Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

Strange Costumes Part III: Playing the Field – The Music

Kev cradles his bass paternally.......
Kev cradles his bass paternally…….

It’s been a long time coming, but I finally found some time to put the finishing touches to the third instalment of the Strange Costumes ‘Altered Book’ project that I’m working on in conjunction with Atlanta-based artist and writer Shelley M House. There will be a video version of it later.

As with the previous two, the rhythms are very African influenced. To create the rhythm track, I recorded four or five ‘live’ drum parts using a multiple drum pad module that you play just like a normal kit. for each track, I altered the parameters so the pads triggered different drums and percussion effects. The final, multiple drum track is quite insistent and chaotic, so I opted to overlay a vocal in a sixties, psychedelic ‘lazy’ style, to balance the speed of the piece.  The lyric is dictated very strictly by the words Shelley gave me, in her meter and order, and this, above all else, gives these musical pieces their unusual structure and form. I cannot escape into a chorus, and I have to find ways to fit words in that may conflict with the rhythm. It’s a lot of fun!  You will notice that some of the lyrics are hard to understand. That is because I have gone for an overall feel for the track, and to clearly enunciate them may have compromised that. The music is designed to be listened to in conjunction with reading the lyrics within Shelley’s art pieces. I’ve reproduced the lyrics below, with the small changes I made highlighted in blue:

Fantastic information we find in the field.
Tasty instrument, hear it play, food he likes. (Tasty instrument, hear it play)
Searching shallow ends for frogs and fish, we get too close and find that edges have snapped.
In scenery sharp and strange we play;
very vivid, very thin, and very fond of fruit.
I hope the tree-top toucan can support all the weight.
See the colorful two, overlap and sway,
planting the seeds of the future.
Penknife and pine, the hungry fulcrum faintly tips.
Our friends are prying and peculiar. Stories are told. Perfectly attractive, bold and yellow, red and blue.
We pick out our decorations so carefully.
We find seeds and weeds for large appetites, all of them eating out of habit.
Muddy mouthfuls make it difficult to speak.
Entire worlds are reduced to hums and beats.
Hands and arms, legs and feet, tiny twitters, a deep low beat. (tiny twitters in a deep low beat)
Graceful games turn frantic in a storm.
Run and frisk, high and low, coming in and out of sight. Quick and urgent, they cry, they cry.they cry, they cry…cry…

Words by Shelley M House, Music by Kev Moore

The breakdown in the middle begins with the gradual layering of sampled African choral vocals, mixed with tribal drumming and nature samples steadily building in intensity to re-introduce the main theme.  As the track fades, it departs a little from the trance-like single chord structure and I introduce some changes in the synth chords underneath, so that the lead guitar can be more expressive. The bass line remains the same however, and its always a nice effect, to keep the bass the same and change the underlying chords.

So there it is……enjoy!

You can listen to the first two parts of the series by clicking on the links below:

Strange Costumes

Draped in Strange Feathers

Kev Moore


October 19, 2009 - Posted by | Art, books, Ca' Puccini, Entertainment, Kev Moore's Music, Music, Shelley's Altered Book, Shelley's Creations, Sound recording, writing | , , , ,


  1. I love it! It’s different than what I expected…which makes it much more fun 🙂 It’s fascinating to read about how you put the music together. Thank you so much for this, Kev.

    Comment by shelleymhouse | October 20, 2009

  2. Glad you love it, Shelley! I wondered if the description of how I do it would be boring – happy that it’s not!

    Comment by kevmoore | October 20, 2009

  3. How did you get your hair so straight?

    Comment by shelleymhouse | October 20, 2009

  4. I just listened to all 3 chapters in sequence, and it’s taking on such a wonderful shape, Kev. They work really well together, and make me eager to eager to hear the rest of the story. I am starting to work on art for Chapter 4 already.

