Half price tentacles!

Sale! Fit the Fourth cds now available for £5.

My fourth album, a collection of songs that I poured my heart and soul into; that concluded a musical journey for the character Seven Bells John that began on my first album 6 years previously; that contains some of my best ever songs, including what might be my signature song Some of the Creatures…. is now available for just a fiver.

I asked David Elephant, CEE (chief executive elephant) of my record label if the 20 pence I previously had received per £10 would now be 10 pence. He informed me that the 20 pence I had been receiving was part of the £5 that has been discounted. So I won’t be receiving that, but as he put it I should probably ‘shut up with my whinging’.

Still, it’s a great deal. If you don’t have a copy now’s the time to get one! Click here to do so.

Playing Bass For The Creature

Jordan Brown, bassist extraordinaire for the the band The Rube Goldberg Machine played bass on a couple of tracks from my new album. Here’a blog post he wrote about the experience.

The world of prog music is an interesting ecosystem.

By definition progressive rock grants total freedom to the musicians to create (hopefully) interesting musical concoctions aimed at stimulating the cochleas and subsequently the synapses of the listener For my tastes a lot of stuff out there is a bit too abstract, formulaic or cringe – worthy. Or a combination of the three.
Tom is a very interesting artist. It seems to me that he has a very developed vision of who he is as a musician: A sci-fi storyteller with a penchant for odd time signatures and soundscapes.
Those of you who are not in the know might be already rolling their eyes – what pretentiousness!
To those people I say Mr. Slatter pulls it off like a boss and then some.
He can write great melodies, has a fine ear for arrangement, knows how to employ the principles of functional harmony (gasp!) and can capture the imagination of us prog – heads and geeks with his words.
Dude’s tres cool. The only way he could be any cooler would be if he wrote a concept album about William Adama riding a Shai – Hulud to Rapture. If you got all three references you need to get out more.

When I’ve heard he was recording his new album “Fit The Fourth” I contacted him on Facebook and asked if he could please consider having me as a guest on his album; he gracefully accepted and sent me the demos of “Some Of The Creatures Have Broken The Locks On The Door To Lab 558” (the title is so long that Bandcamp charges him double) and “Far From The Shore”. He also sent me some instructions that I can’t help but quote:

“Lab 558: This one’s a straight rocker for the most part, but have fun with it and don’t feel confined to root notes except in the middle 4/4 chorus where it probably needs ’em. That counter melody in the intro that I currently have on electric guitar might work on higher register bass. There’s also room for twiddliness on the melodic figure that precedes the drums coming in. The middle section (That’s why the sky’s falling down’) can also be more free”

“Far from the Shore: Imagine that you are adrift on the salt baked remains of what used to be your ship. The last fresh water ran out days ago and there’s no land in site. You started hallucinating at some point in the last few hours. The sun has beaten and burned away what’s left of your reason, but you’re happy because you know at some point soon you will slip beneath the waves and breathe through the new gills you have grown”

Now that’s the kinda stuff that really gets me going.

True artists don’t waste any time with technicalities. They want emotion and it was my plan to provide meister Slatter with some bass action he’d be proud to hear on his songs.

For all you audio nerds out there: I recorded my basses through my trusty NEVE 1076 straight into my Focusrite Forte and did all the editing in Studio One V2. If memory doesn’t fail me I also provided a parallel distorted track made with Guitar Rig.

So I receive the bassless demos and think: “Now what?”

Things look nebulous from here. Not the songs, there is enough there to have a clear idea of all the movements and parts in the composition.
As a guest bassist, my main aim is to enhance what’s there and make sure I don’t play against anything else. Writing a bassline at this stage of the production is like a game of chess. Most of the stuff is already there, so you kinda know the coordinates, but it’s possible that some of the stuff in there could be a place-holder that will be re recorded differently.
It’s also probable that parts of the arrangements will be developed texturally (spoiler alert – they did), the only thing is I don’t know how.
That’s where you start projecting in the future. Bass frequencies carry a lot of weight both from the sonic side of things and the harmonic too. If I play something that implies a different chord, I will ruin the harmonic motion that Tom expects; that could be a calculated risk, but it’s the first time we work together and I have to play nice.
If I play too much it’ll sound a mess. If I play too little I fail to meet the guidelines dictated by the XIX century book “De Res Progressivae” by R. Wakemanious.

This prog, for Chris’ sake. Chris is Chris Squire BTW.

I decide to follow my instinct. I shall remain glued to the drum pattern when Tom sings and alternate between counterpoint and unison with some of the lead voices during the instrumental parts, while remaining reasonably solid. May Geddy Lee smile on me.

LAB 558

For this tale of things gone incredibly wrong in an underground scientific facility, I decided to play my fretless, because, why not? It worked for Mick Karn and Colin Edwin. I too want to join the club. Being a rocky, groovy tune, the key there is being tight; there is a lot of back and forth between legato and staccato. The guitars have hidden motions that derail ever so slightly form the drum pattern – how cool! I shall underline that. Oh also let me say with a bit of pride that I don’t time quantize my takes. What’s in there is what came out of my fingers. The unison at 4:05 took me a bit to learn and play but I think it sounds really cool.
In the coda there is a little fretless melody that makes texture with the reverse guitars. The inspiration for it is worth a mention.
I was wrapping up the recording when I had this sudden realization: probably the creatures were subjected to unethical experiments – that’s my animal right advocacy talking to my subconscious right there. Probably somewhere in the devastation of the uprising of the creatures there was a young one, scared to death and suffering. That was the inspiration for my part in the coda.
I also must admit that the young creature in my head looked suspiciously similar to Stitch from Lilo & Stitch. I am a weakling and I’d probably be one of the first to die in the event of a monster invasion.

