On the ugly side...

Posted 19 Mar '09 about Malakai

Well it seems the LP is (so far) being well recieved, thanks for all your comments and ‘big-ups’, keep ‘em coming ‘cos we care about your thoughts and opinions, feedback can only help us grow

I thought it might be useful to break down the LP a bit and give each track a little explanation, the reason being that though the reviews have been most positive a lot of them have been slightly underlined by a sense of confusion, whether it be about the message of certain tracks or our musical categorisation, it’s understandable that our sound is regarded as undefinable as we don’t generally ‘choose a weapon’ and this leaves us open to words like ‘unfocused’ but the truth is that we’re VERY focused, focused on making the best music we can, we’re music lovers and collectors and have many influences, we’ve also grown up in a world where we’ve seen the negatives of being ‘just this’ or ‘just that’ so we see blurring the lines as not such a bad thing, if anything we think giving a wide spectrum of sounds and styles is the most honest we can be and be it Beach Boys, Beatles etc. we’ve seen it CAN work.

As for the tunes… (the following is something I wrote for our press dept. ‘In House Press’ a couple of months back)

A brief history of..

MALAKAI-UGLY SIDE OF LOVE

As the title suggests, over this record Malakai explore the various faces of loves ugly side, from the awkward corners of domestic self-love, the powerplay, jealousy, and selfishness of relationships to the knee-jerk, greed and control of collective government….but in songs

WARRIORS

I was getting a bit fed up with the safety I was hearing on the radio and just wished there was more balls in what was coming out. It was Scotts idea to use the sample from the film so that flavoured my approach to some extent. The thing was though I was happily ranting away I couldn’t help but think how I can miss the target by miles when fuelled by passion led anger and so it became a play-off between the voices on my shoulders, Should I go in? What if I’m wrong? Nah, let’s ‘avvit!! Where’s the fookin’ warriors? Nice one to start the album

SHITKICKER

A tip of the hat to Bluegrass music and its sense of survival, I love that ‘warts and all/slap you about the head’ kind of approach that says “ yer gawna git knocked down so yuh maght as well git up again”
In the chorus I say ‘go ask any cowboy “How many arrows does it take in a battle?” which is really a question that can’t be answered as the cowboy you’re asking won’t know that ‘til he’s hit by the arrow that kills him, until then he’ll just have to get used to picking them out of his arse every now and then (now THAT’S a metaphor folks!)

SNAKECHARMER

This freeform interlude swoops in past a window catching an eyeful of the pleasures(?) inside, we all have our fancies but with some of the things people get up to you’d think they’d draw the curtains

SNOWFLAKE

An innuendo free tale of sexual frustration in a relationship rocked by the realisation that the lust it was based on has now gone and the incompatibility now all but visible, when I was putting tha vocal down it reminded me of Free so that’s why you hear the off-mike “Y’Know-oah-woah!” gag in there, good chuggin’ tune, nice riff, sounds good real loud

OMEGA TIME

I found the breakdown of values using 2 sticks, 4 bits of bread and 3 regional accents and if that doesn’t win us the Mercury then bollocks to ‘em.

We wanted to break things up from time to time because we loved albums like De La’s 3 Feet high and rising and as we were always into ‘cut’n’paste’ we just went with it, when I say ‘I would build me a time machine out of bread’ it just made sense to take it to its natural conclusion where a group of surviving British WW2 soldiers are swept up by the loafs beam, we’ll hear where they appear on the next album

BLACKBIRD

A paranoia laced dirge, a look at that place you get to when you fear the worst and come out blindly swinging, Scott did a great arrangement on this, it’s a raucus and fun one to sing live, good driving song

MOONSURFIN’

This is a kind of inside out Beach Boys type number in that I’m talking about surfing under the moon as opposed to the sun and is the most misenterprated of the LP as it’s heard as a happy-clap thing but there’s a completely different force behind it, it says ‘c’mon let’s go surfin’ but what I’m really saying is ‘soon there ain’t gonna be much land left so you might as well go surfin’ it’s a dig at the disposable life that we’re accustomed to in our love for progress served up as a syrupy summer song in a misleadingly Paul Daniels type way, The seas are rising and we’re sometimes reminded of it in the most upsetting ways but the ‘greedfeed’ wheel keeps-a-turning, at home I’ve raised all my vinyl off of the floor, when it gets to Barbra Streisand we should start worrying and when it hits Elkie Brooks we’ve had it folks!

