Track By Tracks: The Human Condition/The River - Split (2023)

The Human Condition – Mirrors:

Back in 2010, we released a demo called “Modern Maze”. One track, “Pretending” was lacking in many ways but the second half of the song contained some of our favorite riffs and vocal lines so we reworked that part and wrote a whole new first half. It was the last song we completed in the songwriting sessions for our next album “Foundations” due out in 2024. As we had a new lineup, we wanted to test the new members in the studio and also release something as it’s been 7 years since our last album! The recording turned out great and there will be another version of the song on the new album.

The Human Condition – End of Man:

This was the first song I wrote for the Human Condition. It was never recorded, and we only played it live once. It is so old that I wrote quite a bit of it when I was still playing drums for The River back in 2003 so it seemed very fitting to include it on this split release with them. I also liked the symmetry of having our earliest and latest written songs on the same release. Even though it is 20 years old, to us, it still sounds contemporary with our new material. We recorded it live in Redwall Studios with Sheldon Jolly at the desk. This was a new, enjoyable experience for us to all record in the same room; something we are keen to do again as we ended up with a massive sound and a real energy to the song.

The song is notable for being 7 minutes long and not having a chorus! The song’s lyrics were inspired by the scene in Terminator 2 where Sarah Connor has a dream, in which she sees families playing in a park but knows that a nuclear bomb is about to go off so is screaming at them to run but no one is paying her any attention. So, I wrote a song about a man who has a dream where he sees the extinction of mankind but doesn’t know how to stop it, or if he should even try.

The River - Dry Mountains Burn:

Dry Mountains Burn was a real pain to get right. It was the first song we recorded during the sessions for our fourth album, A Hollow Full of Hope, but for some reason we just couldn’t get the arrangement or the guitars quite right. The song was initially much heavier, but we couldn’t fit more than one guitar part in at a time without the sound being cluttered & muddy. Conversely, the more overdrive we lost for the sake of clarity, the more hackneyed the song became too. Eventually, we kept the bass & drum arrangements but completely rewrote the guitars; this in turn opened the sound up so we could include additional instrumentation. Ironically, the song sounds much richer now than it did when smothered in overdrive. The name Dry Mountains Burn is a quote from the book In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. It was very nearly the title of our third album, which became Vessels into White Tides, & we had been sitting on it until the next suitable opportunity arose. As we ended up with a song with no name, & a title with no song, it made sense to put them together here.

The River - Passing:

Passing was originally on the aforementioned Vessels into White Tides. The album version has acoustic guitars & a mellotron at the break near the end, so there was no way we could consider playing it live using that particular arrangement. We worked up a slightly different way of playing it in rehearsal, that pulled that particular part of the song back to a single guitar before everyone else joined in separately; this added new textures to the music & created quite a different vibe to the initial recording. Our bass player, Steve, was very fond of the ‘live’ arrangement so, when we realized we needed an extra song for this split release, we came to the decision between bands to record a ‘live in the studio” song. It made sense from there to get this live arrangement down. We recorded it in one take in our rehearsal space, The Unseelie Court, using a mobile studio, so there is a definite rawness & honesty to it.

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