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CD front cover showing a spaceman looking at something which is indistinctly reflected in his visor, and thinking, "That's odd"
This project was completed and uploaded on March 17th 2013. It was subsequently discovered to have been removed from LastFM and was therefore re-uploaded to this server 13th May 2017.

This project started as a deliberate attempt to write material that was as far away from mainstream as possible. It was written in parallel with Mortality. This means of course, just to be clear about this, that the lyrics for it were mostly written the year before the lyrics for Abstracts, so if there is any fleeting reference to my personal life then (like Mortality) it will be to an earlier time, when the relationship with Oona was still running. Ellen arrived on the scene around the time editing started. I don't think the lyrics do in fact say anything about my personal life, and some of you may have great difficulty figuring out what they are about.

I've always liked odd song titles, as I find them easier to write lyrics to than ordinary conventional titles. I was also told some time ago, around the end of the Midlife project, that I was ideosynchratic, that some people wouldn't like what I did but that I shouldn't worry about this. The logic of putting the two together seems so obvious now, that I'm not sure quite why it took me so long to work around to it.

I started work on the lyrics for what would eventually become That's odd in 2008.  That is, while I was working on Introspection. During an amazing run in the first half of 2009, I rattled off no less than ten of them, including five in a period of ten days, and remember that at the time I was also writing lyrics for Mortality. There was then a pause, as of course at that point I was working on Abstracts. After that I came back to That's odd, albeit in a sporadic way, and wrote the rest of the lyrics.

Orchestration started in mid-March 2012. The first two, Voices and Arabian circles, were certainly odd, and give a feeling now of what That's odd might have become. However I was uncomfortable with this as an approach, as I wasn't sure that I really wanted to listen to a whole CD of this kind of stuff. At the time I was listening to Rubber soul by the Beatles, and liked the hypnotic repetition of it. I decided that this was more the sort of approach I wanted - I was after something that would be easy to listen to. Hence the next track I orchestrated, What it feels like, comes across as much catchier and at any rate musically less weird. I continued in this sort of vein, almost by successive approximations, trying to get the kind of going round and round in the head feeling I was after.

Somewhere towards the end of May I think I started feeling that it wasn't coming out weird enough, so there was a change of tack, and the next two (Contemplating the void and The elephant) came out weirder. Normal service was then resumed until early July by which time I had orchestrated all the songs. I then started work on instrumentals, finishing in late September with what became the very pop-orientated (and even rocky) Pondering.

Editing what by now was a monster of 75+ minutes took some five months. Even after it had nominally finished, right to the bitter end I was still tweaking bits here and there. The files were finally uploaded on 17th March 2013, although at time of writing Last FM (where I upload them) seems to be having technical problems. I also therefore uploaded the whole lot to NOM, though of course it won't be staying there.

1. Interlude (instrumental) - Orchestrated: 25th June - 5th July 2012. Edited: 4th November 2012, 13th December 2012, 8th January 2013.
An interlude of course comes in the middle, like an interval, so in a determined attempt to be odd I put it at the beginning. It's another attempt to start a CD as if it were a piece of classical music. The announcer at the beginning might sound like something off Sergeant Pepper, but is actually much more likely to be a parody of a presenter of the Promenade concerts, which I'd seen one of (Yeoman of the Guard) and/or a radio 3 presenter.

2. The $15m duck - Lyric written: 28th June 2009. Orchestrated: 20th-25th May 2012. Vocals recorded: 3rd June 2012 (while a lot of other people were celebrating the Queen's diamond jubilee) from around 11am until a little before 1:30pm. Edited: 26th October 2012, 15th November 2012, 13th December 2012.
The title (which was originally going to be the $5m duck) came from a phrase which I thought had been used in connection with homeopathy. In point of fact I appear to have misheard or someone who mentioned it to me appears to have misremembered. The actual reference appears to have been to the 17th February 1997 issue of US News & World Report, which reportedly noted that one homeopathic product intended for colds and flu could be made for a whole year from one duck, which it dubbed "the $20m duck" (on account of the sales figures).  I idly started wondering if there was a real duck, and what might have happened to it. I didn't of course know, so it turned into an almost psychadelic stream of consciousness. I've never really been impressed with this kind of medicine, so the character waxing lyrical about some unnamed cure-all is probably a send up of my mother, although Jo did also have a tendency to spend a lot on boxes of tablets.

