Mortal Tongues (2020 – )

No original recordings were harmed in the making of this project……

Mortal Tongues EP cover - Bobbie Watson & Jon Seagroatt

Bobbie Watson: voice

Jon Seagroatt: music / arrangements / xenochrony

At the start of June this year (2020), I had just given up teaching A level music and music technology, my ‘day job’ for the past twenty years or so. I thought it would be good to mark the break by trying out a couple of new amusements.

The first of these turned out to be teaching myself the trombone (Don’t ask! More of this, perhaps, anon.), and the second was to move from Cubase, my DAW workhorse since 1990, to Logic.

Cubase had become for me inextricably bound up with teaching music technology, plus I had never, EVER liked that stupid protection dongle!

I tinkered a bit with Logic, but kept nipping back into Cubase when I wanted to use a DAW intuitively i.e. without the manual and YouTube ‘help’ videos interrupting the workflow every few minutes.

It was during this ‘ummm….well….maybe / maybe not’ phase that Steve Krakow (AKA Chicago’s Plastic Crimewave), got in touch to ask if Bobbie & I would like to put a 30 minute set together for this year’s online-only Million Tongues Festival in July.

I asked Steve what he had in mind and his answer was, ‘I could see something like Deathless and maybe if there was some kinda way to fit a few stripped down/radically rearranged songs that Bobbie sings for Comus?’

Bobbie & I decided that the obvious Comus songs to look at were ones where she sang the main vocal, and so we chose In The Lost Queen’s Eyes and The Herald. I thought it a good idea to keep the original vocal melody entirely recognisable whilst moving the rest of the musical furniture around to see what interesting arrangement Feng Shuis might result.

For the other two pieces we finally performed, Traps and Frayed, I gave Bobbie a memory stick of ideas I’d been playing around with, and let her chose which to work up into complete tunes.

I then set myself the following goals; 1 – only working in Logic to complete the transition from Cubase, 2 – NOT recording any sax  / woodwind specifically for the project i.e. using only re-purposed recordings from other projects, and 3 – to fit a bit of wobbly trombone in somewhere. All of which I achieved – even the wobbly trombone, tralaa!

Oh – there was one other thing I really must mention in case any of m’learnéd friends from Universal Music’s mechanical copyright legal department drop by; no samples or loops from any Pye / Dawn recordings were used in these re-imaginings!

Here’s ‘In The Lost Queen’s Eyes’ from the live stream of our Million Tongues performance:

‘Traps’:

‘The Herald’:

and ‘Frayed’:

The four track EP ‘Mortal Tongues’ that resulted from this project is available for download from Bandcamp:

‘Mortal Tongues’ is also available from us as a signed CDr via Discogs.