Wednesday, 6 May 2009
SISTER SONGS (Peter Scion 2002)
So there I was, looking for... I don't know what. A new voice? A new approach to music? A new way of writing songs? Well, one thing was for sure: I had gotten very tired of hearing my own worn-out chords. I felt like I had become my own cliché. Creativity was getting the best of me; it demanded me, it was draining me. I felt low, and tired. What once was a liberation was now becoming a prison. I had become Peter Scion, and I had somehow lost myself again.
Something neeeded to be done. I met someone who changed my life in a way I still can't quite explain, and it wasn't even a love relationship although the songs on "Sister Songs" might lead people to believe that. It was so much greater, it was friendship of a kind one rarely experience in life. I suddenly had a sense of belonging, so it was obvious that the first track on "Sister Songs" should be entitled that: "Sense of Belonging".
However, I had still problems working on my music. Halfway through the album sessions, I gave up on it. The 13 minute opening track left me punch drunk from trying to get it together. I knew it was a song well worth finishing, but I just couldn't get it right. At one point I partially erased a channel by mistake and had to record the whole thing all over again.
I spoke to a friend of mine, a New Zealand musician, about this. He told me to give it up; to just drop music making altogether. That was the best advice I could get. Knowing that "Sister Songs" would be the last Peter Scion album reinforced me with energy to finish it. The album had a story to tell, and all I had to do was getting the missing pieces done. Suddenly I knew what the album needed, and wrote and recorded the last songs for the album. Knowing that this would be my swan song, I had to make it good. Even with the hiatus in the middle of the sessions excluded, "Sister Songs" demanded more time in the making than any previous album. At one point I described myself as "the Roger Corman of folk"; Corman was the film maker responsible for movies such as the original "Little Shop of Horrors" and the psychedelic visual anthem "The Trip", and he never spent more than a couple of weeks making a movie. "Sister Songs" on the other hand was like a high budget project without a budget at all.
Musically, I wanted "Sister Songs" to be like an overview of my entire career, albeit with entirely new songs. I think I succeeded. There are hints all the way back to "Devachan" and, with the last track "Changes Must Be", even further back in time, to my teenage years. I had rarely had a better time recording a song than "Changes Must Be" - I screamed and shouted and oddly enough, the sounds that leaped out of my mouth sounded pretty much like I did when I was the lead singer of a teenage garage band founded amidst the 80's garage revival.
Each track is different to the one preceeding it. Each track was mixed entirely from the standpoint of the song itself. I spent an incredible amount of time mixing the album, and when done I knew I had not only produced the best Peter Scion album of all, but the best album I was capable of making whatsoever.
Of course, "Sister Songs" sank more or less without a trace. It got like two reviews; the leading underground psych/folk/prog magazine obviously refused to write about it after the editor and I went on a full speed crash course in a newsgroup discussion. The original Peter Scion website went dead after I announced I was quitting music. The webmaster went out of touch and has remained so ever since.
And there I was with my magnum opus on my hands with no one to care. Crazy how things go, isn't it?
I'm still hands down, no excuses, say what you will very proud of "Sister Songs". It is the definitive Peter Scion album. It has several of my best songs ever. It has the best sound. It has sensitively worked-out overdubs from musical friends, from New Zealand to the U.S. It is the essence of Peter Scion, and even if the rest of the world tells me the album sucks, and calls me arrogant, I know it doesn't. So there.
With "Sister Songs", I knew I could retire from the music scene, knowing I had said what I wanted to say.