3. Arabian circles - [R] Lyric written: 16th June 2009, though with minor modifications as it was being orchestrated, and a further minor tweak during the recording session. Orchestrated: 25th-29th March 2012. Edited: 3rd October 2012, 15th November 2012, 13th December 2012
I was driving somewhere, when out of nowhere a thought came into my head - "In an Arabian circle, some things can never arise". I had no idea what an Arabian circle was, but immediately started wondering what sort of things couldn't arise in one. Religious faith I gather is very common in the middle East, hence the last line.

4. Answers on a postcard - Lyric written: 25th-26th April 2009 with some hacking around as usual when the lyric was added to the orchestration to try and improve the stressing. Orchestrated: 16th-19th May 2012. Vocal recorded: 26th May 2012, between around 11am and 2pm though this included a lot of vocal editing, especially removing annoying spikes from the main vocal. First bounced / uploaded: 26th May 2012. Edited: 15th November 2012.
As you'll notice, a lot of the lyric consists of associating things that aren't really associated (such as "Humpty Dumpty's bouncing ball" and "Jack the Ripper's pogo stick"). This is a variant on what seems to be a known dodge of making lyrics sound profound by associating opposites (such as on Come undone by Robbie Williams). The sideways dig at someone taking the floor and showing everyone he's a total twit appears to be directed at someone at work who appears to be convinced that everything in the entire world is controlled by a global conspiracy led by Dick Cheney and financed by the American banks (don't get me started on that one).

5. Voices (synthesised vocals only) - Orchestrated 17th-22nd March 2012. Edited: 27th September 2012, 2nd October 2012, 19th December 2012, 10th January 2013.
This early track was an idea I'd had for some time to make a complete track from pre-recorded vocals i.e. vocal loops. I was also determinedly trying to be as odd as possible. Much of the (pre-recorded) lyric is Bollywood. I have no idea what it means so I'd be interested in a translation if there are any budding linguists out there. The sounds at the end are intended to be a choir jumping into a swimming pool (how's that for odd?).

6. Englebert Humperdinck (or not) - [R] Lyric written: 11th June 2009. Orchestrated: 9th-12th June 2012. Vocals recorded: 23rd June 2012, from about 11 to about 1pm. I got the lead vocal quite quickly, but spent quite a long time tinkering with the backing vocal. Edited: 27 October 2012
This was an attempt to write a lyric called "The Englebert Humperdinckness of it all" which I thought was a good title. The idea was to try and get his name into every line of the song. However having written it, I realised that unfortunately there was a better title for it. The originally intended title wasn't used until later (for something else).

7. Trellis (synthesised vocals only) - Orchestrated: 19th Aug - 16th September 2012. Edited: 11th, 18th November 2012 
I was in what us oldies might still call a record shop when I happened across a Thomas Tallis CD. I'd heard of him, and heard snatches of him, and it wasn't expensive, so I bought it. His masterwork Spem In Alium was obviously beyond me, but some of the earlier stuff did sound achievable, so I had a go (as you do) at doing something vaguely in that sort of style. Oddly writing it complicated wasn't entirely successful, and it seemed to sound more convincing when I basically used the same notes for all the parts and staggered them.

8. Stick insect blues - Lyric written: 9th October 2011 (with some amendments as the lyric was being added to the orchestration). Orchestrated: 23rd April - 3rd May 2012. Vocals recorded: 6th May 2012, from somewhere just before 11am until I think somewhere after 2pm
Edited: 14th, 19th, 20th October 2012; 18th November 2012, 19th December 2012, 10th January 2013, 12th March 2013.

