Then, and Then: a memoir
2nd edition double CD (Accompanying book sold separately)
WORDS & MUSIC © Geoffrey Datson , Annette Hughes 2009
PRODUCER Geoffrey Datson
Recorded at THE GREENROOM STUDIO
'Having spent a few decades listening to music, popular and otherwise, I know what sound I want to make and how to make it. There is much to be said for monody. An old punk at heart, these days I rage against the major scale and obvious harmonies and so, 2009 finds me knee deep in electrohillbilly.' Geoffrey Datson
'It's kind of country/folk, Guthrie/Dylan, with a bit of of Eno on the side, using handmade instruments and spare combinations of guitars, ukulele, cello, dulcimer, banjo, water whistle, recorder and some electronic augmentation; you know, electrohillbilly!'
LIVE PERFORMANCES FROM THE WORK
Launched Reality Bites Literary Nonficiton Festival 2010
Tour of 8 Sunshine Coast Libraries November 2010
Various folk clubs and house concerts - see gigs 2010-11
Gloucester Writers and Readers Weekend 2011
Sydney Launch Gleebooks 2011
Cooroy Library Fusion event 2011
Byron Bay Writers' Festival 2011
Great Northern Hotel, Byron Bay 2011
Sydney Fringe Festival 2011
Outspoken, Maleny 2011
ABC Coast FM radio interview with MaryLou Stephens
Half a life time ago, Geoffrey Datson set out from the Sunshine Coast on the journey of the rest of his life.'I started writing poetry at sixteen and a few years later, was given an Appalachian Mountain dulcimer. About this time my parents bought a farm, the intention being that I’d help my father run it. Punk rock appeared. I sold the dulcimer to buy an electric guitar, fled the farm and headed to Sydney.' says Datson.
After a couple of decades in bands including a stint in NY and the slow acquisition of a studio, Datson's solo voice emerged. He performed and recorded spoken word as 'Protest Singer' in the early 2000s but in 2006 'on the burnout tail of one too many parties', he realised he was needed to help out on that family farm. 'A quarter of a century later' he find's himself full circle, back wearing his late father's boots, back where it all began.
Then and Then traces the artist's journey home, both physically and musically, from the Dulcimer, through rock, electronica and now back to hand made instruments. This is a major work for Datson; a collection of spoken word poetry and song from the past ten years, all of it recorded and only available in this limited edition.'The work is about a sense of place, belonging or not belonging. About loving where you are, or not. Without place these poems would be nowhere, they would have no place to be nor would they be needed.
"I was amazed at the recitation and songs and you and Annette playing your hand-made instruments: it had that sense of time stopping, or maybe of another place where time runs at a more stately pace: and the whole room becomes a sounding board, resonating with the word."
Dan McAloon ( Writer) 2011
"Reading this reminds me of walking into a sparsely furnished room. It's definitely not cluttered and consequently every piece of furniture is there for a reason. There is a lot of space in the poetry."
Sandy Herbert (Artist) 2011
"...your writing style is sometimes a series of haikus rather than linear storytelling."
Des Wade (Singer Songwriter, Adelaide) 2011
Then, and Then is like field recordings from The Twilight Zone. If Alan Lomax took his Nagra to Alpha Centuri and pointed it back this is what he would hear; snatches of electronica colliding with folk music, pop melodies and Celtic droning dulcimer crashing against lines tinkled on a Casio. Floating on top of this strange brew are snatches of poetry.
Geoffrey Datson has had a diverse recording career to this point from the straight up pop rock of the Surfside 6 to the post-punk of Belle du Soir who recorded for the legendary MSquared label. In the mid 1980s he formed Samurai Trash whose Afrobeatish sides released by Virgin were widely acclaimed. Since then he has toiled in the basement and traveled widely, recording an eclectic range of projects, most recently as producer and musician on a powerful CD of poetry from Moshen, an Iranian refugee interred in Villawood.
