"DAVE GRANEY FEARFUL WIGGINGS (Cockaigne)
*****If I've learnt anything in my years of writing about music it's
that if you are going to do anything of worth in this tough game, you
better have your own thing. Today's generic is easily replaced by tomorrow's.
And yet you need to be flexible, to follow wherever the songs demand.
In the case of this, only the second credited as a solo album among 30
or so Graney releases, it's a curious yet welcoming lane he walks you
down, with acoustic guitars, not much percussion, vibes, smooth sounds.
At the end of it you feel like you've awoken from a strange yet pleasant
summer's dream. As shot by Luis Bunuel. It ranges from off-kilter reveries
(A Woman Skinnies Up a Man, The Old Docklands Wheel) through to the softly
seductive (How Can You Get Out of London) and the downright arch (Look
Into My Shades, Everything Is Great In The Beginning.) This is music
that is neither folk, nor blues, nor country, but it's all Graney, somewhere
out to the left field beyond Lee Hazlewood's raised eyebrow. It's astringent
on the tongue but sweetens in the telling. Noel Mengel -
Brisbane Courier Mail
Fearful Wiggings is
the 2014 album from Dave Graney. its a solo album though longtime
collaborator Clare Moore was very much involved in the recording , writing
and arranging of many tracks. It follows the art pop-rock masterwork
of 2012 you've been in my mind which was a total mistLY album.
(a band recording). Here's Dave talking of the album...
Wiggings. The title comes from a 1920s book of French stories.. I came
across a new word and looked up in the glossary and the meaning was
puts as “fearful
wiggings’. I took it to mean “great anxiety”. Fearful wiggings is a lyrically freewheeling kind of
album. Elemental figures and scenes. Sex, myth, dream cities, shadows,
theme in my songs) and the very personal title track. Musically, it’s
pretty simple and stark but every song could come from it’s own
album. Frenchie (“je est un autre” and “flower of the
earth” ) and
Australian (“country roads, unwinding”). A "best of" from
The recording itself was like an arthouse movie. Beginning in early 2013
on a whim when I had a lot of music to unload but wasn’t going to be
thinking of releasing anything very soon. I wanted to record things with
no shape in mind, to just capture the licks and not try to shove them into
any form, not think of the end result. A chance meeting with Lisa
Gerrard at a screen composers award night and her invitation to record my vocals
at her studio. We had seen Lisa play solo in Melbourne in 1980 and 81 and
saw the very first Dead can dance gigs then. We went to see Dead Can Dance
again in 2013. She expected me to come to the studio with one song and I
turned up with thirteen. A commanding presence. She lifted my artistic aspirations
and senses out of the hollows I’d been running through for years. Using
Sinatra era mics and beautiful Avalon preamps and reverbs. She’d sit
with her eyes closed and say “I don’t wanna do a radio mix- I
wanna do a classical mix!” and “That’s fucking great! That’s
Russian! I know what we need to do! We need to go North!”. The best
was “It’s nice when you can put your hand back behind the voice…” How
could you not be inspired?
Then a similar contact- also from a pure musical direction – happened
when UK guitarist and songwriter Nick Harper contacted
me to sing on one of his songs. I asked him to play on two of mine. He
comes from folk rock
royalty. His father is Roy Harper, noted player and subject of a tribute
from Led Zeppelin. (“Hats off to Harper”)
The rest of the album was played by myself and Clare Moore.
Guitars , bass, keys , bass xylophone, percussion and vibes.
The minimal bass left a lot of room for the voice.
The album was mastered in Phoenix Arizona by Roger Siebel and the cover
is by Tony Mahony who has done all but five of the roughly twenty eight
created by Dave Graney and Clare Moore over the years. Fearful Wiggings is an album I could have only gotten
to via this convoluted route. All this involvement of chance meetings
and luck. Serendipity.
full of feeling, colour and drama. Jazz chords, folk forms and country
feels. But kind of pop all the same.
DAVE GRANEY ‘FEARFUL WIGGINGS’ TRACK BY TRACK
I wanted to make a pretty simple and direct album, so I’d rather
not comment on the songs too much. I mean, I hope they just WORK for
people. I started it on acoustic guitar, not thinking of the end shape.
I ran into Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance – quite out of the
blue - and she invited me to record some vocals at her studio, saying
she had these great mics and pre-amps. She reached out to me from a purely
musical direction. I guess she expected m to turn up with one track and
I had fourteen on my hard drive.
Likewise, Nick Harper responded, equally as out of the blue, to my stuff
and got in touch. Clare Moore, who plays on most of the album on vibes,
percussion, keys and vocals, has shared my whole music life with me.
I sing about us on the title track. A Woman Skinnies A Man Up
There was a conversation with my cousin Garry, who’s a stock and
station agent in South East Sth Australia. He often says funny things.
He was describing how a friend behaved when a woman was around. “She
skinnied him up...” The music is a kind of boogie that I’d
been goofing off on for years. No bass. I saw a documentary about the
Californian country singer Buck Owens and he said he hardly used any
bass on his trademark “Bakersfield sound” country re- cords
so as to give more room for the vocals. I love the sound of 60s country
and where the voice sits, way out front, so that was a big thing in my
approach to the whole album.
Everything was legendary with Robert
A mutated Bo Diddley beat with acoustic and electric guitars and bass
xylophone. This is the single. The music sounded like a tv theme tune
to me, which is to say , I thought it was high quality and really catchy.
It’s like a Ray Davies type of a song as far as the lyrics go.
How can you get out of London?
