A Scattering – the first track from my instrumental album Murder and Parliament.

A Scattering had the working title of Sleight of Hand for about twelve years. It’s been hanging around on various hard drives for at least that long.

Structurally, it’s something like ABCA. The A sections are in E, but with heavy emphasis on A, making it feel a bit modal until we finally get to the E at the end of the chord sequence. First time round we get the main theme on bass, then basss and clean guitars, then the loud rocky version. It’s in 5/4 and to me feels quite open and anthemic. It’s the instrumental version of a big loud singalong chorus, as far as I’m concerned.

Arranging it the way I did also meant I had a nice arpeggio bass solo for Alun to play right at the start of the album, which seemed like a sensible place to start. I had a good player on board for the project, so why not highlight what he can do early on?

The B section is in A minor, kinda, and has some stupid time signature changes. Like really stupid, I think there’re 7/8s and 15/16s and all sorts of silly things. Did I set out to write something like that? No, it’s pretty rare that as a composer you decide to use a funny time signature. It’s just that the guitar melody worked out that way.

It’s pretty simple – the theme played out three times, once with the guitar playing the twisty melody, once with a synth sound, once again with the guitar, with a twisty ascending unison to finish of and bring us to a big loud Ab power chord.

The B and C sections began life in the same abandoned heavy metal project that led to my song ‘Steamlife’ from Ironbark. I was just getting into prog-metal at the time, so decided to try and write some. I don’t think I got as far as completing a single song for that project, but I did end up with a bunch of ideas that have found their way in to various projects.

The C section begins with a synth section that includes some gestural work using an almost percussive synth sound we heard previously in the intro and in the B section. The weird sounds here were made by messing around with samples of the B section synth sound.

And then, after some clean guitar arpeggios we move into the main part of the section, a brooding, melancholic passage that’s sort of in E, ascending and finally culminating in a tritone on F-sharp, giving us a nice moment of tension and dissonance, which resolves as we return to the bass solo from the A section.

And that leads into the A section again, nice and loud – the ‘singalong’ tuneful bit, this time with an extra counter melody from one of the guitars. The previous sections were twisty, tense and changeable – this final section is tuneful and straight. All right, it’s in 5/4, but that’s near enough to 4/4 as to be pretty much the same.

It’s an instrumental piece. So what is it about? This piece is a journey there and back again. It’s a Frankenstein’s monster of disparate, scattered parts, it’s light, then dark, then light again. It’s also very autobiographical in the sense that it brings together some of my oldest musical ideas and my most recent collaborations.

More importantly, it just makes me feel happy every time I hear it.

Murder and Parliament – Pre-orders open now

My new instrumental album, ‘Murder and Parliament’, is available now for pre-orders. You can stream the first track, ‘A Scattering’, right now.

Here’s the Bad Elephant Music announcement:

Bad Elephant Music is excited to announce that preorders for ‘Murder and Parliament’, the new instrumental project from Tom Slatter, are now open, ahead of a December 8th release.

Think you know Tom Slatter? Think again! Murder and Parliament’s instrumental soundscape showcases a side of Tom that may surprise you.

Enlisting the talents of Alun Vaughan (bass guitar) and Chrissie Caulfield (violin), Tom has realised this vision of layered, complex but tuneful noise. Make no mistake: this is a rock album, fitting neatly into the BEM instrumental zone also occupied by the likes of The Fierce & The Dead, The Brackish and The Bob Lazar Story.

”The songs on Murder and Parliament have been running around in my head for a decade or so,” says Tom. “And I can’t wait for other people to hear them too.”
‘Murder and Parliament’ will be released on December 8th, 2017.”

I’ve also made a couple of videos explaining the project:

The Sunday Bootleg Episode 42 – Simon Godfrey

In the new episode of my podcast the following things occur:

  • I remind us of the origin of the insect creatures and what they’ve been up to
  • I have a chat with Simon Godfrey about Simon’s musical adventures and our mutual problems with our record label boss, David Elephant.
  • I play Simon’s song ‘Tea Head’ from his album of rarities and obscurities ‘The Black Back Archives Volume 2’
  • I tell a little story about what I got up to after my last meeting with the evil label boss, David.

You can find more of Simon’s music at: shineback.badelephant.co.uk/

Sunday bootleg episode 41 Abomnium

Episode 41 of the Sunday Bootleg.

I’ve decided to include more interviews with other people and bootlegs from others on the podcast.

This week:
-An interview with one man extreme metal band Peter Watkinson about his band Abomnium.
-True facts about the war between Tarquin’s City Boys and the metal insects
-True facts about what it’s like being signed to BEM and how different Peter’s label boss is to David Elephant.
-Some heavy metal, including a demo track that Peter and I did together two or three years ago, and a track from Abomnium’s latest album A Hollow Path.

