Track By Tracks: My Silent Wake - Damnum Per Saeculorum (2020)


1. An Affectionate Remembrance:

Simon: The inspiration for the track came from a trip to York’s Museum of Broken Relationships – amongst the displays was a Victorian card of condolence offering sympathy to a couple who had suffered the death of a child. I was on holiday at the time and the cottage accommodation had a dodgy mini grand piano. I am very far from accomplished on piano but I think it works in setting the scene and mood for the rest of the album.

2. Warhawks:

Simon: This is the first of a few songs that started to take shape when I went to visit Ian in Wales for a couple of days. We live a long way apart and so we have to work fast when we’re together. Ian had the initial guitar part and it was built up from there. This and a number of other tracks have a variety of sampled early instruments which help to create some of the more unusual atmospheres and sounds. I’m not sure where the idea for the lyrics came from but it speaks of the relentless ebb and flow of war and the fact that there is always another oppressor waiting in the wings.

3. Diadem (The Rise and Fall of a King):

Simon: This song began with a simple melody on a Yangqin, which is a Chinese hammered dulcimer. I bought one second-hand for £50 including postage a few years ago – it's pretty knackered and takes about an hour to tune but works well on this track. I felt the Yangqin sounded regal and so this influenced the overall feel and the title. The middle section has some shouted vocals – there is some debate over whether this is Welsh or completely made up.

Gareth: Just to end the debate, they are Welsh words. Rhiau and Brenin are both words for ‘King’ or ‘Leader’.

4. Bacchanal:

Ian: Written a while ago when I lived in Somerset. Probably written in the summer house in my old garden. It is obviously inspired by medieval music which I have always loved. Simon came up with the name for the track more recently.

5. Arfryn:

Ian: The name of my home in Wales. It is a lovely place in the countryside and has provided much inspiration. This was written however around the same time as Bacchanal but had a looser structure. Simon arranged it in a beautiful way including backwards guitar parts and his daughter on vocals.

6. All Our Fears Are Over:

Dave: This was the first track I recorded specifically with the ambient/experimental style in mind. For example, the ‘snare drum’ sound was created using the wire racks in our kitchen oven and part of the kick drum sound was created by hitting the hollow back of my sofa with my hand. The bell and other percussion sounds were old circular saw blades played in a variety of ways. I didn’t write the arrangement first, I just recorded parts and messed about, building the song in layers and making it fit the lyrics I had. These were the first vocals I recorded for the album too. Simon added some keyboards after I sent the track to him for mixing. The lyrics were inspired by a visit to the village of Eyam, which was famously quarantined to stop the plague spreading in 1665. Many of its inhabitants died. Listening back it reminds me a little of Megadeth’s ‘Dawn Patrol’.

7. Fertile Ground Pt.1:

Ian: Again, written in Somerset. The lyrics are far more recent and are adapted from a new song which is scheduled to appear on the next metal album. This is a foretaste of what the main song is about.

8. Of Loss and Regret:

Simon: This track had a very improvised beginning. It came from me and Ian tinkering with various ideas starting with the drone that runs throughout the track, which was recorded on a Farfisa Pianorgan. It has ended up being the longest track on the album and speaks of hopes, dreams and promises that are shattered in death.

9. Fall in the Sea:

Ian: Another from the same period some years ago. The lyrics have been changed over time and adapted but the chorus has always had the Fall in the Sea part which was conjured up by the music for me. The song will relate to anyone who has lost someone dear through death or separation.

10. To Feel the Caress of Long-Dead Lovers:

Dave: This was the first song I wrote for My Silent Wake which was the result of me messing about with a new reverb pedal a couple of years ago, so I didn’t plan it specifically for this album but I think it has turned out very well on it. I love the way all the vocals have worked out, in particular our guest vocalist on this song – Sarah. The lyrics were written by myself, Simon and Ian around a loose concept I had about the mind struggling to cope with the trauma and grief from the loss of love and lovers past, to the extent that the dead return in waking dreams to hold and be held again. The living miss the dead and perhaps the dead miss the living. Some inspiration comes from films such as Ghost, Vanilla Sky and The Imitation Game.

11. Triple Life:

Ian: An instrumental track written (or not written) in Wales fairly recently and recorded on my PC. I used real percussion and manipulated some sounds and instruments I had recorded. I didn't use keys on this.

12. The Rhyme of Winters' Children:

Simon: Once again,this song had unconventional beginnings...... A friend of mine (thanks Ben) did some percussion for me for something else entirely but I decided that it would be worth trying to create a track using this as a foundation. It slowly grew with possibly the deepest vocals Ian’s ever done and my daughter, Alana doing a great job with vocals on the middle section. Like many of the songs on this album, it’s quite a journey in itself and epic in feel. 

13. Monochrome:

Dave: This song was written in an unusual way for me, as I did not think about structure much, and the riffs and arrangement are simple. My wife wrote some poetry about living with chronic pain which I adapted slightly to fit the music, and vice versa. Jo had already guested on some songs for the album at a previous recording session at my house, so encouraged by this we experimented with our vocals a little as neither of us are accomplished vocalists. The singing is certainly not perfect, but little in this world is - otherwise the inspiration behind the song would not exist. It comes from the heart.

14. The Mourning Earth:

Ian: I created this in similar fashion to ‘Triple Life’.

Dave: This track reminds me of a sci-fi soundtrack, describing a dark post-apocalyptic world. It was intended as an instrumental I think, but someone suggested some spoken-word over part of it, and I happened to have some spare lyrics which were inspired by various historical events in Russia and human suffering in the face of adversity, occurring as a relentless cycle, past, present and future, painting a bleak picture for us all. My wife Jo was ‘volunteered’ to record the voice with about 2 minutes notice.

15. Berceuse:

Simon: The lyrics to this song are old......I wrote them almost 30 years ago. I have attempted to write this song on two previous occasions – one early version exists on a very shitty sounding cassette and the other was never more than a few ideas. The title translates as ‘Lullaby’ and I wrote it almost as a hymn to mark the fading away of all things. I cannot pretend to have experienced any great trauma in my life and yet I have always felt this shadow deeply within myself. With any music I write my intention is to create something that people feel as well as hear – I especially set out to do this on ‘Berceuse’. Of all the tracks I’ve ever written I’m most happy with this one and the fact that both of my daughters are amongst the vocal collaborators is an added pleasure.

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