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Random Note Generator – Welsh Prog Rock

A while back I was in a radio-unfriendly prog rock band called Random Note Generator.

I’d been playing for the previous decade with jazz-pop-become-cabaret-band Crystal Eyes, and I convinced the excellent singer and guitarist Chris James to down his axe and focus on tunes. In turn he introduced me to guitarist Dave Jeffries, not only a wizard on the frets, but also a fluent composer.

We created the below five pieces over the space of two years, recording in my coach house with all the kit we could muster and mixing and producing on a creaking home PC. Dave and I shared most of the songwriting and Chris penned all the lyrics. The drumming was provided by Huw Morgan, who delivered his bombastic recordings on a single rehearsal.

Recording in the Coach House in 2007

International Superhero is remarkably short for RNG. The whole song was written by Chris and in case you’re not up on your Sci-Fi movies, the quotes are from Aliens.

International Superhero

If I Had My Way kicks off with a rhythmic trompe l’oreille in a fairly obvious homage to Metallica. Then contrasting lighter verses, so metalheads think it’s a bit weedy and folk-lovers think it’s a bit noisy. The bass solo references both Trevor Rabin and Chris Squire. Bonus marks if you know who they are. Or care.

If I Had My Way

I think the slow, layered tapping is particularly lovely in the opening to Not The Drowning Kind. This is my Official Best Bassline Ever, as suits Chris’ poignant lyrics about depression.

Obviously, two thirds of the way through we change song. We’d all been listening to Franz Ferdinand’s Take Me Out and couldn’t help ourselves.

Not The Drowning Kind

Buckle in. This is the proggiest prog which ever did prog. Constant changes, tricky riffs, 12-tone rows, octatonic scales, no chorus the same, plus Chris’ psychedelic word-kaleidoscope.

Colours is what the inside of my head looks like.

Colours

Also very prog, but with much more focus. Like Floyd after the Yes. As with previous pieces, a lot of the chords and riffs were from Dave, whereas my compositional role was often more structure, arrangement and production.

The Event is about the landings at Gallipoli in the Great War. Moving from Dave’s crunchy chords, through Chris’ anthemic chorus, to the battlefield of the middle section, where Huw is doing a reasonable impression of the Tasmanian Devil. Finally check out Dave’s final Gilmouric solo.

I’m proud to have made music like this.

The Event
Rehearsals at Dave’s Garage in 2005

On the unlikely outcome that you’re a bass player interested in my gear, I used my Grover Jackson 6-string, played with a pick (OMG, illegal!), heavy compression, chorus and flange.