Preview : MOSS PROJECT - What Do You See When You Close Your Eyes? Album Launch: Wednesday, 6 March, Vortex
MOSS FREED talks about the inspiration behind his new album, a unique collaboration between music and words…
I was driving to a family Christmas gathering. It was one of those crisp, dark winter nights and I was listening to the new masters from the recent recording session, trying to come up with an album title. I’d spent the best part of a year composing music for the new Moss Project album, exploring a variety of influences and trying to exploit the distinctive talents of the musicians playing in the band: Alice Zawadzki’s awe-inspiring combination of vocals and violin; the blend of tight grooves, heavy riffs and expansive free playing made possible by a Marek Dorcik and Ruth Goller rhythm section. I also wanted to make room for the audacious talent of Shabaka Hutchings on bass clarinet and sax.
Instead of coming up with album titles, however, I found myself imagining scenarios, people, places and interactions. Streetlamp-lit brawls played out in my head one minute, a woman mourned her lost love the next, and as the music went on it became apparent that there was a cinematic thread running through the album – each track was a self-contained short story. Very quickly this idea developed. Wouldn’t it be a fascinating and exciting artistic exercise to ask authors to write actual stories based on the individual tracks? I was curious to see if there was a difference between my thoughts and feelings when composing and those conjured in the listener.
I can think of many composers who have been inspired by stories, poems and plays. Prokofiev, Verdi and Wagner spring to mind, and Duke Ellington’s Such Sweet Thunder (an album I grew up listening to) is part of a sizeable repertory based on Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. Then there’s Led Zeppelin and Radiohead, two profoundly influential bands whose music contains references to Tolkien and Orwell. But I struggled to think of any literature that was based on specific musical works.
So I started trying to find authors who might like to get involved. Luckily those I contacted were interested in the idea and keen to write something. I was moved and surprised by the results; not only by the breadth and scope of the authors’ imaginations and how different they could be to my own, but also by how well the words partnered the music.
I feel hugely honoured that such distinguished writers were able to contribute their talents to the project. They are: National Book Award-winning author of Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann; Joe Dunthorne, author of Submarine, recently adapted into a film; Naomi Alderman, winner of the Orange Prize for Young Writers; one of the most influential Arab writers in the world, Hanan al-Shaykh; bestselling historical fiction writer, Lawrence Norfolk; and Time Out’s Rising Star James Miller.
What Do You See When You Close Your Eyes? has been two years in the making and I’m hugely excited to be celebrating its imminent release at the launch party on Wednesday. Come along if you can! It will be a feast of words and music, with readings from three of the authors, and a hearty serving of good times.
Moss Freed's What Do You See When You Close Your Eyes? will be released in two formats (Audio CD/Book and/or Digital Album) on Babel on 22nd April 2013.