As I remember it, I was in bed one night, thinking vaguely about music, and remembering that I'd written a few blues format lyrics. I wondered whether I might write another, and I thought vaguely that if I did it wouldn't be about someone whose woman had left him, it would be about something odder, like (oh I don't know, I thought) someone whose pet stick insect died. There was a pause, and then I thought, wait a minute. After that it was easy. ("Did you really have a stick insect?" asked Ellen innocently.) Although there are British stick insects, they seem to have originally come from New Zealand, apparently somewhere around 1909. There are no native British stick insects - technically they are all naturalised rather than native. The longest British stick insect reportedly measures up to 125mm long. Mostly they only live three to four months, and die in the winter (in the first frost). They have few real interests and tend not to go very far or do much, until the weather turns colder when they seek shelter. Altogether there are over 3,000 species of stick insect, of which nearly 300 have been bred in captivity. They do get kept as pets, and are apparently easy to look after. Most of these pets are in fact Indian stick insects. In some parts of the world stick insects are regarded as pests, and can apparently ravage trees in a way vaguely reminiscent of locusts. The idea of anyone having great times with a stick insect is frankly bizarre. I can only imagine that the owner in the song is eccentric and extremely wealthy and that his preacher in view of this felt obliged to hold a funeral for his deceased stick insect. I'm afraid there was rather more of the sermon than I used in the finished track. It was written during the recording session (scribbled in a note book). I suspect that it was probably influenced by the Neil Diamond song Brother Love's travelling salvation show.

9. Bananas - Lyric written: 20th June 2008. Orchestrated: 6th-8th  May 2012. Vocals recorded: 13th May 2012, between about 11am and 1:45pm.. Edited: 20th October 2012, 18th November 2012
This was an early lyric that had been bouncing around in my head for nearly four years by the time I orchestrated it. I did alter bits of it to stay within my dynamic range, and also made some parts longer in order to make the structure more logical and consistent. The extended parts have backing vocals of I'm afraid a rather cheeky and mickey-taking sort. You may be wondering who they're supposed to be. I'm told the accent is a southern (American) drawl and definitely nothing like Clint Eastwood - the smart money seems to be that it's a caricatured version of John Wayne. The original idea of the lyric was to write a song called "All I ever wanted was a banana" which I thought would be a good title (i.e. an extremely weird one). In terms of genre it clearly owes something to the likes of George Formby (who once sang a little song called I like bananas, which by his standards was very innocent) and Professor Jimmy Edwards (who sang I've never seen a straight banana in 1960, although that seems to have been a cover version as it had previously been sung by Fred Douglas in 1927 having been written by Ted Waite the previous year). In my song, all the fruity references do fairly clearly appear to be allegorical - 36 years for example was the length of time my parents were married, and you'll have noticed that the backing vocalist keeps addressing his son.

10. Cinematic transitions (instrumental) - Orchestrated: 14th-23rd July 2012. Edited: 5th, 22nd November 2012
The original idea, which I'd had for a while, was to use some cinematic orchestration clips I had in order to assemble a sort of vaguely film music montage. The title came from the name used for several of them in the sound library. It turned out to be not quite as straightforward as I'd imagined, as a transition changes from one thing to something else, which means that there has to be a period on either side of something definite. This meant that I did rather more orchestrating than I'd imagined. The opening section (until the trumpets) was a clip called Medal ceremony that came as a sound clip, though I can't now remember which collection it was in.

11. The elephant - [R] Lyric written: 18th June 2009, though hacked around quite a lot during orchestration to improve the stressing. Orchestrated: 3rd-7th June 2012. Vocals recorded: 16th June 2012, starting a bit late, possibly around 11:20am; finished about 1:30pm. Edited: 27th October 2012
I'm sure you must have heard someone refer to the elephant in the room, meaning a very obvious subject that was being carefully avoided. Various forms of this phrase have been around since the 19th century. The modern form of the phrase may date from a New York Times article published in 1959. I must have heard it used and started thinking vaguely about elephants being in rooms. As you'll note I was making a deliberate attempt to write as oddly as possible.

