In the studio with avant garde band Stranger Son of WB

Stranger Son of WB are a music group based in Manchester and centred around Gareth Smith. These are just about the only facts we can cling to: everything else – their genre, their line-up, even the instruments they play – is more fluid than Oliver Reed’s diet.

If you asked me to describe SSOWB, I’d propably avoid the question by mumbling something about Captain Beefheart bumping into Can in a lift in a Hulme high-rise, in the manner of those extended metaphors so beloved by music journalists. If you want to list some relevant adjectives, try challenging, abrasive and occasionally ingenious, but not simple or static.

Gareth’s ‘anything goes’ spirit led to me being invited down to their studio. The mission, should I choose to accept it, would be to add my singing voice to part of a track he and his current crop of musicians were recording for their new album. Given that I’m worse than Viv Nicholson at holding onto notes, it was reassuring that I’d be just one of seven singers on the song, and that we were just tackling a simple, breathy refrain.

Rehearsal lasted all of 20 seconds and then the tapes started rolling. We cooed for three minutes, during which time I tried to keep as far away from the microphones as possible to stop my drone ruining it, and rattled off three takes. Nothing will be wasted as every run-through we recorded will be used by layering them on top of each other.

During the third and final stint I managed to prop up my film camera in the corner to record some footage. The result is essentially five minutes of ‘aaah’ notes with various badly-framed singers swaying in out of shot. However, I thought I’d upload the resulting video as it gives a rough idea of the recording process.

Who knows what it will sound like when the rest of the song’s elements have been grafted on? Well, probably nothing like this, the Spotify link for their last album Einstein’s Getaway, but we wouldn’t expect anything less.


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