Saturday, 14 December 2013

I am suspended from the rafters + New Album on the way

I am suspended from the rafters with my guitar, various electrical gear and inventions in an open front two-meter-square metal container above what can best be described as a stage turned into a shallow lake of water. (Those in the front seats in the theater are provided with blankets to shield them from splashes.)

Below me, scantily-clad actresses are cavorting around in the water and splashing paint on themselves and doing things with their bodies that sends various colors of tinted water caterwauling in fantastic curved shapes through the air and the stark spotlighting.

 I am wearing a suit tailored to resemble my Hornicator in color and texture (and sparkling red shoes that you can't really see but personally I think they are cool whether you laugh or not), and here play the part of what you might describe as a kind of puppet-master/observer/musical commentator.

 Though my songs are (mostly) in English, this is a modern German interpretation of a classic Norwegian play first published in 1867, rich in strange folklore, but in many respects pertinent to our modern obsessions with speed, success, wealth, self, Facebook.  I'm still struggling to really get a hold on the German language, so though I'm familiar with the somewhat surreal story that's being told, I have to take my cues from the action more than the text. This can get tricky when all you can see is the inside of your Hornicator, or there's a complete stage blackout or a spotlight in your eyes, and your hanging cage is swinging around a bit. But it's arguably also the best seat in the house at the Theater Dortmund, and it's a wonderful privilege to be part of this talented crew lead by my friend Kay Voges, who is trying not to let descriptions commonly appearing in the press like "currently Germany's hottest director" go to his head.

Described recently as a "Punk" director (as much for his Ramones T-shirt as his directing style, to be fair),  Kay replied: "Punk ist drei Akkorde und die Wahrheit. Für‘s Theater heißt das: kompromisslose Leidenschaft.”
("Punk is three chords and the truth. For the theater, this means the same uncompromising passion.")
Uwe Rohbeck, Bettina Leider
If the whole of Peer Gynt, in five acts, is produced as written (it often has been), it typically lasts four or five hours.  Kay's version races along at a lean 90 minutes.  That doesn't mean it isn't rich with subtlety and quiet moments of beauty, and I gave it my all to make my original music follow suit.   There are some playful instrumental incidental pieces but the majority are full blown, new original proper songs (and a few tasteful covers) Some of them will only be heard in full on the album because of the pace and economy of the play.

While we were developing and rehearsing this summer I started recording everything, but being the perfectionist I am it's taken me a while to hone it all to a proper whole that unfolds satisfyingly in a purely audio form:
Cover Photo by Chris Saunders
It will be released in February but pre-release orders are being taken ahead of time,  and you get an immediate download of one of the new songs when you pre-order from HERE.

 I steered away from treading on Grieg's intimidatingly beautiful classical score written for the same play for the most part, but we felt it needed an homage or two. It is after all, in most cultures, even more synonymous with the name Peer Gynt than the play itself. It's interesting to note that Ibsen himself thought Grieg's score was too sweet, but said it "Sugared the pill so the public could swallow it."
Here's a short promo video for the play featuring an early demo-version of one of the new songs:


In case you're wondering whatever happened to the songs I started working on quite a while back now with (Dresden Doll) Brian Viglione, that album is still in the works (a lot of work to go!) and I'm quite excited about it.  Peer Gynt just came along and took over my life and as the play is still running it just makes sense this comes out first. That said, there is one track on the Peer Gynt album featuring some fantastic Viglione drumming.

 I'm proud of this new album and in it's live presentation it's had a very warm reception (I've graduated from being called a  'one man band' to a 'one man orchestra' now. Uh oh). There's some symphonic stuff, some electronic stuff, lots of guitar, and there's a new instrument I built specifically for the play called the 'Saxogramophone' on which I perform an instrumental derived partially from Grieg's 'Morning Mood'.
The Saxogramophone
In favor of doing a Kickstarter or Pledgemusic campaign for this one, I am offering pre-sales which will help get the album through all the work involved in its launch.  CD versions will be in a beautiful limited edition Digipak.

Order a pre-sale and get an IMMEDIATE DOWNLOAD of the song 'Crazy Me' here: There's also more info about the album on the bandcamp page.

If you're reading this before tuesday the 17th of December here's a special code that will get you 10 percent off any downloads or CDs I've got for sale on my bandcamp page:  HornicatorLove

In other news I'll be playing a rare one-off show in London at the Spice Of Life on the 29th of December get tickets here

As you know, I don't blog very often (this being only the second time this year) so in case I don't see you in London beforehand I'd like to wish you a Happy Holiday season from all of us in Wowtown!
As always, please feel free to leave comments below and share this post. Thanks for your continued support.


Remaining live Peer Gynt performances at the Theater Dortmund:
Sa, 21. Dezember 2013
Do, 16. Januar 2014
Fr, 07 Feb 2014
Do, 20 Feb 2014
Sa, 01 March 2014
Sa, 22. März 2014
Do, 10 Apr 2014
Fr, 06 June 2014


  1. Lovely blog, as ever, Thomas. I don't waste my time with blogs, much - but your (infrequent) missives are always a good read. Off to pre-order the new disc, now.
    P.S. Not that you owe this shithole an awful lot, after the treatment you got, but any gigs in the U.K. always welcome - particularly South of the country, say (e.g.) Southampton, maybe The Joiners, or The Brook. Not trying to be too specific, or anything :-)

    Cheers, Jon

  2. Thank you Jon. Really appreciate it. There will definitely be some UK touring lined up in the new year, will let you know when and where. I'm assuming that the 'treatment' you're referring to is the ever-tightening rules and regulations that prevent foreign artists like myself from basing themselves there, but I've always felt more than welcome by lots of wonderful friends and fans there and always a pleasure to get back and play shows.