12. Walking the frog (instrumental) - Orchestrated: 6th-11th July 2012. Edited: 5th, 19th November 2012, 19th December 2012
As this uses three beat bars, I started wondering what sort of creature could march to three beat bars. I wondered if maybe a frog might. The title was a cheeky adaption of the Rufus Thomas song Walking the dog (1963), although musically it has nothing to do with it, and neither is there any connection with the poem Walking the frog written by Alan Draper (which I hadn't been aware of until I later googled it). I was extremely proud of this track when I'd written it - I thought it was the best instrumental I'd ever written, and to me it does feel to have let's say echoes of Beethoven about it. I can imagine Beethoven having written it, albeit possibly only as a training exercise for one of his pupils.

13. Pondering (instrumental) - Orchestrated: 17th-21st September 2012. Edited: 11th November 2012, 21st February 2013, 4th March 2013, 9th March 2013
This was the last one to get written for this project, and it appeared to have overtones of edging away from it and towards something else (which convinced me not to try and squeak one more track onto it). It's a fairly straightforward use of chord sequences and guitar loops, but I liked it, although I did have some trouble with one of them due to bass tones in the original sound loop that I didn't particularly like.

14. Er - Lyric written: 30th May 2009, though with a number of edits while it was being orchestrated (basically to improve the stressing and rhythm of it). Orchestrated: 11th-20th April 2012 . Vocals recorded: 22nd April 2012, between about 11am and 1:30pm. I spent a lot of time on backing vocals. Edited: 14th October 2012
Originally this was going to have an orchestral backing. I'd written about 23 bars of this backing but had an uneasy feeling that it was going to be too samey and too sombre. At this point I stopped and watched Elvis: That's the way it is. After this I went back to Er and wrote the rest of it. I think the Presley influence on the remainder of it is quite clear. The lyrics were written as oddly as possible, though a few coherent thoughts did slip through. The dinosaurs were a late change - it was originally going to be pidgeons being eaten, but I didn't like the stressing.

15. Funny - Lyric written: 7th April 2012. Orchestrated: 7th - 11th April 2012. Vocals recorded: 15th April 2012, between about 11am and 2:15pm. Edited: 14th October 2012, (slightly) 15th March 2013
Someone at work used to be an amateur comedy compere and told frequent jokes. Fortunately he's further away and normally out of earshot now (unless he starts shouting in annoyance). I'm afraid I didn't find these jokes funny. Neither do I find endless sitcoms funny. I remember once sitting down to watch someone's favourite episode of their favourite sitcom, the one that they thought was the most hilariously funny piece of television they'd ever seen. 'The big joke' came and went and neither of us laughed - in fact neither of us laughed at all, all the way through it. For a few years (with Oona) I used to go to the Edinburgh fringe, and though we never went to any, there were endless shows by up and coming and supposedly oh-so-funny comedians. One night I watched the fastest selling comedy video of all time (which was broadcast on television), and though I could see where it was supposed to be funny, I'm afraid it wasn't. I was getting annoyed about this nothing being funny thing, so the idea was to write a series of jokes that sounded as if they were going to be funny but then fell horribly flat on the last line. (I did consider composite jokes, with the first line of one joke, the second line of a completely different joke, and so on, but decided that this would be too convoluted.) You'll notice that the verses are actually in limerick format. (I also considered starting with "I say, I say, I say" but decided that this would be the wrong era, harking back to music hall days.) One of the verses (about the hedgehog) was a limerick I started writing at primary school, but couldn't think of a last line for. It's taken 38 years, but I got there in the end. Incidentally, it was going to be a wicked old witch, but it got changed for stressing reasons. Oh, the boring bloke that the dull joke was being told to at the beginning of the song would have been me of course.