Then, and Then is a record of Datson’s peripatetic travels in time and space from adolescence on a farm in Cooroy on the Sunshine Coast to Sydney and then around the world back to Sydney and finally back to Cooroy. It’s an album that starts with teenage dreams of Patti Smith and the symbolist poets and Neil Young and winds up back on the land. As a teenager he’s full of ideas and adventures. By the end of the journey, he’s coming to understand the acceptance of country that his father had. “Homeland Borderland Wasteland” is the most obviously political, while “Pied Plucker of Cooroy” the most whimsical.
This is not a linear narrative by any means. There’s snatches of ideas, nightmares and reminiscences and quotation; dreams and events. The music also has its own narrative that signposts Datson’s journey; songs like “Woodcut” sound like the Velvet Underground jamming with the Incredible String Band. There are other familiar sounds here too; Suicide, early Human League, the Grateful Dead, Arabic drones and plainsong. Sometimes all in the same song.
The album comes with a beautifully packaged book of poetry. The words on the page are satisfying enough, unlike most rock lyrics, but benefit from accompaniment. Given the breadth and diversity on these tracks, it’s amazing that it holds together but it somehow does. The doom-laden clouds part into delicate pop melodies. Like any collection of poetry, you can dip in and out, but listening to the story unfold is the way to do it. This is definitely not, as they might say in Star Trek, rock & roll as we know it. It will adjust your set.
Toby Creswell 201DATSON+HUGHES
1. Tesseract Bird 3:54
Was reading an article by Robert Hunter (lyricist for the Grateful Dead) who suggested that they wrote music for "modes of the tesseract". A tesseract is a 4 dimensional projection of a cube. Imagine a cube where the bottom back edge is pulled up through it to become the top front edge, rather as if it's unfolding through itself. My mother had given me a toy, one of those cards with a bird on one side & a cage on the other, when you spin the card fast, the bird is in the cage, presto! The bird noise is a ceramic water whistle.
2. Five Notes From Beauty 3:03
Thought it was interesting how the economy went into a tail spin as they turned the Hadron Collider on. Perhaps it would be wiser not to mess with the fabric of time!
3. Beautiful Daughter Part 1 1:14
This is the intro to a song that ends with the lyric "at dawn there'll be smoke on the water and a deep purple gash in the beautiful daughter.
4. Inverse Sun 0:47
I used to frequent a club in NY (late 80's) called Save the Robots, with very post apocalyptic decor. There was sand on the floor & red gloss furniture from recollection. It used to open at 2am and run till about midday, always strange to emerge into the work-a-day sidewalk. It was there one might meet the envoy's son.
5. MNBVXC 1:53
6. The Pied Plucker of Cooroy 2:14
Winter 08 a plague of rats in the studio and I'm repairing an Eko six string banjo type instrument. Wrote the song to celebrate the departure of the rats & the repaired instrument. The Eko reminded me of Chickenfoot Crawp passing this way in 1976. He played with a plucking thrashing action. Chickenfoot, AKA William Crawford, is one of the best songwriters of his generation & is out there, somewhere.
7. Zombot 1:21
All that money in your account
by remote control they are taking it out.
8. Unptown Local 1:23
'A' train to Harlem 1987, three am, a homeless woman & I were the only passengers in the carriage. She was saying "nothing but rain drops inside".
9. Conceit of Light 6:14
Brixton Skate Park 1989 was a location of very cutting edge street fashion. The Hotel in Pomona Queensland this winter had a few fashion statements too!
10. Terminal Hermit 2:21
11. Sweet Matilda Waltz 3:14
From the fabulous "drifter " sessions, with Dave Bonnifoy on electro kit.
12. Eva Feral 2:40
My sister has a rental property in Brisbane. It must be one of the last outposts of the independent music scene. Under the house a tangle of busted drum kits, mic stands, torn band posters and beautiful grungy paintings..
13. Fluddites 2:31
... and under that house took me back to the Brisbane floods of '74.
14. String 3:27
Instrumental. I'd love to do this with an orchestra some day.
15. DF Recorder 3:24
Instumental. That'll be D & F played on a recorder.
16. Cellofane 1:35
Instrumental. Yes it's a cello and many guitars!