Water of Life
The Water of Life project by Tommy Perman (once of FOUND) and Rob St. John (still of Rob St. John) is now available for pre-order, and I recommend you snap one up while you can, as these things have a habit of disappearing rather quickly.
In one sense, it’s basically just a 7″ single of two (largely) instrumental pop songs with elements of experimentalism and psychedelia, both with a good running rhythms and eminently hummable, but nevertheless containing some rather odd noises. It doesn’t sound anything like Jonnie Common, but it does have that element of sounding like pretty straightforwardly digestible pop music, and yet at the same time, when you break it down and listen to the actual noises being made, you realise that the music is actually pretty odd.
I guess it’s a little like staring at a billboard. From over the road it’s a nice coherent image, but from up close it’s a fairly baffling collection of disorientating dots. The reason for this is what makes this more than just a 7″ pop single, and is the reason for the name Water of Life.
Large elements of this music are composed from field recordings and found sounds accumulated by Rob and Tommy along various parts of the waterways of Edinburgh, from the picturesque bits of the Water of Leith to the drinking water system and even the sewers.
The percussion, for example, depends heavily on hydrophone recordings of stones colliding underwater, and where they’ve embellished this with artificial beats, they’ve actually modelled the underwater reverb generated by the field recording and applied it to the drum machine and iPad beats they’ve used, to draw the artificial sounds into the more organic world they were exploring.
There is synth as well, and I am not sure at what point they drew the line between artificial sounds, found sounds and the use of musical instruments, but you can find that out if you buy the 7″. It’s being released on the 9th December as a package of music, prints made by Tommy, photos, and essays about the themes and discoveries made during the project.
I like this way of working. Other art forms are encouraged to explore project based stuff, to heavily theme things when they want to as a way of exploring new ideas, but when you do it in pop music people tend to instinctively withdraw a little, and the dreaded ‘concept album’ term can be heard muttered under people’s breath. But honestly, I would far rather people pushed themselves like this when they had the chance, because there is surely only so much a songwriter can churn out about their feelings and life experiences before they themselves get bored, never mind us.
So yes, a bit more depth (BOOM – depth, get it? Get it?) than your average pop single. Sorry for the pun, too. No really I am, there was no need for that at all.More: rob st john, tommy perman, water of life