Exploring 'The Fall of Chronopolis' LP and its inspiration
A T&M website exclusive
by Nicky Garratt
The escapism of Science Fiction might be my drug of choice, which, from my point of view, others might use drugs or alcohol as a placeholder.
As a kid I devoured everything by Isaac Asimov, who it must be said never cheated the reader by introducing magic or arbitrary additions to the plot. A magic sword is never discovered nor does a previously unknown interstellar race appear to save the day. In tandem I developed a thirst for science and rational thinking and within those confines my favourite authors were discovered. Asimov was already huge and was famous for the Foundation Trilogy, I Robot, and many others.
Another writer came to my attention; an underdog from Birmingham. His name was Barrington J. Bayley and he too did not cheat. However, where Asimov constructed tight masterpieces in the classical sense, Bayley’s ideas were not only out there, but packed so tight that almost every paragraph could be diluted into its own book at the hands of more mundane writers.
In the early 70s I was listening to the proto-prog bands including Hawkwind. The great Michael Moorcock was participating in that experiment with spoken word and text, and it was in 1970 that Barrington J. Bayley released the first of a string of astonishing books. The Fall of Chronopolis was Bayley’s fifth novel - published in 1974. The themes are grandiose and littered by throwaway details that expand seconds later, filling out huge swathes of back-story or colour. A lesser writer would frame these ideas and present them like trophies.
It turns out that Michael Moorcock and Barrington J. Bayley were good friends but more on that shortly. A number of years ago I bought the digital rights to Chronopolis and another of Bayley’s books after corresponding with the author about the possibility of producing audio books of his work; which I did.
When I formed Hedersleben, ironically propelled by the need to form a band to back Hawkwind’s Nik Turner, The Fall Of Chronopolis was an obvious choice for a Prog concept album. I started writing the earliest pieces for the album in 2013. Despite two albums, Upgoer in 2013, and Die Neuen Welten in 2014 being produced during these years along with the double Brainticket album, and Nik Turner’s Space Gypsies (both featuring members of Hedersleben), most of the album was prepared by the studio date in May 2015.
In fact, originally conceived as a double album, seven or eight pieces were omitted. Some, The Requiem for the Chronmen, The original Hulmu, and The Minion were recorded at the Megasonic Sound, others such as The Armada Theme, The Temporal Substratum Part 1 & 2 and Time Is On Our Side exist in demo form with the latter being part of the Hedersleben set during the 2014 Nik Turner tour.
The idea of the double album was abandoned for a few reasons. Kephera and I had a meeting in Austin with Michael Moorcock
, who incidentally now administers Bayley’s estate, with a view to him providing a narrative between the tracks backed by atmospheric sounds. He agreed but subsequently became unavailable. Secondly the schedule was suffering with Kephera being ill and other restrictions on the studio time. I am trying to do things old-school in that we do not have an open ended time mandate. We wanted to get the album released in time for the November US tour and it was becoming clear a double album would not be feasible.
The third reason it was reduced to a single album was in the editing process. Stripping out a few tracks that didn’t flow well left us with a strong single album.
Perhaps in the future these other pieces might surface as a sequel.
I also want to give a quick mention to the great artwork by Weshoyot Alvitre (pictured right) who first read the book and then captured the scenes wonderfully.
To watch those great time ships come to life over a few weeks was akin to magic, so a big thanks to her.
Hedersleben - The Fall Of Chronopolis - Track by track
This opening track expresses the anxiety of citizens of the Chronotic Empire, patriotic but frightened about the coming war. Ariana’s voice is the voice of the people. The lyrics at the start sung by Ursula, Kephera and Ariana are the words of the seemingly mad computer system The Imperator. What has been will be. This piece is perhaps the most conventional rock piece on the album in 4/4 and based around a series of three Hammond organ chords.
- The Gulf of Lost Souls (Stuart)
Based around a 6/8 bass pattern by Ursula that morphs to 4/4. The track represents the Strat, or the Gulf Of Lost Souls, an ocean where potential time-lines bubble and reality, (orthogonal time) is merely the surface. In the mix, tortured voices (Ariana) of souls never quite born or lost in time shifts can be heard. At the very bottom of the Strat Hulmu waits attempting to become real.
This short piece in 4/4 time signature is by Jason and Jai Young; Ursula’s replacement after she became pregnant. Hulmu’s wish is to make his way up through the Strat to orthogonal time.
Jason and Jai Young recorded the backing track live at Sibley tunnel in Oakland using the natural echo of the tunnel to produce that great percussion sound. I replaced the original version of Hulmu, which had vocals and a kind of short Gustav Holst intro, with this more atmospheric piece.
