Sounds un­fa­mil­iar

For his sixth stu­dio al­bum, the peer­less Richard Haw­ley turned off all his elec­tronic gad­gets, gath­ered to­gether an ar­ray of bizarre sonic de­vices and re­turned to his first love – song­writ­ing. He tells Brian Boyd about his con­tin­u­ing search for that perfe

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film -

RICHARD HAW­LEY was in B&Q, ac­ci­den­tally knocked over a plant pot and got an al­bum out of it. “The sound that plant pot made was, by a truly weird co­in­ci­dence, a sound I was try­ing to get to for one of the songs on the new al­bum. I re­searched what I thought the sound was and af­ter a good bit of looking around I found you could get some­thing sim­i­lar from an in­stru­ment called a Ti­betan Singing Bowl — it’s like a big bell which vi­brates and pro­duces sound.”

It’s not the only un­usual in­stru­men­ta­tion on his new al­bum, Tru­elove’s Gut­ter. “I’ve got the Megabass Wa­ter­phone and the Cristal Baschet as well,” he says. “There’s a whole load of odd sounds on the al­bum that won’t have been heard be­fore on any­thing re­motely ap­proach­ing a rock mu­sic record. There were cer­tain acous­tic sounds I wanted, and once I tracked down the Singing Bowl, the rest just fol­lowed.

“But the trou­ble we had in the stu­dio: to get that B&Q-plant-pot-fall­ing-over sound, we ini­tially tried all th­ese synth ef­fects and then dis­tort­ing tra­di­tional in­stru­ments. But it was never quite right un­til I found the Singing Bowl. Some of th­ese old in­stru­ments, such as the Cristal Baschet, are amaz­ing in­stru­ments.

Re­search­ing them was great fun. I came across the glass ar­mon­ica which was in­vented by Ben­jamin Franklin, and I found one re­ally old one which was known as the “devil’s in­stru­ment” be­cause to play it you had to run your fin­ger around the brim – like a wine glass – but the rim had loads of lead and peo­ple would go a bit mad and start to froth at the mouth from all the lead when they played it too much.”

More an eight-track song cy­cle than an al­bum, Tru­elove’s Gut­ter is a haunt­ing and min­i­mal­is­tic af­fair. His dark­est work to date (which is re­ally say­ing some­thing), Haw­ley wants it to be a “lis­ten­ing ex­pe­ri­ence”.

“It’s a mood al­bum,” he says. “It’s not full of sud­den sonic jumps or any­thing like that. It’s struc­tured so that it’s best lis­tened to at one full sit­ting. I wanted it to un­du­late, to be this re­ally smooth jour­ney – the way I imag­ine it is that it bobs along on the waves of the in­stru­men­ta­tion. It’s very much against the time – it doesn’t fit.

“It’s an anti-sound­bite al­bum.”

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