16. One over (instrumental) - Orchestrated: 4th-18th August 2012. Edited: 8th November 2012
This was written with five beat bars to give me more room to play with rhythms. As it was five beats per bar and not four, it was therefore 'one over'. It's fairly obviously based on a series of piano chords. It's scored for piano, cellos and violins - by this time rather than score a string section as such, I'd got into the habit of contrasting the tones of cellos and violins as separate instruments.

17. What it feels like - [R] Lyric written: 12th June 2009 [at Rouen] though with quite a bit of rewriting between orchestration and recording. Orchestrated: 30th March - 3rd April 2012. Vocals recorded: Friday, 6th April 2012 (Good Friday) between about 11:15am and 1:45pm, although only about the first hour was actual recording of the main vocal. Edited: 11th, 13th, 17th, 26th October 2012; 11th, 19th November 2012, 19th December 2012, 1st, 3rd January 2013, 15th March 2013.
I'd heard someone (or of someone) when asked what he'd witnessed reply something like, "I didn't see nuffink". If he didn't see nothing, then in theory he saw something (since something is not nothing) but I knew that wasn't what he meant. He thought that by using a double negative he was adding emphasis, and presumably had it occurred to him he could have added even more by saying "I didn't never see nuffink". I started wondering what language would be like if it was full of double and treble negatives, and whether it would be possible to write something so contorted that it would be impossible to tell what it was supposed to mean (hence the backing vocals). The funny thing was that when I was recording it, I did think I knew more or less what it meant. I liked the guitar going into the chorus, but I spent a lot of time playing around with it to try and find the right effects and the right sound. In the end (after struggling with it for ages) I decided that it wasn't central to the song, so hopefully it's just there rather than dominant. You'll notice that the backing keeps changing tack - I just didn't feel like cranking the same thing round and round.

18. Yoghurt as meditation - Lyric written: 2nd March 2009. Orchestrated: 5th-16th June 2011. Vocals recorded: 18th June 2011
Edited: 20th November 2011; 31st January 2012; 11th, 13th February 2012.

This was another song that started with a title. I was trying to think of daft titles and this one just came to me. It would appear that this phrase hasn't been used before, although one recipe was introduced under an article title that did include both the words yoghurt and meditation. When I was thinking about how to make the title work, I was imagining parallels being drawn between yoghurt and life. There did seem to be enough, so it got written. The ommm was of course him meditating on his yoghurt. You'll notice another (apparently evangalistic) preacher cropping up in this one. He was going to talk about the sacred way of the yoghurt, but I thought that this might upset my many American fans so it became the blessed way of the yoghurt instead.

19. Read the manual - [R] Lyric written: 14th June 2009 (though extensively rewritten on 30th June 2012 while it was being orchestrated) Orchestrated: 29th-30th June 2012 (apart from adding the lyric to it). Vocals recorded: 14th July 2012, from around 11:30am to around 3:20pm. Edited: 4th-5th October 2012, 5th December 2012, 8th January 2013, 15th/16th March 2013
In this song the narrator describes how some item or other stopped working, without ever saying what it is. I deliberately tried to keep this obscure as I wanted people to have fun puzzling over it. I had some problems in the middle section getting the guitar loud enough. The backing vocal voices are all me - some of them had the pitch bumped in an attempt to alter the apparent gender. I suspect the argument isn't my parents - it sounds more like characters from the BBC television series Last of the summer wine. In case you're wondering, the original jiggerypoke was actually a ventilation fan in a cottage in France (which really didn't work, although I didn't break it).

20. Every minute - Lyric written: 3rd May 2008. Orchestrated: 9th-14th May 2012. Vocals recorded: 19th May 2012, from around 11am to around 2:45pm. Edited: 20th October 2012, 5th December 2012, 8th January 2013
I was driving somewhere when for no reason a phrase popped into my head - "live every minute twice". My immediate reaction was, what on earth does that mean?? It would appear that this is another phrase that has never been used before (though there is a riddle about something that occurs once in every minute, twice in every moment but never in a thousand years... think about it). I suspect that it owed something to the John Barry / Leslie Bricusse song "You only live twice" (from the Bond film of the same name of course).