FAR FROM THE SHORE

A delightful story that seems to have stemmed from the pen of the best Lovecraft.
For this one I broke out my beloved Daphne, a P – bass / Music man crossover handbuilt by Rufini guitars. My soul mate, the apple of my eye, the cream in my coffee. Well, you got the point.
Recording this one took some time, it’s a multi part juggernaut that required different approaches. One of my favourite things is the metric modulation in the chorus where the pulse shifts from a 3 / 4 to a full on 12 / 8. That’s the good stuff in my book.
The verses are where I chose to be less conservative and basically barge my way in, playing the answering lines after the vocals. I thought if he didn’t like them I can still re record a tamer part. Looks like Meister Slatter loved them,tho, because there they are!
As a parting gift I decided to play double stops in the coda of the tune which blended nicely with the guitar voicing, giving the impression of a single big string instrument.

Thank you all for reading and thank you Tom for letting me be a part of your wonderful music; I surely enjoyed myself and I hope I did your songs justice.

Seven Bells John Podcast – Episodes 3 and 4

So here’s the next couple of episodes of the podcast.

Episode 3:

Which is about the villain of the piece. Well, one of the villains. More than that, it includes remixed versions of two songs from the ‘Through These Veins’ ep. I was never happy with the mix fo that, so I thought I’d see about fixing it.

And episode 4 which is about a town called Ironbark:

Fit The Fourth Album Launch Gig

I’ve decided to do an acoustic gig to launch the new album. Here’s the blurb:

Having hoodwinked an actual record label into releasing his latest album, Fit the Fourth, Tom Slatter has now decided to bully his friend and family into sitting through an evening of his music. You can come and listen too.
Tom will be performing an acoustic set in the Chapel at St Margaret’s House, Bethnal Green, London. It will include songs from the new album and others that tell the story of ‘Seven Bells John’ who has been haunting Tom’s music for the last five years. As it will just be Tom and his acoustic guitar you won’t be forced to endure those self indulgent solos that he puts in the studio version of his songs.
Between songs Tom is likely to tell bad jokes and complain about Martin from Bad Elephant records who now writes all his publicity material.
Tickets are free, but strictly limited in number. Doors at 7:30pm but you can turn up earlier and enjoy the marvellous food and drink at the Gallery Cafe.
You’ll be able to buy a copy of the album too, if you want one.
Opening act TBC

You can book yourself a free ticket at this link. It’s small venue, so while the tickets are free, once they’re gone they’re gone.

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New Album Fit the Fourth released on 1st June 2015

My new album Fit the Fourth will be released in June. Here’s a PDF of the press release. And here’s what my record labels PR department (ie. a lovely bloke called Martin) has to say:

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Bad Elephant Music
TOM SLATTER – ALBUM RELEASE DATE AND ARTWORK

Bad Elephant Music is proud to announce that ‘Fit the Fourth’, the new album from respected singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tom Slatter, will be released on June 1st, 2015.

Tom weaves complex and fantastical stories throughout his music and this new album is no different. Dark deeds and dangerous characters litter the narrative, including the continuing tale of Seven Bells John. The story of this menacing character and the vivid steampunk world he inhabits has been interwoven throughout Tom’s music from his first appearance on Slatter’s debut album ‘Spinning The Compass’. With ‘Fit the Fourth’, John’s journey comes full circle with his eventual fate revealed in twenty-minute epic, ‘Seven Bells Redeemed’.

Aided by bassist Jordan Brown on two songs, Tom has produced another stellar tale with deliciously sinister leanings illustrated, as ever, with Joe Slatter’s inventive visuals.

Fit the Fourth will be available directly from Bad Elephant Music – http://music.badelephant.co.uk/ – and other selected outlets from 1st June. Pre-ordering will be announced shortly – and keep a look out for more surprises!

Tentacles as far as the eye can see

This is the latest edition of my email newsletter. Except if you’re not on the mailing list you don’t have the password to the fanpage. Wahahahaha! (You can get it. Just click on the link and do what it says).

Hello you!

So last month you learned that I am now a Bad Elephant. Over the next couple you’ll learn more about the new album as we release various bits and bobs, building up to the release date.

Nothing’s being made public until the beginning of April, but I thought I’d put some stuff up on the fan page for mailing list subscribers, so click here for the fan page and use the password [redacted] to hear and see some stuff about the new album.

In Other News

I’ve been adding things to my youtube account. There’s a bit of nonsense from the recent video shoot, lyric videos for 4 songs from the Miser’s Will and an acoustic version of Something’s Bound to Happen (An old Comrade Robot song).

It’s going to be a great summer if you like my music. The new album is the best stuff I’ve ever written. If you don’t like my music… Why on earth are you still receiving these emails?

Thanks for listening!

Tom

www.tomslatter.co.uk