The Miser’s Will V: Reading the Will

Here’s the lyric video for the final song from my song cycle ‘The Miser’s Will’.

What’s it about?

The previous songs were about the executor of the will collecting various weird body parts and then having them assembled. Here we see why as he reads the will to the miser’s mourning relatives.

What’s going on musically?

This is was such fun to write. There are callbacks and reprises from every other song in this, building up to the 4/4 version of the Cartographer’s Tale chorus as the miser’s sinister purpose is revealed.

Tentacles as far as the eye can see

This is the latest edition of my email newsletter. Except if you’re not on the mailing list you don’t have the password to the fanpage. Wahahahaha! (You can get it. Just click on the link and do what it says).

Hello you!

So last month you learned that I am now a Bad Elephant. Over the next couple you’ll learn more about the new album as we release various bits and bobs, building up to the release date.

Nothing’s being made public until the beginning of April, but I thought I’d put some stuff up on the fan page for mailing list subscribers, so click here for the fan page and use the password [redacted] to hear and see some stuff about the new album.

In Other News

I’ve been adding things to my youtube account. There’s a bit of nonsense from the recent video shoot, lyric videos for 4 songs from the Miser’s Will and an acoustic version of Something’s Bound to Happen (An old Comrade Robot song).

It’s going to be a great summer if you like my music. The new album is the best stuff I’ve ever written. If you don’t like my music… Why on earth are you still receiving these emails?

Thanks for listening!


The Miser’s Will IV: The Engineer

The fourth track from the Miser’s Will, a song cycle from my album Ironbark.

What’s it about?

In the previous songs we heard about the acquisition of some metal claws, a brain in a jar and a twisted metal skeleton. Now it is time to assemble them…

What’s going on musically?

This is in E lydian, a lovely major mode with a raised fourth which gives it a delicious, off kilter feel. The chorus chords are similar to the chorus the the first track and the bridge is inspired by the previous song.

The Miser’s Will III: Watermen’s Square

Here’s the third song from my Song Cycle The Miser’s Will

Watermen’s square was inspired by the building of the same name near where I used to live in Penge, south London.

What’s it about?

Some watermen on the Thames, dredging up a misshaped iron skeleton, dragging it back to the titular square to examine it, only to have the black-clad executor of the will turn up and claim it. Which scares them a bit, cos they hadn’t told anyone they’d found it.

What’s going on musically?

It’s all arpeggios and getting confused between major and minor. I often find it useful to state something in the minor, then directly contradict that with the major version.

I also like the percussion in this. It’s all weird clanking samples and boxes being hit rather than real drums. And the synth stuff is pretty too.

One of my best songs this, even if I do say so myself.

The Miser’s Will II: What the Orderly Saw

What The Orderly Saw

What’s it about?

A hospital orderly witnesses a Doctor cutting a brain out of a corpse, then trying to double cross the man who paid him to do it.

What’s going on musically?

All the songs in the Miser’s Will connect musically. In this case the main riff is a much elongated version of the chord changes from one line (Follow follow said the letter) from the previous song, taken down a fourth.

I’m really proud of the guitar part on this song, and the fact that I had the courage to go minimal and build up slowly. Always goes down well live too. Everyone likes a song about a brain in a jar.

The Miser’s Will I: The Cartographer’s Tale

I’ve decided to have a go at making some youtube videos. My first project is a set of lyric videos for the Miser’s Will, a song cycle I wrote for my album Ironbark.

The Cartographer’s Tale

What’s the story?

This story is from the point of view of a cartographer who is sent a map, one he drew. But this map has marks on it that lead him to buried ‘treasure’: brass and gold claws buried in the earth. The letter that accompanied the map tells him to dig these up and take them into town. He does this, and is met by the executor of the titular will…


What’s going on musically?

The time changes are a bit silly, there are parts in 4, 7, 5 and 6 and the key changes are interesting as well. Its trying to do what many of my songs do and have sing-along vocal hooks and silly prog stuff in the same song. I want to write music that makes people who like a tune happy, and still entertain nerdy muso types. I think this achieves it.

It’s really interesting listening back to this. While I’ve played it live several times I haven’t really listened to the recording for a couple of years. It’s slower than I remembered and I’d totally forgotten about the synth melody.

Anyway, next up is part 2: What The Orderly Saw…

Making Tea is Freedom by Jon Hunt – #Iamanerdymuso

At the command of my Evil Record Label Boss, I have written about a 4th Bad Elephant track:

Now this is interesting. A 20 minute song cycle that uses the harmonic and lyrical stylings of your English songwriters like a Paul Weller and Ray Davies.

Hunt’s website describes his work as ‘Quintessentially English’, and there’s plenty in the music to back this up. He handily has a list of his favourite albums on his site which includes (amongst many eclectic things) The Who, Paul Weller, Oasis, The Beatles and Supergrass, all of whose influence can be heard here. The track even starts with a quote from Michael Caine in Alfie and references tea, road-works, fags and fog all sung in a London accent. It tells us a tale of urban romance, love loss, freedom and ‘bus stops in the rain’. Can you get more English than that?

Harmonically the track also chimes with that English style of songwriting. In particular the opening section, Alfie and the closing Windswept both make use of chord progressions in the Mixolydian mode. Alfie has an ascending pattern of arpeggios based around A7, and Windswept has chords based around D, Am C. That bluesy seventh chord as home and movement from the major tonic to flat 7 chord is right out of the Who, Beatlesy playbook and the sliding open string chords are exactly what you’d expect from someone who lists Nick Drake’s Pink Moon as a favourite album.

This is really interesting because prog tends to eschew blues harmony. Not all of it granted, but plenty of the early prog stuff was trying to be European and avoid blues-rock based stuff, whereas those English singer-songwriters and rock bands never denied the influence. So there are plenty of ingredients in Making Tea… that just aren’t prog at all.

So why’s it on a prog(ish) record label?

Well, a. because it’s good and Bad Elephant is as much an exercise in art as it is in commerce (at least that’s their excuse for not making any money) and b. because it’s 20 minutes long. What could be more prog?

How do you make a song work over 20 minutes?

There’s more than one way to skin that over-large moggy. Hunt has chosen to approach it by tying together a medley, or song cycle. So Making Tea is Freedom is split into 6 sections, two of them instrumental and all of them capable of standing on their own. Aside from a recapitulation of material from Alfie at the start of Windswept each song uses new ideas to further the musical journey.

How do you keep things interesting?

Key changes, instrumentation and paying close attention to energy levels, that’s how. Jon takes care to have energy build over time, so that while we start off with just guitar and vocal, by about ten minutes in drums and bass have joined in and things are getting genuinely rocky.

The first rocky climax gives way to the instrumental, synthy calm of ‘Me’ before acoustic guitars take us back to drums and electric guitars in the mid-paced denouement.


This is good, refreshing, different.


I’ve written about 4 Bad Elephant tracks now, and they’re all different. There is one similarity that I think is common to many proggish songs, and perhaps distinguishes prog structures from pop songs. All of them have, towards the end, had noisey up-tempo passages, followed by calm that moves to a final, mid paced ‘singalong’ melodic coda.

All of them have been pretty modal in harmony too, which is what you’d expect, and all have involved changes in key and/or time signature and generally a bigger artistic pallette than you’d expect from non-proggish musicians.

All in all, lots of fun. I wonder what’s next?