Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit
Smoke Fairies – Through Low Light And Trees // Track By Track

Smoke Fairies – Through Low Light And Trees // Track By Track

06 September 2010, 13:00
Words by Adrian Mules

After our recent TLOBF Recommended Album review, Adrian Mules sat down with Jessica and Katherine to go through the album track by track and learn more about how this modern folk masterpiece came together.

So where was the album recorded?

Through Low Light and Trees was recorded during a 10-day session at Cornwall’s Sawmill’s studio. We had put a lot of thought into the songs, demo-ing them at home on the computer, trying out different ways of playing them with the band and discussing ideas with Head the producer.

The main access to the studio is by boat. This meant all our amps had to be loaded onto a small boat at just the right tide. Typically, in the long history of the studio, ours were the only amps to almost fall off the boat in the journey. Luckily they were caught at the last minute.

We arrived in Cornwall on a rainy night, and had to walk in complete darkness down the quarry train track and through the woods to get to the studio. The studio’s seclusion provided the perfect place to record the album. Surrounded by trees and in a small bay, we were able to watch the tide rising and falling and go for walks when we needed to clear our heads. A lot of the atmosphere, sounds and images of the surroundings crept into the songs in different ways, from the grinding of the quarry train to the huge and eerie moon that rose in the middle of the session. In many ways it was quite a magical experience, where we were able to fully explore our vision for the songs. The album has a generally autumnal feel so hopefully it will provide a mournful but comforting soundtrack to the changing seasons.

And what about the tracks can you talk us through those?

‘Summer Fades’
This is a song reflecting the nostalgia and excitement that comes with a new beginning. Autumn always feels like quite a dramatic and nostalgic time of year, with the low light of the sun and the beauty that comes with decay. A lot of life is going to sleep and making way for cold and bleak weather. I think we go through similar seasons as people. Sometimes you think you are never going to live up to a dominant figure in someone else’s’ past so when new things are starting there can be a feeling of both excitement and insecurity, kind of similar to the feeling I get when the weather switches into the autumn.

‘Devil in my Mind’
We have been playing this song for a while live, so it was good to finally capture it. It’s a dark song about getting lost and trapped in the city in various ways; the way it can mess with your mind and things can become hazy, confused and your thoughts can become more sinister as the claustrophobic atmosphere closes in. Occasionally when things are recorded all the different parts merge together in a peculiar way, so that when you listen back there is the illusion of a whole new part. I think this has happened here. There is a very strong pulse present that can’t be pinpointed to one instrument. Very fitting for a song about the city.

‘Hotel Room’
It was fun to record this song, it has a looser more immediate feeling which suits the character of the song. We wanted something upbeat and optimistic on the record. It’s all about light and momentary pleasure that might not last, but is good anyway. The best bit about recording this track was when we both sat in the studio playing the Hammond Organ and the Fender Rhodes which isn’t something we get to do often.

We wanted to try something with a different instrumentation. It’s a strange song that just came out of imagining England in a more dangerous and isolating way. Dragons eating people.

‘Feeling Is Turning Blue’
As the title of the song explains it is about a feeling/situation that was once happy but has since turned slightly melancholy. A city provides the backdrop to narration. We recorded most of this track in the kitchen with the intention of creating a harsh, basic guitar sound but to have a pulse running through the song, replicating the drone that cities have.

‘Erie Lackawanna’
We tried many different ways of recording this song. At one point it was sounding like a medieval carnival but in the end it worked best just playing it live with just the two of us and then adding noises to create swells. We featured noises from the Quarry train that ran by the studio. Imagine this story to be told early in the morning before the sun has risen, perhaps on one of the last few nights of someone’s long life.

‘Morning Blues’
I did this song in one take with the help of a glass of wine after diner. Katherine then added the Mermaid-like vocals. Originally it was called Little Mermaid Lullaby but Morning Blues fitted better to the general feeling of the album.

‘Strange Moon Rising’
We had been playing around with this as an instrumental for a few weeks before going to record. We decided to go ahead and record it with no lyrics or tune so no one knew what kind of song it was going to turn into. It was only when we came to mix the tracks that we came up with the chorus and quickly fitted it all together. To get the tune for it we tried to think of something that we wouldn’t normally come up with. It is almost like a playground chant.

‘Storm Song’
This was written on really dark and windy and night, the trees were bending back and forth and the rain was hitting the window sideways. The house we lived in at the time was really drafty, so it felt like the storm was coming inside. We tried to create something that builds in quite an epic way.

‘Blue Skies Fall’
Blue Skies Fall was a song we had only just worked out how to play with the band, glad it came together in time. It seems to have an endless amount of possible guitar parts that could go with it. We stopped at four.

‘After the Rain’
This was approached in the same way as Morning Blues, played and sung in one take, with Jessica’s backing “oos” added later. I think it’s quite sparse and haunting, the words are pretty dark, so it needed to sound stripped back and lonely. One day it had rained pretty heavily and the feeling in the air was one of freshness and possibilities and it seemed interesting to think of that in terms of escapism for someone trapped in a certain situation.

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