SWAG 8: “A Fool’s Journey”

After my enforced abstinence from guitar playing in 2009, there was a period where I picked it up again and started the long journey getting back up to speed on my chosen instrument. A Fool’s Journey comes out of that time where I was just glad to be playing again and guitar, especially rock guitar, was an understandable release. There’s always been good old ‘Rock’ in the make-up of Thieves’ Kitchen, so long as it stretched a few boundaries here and there. In this track there’s a fair bit of what I’d call ‘odd time riffing’; guitar riffs that play across the natural timing of a track. Tracks such as Surface Tension from Shibboleth are in this same mould. The attitude is rock, but the complexity or instrumentation can have their roots in any number of different places.

Phil Mercy at Summer's End 2008

Amy has interpreted the music with lyrics that describe a Tarot reading from the Tarot reader’s perspective, and is somewhat more straightforward to match the rockiness of the track. There’s another nod towards our desire to understand ‘the fates’ in the words here.

The bare bones of the song came together very quickly, if I recall correctly, all written on guitar. The riffs for the chorus came first, then the verse riff that starts the track after Paul’s dramatic drum fill. On the album, these guitar parts are all double tracked i.e. played twice and panned left and right in the stereo mix to get a really powerful heavy guitar sound. This is definitely the heaviest track on the album.

The middle section has more of a fusion feel, forming a backdrop to two solos, moog and guitar. It’s actually one section of music played twice, interpreted completely differently each time. First go around, a figure is initially played on a highly phased guitar. The key shifts twice (in fourths) as the band kicks in and the moog solo builds to a finale. On the second interpretation, the roles are reversed and Thomas takes the figure on Electric Piano. A virtual orchestra kicks in at the key transitions and Cello, Flute, and ‘Mellotrons a plenty’ join forces on a Melodic backing for the guitar solo.

There’s a fair amount of the ‘exercise in self-indulgence’ about in this track, to be honest, but no apologies. Some of the melodic lines are being played in silly time signatures by all instruments present; guitar, tron, flute, and cello. None of these instruments dominate the mix, so they are individually difficult to differentiate but, believe me, there’s some serious cello playing going on.

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