The End Of This Short Road
by Antony Milton
Deserted Village : DV27 : 2006
"I recorded it in 2000 a few months before I started the PseudoArcana label, and given that my initial idea for
P.A. was for it to focus on harsher and more abstract musics the simple melodic folk songiness of 'Short Road' resulted in it sitting on the shelf for much longer than it perhaps should have.
There was a great poet who said of his work that all he had ever done was write the same poem again and again, trying to get it right. I've sometimes felt that I only have the one song inside me, and I've approached that song from a hundred radically different angles and have ultimately become convinced that this song can never in fact be realised in any definitive way. But that one song is still there inside me and there are places on 'Short Road' where I think I come as close to realising that song as anywhere."
"The End of this Short Road": Antony Miltons Liner Notes
'The End of This Short Road' has been floating around in my box of tapes for nearly 6 years now and is a real favourite of mine. This probably sounds a bit wanky as its one of my own albums..! I recorded it on a 4 trk I borrowed off a friend shortly after returning to NZ in 2000. This was a few months before I started the PseudoArcana label, and given that my initial idea for PseudoArcana was for it to focus on harsher and more abstract musics the simple melodic folky songiness of 'Short Road' resulted in it sitting on the shelf for much longer than it perhaps should have.
The stuff I record under my own name is different (for me...) than that which I record under assumed names. It is far more intimate and for want of a better word 'honest'. Where as with A.M I'm wearing dark glasses, and with Swagger Jack I'm wearing rose-coloured glasses and a fake beard, as Antony Milton I'm not wearing glasses at all...
There was a great poet who said of his work that all he had ever done was write the same poem again and again, trying to get it right.I've sometimes felt that I only have the one song inside me, and I've approached that song from a hundred radically different angles and have ultimately become
convinced that this song can never in fact be realised in any definitive way. But that one song is still there inside me and there are places on 'Short Road' where I think I come as close to realising that song as anywhere.
'Day of the World'.
The 'straightest' song on the album, something of a hymn to death. I was 29 and just home from India and so it was written at a time when I was perhaps overly conscious of all sorts of western cultural contradictions, most especially those surrounding mortality. Through the writing of this song I was attempting to inhabit the position of one who can accept death as a natural and positive part of life. (A position I've never quite managed to secure...)
'The End of This Short Road'
Its 'that song' again. A spontaneous improvised accompaniment to a spontaneous ecstatic poem that I'd written a month or so earlier on my knees in a patch of gravel at Mangawhai Heads in Northland (NZ). Its about one of those most simple of mundane beautiful sun-in-the-eyes lonely times that one sometimes stumbles into when out on a walk, and has perhaps more tapehiss than any other track I've ever done..! (Come on, you KNOW there are voices
in the hiss!)
A hoedown for violin and guitar.
'In Amongst the Ferns'
A small rattley pop-song. For one reason or another I don't smoke pot anymore. When I recorded this I was still an enthusiastic 'grow it yourselfer'... Enough said!
'The Armchair (sprung)'
My girlfriends sister gave us an old computer when we came back to NZ and I discovered that it had some very basic recording software on it. This was my very first ever computer piece and used an old squeaky armchair as the sound
'Dreams the Ridge'
This is one in what is something of an ongoing series of soundtracks for an imaginary Western set in Central Otago. There's a huge blue sky, tussock,and maybe a NZ falcon hunting down some prey.
'Fine Stems -& Drips Like Tears'
An escapee from the sessions for the 'Guitar Has Strings' album of guitar explorations (released by Black Petal). It had more of a dreamy melodic feel than the rest of that album and so wound up being mastered onto this album
instead. If 'Dreams the Ridge' was a racing falcons rush then 'Fine Stems' is a quiet time at dusk beside an icy reed lined stream.
With this track I specifically set out to distil the core elements of 'that'song in a formal way whilst still keeping its heart alive. In this version its a sad 'pop song' stripped to the bare essentials.
'Skylight. Rusted. 7pm.'
A drone track for e-minor and bowed e string. I was recording in a big tin shed (see below...), the sun had left the skylight dark and I was virtually rigid with cold. Sometimes that semi-hypothermic state can be a form of
'Track for the Larkings'
In a similar vein to 'Distilled' I was trying with this track to be as spare yet evocative as I could be. Composed for a friends wedding (but ultimately discarded by composer for want of cheerfulness- ha!).
'Could Be Killers Talk'
Many of the tracks on 'Short Road' were recorded in the upper story of a large tin shed in Wellington that some friends and I were renting as a studio off a car-grooming business downstairs. Our landlords were also fairly well-known members of a local 'crime-family'. Shortly after this recording was made the building was raided by the police searching for evidence following the murder of a local drug dealer whom they had been tipped off had been killed on the premises! It had been obvious for a couple of weeks that something had happened due to the arguments and general hubbub emanating from downstairs. One particularly loud and quite audible debate was in progress whilst I was
recording this track (in fact it was largely to escape or at least subvert this noise that I WAS recording...). I leant my electric guitar up against a piece of steel framing and recorded this argument through the guitar and the
resulting reverby drone became the basis for this track.
A not-so-hidden-track for the end of the disk. This was actually recorded 2 or 3 years later than the rest and is a short song recorded in my backyard on a starry night bemoaning the daily grind of the academic life.
