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Sounds From The Beehive

Artwork - Giles.

Listen to parts of it at Hear the drones

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These musings by Jon and Steve didn't make it onto the CD, so read on....

1 Grocott's Answer to the Huge Silence of the Vikos Gorge (Grocott)

Composed by Steve on a holiday which took him to the borders between Greece and Albania, this was started on the astonishingly high mountainside of the Vikos Gorge very early one morning. The valley was producing a huge silence that was palpable and also seemed to be a note. This is mostly in 5/4 time with some rhythmic oddities and features the standard Drones instrumentation - mandolin, cello, clarinet, percussion.

2 Go Kid Go (Grocott)

A song honouring the joy of very young children one sees fearlessly zooming around on tricycles in nursery playgrounds, at the same time as expressing our fears about the possible consequences. The influence of sixties ska is clear. Harmoniums, whistles and harmony vocals are overdubbed. If The Drones ever have a hit single this is probably it.

3 George (Dawkins)

This is quintessential Drones music. Tanera introduces us to more rhythmic oddity and a name referring to the cat that one hears purring at the beginning (and to her regal ancestor...)

4 Canvey Island (Petter)

Rain patters lightly on the greasy road, black clouds glower, the refineries flare in the distance. "That was the A130 turn!" "Or was it the A13?" Lost one day somewhere in the morass of A roads along the Essex coastline, Jon and his friend Ansuman find it simply doesn't matter.

With Jon on mandolin and Giles on quattro this piece brings a new all-strings sound to the band.

5 Mark's Trousers (Dawkins)

As I'm playing this I always imagine a bygone era, full of exquisitely dressed gentlefolk, perspiring lightly in the South American heat as they dance away the afternoon, getting delicately tight on fiendishly strong mesquale cocktails.

I've no idea what the others are thinking about, but Steve always calls it our lounge lizard music.

6 Without words (Leaman)

Featuring Giles on quattro this langorous piece was recorded in the garden outside the shed. You can hear the birds, and towards the end a helicopter just before the band raise their own volume to drown it out. Relaxation on a stick.

7 Woodlands (Petter)

Written in memory of Jean Purnell, Jon's childhood stamp-collecting, gardening, Patience-playing friend next door, who finally died after years of uncomplaining illness. Played first solo at her funeral. Here a simple cello and clarinet duet, named after the Purnell's house.

8 Clarkson's Fancy (Petter)

An improvised rhythm duet from Jon and Giles was worked on by Jon in his studio. Giles gets to stretch out a little on this percussive layering, with Steve eventually introducing the 'accelerating' reel on the mandolin banjo. Live, we usually continue to speed up to the point of imminent 'crash', something Jeremy, of course, never does.

9 Sylvanian Families - Lucy's Favourite (Petter)

Two tunes recorded live, nestle together - the first a wandering clarinette fantasy with a mittel European feel, and the next a saxophone-lead explosion of joy, often requested by Jon's friend Lucy.

10 Hive Talk (The Drones)

Taking the improvisation of 'B Jam' (Track 12) as his source material, and adding layers of Drononium (an instrument of Giles' which plays drones on strings using soft-bladed fans, creating shifting harmonics) Steve has created this quiet reflective piece.

11 Lay me Down (Grocott)

A xylophone borrowed from the school where Steve teaches music provides the backing for this song along with slide guitar and cello. A sort of 'Goodnight Irene' for our times, this song nails the frustrations of the Modern Day.

12 B-jam (The Drones)

One rehearsal Jon produced lots of metal instruments from his bag. Steve rummaged in the shed and added to the metal collection, and an extended improvisation followed. This was recorded live using gongs, singing bowls, toys, jaw harps and a sruti box (electronic Indian drone) ending with the Drononium superimposed on the end.

Sit back, relax and enjoy.