Exclusive | Stream Cleft’s debut album ‘BOSH!’
We loved their Utter EP, played Whale Bone until our ears bled, and enjoyed their live set so much it hurt…
And if that wasn’t good enough, the band have even provided an extremely in-depth look into how the album was made. Enjoy…
The recording process
BOSH! was recorded over 2 days in 2 different studios. We recorded 7 out of the 10 tracks at Spirit Studio, Manchester (where Dan works) and for the remaining 3 tunes we dry-hired the live rooms at Edge Studios, Alderly Edge and recorded ourselves using our mobile studio. We were lucky enough to have the helping hands of engineer Dan Buxton at Spirit Studio to assist us in perving over the beautiful Neve console and superlative mic selection they have there. No such help at Edge Studios though, and setting up a studio within a studio was a pretty daft idea, but turned out to be a really rewarding and gratifying process, although was a brutally long day. Once we’d finished the main tracking, we did a few extra layers of guitars, glockenspiel and Matt’s vocals at Dan’s studio although we’ve tried to keep the recordings as true to how we sound live as possible. We mixed and mastered the album in Dan’s home studio in south Manchester, much the same as we did the previous 2 EPs.
Why BOSH! ? Why an Elephant?
We struggled with the title and artwork concept for ages. After coming up with endless amounts of knuckle-bitingly terrible ideas, we landed on the idea of an onomatopoeic title as really all there is to this album is collection of increasingly silly noises we’ve made with our instruments. Dan uses the word bosh as a verb all the time, so it seemed appropriate and allowed us to finally stop worrying that we had an album with no title. We discovered much later that it means ‘slut’ in internet slag, which made us laugh.
After her smashingly excellent work on the Whale Bone artwork, we persuaded Jessica Wild to do it again, this time creating the cover entirely by drawing, cutting and sticking – what you see is a photo of the actual collage board she made. The original idea was the elephant (taken from the track Elephant in the Bar Room) was going to be sat on top on us, crushing us to death, but this version is a bit more family friendly. As abstract as the artwork is, we think it represents the sound of the album really well and we’re dead happy with it. It looks great on the 12” gatefold sleeves!
We managed to raise all the money we needed to create the 12” coloured vinyl and CD copies of the album via a Kickstarter campaign. We’d just like to take the opportunity say a huge thank you to everyone who contributed towards this album, it would have been released with a small, disappointing plop without your help!
BOSH! Track by Track
12 Second Panda
Dan – I think we had this track in mind for the opener when we started doing the quite odd ambient intro at gigs, the ring mod sound with delay on it has sort of an intriguing atmosphere to it that always seems to grab people’s attention. We also added some glitched up resampled glockenspiel parts to the intro to reference the sparse middle section (which also contains a sample of me clapping my hands in a cathedral Dieppe!) which was something of an after thought that I think works really well. This tune contains probably the most fiddly riff of the album too.
John – The name for this track comes from the fact that I was reading about pandas and their inability to procreate successfully. I imagined all problems could be solved by a ‘premature’ panda turning up on the scene to repopulate the Pandaverse…
Dan – This is one of two very stratty tunes on the album. I was trying to go from an almost Shellacy type guitar tone with the jagged chordal riff parts in this track. We had this one written quite a long time before any of the other tunes on the album, so we’d gigged it a lot before recording it (something we now try to do with all new material to see whether it’s any good).
John – This one’s about us. It was also the first tune of the album to be properly finished – even though ‘Pudendal’ is technically older, we changed that a bit not long before we recorded it.
Alec Baldwin’s Hair
John – This track was written by accident in less than 2 hours during the last rehearsal session for the album, and it’s one of my favourites for it. We did this one by jamming and then shouting what should come next very loudly at each other until it was complete. This (stupidly) doesn’t mean I made it easy to play for myself, with lots of fast single-stroke fills just kinda smashed out all over the place.
Dan – The track title is a reference to my guilty pleasure, the American series ‘30 Rock’. It heavily features my homemade “Auto-Wang” pedal which has a crudely painted penis on it (a clone of the DOD 440 envelope filter) for some very silly funky guitar tones in the verses. This was the last track that we wrote for the album which officially pushed us into double figures (it’s not an album if it’s under 10 tracks!). This was definitely a classic example of us writing something that made us laugh that eventually stuck and became a proper track.
Dan – Named after a very mundane household tool, this track is all about the middle Meshuggah-esque riff for me. Loads of fun to play live! The end of this track features some pretty brutal drummage from Mr. Simm too, check it out drum nerds!