The second line is “how can you get London out?” We lived
there for five years and had to leave suddenly. A kind of a “what
if?” shadow life runs through my mind occasionally . “What
if we’d stayed there?” I love to read books about London.
It’s in my mind a lot. The music is a kind of Latin groove, again.
Clares voice has no reverb. Dry and straight like those British folk
records I’ve been immersed in for years.
Country roads, unwinding
Aside from London, I am obsessed with country roads and down beat country
towns. They’re disappearing, really. Just villages with old people
and a few antiques shops. I know, I do a lot of driving. Clare plays
the vibes on this track. it was finished very early in the piece. Just
fell into a sweet spot pretty easily. Flower Of The Earth
I got very ill in Paris in 2008 and almost coughed my lungs up on a metro
train and then on the street. Thought I was popping my cork. A lot of
blood can scare you. When it’s coming out of you. I had been trying
to learn French and read, slowly, a lot of old books. One was French
Vietnamese poetry and there was this proverb saying “ man is the
flower of the earth”. I thought that was a wonderful thing to be
said at a time when the persons country was being “bombed into
the stone age” by the Yanks. A lot of bad French grammar in the
lyrics of this song. I wanted to say “Man!Woman! like Eric Burdon
did. I pulled the beat together and liked the groove of the chords. Augmented
or di- minished chords. Kind of a “cha cha cha” feel in the
bass line. Like all those great 30s feels that a lot of classic disco
had. Fearful Wiggings
Nick Harper played guitar on this song. He’s a UK singer and player.
Son Of Roy harper. I’d been listening to all this UK folk and he
grew up totally IN that world. He got in touch once because he liked
some of my songs and even played one at his gigs. He asked me to sing
a song on his 2013 album , “Riven”. In return , I asked him
to play on a couple of mine. An amazing guitarist. I’ve never met
him in the flesh. Hopefully some time this year. The lyrics of this song
are very personal. It was originally called “the ballad of Graney
and Moore”. That was either a bit too high flown or a bit too rootsy
Stranger In Town
Sadly, I have realized that this is how I have lived my life. As if I was
just passing through – or if I was set to leave at any moment.
Like the songs says “silly – I know” The music is
a bit of a groove I’d been mucking around on for ages. Didn’t
want it to sound too straight and “bluesy” so I asked Clare
to play it half time as if it was a hip hop track,. Just one mic on
the drums. There’s cicadas on it. I needed a lonely sound and
walked onto my deck with a ZOOM and took them from my own yard. Summer
sounds. Je Est Un Autre
A line Arthur Rimbaud wrote in a letter to a friend when he was seventeen
years old. “I is another”. Translated differ- ently sometimes
but this has the correct clunky meaning. “I” is the person
who is thinking “me” up and fronting it to “you”.
Just me on twelve string guitar and some buried keys. Look Into My Shades
When I was coughing up blood in Paris in 2008 I had to see a doctor with
x rays of my lungs. He came out all dressed in denim. The denim jacket
slung over his shoulders. He had longish grey hair and mirror shades on,
as he stared at the X-rays and waved me off with a happy go lucky smile
and shake of his head. I went around the corner to have a coffee and was
heaving up more blood into a bin five minutes later. The Doctor with the
shades image stayed with me. The song is kind of an Isaac Hayes rap. A
wounded, macho man groaning about his ills. The music is a lot of chordal
work, stacks upon stacks of chords, set against a Bo Diddley beat. No bass
until the last minute.
I know you can't see me
This is the purest moment of the session I did with Lisa Gerrard. She
worked on the vocal eq for a long time. The re- verb and it’s stereo pan.
Just guitar and vocal and Lisa doing some ambient singing way in the distance.
I can’t thank her enough for inspiration and fire.
Everything is perfect in it's beginning
This was all recorded at our studio. Funny, discordant guitar chords.
demo’d this a couple of years ago. Hard to get a beat to the irregular
timing. I figured something out with a hip hop boombox. Kind of prog chords
in the cho- rus. Monstrous distorted guitars and some slide too. Lots of
guitars. Clare hates too many guitars, but this was my album.
The Old Docklands Wheel
I wanted to write a really, really DOWN Downbeat song. Lots of music
heavy enough for me. It’s too cute. Or shallow. I want things to
be really heavy or sad if they’re gonna try for those depths. So
this is a relentlessly down- ward spiralling song. A spiky, discordant
folk blues song. Mentions “the artist Schiele”. It goes down
and down and then falls a bit further. Then the singer notes, outside the
window, “the old Docklands Wheel”... This song is graced by
the guitar stylings of Nick Harper too. He’s a demon. I Was There
Almost a duet with Clare Moore. We’ve been musicians for a long time.
Some times we hear and watch people talk- ing about situations and events
that we were at and they’re talking about a completely different
scenario. It’s become mythic. You can’t challenge myths. I’m
trusting this could be a common feeling. That’s what you have to
do when you write songs- trust that things and “vibes” you
have deep within you could be common to others.
I wanted this album to really sparkle so I got it mastered in Phoenix by
SAE (Roger Seibel) as I loved the sounds on the last couple of Bill Callaghan
All songs written by Dave Graney
Published by Mushroom Music
Initial recordings with Idge at Soundpark
Vocals recorded with Lisa Gerrard at her studio
engineered by James Orr - then overdubs done at the Ponderosa. Mixed by Dave Graney and Clare Moore
Produced by Dave GraneyMastered by Roger Seibel at SAE in Phoenix Arizona.
Cover image, inside portrait and back cover photo by Tony Mahony.
Video for everything was legendary with Robert by Donna McRae
and Michael Vale.