21. Contemplating the void - Lyric written: 6th June 2009. Orchestrated: 26th May - 2nd June 2012. Vocals recorded: 9th June 2012, from just after 11am until 2pm. Edited: 27th October 2012, 6th December 2012
You've probably had someone who was distracted say to you, "sorry, I was miles away". I started wondering one day, when people are miles away, where are they exactly? or, if they are staring into space, obviously not looking at anything particularly, what are they looking at? The answer I came up with was that they were looking into The Void, or on the other hand Contemplating The Void. This in turn made me wonder what the void was exactly, and what their relation with it was. It may sound obscure, but some of it at any rate is quite precise - for example "you always live your life inside" meaning that you think and feel things about your life, and that your experience of your life is in the end a mental thing - that is, your life is inside you. I won't say that I was disappointed with this song exactly, but I somehow expected that it would turn out to be a lot more than it actually was. The cackling at the end is actually a baby laughing, with effects added. At one point that was going to be how the CD ended.

22. Sleepy (instrumental) - Orchestrated: 26th July - 3rd August 2012. Edited: 6th-7th November 2012
This is the sort of thing I can come up with without too much actual effort. I worked on it for around three evenings, very late when I should have been in bed (hence, sleepy). The dobro took a fair amount of work as it kept making odd noises and had to be twiddled to remove them. I seem to recall not being sure about the choir.

23. The Englebert Humperdinckness of it all - Lyric written: 13th-14th March 2009. Orchestrated: 16th-19th June 2012. Vocals recorded: 29th June 2012, from around 11am to around 2pm, a lot of that time spent on backing vocals. Yes, that was a Friday - I was on leave that day, waiting in just in case the council came round. Edited: 27th October 2012
This is yet another lyric that came from a title. This was the second attempt at this title. This time I came at it a different way, and tried to think of the title as a punchline, which meant that the narrator must have been musing about something and then added that thought to it. This meant I had to come up with some musings, which I was able to do. In point of fact the musings had started from the first line, originally as a completely separate song, which meant that all I needed to do was to put the two together. The second verse got hacked around very heavily during editing (which isn't unusual) but this time it got much better as a result. The worried character was actually me, recorded lower pitch and then bumped. I liked the repeating guitar loop - it was only after a time that I realised that it was helping the track quite considerably and needed to be emphasised.

24. One day you'll understand - Lyric written: 5th June 2008 (with some alterations for stressing reasons while adding the lyric to the orchestation). Orchestrated: 23rd-24th June 2012 (very minor mix alteration 25th June). Vocals recorded: 8th July 2012, between about 11am and 2pm. Edited: 27th October 2012, 8th January 2013 (added crowd and announcer).
For some time I considered this the best lyric I'd ever written, but strangely it was kept hanging around for some while before being used. It was even touch and go whether it appeared in this collection at all. The problem was, I didn't think it was particularly odd. I imagined a collection of utter weirdness, culminating of course in the statement that "One day you'll understand". I did have other odd lyrics I could have used - I'm not usually short of them - so I did um and er about whether to go with this one. I think in the end I felt that if I didn't use it here, it might not get used at all. As you'll notice I have cheated a wee bit on the rhyming, and as usual it did get hacked around during orchestration. I remember while recording it that I'd done eight takes and knew I had it, but I loved it as a song, I really relished singing it, and I was very aware that after the recording session I'd never sing it again, which seemed a terrible pity. I thought, heck let's just do it one last time, just for me, just for the heck of it, and the resulting take (take 9) was mostly what I used in the finished version.

The five lyrics labelled [R] were written during the Rouen (Normandy) holiday from 10th-20th June 2009. Another five were written earlier that year. One was written later that year. Three were written the previous year (2008).  One was written in 2011, and one in 2012.

The cover is in CD cover format. It may be uploaded and linked from here later.