Antony Milton, 2006
ANTHONY MILTON – THE END OF THIS SHORT ROAD
(CD on Deserted Village)
For their first production CD, the Deserted Village imprint has stepped from underneath the umbrella of Irish improvisational projects (the rainbow of sounds made by various United Bible Students) to pay tribute to one of their heroes, Anthony Milton - founder of the New Zealand label Pseudo Arcana. 'The End of This Short Road' was mostly recorded in 2000, but sat in a shoe box until now because the brief for Pseudo Arcana has always been to concentrate on more abstract, free and "challenging" music (their lengthy and industrious discography is home to antipodeans agitators like The Lost Domain, Birchville Cat Motel and Pumice, as well as like minded souls from various sectors of the CD-R parallel universe). Which is a pity really, because this is as fine and intriguing a collection of fractured folk and drone as anything in the Alastair Galbraith oeuvre.
The opening track 'Day of the World' is a meditation on mortality, mixing effortless song-craft with the jagged recording aesthetic of the NZ Xpressway label. I love the loud hiss through the track, which I initially thought was rain on the roof, but in fact seems to be an insane level of tape noise. This continues to be the state of play on the sun-blind, spontaneous song-improvisation based on an ecstatic poem written by Milton, he says in the liner notes, "on my knees in a patch of gravel at Mangawhai Heads in Northland, New Zealand". Marking an end to the stunt-hiss explorations, 'Hops' is a compelling hoedown that nevertheless sounds like it was recorded when the originators of the form were working out its parameters. The deeply-stoned 'In Amongst the Ferns' is a hilarious homage to the home-use-only herbal plantation, viewed in wry retrospective. Particularly awesome is 'The Armchair', recording Milton's earliest experiments with computer sound capturing software. The fact that is has almost a Nurse With Wound cleverness to it speaks to the fabled Kiwi #8 wire principle - anything can be created with the simplest of tools and enough improvisational skill. 'Dream the Ridge' is a wondrously cacophonous soundtrack to an imaginary Western filmed in NZ for budgetary reasons. Back to hiss and plunk for 'Fine Stems & Drips like Tears', which is from the sessions for the 'Guitar Has Strings' album released by Black Petal, but was left off that album due to its dreamlike, melodic quality. It's certainly perfect here with its dripping rain-forest ambience, and is one of theCompact Discfinest moments, and that is saying a lot. The ecstatic, radiating vectors of sturm und drone that make up the lengthy 'Skylight. Rusted. 7PM' place you at the heart of these clearly sometimes lonely sessions. The guitar and bowed e-string workout is starkly beautiful and has about as much in common with the air-brushed rot that comprises most 21st Century popular music as a Salamander does with an i-Pod. One imagines modernity choking on it. Written for a friend's wedding, but, says Milton "discarded by composer for want of cheerfulness", 'Track for the Larkings' is a hauntingly beautiful celebration nonetheless. The most disturbing track here is definitely 'Could Be Killers Talk', where the recording process (conducted a floor above a business with organised crime connections) is used to blank out an argument that Milton really wanted no knowledge of. TheCompact Discconcludes with the "hidden track" '…(chairs)', a lament comprised of waterfalls of hiss, some oblique strumming and exhausted sentiments.
A heartily recommended work, detailed liner notes for which can be tracked down on the Deserted Village website – they aren't in the actualCompact Discbooklet itself.
ANTHONY MILTON – THE END OF THIS SHORT ROAD
"Intimate" is also a keyword for theCompact Discby Antony Milton (label owner of Pseudo Arcana). The disc collects music recorded in 2000 and 2003, and judging by all the background hiss I wouldn't be surprised to learn it was created with most basic means. Milton uses electric guitar, violin and sometimes sings, close to the microphone,with a slightly insecure voice. Most of the time he plays nice,
unpretentious melodies, but he also explores some looser structures. His music ranges from the shy and introspective to ecstatic jamming and is overall pretty raw, concerning the recording quality as well as the playing itself. Other than with The Green Blossoms you could call it lack of refinement in this case. But maybe this exactly is the
strength of the music, it's highly personal, almost informal in nature, and as such makes up for an enjoyable release.
MSS, Vital Weekly
Antony Milton is one busy man, not only does he run the amazing PseudoArcana label, but he also makes tons of music as A.M., Mrtyu, in the Stumps, the Nether Dawn and more. Did we also mention he's a postman?
The End Of This Short Road is the latest from this underground dynamo, and is most definitely the most song oriented. We know full well Milton is capable of weaving gorgeous expanses of droney bliss, as well as monstrous
slabs of downtuned brutality, but who knew he had such a deft hand at delicate songsmithery, but he does, and pretty much every track on The End Of This Short Road is a gem. Fear not, the weird lo-fi warbles and buzzy drone drenched whirs are still present and accounted for, but they tend to
be beneath bits of jangle and croon, instead of on their own (although that does happen here and there).
The quieter pretty songs sound a bit like a more lo-fi Sparklehorse, with a little Alastair Galbraith mixed in and maybe with Roy Montgomery on guitar.
Soft whispery vocals over delicate melodies, all filtered through that distinctly NZ filter. While the more rocking songs, are super psychedelic,with aggressive strumming, lost of reverb and delay, intense little squalls of minor key jangle and crunch, that manage to be both noisy and pretty,
intense but strangely sad and wistful. Recommended for soft hearted noisies and noisy hearted folkies...