Technology will make us better

Creak. Rattle. waaaaaiiinnnngongongogogogong. The whispery, hoarsely-hollered Cornwall of Julian Gaskell circa. 2005

Technology will make us better – 2005

Julian Gaskell’s first solo album, written after setting sail from Manchester to Cornwall in 2004,  was recorded in winter/spring 2005 in a Falmouth bedsit and at Chris Gray’s legendary Troubador Studio (where I was working at the time) using charity shop harmoniums, balalaikas, organs and zithers, borrowed banjos and bouzoukis as well as the trusty old guitar/vocal/harmonica/piano. It also features creaking boats and screaming seagulls along with occasional appearances by fellow ex ‘Icon of Poundland’ Kester Jones on Hammond Organ, slide guitar and mandolin.
At the time I said… “a bit of a departure away from rock’n’roll towards the weird world of English folk music, inspired by moving to the weird world of Cornwall and spending too much time by myself with a Transatlantic ‘Folk Favourites’ compilation. I have also attempted to take on Gypsy, klezmer, bluegrass and blues influences. Lyrically, the subject matter is all over the place, ranging from kind words of advice to our Prime Minister, bitter ruminations on time spent driving other more notable bands around in a Transit van, fantasies involving breaking into local gardens, and reflections on the sour disappointment of a keen ‘Tomorrows World’ viewer growing up in the 1970’s. Luckily there are some instrumental tracks too.”
Despite its idyllic surroundings and thin veneer of whimsical guitar folk, ‘Technology’ is a dark and introspective journey through beauty and loss, evoking its own world in which “yellowing crumbs of plaster peel, of their own accord, from the bricks of a deserted old room locked away at the back of a derelict country mansion and you slowly begin to build a picture of Gaskell as a murky nomad, hunched over a withering book, gruffly reading to an ominous melody” (from Lauren Strains perceptive review which bears an uncanny similarity with how this album was actually made).
Released in 2005 by the local folk label “Top of the Hill” the album did indeed reach it’s predicted heights of obscurity, and still stands alone in its derelict mansion on the hill.
Full credits:
Julian Gaskell: vocals, acoustic, electric and slide guitar, harmonica, zither, banjo, string bass, piano, balalaika, bouzouki, harmonium, pianorgan, playart organ, cardboard box, tambourine, banj-o-snare, shaker, bottle
Kester Jones: Hammond organ on “It’s been said”, “They gonna send the heavies in soon”, slide guitar on “If you can’t be pleasant to me”, “They got remedies” and mandolin on “Technology will make us better”

 Lyrics:

 

 

 

The error of my ways

No one could pick apart the error of my ways
No one could pick apart the error of my ways
I’ve been hanging out the washing over stagnant drains to dry
Nobody knows the fool I’ve been as well as I

Why over-complicate and go on for too long
Why over-complicate and go on for too long
I’ve been making meals from things I don’t know how to eat
Nobody knows like me the things I won’t repeat

I cycled for miles, I should have got a cab
Drove a van for miles, I could have got a cab
Been refining the craft when I could cut and paste
Nobody knows as well as I the time I waste

When I say what I mean you say you’ve heard it all before
When I try to be true you say it’s all been done before
And when I think on how I listened when you bankrupt fools had your day
I realise the error of my ways
I realise the error of my ways
I realise the error of my ways

Learn from your mistakes

Theres nothing at the bottom of your apologies
Words float like scum across your sewage deeds
This is no partnership when you can do as you please
It isn’t us, it’s you who must proceed
To learn from your mistakes
Learn from your mistakes
Should your conscience keep you awake, my friend
Learn, learn

Always coming home with much more than I bargained for
Always wasting money browsing outside my door
For special offers, promises and new age folklore
I kept the receipts but I’m stuck for evermore.
Unless I
Learn from your mistakes
Learn from your mistakes
Should your conscience keep you awake, my friend
Learn

When your capacity for damage is not so limitless
No need for dossiers preaching forgive-forgiveness
Choosing only bric-a-brac or clothes for hospices
You’ll never again mobilise conscripts
When you…
Learn from your mistakes
Learn from your mistakes
Should your conscience keep you awake, my friend
Learn, learn.

Learn from your mistakes
Learn from your mistakes
Learn from your mistakes
Learn, learn, learn, learn.

Gather, while ye may

Like cheques with insufficient funds
Our deeds are spoken more than done
And surplus is not here to stay
Gather your chances, while ye may

No one would wish this on someone
Why see a mother bury her son?
It will grow just to waste away
Gather your chances, while ye may

And they assemble as they fall
Cracks in the temples, spires and malls
Corrupt the earth on which they pray
Gather your chances, while ye may

It’s been said

Not so much artist as grafter
You don’t dwell on tears, follow laughter
Shapes that look and sound like words shape the ideas you find
And every drop falls in the deep
And will pass by here some other week
‘Cause everyone can’t be with everyone all of the time
If it’s written, it must be true of course
If it’s been said, let it run its course

Oh, how we laughed at the brink
Of the timeless world of the drink
Never to take note, take heed of the finite world of deeds
Thoughts withered on the vine
To ferment and pretend that their mine
But I’ll hold this door open for you for the rest of my time
If it’s written, it must be true of course
If it’s been said, let it run its course
If it’s been said, let it run, let it run
Let it run its course

