'The End of This Short Road' has been floating around in my box of tapes for
nearly 6 years now and is a real favourite of mine. This probably sounds a
bit wanky as its one of my own albums..! I recorded it on a 4 trk I borrowed
off a friend shortly after returning to NZ in 2000. This was a few months
before I started the PseudoArcana label, and given that my initial idea for
PseudoArcana was for it to focus on harsher and more abstract musics the
simple melodic folky songiness of 'Short Road' resulted in it sitting on the
shelf for much longer than it perhaps should have.
The stuff I record under my own name is different (for me...) than that
which I record under assumed names. It is far more intimate and for want of
a better word 'honest'. Where as with A.M I'm wearing dark glasses, and with
Swagger Jack I'm wearing rose-coloured glasses and a fake beard, as Antony
Milton I'm not wearing glasses at all...
There was a great poet who said of his work that all he had ever done was
write the same poem again and again, trying to get it right. I've sometimes
felt that I only have the one song inside me, and I've approached that song
from a hundred radically different angles and have ultimately become
convinced that this song can never in fact be realised in any definitive
way. But that one song is still there inside me and there are places on
'Short Road' where I think I come as close to realising that song as
'Day of the World'.
The 'straightest' song on the album, something of a hymn to death. I was 29
and just home from India and so it was written at a time when I was perhaps
overly conscious of all sorts of western cultural contradictions, most
especially those surrounding mortality. Through the writing of this song I
was attempting to inhabit the position of one who can accept death as a
natural and positive part of life. (A position I've never quite managed to
'The End of This Short Road'
Its 'that song' again. A spontaneous improvised accompaniment to a
spontaneous ecstatic poem that I'd written a month or so earlier on my knees
in a patch of gravel at Mangawhai Heads in Northland (NZ). Its about one of
those most simple of mundane beautiful sun-in-the-eyes lonely times that one
sometimes stumbles into when out on a walk, and has perhaps more tapehiss
than any other track I've ever done..! (Come on, you KNOW there are voices
in the hiss!)
A hoedown for violin and guitar.
'In Amongst the Ferns'
A small rattley pop-song. For one reason or another I don't smoke pot
anymore. When I recorded this I was still an enthusiastic 'grow it
yourselfer'... Enough said!
'The Armchair (sprung)'
My girlfriends sister gave us an old computer when we came back to NZ and I
discovered that it had some very basic recording software on it. This was my
very first ever computer piece and used an old squeaky armchair as the sound
'Dreams the Ridge'
This is one in what is something of an ongoing series of soundtracks for an
imaginary Western set in Central Otago. There's a huge blue sky, tussock,
and maybe a NZ falcon hunting down some prey.
'Fine Stems -& Drips Like Tears'
An escapee from the sessions for the 'Guitar Has Strings' album of guitar
explorations (released by Black Petal). It had more of a dreamy melodic feel
than the rest of that album and so wound up being mastered onto this album
instead. If 'Dreams the Ridge' was a racing falcons rush then 'Fine Stems'
is a quiet time at dusk beside an icy reed lined stream.
With this track I specifically set out to distil the core elements of 'that'
song in a formal way whilst still keeping its heart alive . In this version
its a sad 'pop song' stripped to the bare essentials.
'Skylight. Rusted. 7pm.'
A drone track for e-minor and bowed e string. I was recording in a big tin
shed (see below...), the sun had left the skylight dark and I was virtually
rigid with cold. Sometimes that semi-hypothermic state can be a form of
'Track for the Larkings'
In a similar vein to 'Distilled' I was trying with this track to be as spare
yet evocative as I could be. Composed for a friends wedding (but ultimately
discarded by composer for want of cheerfulness- ha!).
'Could Be Killers Talk'
Many of the tracks on 'Short Road' were recorded in the upper story of a
large tin shed in Wellington that some friends and I were renting as a
studio off a car-grooming business downstairs. Our landlords were also
fairly well-known members of a local 'crime-family'. Shortly after this
recording was made the building was raided by the police searching for
evidence following the murder of a local drug dealer whom they had been
tipped off had been killed on the premises!
It had been obvious for a couple of weeks that something had happened due
to the arguments and general hubbub emanating from downstairs. One
particularly loud and quite audible debate was in progress whilst I was
recording this track (in fact it was largely to escape or at least subvert
this noise that I WAS recording...). I leant my electric guitar up against a
piece of steel framing and recorded this argument through the guitar and the
resulting reverby drone became the basis for this track.
A not-so-hidden-track for the end of the disk. This was actually recorded 2
or 3 years later than the rest and is a short song recorded in my backyard
on a starry night bemoaning the daily grind of the academic life.
Antony Milton, 2006