So here I am once more

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Get back to it, slacker!

So, this weekend it was back to work on the Nine Stones Close new album. To be honest I had lost my way a little in the past few months; most of the songs had been written almost a year ago now and coming back to them I was wondering if I still had the enthusiasm for them. That is the problem with writing; while I am writing it, in the middle of it, creating, arranging and moulding it to what I want it to be, it's thrilling. Keeping that momentum and excitement and instilling that into the music until the end is the hard part. Often you can overcook the eggs. This is what I was worried about as it's been a long process this time around due to the delays in re-organising the line-up and various other complicating factors.

It's been a hard road so far making this album. Making an album of the quality that I want to make requires a lot of time, energy and hard work, not to mention patience and perseverence. Sometimes the pressures of "real life" have been too much in the past year to concentrate fully on the album. I have a family to support, and very busy job, which often demands me to travel and work long hours. Sometimes I have just been too tired to give anything to the music and I have even thought of throwing in the towel. Running Nine Stones Close is like having a second career and family, trying to balance everything, organise people, promote where I can, organise writing and recording sessions, etc etc etc. .. it all adds up, and sometimes it feels like drowning. If it were not for my lovely wife, Sarah, encouraging me and also slapping me around the head occasionally, this whole thing might never have got going again. It's also down to the loyal fans of the music, and especially those who have sent me great messages and emails in the past, or written fabulous reviews; those things keep me enthused and moving forward. Thank you all.

During the gap I worked on the Jet Black Sea album, The Path Of Least Existence, with the brilliant and underrated Michel Simons It was great fun and also quite cathartic, to create something new, something different and to do it quickly without too much overthinking. The reviews have been great and my thanks go out to everyone who has bought it so far! We are looking forward to making another album, hopefully later this year if time allows. Video for one of the tracks below ....

On sunday, last week, Christiaan, Michel and Paul joined me in the studio to listen back to some of the arrangements with the intention of adding some final flourishes to the demos, as well as creating the final click tracks for the recording sessions. We ended up having a very successful day, which left me more enthused about the future of Nine Stones Close and in particular the new material.

We added the flourishes I was looking for but we also revisited a few of the demos I was thinking of discarding and I was amazed how good and fresh they sounded, having not heard them for a while. By working hard on the arrangements for a couple of them they were moulded into something new and vital that we think will sound really great on the album. We still have to narrow down a huge amount of material to fit an album length, and to make the album most relevant to us now.

So, what is the new material like? Well, it's like Nine Stones Close, of course, but a new Nine Stones Close. The elements of the song writing are there of course as that comes directly from me, however, there is something new in the mix. The harder bits are harder, the softer bits softer and the whole has a new dynamic. Obviously the input from Christiaan has brought something new to the music, as has the voice of Adrian. Adrian has a completely different style and voice to Marc and that has made me think about the arrangements that will work best for the new version of the band. I think it has a certain something that everyone who likes Nine Stones Close will recognise, and hopefully still like, but with a new twist. It's the twist that makes the difference. I can't wait for everyone to hear it.

A couple of days before recording I managed to hack one of my fingers with a kitchen knife ... great idea, so my playing was limited on Sunday, but it was enough to finish the demos. I really should be more careful in the kitchen! Maybe I should give up cooking for a while. To be honest no-one noticed my impairment as my playing is always dodgy anyway :)

So, next up will be finalising the lyrics and vocal arrangements, which are underway, and then we start to rehearse and begin recording in April. I can't wait. During the whole process I will be posting blog updates and pics and vids from the recording sessions, so watch this space, and the facebook pages and twitter, for more news ... - Adrian

Beer count: Leffe Royale ... several
Whiskey Count: drams of Connemara, Balvennie, Bunnahabhain, and some other I have forgotten.
Recommended drinking: The Kings Ginger