The Story of the Wave after Wave Held by Trees Collaboration

My piano on Wave after Wave

Wave after Wave was an incredible experience. It’s story is quite a remarkable set of coincidences and synchronicity.

One day I was sat by the ocean here in Cornwall, feeling quite bruised by the past year, and I had just posted up the experimental jazz track, inspired by Spirit of Eden by Talk Talk, Lilith. My phone pinged to tell me something, which I ignored.

A few days later, I looked on Instagram to find that the track and the atmospheric video of after the storm at Porthleven had had almost 1000 views in a few hours. It said “…a track inspired by an album from 1987, in itself a slice of 1967..” being a cryptic reference to my favourite even album Spirit of Eden.

It also had a curious, rather kind message under it from a guy called David Joseph of this band Held by Trees. It said “It’s like Peter Gabriel meets Talk Talk”. Stunned by this, I wrote to say thank you, and compliment him on his beautiful project Held by Trees. Then he asked me to write some piano for the album. I was shocked to be honest, looking at the amazing musicians on the album, my first thought was I wasn’t really up to that level of talent. He insisted I was.

It is difficult to explain what the album Spirit of Eden meant to me. I’m not going to try here, I am going to write a review of it in time. But it was part of every significant moment of my life and the level of inspiration I draw from that body of work even today is vast. I would not even be writing if it wasn’t for Talk Talk. Not that I ever wanted to copy it, but I loved the idea of channelling that part of me and all the loss and sadness of those awful years into something beautiful.

One of the basic rules I live by I admit I stole from Talk Talk. That music only sounds any good the first time you play something when writing, so capture that or nothing. Then that famous quote:

“Before you play two notes, learn how to play one note, y’know? And don’t play one note unless you’ve got a reason to play it.”

Mark Hollis

Then I had to actually deliver something. A lot of time went by. I knew that, to be true to the intention of the album, I had to stick to the rules they lived by writing. No practising the work. Just thinking about how I might structure it in the key I was given, then one straight improvisation. If that didn’t work, then I wouldn’t even send it. Maybe it sounds harsh, but I wanted to do my best for Dave.

I was also writing Pale at the time, which was a sort of exorcism of bad energy. So I decided that the philosophy was to be make that track Pale, with that misheard Talk Talk lyric that never was “Pale Lipped Lucifer” then, and only after I had exorcised that darkness, I would immediately thereafter write the piano for Wave after Wave, which would be the ghosts and the light.

I finished Pale, feeling quite elated at having met what I set out to do with it and feeling quite angry that I had to write it at all, I went for a long walk down the river from my studio and to the estuary to Malpas in the late summer, sunlight flickering through the trees making beautiful shadows on the water.

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.”

Carl Jung

Immersing myself in nature to channel that feeling, then to the edge of the sea to feel the energy of the waves, so I could use that in the track, Wave after Wave. A quick pint of old cider, the cloudy stuff that actually tastes of autumn sunlight, grown here in Cornwall. A long slow walk back listening to the birds and the wind in the trees as it backed off the ocean onto the land as it does here when dusk falls.

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

Carl Jung

At my studio in The Old Bakery Wharf, rose incense, patchouli oil in the oil burner, candles, lava lamps, written at 11:11 to 11:15 in one go with eyes closed. I listened to it once. Tears happened. Happy, I closed the studio, went home and forgot about it for a week. Then I just sent it, didn’t listen to it again until I heard Phill Brown in the studio mastering it via a text from Dave. I was stunned. It sounded exactly as I had it in my minds eye.

That Phill Brown even heard anything I wrote I felt was incredible. The fact he liked it was something else. It gave me the confidence to finish the Unknown Replica album exactly as I had envisaged it. I have had the honour of being invited to write more with Dave and he and the incredible Martin Ditcham, the percussion artist from the latter Talk Talk ablums and Mark’s solo album, are contributing to my album too now. It’s like a dream within a dream. I can’t thank Dave and Martin enough for their kindness and generosity of spirit. ∞

“Projections change the world into the replica of one’s own unknown face.”

Carl Jung