my last album Where The Stars Give Way To The Morning, which was guitar based, angular, noisy, angry. The new one is piano-based, reflective, and as I discovered, pastoral.
For the first time in many years I wanted to use a real piano, the baby Grand Piano that I treated myself to when we moved to a house big enough for it. Using the mic placing visible on the photo of Peter Hammill playing the great Trident Bechstein on the inner gatefold of his album Fool’s Mate, I could get a sound that was bright like modern digital keyboards but with a warmth they usually lack," says Alistair.
Notes by Alistair Murphy:
To Your Door
The saxophone solo was recorded at the end of the 1980s, but had to wait nearly 30 years to find a band that could do it justice. Coming back to the lyrics, which I wrote in the mid 1980s, I realised that words I thought then endearingly romantic were in fact open to a different interpretation. The arrangement reflects both a mid 20th century arrangement but there is also a more contemporary taste of menace. Is it about love or obsession?
Random and the Reason
A song of past, present and future. Beautiful guitar and sax, I think. A relationship seen over a period of years.
I Hope I’ll See You in Heaven
A song by the American singer-songwriter Larry Norman that I heard some years ago and decided, unusually for me, to cover. Featuring the string arrangement of Phil Toms, and the Ely Sinfonia, I converted the song into a duet to sing with Diana Hare.
A track that I recorded at the time of my last album Where The Stars Will Give Way To The Morning. I often record tracks with no idea what the vocal will do until later. This time I failed to find a tune for it and gave it to Diana to see what she could do. Diana then wrote both the tune and the lyrics and they concern her late father who had a life long love of the sea and sailing, which was true of my father too. The multiple vocals were built up over a number of recording sessions. As with many of the songs I work on, the true shape only emerges at the very end.
I was once asked by Steve Bingham to write a short piece for a quartet, Fourplay, that he performed with. I used an old song of mine The Leaves Come Down as a basis. It was the first time I had 'written' an arrangement for anyone – computer technology allowing me to create a conventional musical score. Musical notation had baffled me ever since I first started to teach myself to play piano and guitar. It remains a total mystery to me, but fortunately my laptop nowadays intervenes between me and trained musicians helping me explain what it is I'd like.
The Light of Setting Suns
Possibly the track of mine longest in the making. This was started in 1977 as an experiment, to see if I could put the Wordsworth poem Tintern Abbey to music. Not long before I had played my very first disastrous gig with the band I formed with Mark Fletcher in my early teens. As a result Mark (who plays bass throughout this new album) and I had fallen out, and not spoken for about 18 months. Perhaps I’d had enough of guitars and rock music and wanted to do something different. I completed the piece about 10 years later and recorded a version that I was not happy with. There it sat until about 2016 when I decided I wanted to have another go at it. Encouraged by the fact that I had done all the arrangements for Where the Stars..., I thought I would have a go at writing a complete string arrangement for this 24 minute song. Steve Bingham pulled together the necessary musicians, and over some months I assembled this track. William Wordsworth in his poem is exploring a pantheist sense of the universe that chimes with my own view.
A further note on special guest Diana Hare:
Diana Hare and I once played together in a band, and she has contributed to much of my music over the years. She is Norfolk born. We have written many songs together. I first met Diana at a gig at the Red Lion Hotel in Cromer (for those who know this pub, trust me when I say its present incarnation is a shadow of its former self). Diana was performing on stage with her band the C-View Bagpipes and the evening was especially notable for her voice, her exotic stage wear, and her Wasp synthesizer.
- Can you guess the two references in the album title??
- For more info: please see the album sleeve-notes
- Album release due for September 6th 2019 on CD and Digital
- Cromerzone CZ0021