SWAG 6: “Deor”

Track 1 on the album is actually a short spoken word piece by Amy by way of introduction to the album. She recites the traditional ‘Magpie’ children’s rhyme. The rhyme touches on one of the themes that recurs throughout the album, that of our interaction with fate. The atmosphere is heightened a little with a tiny bit of stress or trepidation injected. This is achieved by mixing in a little of Amy’s heartbeat which was recorded soon after one of her most strenuous vocal takes on the album, and so is racing a bit. Subliminal, but it is there.

Track 2 is the first song proper on the album, and is called “Deor”. Now, Amy always mixes a little ambiguity into her lyrics leaving them open to interpretation by the listener, so I’ll tend not to give blow by blow deconstructions of what they mean (or, at least, how she’s explained the meaning(s) to me). Frankly, this would spoil it. However, on this occasion I’ll say something about what she’s done for this particular track. Broadly, she took a 10th century poem written in ‘Old English’ and translated it into modern English such that it scans perfectly onto a non-traditional song structure, written mostly in 11/8 time. The poem deals in general with the theme of ‘No period in history lasts forever’ and, whilst this general theme is maintained, she puts her own slant onto the original stories used to illustrate the point. Honestly, I was amazed at what she achieved here. I mean, who goes “I need some inspiration for my lyrics …. Hmmm, what I need is a good 10th century poem written in an archaic language I can translate”?

Phil Mercy and Rob Aubrey at Aubitt studios

The music begins with a fanfare section before bridging into a verse. The bridge section is actually what this track was built from. It was originally part of a track written shortly after I’d started playing guitar again in 2010 which was, largely, a bit of a ‘rawk’ fest and not worthy of TK, but this section stood out. The arpeggiated wide interval chords played on a guitar on the edge of distortion had a great atmosphere. A verse was written using the same approach, and that became the basis of the song. The chorus uses the same guitar sound but now pushed more into valve distortion through playing harder. Here too, Amy’s vocal line is echoed by Mellotron strings for an almost eastern flavor to the sound. The fanfare intro is revisited to form a middle section but this time the root notes are shifted, mimicking the verse, to produce nice movement for a guitar to wail over. Much here depends on the subtle dynamic shifts between the verses, the verses and the chorus etc. and each verse section starts intimately, yet the band is rocking come the chorus. Of particular note, I think are the wonderful Cello melody in one of the later verses, and the way Paul and Brad make it all swing despite the numerous timing shifts.

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