MEECHS’ THEME

One day this cat adopted us, she just walked in all spikey and sneezy from the rain and didn’t venture out for a month. We named her, fed her, stroked her, worried about her, medicated her, found her dead and buried her and to this day still get sad thinking of her, the love that’s torn away through loss definitely puts it on the ugly side

ONLY FOR YOU

Geoff Barrow contributed his atmospheric skill and we nailed this one. We were after a demented chorale type thing where it wasn’t quite right, not quite settled, frayed at the edges, a block of vocal harmonies should flow over you ‘bliss-like’ but here it doesn’t quite sit right, I saw it as telling lies like ‘only for you’ and ‘I cry for you’ only for the harmonies to let it down and reveal the truth, it all sounds a bit too thought out on paper but it was only an idea

LAYDOWN STAYDOWN

Love the horns on this and Billys bit on the run out, I saw an American Indian Chief on horseback on a high rock ledge, the scene is quiet and we’re looking down from behind him overlooking the expanse, the silence is broken as Helicopters pop up out of nowhere with a Sergeant leaning out barking orders over terrific noise. The horse rears and as he wrestles back control the Chiefs eyes meet the Sergeants as the latter bellows instruction the former doesn’t understand. As the face off escalates the Chief closes his eyes and draws heavily through his nose, the sky darkens and the clouds gather as if drawn to that very spot, the Sergeant finally loses patience and makes to shoot the chief but just as he reaches for the trigger the Chief raise his staff and a flash meets the helicopters rocket and holds it there, as the rocket hangs suspended between them a bolt of lightening hits a tree on an over hang above them splitting the rock and sending it plummeting smashing the Helicopter out of the sky, other natural forces (rain, wind) deal with the other aircraft
(Buckaroo envy, Christmas 1978)

ANOTHER SUN

This is our ‘influences on a sleeve’ effort, a kind of ‘yesterday’ for me as I woke up one day with the song all but finished, so much so that I thought it maybe too obvious a song but I’m glad it sounds good, I like to play with 3/4 part harmonies and the era that this tune evokes is more than responsible for the lean of how I write a lot of the time

HOW LONG

For this one Scott wanted a track that looked like an inverted triangle starting small at the bottom and getting wider as it progresses building up to a big sudden end at the top, I like the imagery of the opening lines, it’s one I can really get swept up in and shout the demons out

FADING WORLD

Continuing the ‘Apocalypso’ of Moonsurfin’ We didn’t set out to ‘finger wag’ and though certain topics might be echoed across other tunes we wouldn’t want our selves to be tagged as Eco evangelists or ‘idealists’ our feet are firmly rooted to the ground, we were just proud of this and wanted it to go on the LP .
The mood of the backing track lent heavily to the direction of the lyric, also I’d just watched reports on hurricane Katrina on the news and was gobsmacked so it’s little wonder it all merged like that, I like the ‘razor blades’ line and who’d deny themselves a whistling outro, Fading World was written at the worst point of the Katrina disaster so that’s why I sang “my hand can’t find New Orleans no more” but I’m happy that New Orleans has rebuilt itself (like you could keep THAT town down)

SIMPLE SONG

A bog standard Tra-la-la singalong that anyone can sing along with given 50 listens or more, I consider it an achievement to have hit on something so immediate that strips away all notions of complexity that might maybe save the world at the same time, the fact that it’s a roll call of mainly popular English light entertainers is irrelevant, it’s a universal message of hope for us and generations to come, even if you’re not familiar with posh monocled ventriliquist dummies of the mid to late 70’s