You have been warned.

Gig report and the end of ‘phase 1’ – The Underworld Rally 2017

I didn’t know what to expect from a biker rally. My entire knowledge of biker culture comes from the TV show Sons of Anarchy, so I assumed there was a real danger of being killed by people with unconvincing Irish accents.

More to the point, are silly songs about aliens and tentacles and steampunk shenanigans really the sort of thing to play at a biker rally, even if it is the chill-out Sunday afternoon acoustic session? Might we get booed off, or worse?

It was with a slight sense of trepidation that Gareth and I headed into Sunday’s gig at the Underworld Rally 2017.

I headed up to Nottingham, where Gareth lives with his better half and my dog Charlie on the Saturday evening and we headed off for a very pleasant drive up to the rally which was taking place in Preston, finally turning in to the entrance to the venue, a farm somewhere quite a way from civilisation (being a lousy Southerner, I of course regard the interior of the M25 as civilisation and everything outside it as a bleak, desolate wasteland).

A lovely chap greeted us and gave us wrist bands. There was a woman with a baby at the welcome table with him. We drove in, still nervous, only to find a nice little group of people listening to the opening acoustic act, who was performing under a tree.

It turns out bikers like their rock music and a great many of them were wearing Iron Maiden t-shirts. I was obviously going to like them, wasn’t I? The event even had its own beer, a pleasant, rather wheaty affair. Apart from the bikes, which I have no interest in, this was the perfect event for me.

Gareth caught me off guard, hence the smile. I apologise and will make sure I stick on brand in all photos from now on.

We were performing outside in the shade of a tree and an old carved statue of what I think was supposed to be a native american. It was the afternoon of the third day of the rally and the acoustic acts were the chill-out section before the final evening.

We were last on and played a pleasant little set to about 40 or 50 people. It Is interesting, the different audiences you play to. This gig was definitely a mixture of some people paying attention and some hanging out in the sun with the music as background. Which is fine, and presents a nice challenge for us as performers. Can you find the peolle who want to listen and engage with them, can you win some more round? We had some nice little chats with people afterwards, so I think it’s fair to say we did okay.

So it was a pleasant gig, the fourth as a duo and the end of what I’ve bern thinking of as ‘phase 1’ of gigging.

What’s phase 1? It’s the proof of concept phase where we answered the questions does this duo thing work? And can Gareth and I work together? The answers appear to be ‘yes,’ and ‘yes.’

What’s phase 2? Phase two is where we book gigs strategically and really put some effort into building the audience.  This may involve a banner of some kind.


More podcast, whether you want it or not.

No-one asked, literally no-one, but I’m doing it anyway. I’m recording more episodes of my podcast ‘Tom Slatter’s Sunday Bootleg’.

If you don’t know what that is, it is a podcast wot I do on a Sunday that has a ‘bootleg’ recording of some sort and a true story about recent happenings. As an example, here is story about the true things that happened to me at last year’s Prog awards.

I’m not going to apologise. It is fun.

The next new episode will include a true story about what I stole from The Horns in Watford, and I why I gave it back.

IronBark song by song – Watermen’s Square

What’s it about?

Watermen’s Square is about some watermen on the Thames who dredge up an evil rusty twisted metal skeleton, take it back to the the Watermen’s square. Once there the executor turns up and claims it. Terrified, they hand it over.

Watermen’s Square is a real place in Penge, South London. Here’s a picture:

In reality it’s just an exceedingly pretty collection of houses built for the Freemen and Apprentices of the Watermen’s company who worked the Thames and associated waterways. It stands out as an incongruous bit of architecture in an otherwise kinda dull urban street.
In my song, it’s where the watermen drag the huge misshapen iron skeleton that eventually becomes the hulking body of the Miser’s Triumph.
It ain’t a happy place.

Its the middle song from the Miser’s Will, and possibly my favourite. It hangs somewhere in the middle of lullaby and horror story and the one I enjoy singing the most.

The Writing Process:

Watermen’s Square started heavier than it sounds now. I had recorded an instrumental Alice in Chains rip-off with the melody played by several harmonized guitars. A rough version of this was hanging around on my harddrive for about six months until I got the point last month where I needed a third song in the Miser’s Will and didn’t know what to do.

So I dug out this Alice in Chains rip-off, calmed it down, and there it was.

The Recording Process:

It took forever to record the vocals for this. So long and so frustrating a process was it that I ended up writing several entries of a diary about my singing voice.

Mostly I got there in the end.

Inspired by/Blatantly steals from:

Alice in Chains acoustic stuff.


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