- The Third Time Fleet (Garratt)
Like An Empire, this track has been tour tested and is also in 4/4 time. Quite a few musicians on our tours comment on the lengthy melody, which floats across a mechanical rhythm. Also, like An Empire, The Third Time Fleet has a slow acoustic middle section. Ariana whispers thoughts that echo across the gulf of lost souls, then are interrupted by the proximity alerting bugle calls, before returning. The piece has military quieter bugle calls written into it perhaps reminiscent of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem.
The Third Time Fleet, with its giant time ships like The Smasher Of Enemies, Emperor’s Fist, Incalculable and the flagship The Lamp Of Faith, (three of which are pictured on the artwork to the album), are the guardians of the Empire’s 1000-year broad borders against the future-ward enemy The Hegemony.
A change of mood comes with the 4/4 classical guitar intro to this short piece. It tells the sub plot of a victim’s flight into the future, from the capital Chronopolis at node 1 to Umbul the holy city at node 6. Her hope is to build a new life away from the Traumatic sect who are pursuing her.
The Emperor Philipium Ixian 1st questions The Imperator about the pending war. However, the machine speaks only cryptically being temporally unhinged.
This is based around 6/4 electric 12 string riff but shifts to 4/4 a couple of times before Kephera’s keyboard solo in 7/4.
- Somewhen Veaa (Dreamstate) (Garratt)
A Dreamstate is a type of movement which I invented a few years ago and have used on every Hedersleben recording. As the name suggests it is dreamlike and the guitar does not change the whole way through the piece. This is in 11/8 time and is a love song for Prince Vro’s deceased sister/lover Princess Veaa. Her body disappears from display in a specially constructed mausoleum.
- Ghost Amada (Garratt/Moon)
This piece is built around a 5/4 piano riff by Kephera with 4/4 choruses. It tells the story of the Great Armada launched future-ward to end the war once and for all. With Grand Admiral Prince Vro Philipium at the helm of the mighty new Flagship, God’s Imposer, the Empire fell and Orthogonal time itself collapsed. The crew of Ghosts devoid of existential support want only revenge before they too dissolved into the Gulf Of Lost Souls. You can hear the explosions of the Ghost battle with the Hegemony.
- The Archivist (Moon/Jade)
The lonely servant and his archives were moved into the Strat itself protected by time buffers. They saw all the time lines that were, are and will be, but now it is too late.
This is a duet for violin and keyboard.
- The Fall Of Chronopolis (Garratt/Moon)
The 4/4 riff to this was to be first heard on the abandoned side 3 of the album at the end of The Temporal Substratum part 2. The tile track, a crowd favourite on tour, is a simple bookend to An Empire.
This miniature piece represents the discovery of Time Travel observing Pi-Mesons. The corporation running the lab became the Chronotic Empire with its CEO becoming the Emperor.
Nicky Garratt - September 2015
You can read Nicky's exclusive Time & Matter website recording diary for this album HERE
BELOW IS THE NEWS STORY ANNOUNCING
NICKY'S LATEST EXCLUSIVE T&M HEDERSLEBEN WRITINGS...
NICKY GARRATT EXCLUSIVE!
Exploring the new Hedersleben album
Time & Matter are absolutely thrilled that ex-U.K. Subs guitarist Nicky Garratt has written another exclusive article for his popular T&M section 'NICKY'S GUITAR NOTES'.
After writing a recording diary exclusively for T&M earlier this year, Nicky, as he previously did with the first two Hedersleben LPs, reveals the inspiration and story behind the soon to be released third Hedersleben album 'The Fall Of Chronopolis', in another fascinating article.
The latest article published today (22/10/2015)
BELOW IS THE NEWS STORY ANNOUNCING THE NEW
HEDERSLEBEN ALBUM BEING OUT IN THE UK VIA T&M...
Third Hedersleben Album Now Available Via T&M
T&M are chuffed to be able to offer copies of the third Hedersleben album, The Fall of Chronopolis, via our Big Cartel web-shop on CD and vinyl.
Nicky Garratt wrote about the album exclusively for Time & Matter earlier this year and you can read about every song in detail as well as Nicky's tour diary HERE.
All the CDs are signed by Nicky, and the vinyl copies have been signed by the whole band, which includes ex-Subs drummer Jason Willer.
Both of the previous Hedersleben albums, Upgoer and Die Neuen Welten, are available also, CD copies of Upgoer are signed by Nicky and vinyl copies of Die Neuen Welten by the whole band.
All stock is very limited, less than 10 copies of each, and will not be restocked this side of Christmas.
Hedersleben releases available HERE
Full news story archived on T&M HERE