Vocals can add something to a track that no other instrument can and not simply because they provide lyrical guidance, as often a vocalist is merely muttering half-formed words and ideas. In this collection you can hear musicians who don't habitually take to the mic, yet their contributions are often central to the track's success
These vocal tracks are punctuated with instrumentals and it's hard to determine the commonality between them. Perhaps it's the fact that there is a core of us playing throughout them, or that our musical styles don't really change despite the tune we're playing, but the tracks on Cubest 026 fell into place and sound to me like an album, like they were meant to go together
I've tried to mix the spacey and the standard on Cubest 026 and think this is a well-rounded album ...
2018 01 24 - Marcus Valentine: Keyboards; Keef Chemistry: Synth, Effects; Jon Shepherd: Guitar; Jean-Michel Maheu: Guitar; Martin Urmson: Bass; Alberto Sciusco: Moog;
I love it when we float in a haze of musical sounds. Someone plays something and the rest follow in an unformed fashion. I thought this would make a good entry point for the collection. There are points of interest all the way through, though the goal is undefined and the journey is short
2018 01 31 - Keef Chemistry: Vocals, Drums, Effects; Jon Shepherd: Guitar; Jean-Michel Maheu: Guitar; Martin Urmson: Bass; Alberto Sciusco: Moog; Steve Radford: Alto Sax;
The theme tune to an uncommissioned Eastern Bloc detective series. Great bass line, straight in there. Steve blows his sax over Jean-Michel's feedback with glitches of sound from Alberto's Moog. Very atmospheric. I have a drumstick in one hand with which I'm playing the drums standing. In my other hand is a mic, through which I'm humming a tune, heavily effected, listening to Steve and responding. It's hard to hit the right notes, the effect is very unforgiving to pitch imperfections. Martin's bass provides the perfect ground for a lovely bit of guitar work between Jon and Jean-Michel. There's a lot of space for everyone to enjoy
2018 02 07 - Marcus Valentine: Keyboards; Keef Chemistry: Vocals, Effects; Jon Shepherd: Guitar; Martin Urmson: Bass; Alberto Sciusco: Acoustic Guitar; Matthew Richards: Drums;
This track had a lovely vibe at the time of playing. There's a wall of cymbals while Martin provides a lazy bass line, then Matthew drops the beat in a suitably laid back style. I'm meditating on walking the city streets at night, with just the taxis and seagulls. My favourite line is "We're going nowhere fast, I hope I get there last". There's little instrumentation, so everyone gets a chance to express themselves. Sweet
2017 09 13 - Marcus Valentine: Keyboards; Keef Chemistry: Vocals, Effects; Jean-Michel Maheu: Guitar; Martin Urmson: Bass; Ramon Sanchez: Percussion; Steve Radford: Alto Sax; Matthew Richards: Percussion; Megan Smith: Sax; Francesca Maria Solinas: Vocals; Nina Lifely: Recorder, Vocals; Just Mike: Percussion; Bessie Spencer Vellacott: Violin; Chryselle Pathmanathan: Piano;
I like the way our tracks form and this is a good example of musical meanderings creating a vibe from where we launch ourselves. Slowly, through the woodwind and percussion, a sense of a tune forms, encouraging me to utter some lines about sleeping and dreaming. Jean-Michel's slide guitar sounds lovely over the wash of drifting instrumentation. That's a nice violin and the recorder is distinctive. Then halfway through Nina picks up the vocals with a lovely chant. I'm liking having two vocals and bookend her contribution with more mutterings about sleep as we drift off ...