    Comment by shelleymhouse | October 20, 2009

  5. Ah! Hairdressing secrets! 🙂 I’m in the process of getting it done really. This was at a local salon that did a chemical hair straightening treatment, but it won’t stay like that for long. I just wanted to loosen the natural curls, because it never seemed to look any longer! Next hair instalment is this Thursday!

    The three pieces work great together, don’t they? It’s such a fun project to do. I’ll get a video together for this one when I can and start on number 4.

    Comment by kevmoore | October 20, 2009

  6. Or, holding your bass “eternally.”

    Have you ever thought about scoring a film, Kev?

    Comment by sittingpugs | October 21, 2009

  7. Eternally is probably closer to the truth, SP! 🙂
    Regarding scoring a film, it isn’t something I would have considered a few years back, or even been confident enough to attempt, but I have warmed to the idea recently.

    Comment by kevmoore | October 21, 2009

  8. I asked because when I was listening to your song, the melody and instrumentation made me think of a diner where the tables have red and white checkered table cloths, where a woman is polishing spoons and a man is riding across the country on a train.

    Comment by sittingpugs | October 21, 2009

  9. SP: I wrote this poem a year or two ago when I was travelling across Germany on a train from a gig….

    Leipzig to Dusseldorf

    Steel Wheels contrive to leave the platform far behind
    With world-renowned efficiency, the service leaves on time
    Bahnsteigs filled with well-ordered humanity
    The train departs – Tranquility

    Red brick dream recedes apace
    An empty seat, a weary face
    Sunlight soaked suburban sprawl
    Allotments, gaily coloured all
    Lawns tended, Shed’s mended, Answered Sunday’s call

    Conductor’s voice intrudes upon
    The soundtrack of my day
    A litany of towns announced
    As we speed on our way

    What secret places railway tracks reveal!
    The private gardens, perhaps a glimpse to steal?
    And now, containered all, proceed to gather pace
    As we, across green carpet landscape race

    It’s cargo of the young, the old
    The children brought into the fold
    Some on business, some for fun
    Some not sure which train they’re on!

    But all enjoy the scenic views
    White fabrik against an azure sky
    And do I hear you asking why?
    The reason for the journey is the trip itself
    And not the destination that you choose

    A gash of yellow cuts into the green
    The silver ribbon of a stream
    That flows beneath this mass of steel
    Thrust forward on its many wheels

    Relentless, this machinery
    Unrivalled in its Majesty
    Communes with Nature,

    A great expanse of countryside
    A patchwork quilt of fields abide,
    But for a second, replaced at speed
    By other sights

    The cotton clouds caress the sky
    Formless, without symmetry
    And as the destination advertised
    Rushes to meet our eager eyes

    I’m moved to question, yet again
    What genius engineered the train?
    To take us there and back again
    Its form and function definite
    And certain to exhilarate!

    To bring our loved ones closer, ’til
    Its task to make Earth’s curve much smaller still
    Its part in Global Village played
    In face of flight, or car
    Its welcome never is outstayed

    Romanticism, Glory Days

    For surely there’s no finer notion
    Than the Majesty of Locomotion!

    Comment by kevmoore | October 21, 2009

  10. I like the sound of:

    Red brick dream recedes apace
    An empty seat, a weary face
    Sunlight soaked suburban sprawl

    Comment by sittingpugs | October 21, 2009

  11. Thanks! I think I was in an alliteration frenzy…..

    Comment by kevmoore | October 21, 2009

  12. Excellent stuff – first time I’ve heard you play 🙂

    Comment by Jonathan | October 21, 2009

  13. Many thanks Jonathan!

    Comment by kevmoore | October 21, 2009

  14. I enjoyed it very much Kev. You never cease to amaze me with your timeless ambition and passion. It shows in your prolific creative output. Glad for you,____Michael

    Comment by Michael Pokocky | November 11, 2009

  15. Thanks Michael! With regard to my creative output – there’s something on the horizon that I’ll share news about when it’s ready, (hopefully this week)and it relates to those discussions we had about getting our stuff ‘out there’.

    Comment by kevmoore | November 11, 2009

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