Flange Circus combine all sorts of influences from post and space rock to the Radiophonic Workshop and, as it turns out, Greenland. This year they released the Overexposed EP, and mighty fine it was too. Colourhorizon caught up with Bon and Pete from the band to provide exclusive liner notes for the EP. Without further ado, but with some bickering, here’s what they had to say…
All the tracks were recorded in what we like to call The Flange Cave over a period of weeks, if not months. The Flange Cave is the name we have given to a basement of a house somewhere in North Manchester where, when the Universe permits, we gather in hooded cloaks to murmur incantations to the Gods of latency and multiple overdubs. The room is treated with acoustic foam, not to make a more balanced mixing environment, but because we’re worried about psychic interference and remote viewing by the Illuminati. Of course.
We often have tea and biscuits, but these are rarely allowed in the Cave in case we get crumbs in our oscillators.
Fabric Lughole Systems:
Bon (Guitar, keyboards, programming): This is a chase and movement song. I wanted something upbeat and hectic to reflect passing through space in a hassled fashion. Ideally this would be the streets of a US city’s downtown – all neon and mist. In reality, it’s reflects a packed Metrolink on a dank November morning.
Pete (Bass, keyboards): After I heard Bon’s original demo, I struggled for weeks to find anything to play on this, and for a while considered that it didn’t need any bass at all because there was so much else going on. Then one day I was round at Bon’s to do some writing and arranging and the bass line just tumbled out of my head. We got it recorded that same afternoon! There is a deliberate mistake in there somewhere which makes me wince every time I hear it but I’m never telling anybody what it is.
Bon: I will find out where the mistake is by withholding your biscuit rations.
Pete: The video was a lot of fun to make. It’s made up of footage that Bon shot in Berlin and I recorded on a trip across America. We were really trying to get across the feeling of movement that I think you get with the song. There is also one shot of a tram on the coast of Belgium for our tram spotting fans out there. We’re good to you, we are. I made the video using OpenShot in Linux for those of you who like to know such things.
Bon: I don’t know such things, I do know that the title refers to my alleged inability, according to a friend I write a music blog with, to distinguish good and bad music. As a close friend I guess he should know, but for others this might be of some concern. Anyway, the title is spoken by a Miss S and was recorded in a disused railway tunnel somewhere in North Manc. I really enjoy getting my Acid on at the end of this.
Pete: Adam (keyboards) came up with the song title after a startlingly hilarious rant about lobsters and their superiority complex. We knew we had to use it but we didn’t have a song to go with it!
Bon: We’re not sure how a rant about the failed elitism of lobsters became a slab of Space Rock, but it did.
Pete: After we’d worked out the structure we didn’t really have any idea how to end it. On the day I was recording my bass parts I just made up the end, but then went home without telling Bon what notes I’d been playing. Sorry Bon.
Bon: This often happens and your apologies are meaningless. Anyway, we let John T (keyboards and organ) become Jon Lord on this one and he does a fine job. As does, Adam with his UFO landing type noises. The title is shouted by all four of us. It was recorded with mirth and much LOLzing. My first take was performed in the style of Justin Hawkins – all falsetto like. This sounded shit and was quickly deleted.
Leopard Skin in Miniature:
Pete: This is one which I wrote at home and presented a demo to the rest of the band, who then thankfully suggested a bunch of things to make it much, much better! The genesis of this was a song I’d written called ‘Less Than Three’, which was frankly a bit crap, and this was my attempt to rewrite it. The drum beats came first, thankfully I quite like programming drums and they argue and fart less than a real drummer, and it came together really quickly – I had the whole demo done in about 6 hours. The samples of the geiger counter and the Russian words came from Freesound.com.
The title comes from the name of a chapter in the William Gibson novel Zero History, and the lyrics are some words I picked out from the chapter and rearranged. This may upset anyone who was looking for a deeper meaning. I am very sorry.
Bon: Like a mirror to Pete on ‘Fabric Lughole Systems’, I had no idea what the guitar line should be on this and spent weeks crafting it – yes, you wouldn’t believe it would you?
Pete: I did the vocals through a Roland VT3 (set to ‘Megaphone’, manipulated vocals fans). John tells me that it sounds like Ian Curtis, something I will continue to dispute forever.
Bon: Dispute all you like, your (zerodom) heritage is genetic.
Pete: Named after a place in Greenland (Qeqertarsuup tunua in Greenlandic). The idea came from John who likes to travel in cold places. He presented his original keyboard riff in rehearsals and we built it up from there, in two very distinct parts that we later combined. We jammed this out for a few weeks trying to decided on a structure, though I don’t think we really nailed exactly what we were going to do until we started recording it. John was very adamant that he wanted the sound of icebergs on it, which is what you can hear at the start and the every end. These presented Bon with some particular challenges in Ableton Live…
Bon: Yeah, in terms of producing, mixing and mastering this was a complete fucker. Everything about it was complicated. Like ‘PUBC (Paper Shoes Vibing on Cat’s Piss)’ from the first EP this was a massive time consumer. It’s made up of stupid amounts of tracks to get the swells and dips, and all manner of other things, drones and noises.
What I was particularly proud of with ‘Disko Bay’ is how John came with a very rough idea and we managed to realise it. And once again, John revealed that he’s the only properly talented one of us when he just rattled off the piano ending in one take.
Pete: The bass bit in the first half was really simple, I was echoing what John was playing on the keyboard really, although I did also add the arpeggiated keyboard line on a MicroKorg. This originally ran almost the full length of the track after the intro, but it really didn’t sound right with what was going on in the 2nd half so we cut it out of there.
We wanted a lot more ‘drone’ on it, I can’t remember whose idea it was to get Adam to pull his old Violin out but it worked beautifully.
We came up with the 2nd half with the drums and piano, much later. The genesis of this part started when I played the bass bit, and I am always expecting to get a stick for the time signature in which I decided to play it in! Bon then had to work programming the drums around that, which caused problems when we decided the originally recorded version needed to be expanded…
Bon: I’ve spend considerable money in sessions with my shrink in order to forget this process. As such, it would be psychic regression to unearth that time again. Proud of the results, though.
Pete’s biscuit ration was never lifted…