Dan – This track is named after the way a bloke’s thighs look when it’s been sunny for a while and you’ve been wearing shorts (i.e deeply unattractive!). This is the closest we’ve got to writing a ballad. Before we started work on the album, I decided I wanted to write one tune in a major key as almost all of our tracks are fairly sombre/angry sounding. The main themes from this track are actually taken from an acoustic piece I wrote years ago for a film my girlfriend Jessica made.
John – Despite trying to write a ballad and making an attempt at subtlety, we ended up taking the basic ideas and putting in a ridiculous crunchy heavy section where I wail on my cup-holder (see video from Greg Chapman of AMTP for further information) and Dan does some ‘rock’ poses whilst pouting.
Elephant in the Bar Room
A Cleft first! We have a singer on this tune – his name is Matt Franklin, he’s in a band called Halfling’s Leaf and he has lovely hair!
Dan – We’d discussed the idea of having Matt guest on a track and both agreed it’d be a fun experiment if nothing else. We already had the skeleton of this track written around that time, and the main riff actually reminded me of something Halfling’s Leaf might do so it seemed to make sense that this be the one we sent him to see if he fancied getting involved. I was so surprised by how well and how quickly he wrote the lyrics and vocal arrangements for the track, he’s a talented bastard! We had a great laugh recording his parts too, lots of chilli and wine was involved (as well as a picture of an old lady and a cat on the wall of my make shift vocal booth in my house!). This track also features a bit where I downtune my top string to a low A so that we can segue into ‘Drop A Bastard’, something we decided to do fairly late on in the writing process but gave us excuse to have an enormous beatdown riff (fully equipped with 808 sub drop!).
John – If we both had long hair we could do the whirly headbang thing and look really metal at the beatdown section. As we don’t, we just look like we’re trying to avoid a wasp if we try it.
Drop a Bastard
Dan – Another tune with a pretty stupid/funny name, this is actually named after the track’s tuning being in Drop A. I had another couple of tracks I’d demoed in this tuning, so settled on calling the initial rough recording of it bastard just to identify it. I didn’t realise the two formed such a descriptive phrase until someone else pointed it out.
This is probably one of our heaviest most obnoxious tracks to date. It’s a shameless nod to Meshuggah with its low tuning and odd time single string riffing – loads of fun to play! It’s also the first track where I started to brave using my looper to create the weird textural intro.
John – The track title here is fairly self explanatory. Your eyes are bigger than your stomach, fact. This tune was also a first for me, in that I used a different drum kit on it compared to all the other tunes (which was a bitch in terms of logistics as it was recorded at Edge when we set up our own studio). It’s a Gretsch kit from the early 1970s, and it sounds completely different to my usual kit so it was really nice to have a change – after all, Dan’s got two guitars! ‘Buffet Remorse’ is probably the most challenging for us both to play due to the regularity of Dan’s looper on some sections and the large/fast changes in dynamics.
Dan – This one was finished fairly late in the writing process of the album. The main repetitive riff in the verses actually came from one of the first jams we ever had back in November of 2011: we have a way of regurgitating riffs, chords and rhythms from way back. This is probably one of my favourite tunes on the album just because it’s so different from anything else we’ve previously done. Again it features the looper quite heavily allowing me to overdub bits and pieces. The intro is a little recording I did on my phone in my garden when I was working on the chords in mid section of the track, it seemed to add a nice respite after the pounding of the previous two tracks.
Dan – This is actually the second tune we ever knocked together as Cleft. We never managed to find a home for it on the previous 2 EPs, and it seemed to fit in perfectly on the album. It was really interesting to listen back to an original demo recorded in our first ever jam session when we first started in comparison to the album version we recorded nearly 2 years later – we are LOADS better at being Cleft now.
John – When we met in late 2011 we started working on this tune and we really didn’t know what we were doing – the most ‘math’ thing I’d ever done before that was play a waltz, so the first demo recordings we have are pretty laboured! We’ve come on a bit. Also, the quieter sections weren’t originally in this tune, and we were only properly happy for it to go on the album once we’d added some dynamics to it.
Dan – When we wrote this I thought straight away that it would end the album. It’s really epic and overblown (particularly with the piano, synth and other sampled bits and pieces that John put over the top) and seemed to end everything really well. This is another track where my Strat gets it’s chance to shine, making my telecaster jealous! We always try to play this track as dynamically as possible and tried our best to be faithful to those dynamics with the recording, mix and master. This is also the first Cleft track to feature a pinch harmonic (the long haired metal kid in me was very pleased with this!).