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Lowly Man EP

Six months ago, Andy Bell said to me, “if I send you my Standing in Shafts of Moonlight backing track, could you put a lead on it?” I said yes, and he sent me a short guitar piece, recorded on his smartphone. Last weekend we finished our fouth track together, named ourselves Lowly Man, and released the songs as a 4-track Lowly Man EP on Bandcamp.

Lowly Man EP, by Lowly Man

Listen to Lowly Man EP on bandcamp.com

We are quite pleased with ourselves, considering that this just started out as a bit of lockdown fun, and we plan to carry on making songs. We didn’t know this would be such a productive collaboration, and we never realised that Andy was a singer.

The tracks started with Andy providing a recording on acoustic guitar or piano. I then deconstructed the performance, built up an arrangement, and overdubbed electric guitars and sampled instruments. When the second track was almost finished, Andy decided to have a go at singing over the mix, and it sounded great.

Once we had started recording full-length songs, we averaged one every five weeks. If we carry on at this rate, we should have an album out in time for Christmas 2021.

We recorded this EP during a pandemic lockdown. Andy and I live 80 miles and 2 hours’ drive apart. When we started, Andy had to record his guitar and vocals using a phone, but I persuaded him to invest in some decent gear!

Please, visit the Lowly Man Bandcamp page. You can listen to each track up to 3 times for free. Please, let me know what you think. I love constructive feedback, positive and negative.

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Home Recording

Introducing Lowly Man

Ever since I started recording again, I’ve had one eye open for potential collaborators. I can write music, it’s just that coming up with ideas is a very slow and random process for me. The solo Long Division album took 3 years, start to finish.

It had always been easier to compose with a collaborator. Cloudburst and Back to the Grind were good examples of this. I have several albums’ worth of original demos from the 80s. We would bring scraps of music to recording sessions, bounce ideas and suggestions around, and have something resembling a song later that day.

Andy Bell was an occasional observer at Cloudburst rehearsals. He was a keen guitarist and songwriter, and went to the same school as us. We reconnected a few years ago, through the wonder of social media, and shared a few beers at Darrener reunions. This year, he sent me a recording of one of his old acoustic guitar compositions, and said, “see what you can do with this.”

I think he was expecting me to noodle over the top with an electric guitar. What actually happened was that I beat-mapped and pitch-shifted the recording, and dropped it into a DAW. A couple of days later, I’d added drum sampler, bass sampler, electric 12-string, Strat and SG tracks.

It was as much an exercise in recording, production and mixing as it was in composition. The bones were already there, I just had to put flesh on them. But it was fast, and we were pleased with the result. I think we both knew that we would be doing more.

So, a few weeks later, I was sent another short acoustic piece. This time, we were more ambitious, and it started to morph into a full-length track. I was delighted when Andy announced he was going to attempt to sing on it, despite being very much a guitarist first. Andy named it Lowly Man.

I had produced my first complete song since Worm Pizza in 2003. I suggested we changed Andy Bell & Keith Nuttall to something a bit shorter. My wife suggested a hybrid, made from our names, like K/andy. So we agreed on K(andyb)all. Two songs later, we went for something a little less K-Pop, and something a little more fitting. We chose the title of our first song, Lowly Man.