Every so often, I feel the need to make an album of music. Singles and EPs necessarily allow only a limited presentation of musical ideas. Albums are where I can present a more extensive musical idea or provide a fuller benchmark as to where I am at, musically. 1998’s ‘Almost A Million’ was written and recorded for that reason. At the time of writing these notes (January 2018), I can’t remember what Big Idea(s) I had behind Almost A Million. I do remember that the album title was one I had been waiting to use ever since I had the idea for it having had a few pints in a pub in Oxford in the mid/late-’80s. The strong ideas you get when you’re feeling less inhibited! And, for once, an ideas what a good one…
Putting out an album is always a daunting proposition for me. This is not because I don’t have enough ideas or I’m not sure if can execute them. I’m generally never short of dozens of music ideas and theories on how to make them happen. No, the main reason that putting together an album is a difficult prospect is because I have to find big chunks of time to record my music … in between working full-time and having other things I want to do or have to do: shopping, cooking, cleaning, chores, life etc.. Each track will take 10/20/30+ hours to write and record end-to-end. Finding the odd eight hours of concentrated time work on a track is not easy and sometimes the ‘magic’ I’m looking for in a session doesn’t quite happen. So an album is usually a protracted affair, typically taking months if not years. This may explain why Almost A Million consists of just seven tracks.
A supposedly “medieval” instrumental, plucked on an acoustic guitar. Nice, but I can still see why it did not make it on to my ‘best of…’ ‘Good‘, the following year.
All The Way
A solo acoustic guitar and vocal track starts to very slowly build up the album’s instrumentation. Quite nice performances on guitar and vocal on a reasonably good track (in my opinion – I don’t praise every track!). The lyrics are self-disclosure, to an extent, but in opaque ways.
Acoustic guitars continue to dominate the album, this time layered up for a richer sound. Electric guitar comes in later to add to the textures. For me, another pleasant song.
Flying To The Sky
Continuing to build up the album, ‘Flying To The Sky’ adds keyboards, which come in for the second verse. Listening back to this, and all tracks on the album, as I type these notes, I’m struck by how the song-writing, musicianship and singing are actually pretty good – as always, in my opinion. I know there was a time when I decided that everything recorded before the first Silko EP was more-or-less rubbish. But I think that is because computer-based recording was so superior to using 8-track cassette, that I felt that earlier recordings did not do justice to my ideas. Also, I’m not naturally a good musician nor singer and so much of this and other tracks would have been recorded in a ‘take’ of the whole of the track – no punching-in at a point or editing in the computer afterwards. So, I think these tracks have merit, in my terms .
Welcome To Cyberia
Welcome To Cyberia continues the same breadth of arrangement as the previous track, and perhaps has equal merits. The lyrics are my predictions of some of the impacts I saw computers having on us. Bear in mind this was written before the Millenium and all the technology that come since.
Again, And Again, And Again
Drums finally make an entrance on Almost A Million. Again, and Again, and Again was was intended to be my equivalent of the medley of tracks that complete The Beatles’ Abbey Road album. A kind of epic firework display of music as I pulled out all the stops to show what I am capable of. The track goes through a series of phases, key and rhythmic changes, arrangement changes, mood changes – the lot. The lyrics touch on my personal longings… A piece of music I remain proud of.
That’s The Way ’98 (bonus Track)
A track from 1992 that I had previously put out on a cassette demo. So, it’s not part of the musical thinking behind Almost A Million, but more something additional, should the listener want more Brian Silk 😆 and a chance for me to give a track a second life. That’s The Way is an attempt to write an out-and-out pop song. Funky guitar licks and meaningless lyrics – just as long the words sound “good”. I’ll leave you to judge…