Smoke and Sticks

by Sean Breadin

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Technical : These two improvisations were recorded entirely in real-time (no overdubs, edits or multi-tracking) early in the morning of Sunday July 5th 2015 using electric guitar (Baritone Fender Telecaster + Ebow, diverse delays, filters, loopers & Tibetan quartz crystal glissando) with an analogue continuo of Korg Volca Beats drum machine, Korg Volca bass & Monotribe sequencers.

Context : The basic idea was that their extended durations would be ideal for in-car ambience during our Somerset holiday, but in the event I forgot the CD-R and neglected to upload them onto my trusty Noikia C3. This I did as soon as we got home, so I might listen to them afresh on my 12-mile daily cycle ride, and thus was I duly transported by the musical substance of the things, however so interminable*, but just the thing for a 6-mile run at a steady 10mph. As ever, I could find no trace of myself in the music. So - still more selfless indulgence...

Concept : In both these pieces I honour a memetic notion of the alchemical music of the Third Ear Band and the more wayward meanderings of Gong (i.e. Glastonbury Fayre 1971) by placing it directly the ancient Druidic landscapes of Somerset. Hence the repeating motorik drum patterns over which I'd weave a musical seance using various organic drones, Indo-European modality and heady No-Age glissando using crystals of Tibetan quartz. I also had an idea of taking pictures of Glastonbury Tor from the tower of Wells Cathedral, and taking pictures of the Wells Cathedral from Glastonbury Tor - but in the event, the cathedral tower was closed. I found other views though, over that green & pleasant landscape which has been a spiritual home these past 30 years or so, haunting my mytho-poetic imagination as the soul of something approaching the sacred before ever I might consider the details therein. The churches of St. John in Glastonbury and St. Cuthbert in Wells are especially resonant in this respect; likewise Wells Cathedral itself and the weathered stonework on the tower of St. Michaels on the Tor. One can but wonder what treasures were lost when the main body of the church was destroyed in 1539 during the reformation.

Smoke and Sticks : It amused me once, and long ago, talking to an old lady in Glastonbury when she said she was 'Going up to the Smoke' - meaning Wells - and that she much preferred 'life in the Stcks' on account of the pace of life in the city. Not sure how current such terminology is, but these days I dare say life in Glastonbury is more hectic than in its peaceable neighbour. In any case, this year, 2015, I found both utterly agreeable though in ascending the Tor I realised I'm not as young as I used to be; time was, 30 years ago, when I could float up there without a care. Perhaps it's just as well Wells Cathedral tower is currently closed to visitors.

Sean Breadin, August 4th 2015.

* I don't use the term lightly, this is not music for listening to; it is ambience, pure and simple; aural mood lighting of the wyrd green haze of distant iconic vistas and related fragrances hanging on the breezes that blow between memory and anticipation.


released August 14, 2015



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Sean Breadin England, UK

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