2018 01 31 - Keef Chemistry: Synth, Effects; Jon Shepherd: Guitar; Jean-Michel Maheu: Guitar; Martin Urmson: Bass; Alberto Sciusco: Moog; Steve Radford: Vocals; Matthew Richards: Drums;
Some tracks just come together immediately and this is one of those. I'm messing around on my synth, Alberto is messing around with his Moog, while Jean-Michel gives us some backbone. Matthew is building things up and Steve adds some vocals, helping to glue the track together. Eventually Matthew brings in the beat and we're off. It sounds to me like a sci-fi theme tune. I like the screaming Moog behind Jean-Michel's amazing guitar work. The second half is all about him. It's an inspired solo, supported by a good bass underneath and those solid drums. Steve's vocal performance is excellent. I love the final chords, both the one ending the tune and the funny one right at the end
2018 02 14 - Marcus Valentine: Keyboards; Keef Chemistry: Drums; Jon Shepherd: Guitar, Vocals; Martin Urmson: Bass; Gloria Lanci: Synth;
Martin is twanging a funky bass line high up the frets and Jon adds a nice slide lick over the top. I'm ready on drums and launch into it just as Jon starts singing, so I quieten down sharpish. Jon has been approaching the mic more recently, but usually he mutters and it's hard to hear him, but here there's only the three of us and his vocals are nice and loud, so you can not only hear how good his words are, but how good his voice is. The tune writes itself, with verses then breaks, quite unusual for us. Martin takes the lead in the breaks and we appear to be playing in two keys, but I kinda like it. Right near the end Marcus drops in on keyboards. I'm not sure Gloria was playing anything. The kick drum had been sliding across the stage as I played and eventually I was at full stretch, so I had to find an end point, which I took suddenly
2018 01 24 - Marcus Valentine: Keyboards; Keef Chemistry: Melodica, Effects; Jon Shepherd: Guitar; Jean-Michel Maheu: Drums; Martin Urmson: Bass; Alberto Sciusco: Moog;
I love it when Marcus finds a new sound on his keyboard. Here his playing is augmented by a swirling effect which dances from left to right. I have a mad effect on my melodica, which is slightly confusing me as I play. You can hear the melodica itself in the right speaker and the effect centre-left. I'm trying to punctuate the music unpredictably. Jean-Michel is on the drums and doing a fine job. When he comes in with the beat it's a glorious moment. Alberto's Moog bleeps here and there, while Martin underpins everything on bass. There's not a lot to the tune, but I have a lot of time for the way Marcus works up and down the scale and everyone else's restraint
2018 01 31 - Keef Chemistry: Effects; Jon Shepherd: Guitar; Jean-Michel Maheu: Guitar, Vocals; Martin Urmson: Bass; Alberto Sciusco: Moog; Steve Radford: Alto Sax; Matthew Richards: Drums;
This was the tune that inspired me to get working on Cubest 026 so soon after Cubest 025. It manifested halfway through a piece we were playing, almost out of nowhere. It's Jon's guitar lick that defines the track, with Martin doing some lovely work underneath alongside those drums. Jean-Michel had come prepared with a poem by Arthur Rimbaud called 'Départ' (1886) and took to the mic. I remember the only thing I did from this point on is concentrate on the vocals, not wanting to spoil what I was hearing. It's an impassioned performance from someone who doesn't take to the vocals enough. I like Alberto's Moog buzzing underneath. Jon's stamina when delivering a line over and over is impressive. Steve chooses when to come in well. As is often the case, there's little to the tune, but it sounds great. It would be my choice for the first single ...
2017 07 19 - Marcus Valentine: Keyboards; Keef Chemistry: Melodica, Effects; Jon Shepherd: Guitar; Jean-Michel Maheu: Guitar; Steve Radford: Alto Sax; David Insua-Cao: Piano; Matthew Richards: Bass; Megan Smith: Drums; Tim Robertson: Vocals;
I thought I'd leave you with this kinda funky groove. Again it just wrote itself, threaded as it is with Tim's vocal lines about our hometown. Megan has jumped on the drums and her slightly shambolic shuffle really suits the vibe. Matthew has jumped on bass. He appears to be good at everything. My melodica adds a dub feel and Steve complements me on sax. Dub disco. Now there's an oxymoron. Good job we're genre-neutral. As the tune unravels you can finally hear David on piano. It floats along really nicely towards the end, drifting in and out and refusing to finish. I like Tim's line about our assemblage. We are very lucky
Weighing in at the top end of my self-appointed time limit for a Cubest album, I could have carried on snipping seconds off Cubest 026, but feel there's nothing that shouldn't be there ...
- keef chemistry
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