Anna Rose Carter and Ed Hamilton talk us through leaving London and all its attractions behind in order to find inspiration in the countryside for the songs which make up Dead Light.
Below, Carter and Hamilton take us through Dead Light track by track - and you can also stream the record in full.
Anna: "Blooms" was created when Ed was away for a weekend; he’d left his tape machines patched in and I couldn’t resist having a nosy to see what was on them! I found a series of really haunting, delicate loops and set about writing a piano melody to go with the loops.
Ed: After we’d recorded the piano we felt the beginning and the end needed something else, something to bookend the piano, to bring it to life a bit more. The synth and tape treatments really help this; they tie the track together.
Ed: There’s something so nice about the combination of the warm, tender piano melody at the beginning and the building violins moving into noise at the end of the track. It’s a musical parallel for that sense of being in limbo that we’ve felt often since moving here… I wish we had some video footage of us making it, me and Anna standing in the room with our friend Alicia (who played violin for us on the record) waving our hands and arms around like some kind of deranged conductors and trying not to knock over the mics in the process! It was definitely one of the most fun tracks to record, which is funny because it’s one of the tracks where the sense of ambivalence and displacement that permeates the record is at its most prominent.
Anna: A lot of the tracks on the record are quite busy sonically, we wanted to really strip this one back and give some space around the three instruments. Also from a sequencing perspective, I think it really works to have this sparser track where it is on the record. I love the interplay between the piano, violin and cello (played beautifully by our friend Carys), there’s something so timeless about the marriage of those instruments.
Ed: It was the first track we wrote after we left London. It came out of the initial recording sessions as we explored the dynamic of collaborating together in this new environment. So you could say it’s us establishing our sound – tape loops, delay networks, piano preparations, and the various creaks and cracks of Anna’s piano! There’s also a nod to the past on here too… The opening loop was made using this old 8-bit sampler that my friend James got me into when we made music together years ago, I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. It sounds exactly like what it is; an 8-bit sampler! Really cheap and over compressed, but sometimes that sound is just right!
Anna: LASMA! What an amazing voice. I used to work with Lasma years ago and we immediately bonded over a shared taste in music. She came to stay with us for a few days right at the end of making the record and we had this one cello loop left that we didn’t know what to do with. We really wanted it on the record but it wasn’t strong enough on it’s own. We were showing it to Lasma when I suddenly heard this vocal harmony... I sung it to Lasma and then we just started to play around with different harmonies. The rest of the song followed from there. Lasma has the most incredible voice and it’s such a pleasure to have her on the record, it’s definitely one of our favourite tracks.
Anna: It’s hard to listen to this one! We’ve listened to it so many times because we had a lot of trouble mixing it...
Ed: The combination of Anna’s old piano and the mics I’ve currently got make it quite hard to get a good recording of fast, rhythmical piano. There’s something about fast transients that just doesn’t translate very well on the recordings we’ve made at Pie Corner. It might also be something to do with the living room we use as a studio; it’s pretty reverberant and definitely ‘woollies’ things up a bit! It’s thanks to the genius of Daniel Rejmer (who helped us mix the record) that this made it onto the record at all, before he got his hands on it, it was totally unlistenable!
Ed: As with a lot of our favourite songs, this one came around by pure chance. We had the mics set up to record the beginning of "Slow Slowly" and were struggling to get a take we liked. We had a break and I went for a walk to clear my head. Luckily, I’d forgotten to press stop on the recording as when I came back Anna had created ‘Trills’! It’s not the best recording and we’ve actually added some progressions in since then, but none of the later recordings quite captured the spontaneity of this recording. Sometimes it’s worth using the worst sounding take if it’s got the right soul!
Anna: Alicia was here and we were messing around with some violin arrangements for some of the other tracks, we were retuning after lunch one day and really liked the sounds Alicia was making, it had a "Venus in Furs" sound to it… We messed around for hours, running the violin through various pedals and machines and then built the loops (again with the old 8-bit sampler), synth and central piano melody up around the string sections… We’re really lucky to have some talented friends and Carys (who played the cello on the record) again helped this track really come to life.
Ed: Another "accidental" piece! I couldn’t sleep one night, so I went downstairs and started tinkering with the delay network we used on a lot of the record, I ran some piano from a mic test we’d done through it. It was so comforting that I fell asleep in the studio with it still playing! We thought about 3 minutes worth was probably enough for the record!
Anna: This was one of the earliest tracks, it was autumn and we’d been going on a lot of drives at dusk, it’s a great time of year in the countryside, really eerie and atmospheric. We came home from one of these drives and went straight into the studio. ‘Pale Fire’ is what came out that night. Again, Alicia and Carys helped us bring the track to life.
Ed: This is actually the same loop from the start of "Falling In". We’d recorded the 8-bit sampler loop onto various bits of tape and subjected them to all kinds of different processes to degrade the tapes. This one had a character to it that we really loved and couldn’t bear to lose. It’s also slower than the original loop from ‘Falling In’ as the motor from the tape deck I used was in need of a service! It’s just an outro but it’s one of my favourite things on the record.