Don’t Expect no rainbows

I don’t expect no rainbows to hide me from the rain
I don’t expect no rainbows to guide me through the shame
I don’t expect no loving arms to explain
I’m not alone

But don’t let me paint my life in grey, I need it bright
Don’t let me stamp on every flame, I need a light
Take these gaudy plastic shades off me, I need the sight
to see I’m not alone

Death may set you free, til then you’re bound by fears
Death may set us free, til then we’re bound for tears
But I’m gonna take your troubles to the ground one of these years
You’re not alone
You’re not alone
You’re not alone

If you can’t be pleasant to me

Well I don’t care if you’re feet is clean
Or what you say you do where you do what you’ve been
If you can’t be pleasant to me
If you can’t be pleasant to me
I’m pretty sure you’ll appreciate
That I don’t have much time left to allocate
If you can’t be pleasant to me

It occurs to me whenever you come round
Though you’re big and clever and pretty profound
You can’t be pleasant to me
You can’t be pleasant to me
So I’m pretty sure you’ll appreciate
That I won’t be calling you to congratulate
‘Cause you can’t be pleasant to me

I like bread with my toasts and sugar with my teas
I guess you could say I’m easy to please
So why can’t you be pleasant to me
Why can’t you be pleasant to me
I’m pretty sure you’ll appreciate
I don’t care if you’re good or great
If you can’t be pleasant to me

Garlic, lager and fenugreek
You talk pretty dull, but you smell unique
And you can’t be pleasant to me
You can’t be pleasant to me
We’ll I’m pretty sure you’ll appreciate
That I’m gonna leave early if you keep turning up late
If you can’t be pleasant to me
If you can’t be pleasant to me
If you can’t be pleasant to me

The garden of dreams

I’m going to the garden, garden of my dreams
I’m gonna find a place to sit myself for free
I’m gonna build a shed in the garden of my dreams
Squatting in a world that was made for you and me-ee- yo-hoo

Any time of year, in the garden of my dreams
Let your dogs get off the lead, sit down, come in for free
Mow the lawn or trust to fate, leave your job and shut the gate
The garden of my dreams, maintained by you and me-ee-yah-hoo

The garden of my dreams was their rediscovery
Guarded by the weeds to keep it from these freaks
But then fashions come and go and though left since the eighties
They’re on their way to trash what was left by you and me-ee-ya-hoo

The garden of my dreams maintained by you and me
The garden of my dreams maintained by you and me

C.1808 State

This is an instrumental track, and has no lyrics, but is played on the 1808 pump organ I used to have. No idea what happened to that organ.

They got remedies

You can’t take your money with you when you go
The bottle promo’s gonna tap all your dough
The ghosts of the school disco hang round the side
All grown up thrown up homework done goggle-eyed

I can’t offer you escape from all these
The give you the disease cos they
They got remedies
They got remedies

Is this the generation that I’m in?
The top one hundred places I ain’t never seen
On this large screen, small sound, beef brain in red and white
You’ve gotta shout for more don’t pull the plug on this

I can’t offer you escape from all these
The give you the disease cos they
They got remedies
They got remedies

So are we just supposed to watch on TV
Or button up, buy a place in reality?
If the futures bottled, snorted, smoked and deep fried
I’m gonna sit in my armchair til I turn back the tide

I can’t offer you escape from all these
The give you the disease cos they
They got remedies
They got remedies
They’ve got remedies
They got remedies

Hemmed by the hedge

Another instrumental track with no words attached to it.

The sweet, sweet smell of decay

It slips away
And it follows me
Tells its tale
Of the things it’s seen
Drops off the trees and gets trodden through cracks in the kerb
Sniffs around
Culture cemeteries
Excavating enemies,
Situations that I’ll never know how to resolve
But I wake up inside it and breathe it all in every day
The sweet, sweet smell of decay

Ashes fall
triumphantly
Warnings sound
futility
Subsistence is all that we have and our only support
When the lives are shed for the winter
Cries are led, to the centre
To drown in the sound of the nightmare that keeps them awake
I wake up inside it and suck it all in every day
The sweet, sweet smell of decay

So if you only saw
The bright places
I shouldn’t fret
You still know what waste is
We’ll airbrush the details and move on with nothing to prove
And hide inside walls of TVs
Sing along with the sinking
Be part of the problem if we’ll never know how to solve
So spark me up
One more fat one
Raise a glass to disintegration
We’ll lose all the details and dig ourselves into this hole
This hole, where we’ll lie and wait
With the corpses
Of church and state
And the noble causes
That lead us through history, blinding the truth with the facts
til I wake up inside it and breathe it all in for the day
The sweet, sweet smell of decay
Yes I wake up inside it and get used to it every day
The sweet, sweet smell of decay.

Means of production

Part owned, on loan
For the contract
Creaking freaks, springing leaks
But still intact
We’re fixed and we’re oiled
We’re bodged and we’re soiled
We’re bought and we’re sold
For parts now we’re old
We’re machines, has-beens, we’re the means
Of production

Arcane, in the rain
By the slag heaps
Children pointing, laughing
From the day trips
We’re fixed and we’re oiled
We’re bodged and we’re soiled
We’re bought and we’re sold
For parts now we’re old
We’re machines, has-beens, we’re the means
Of production

Will we, one day be
restored lovingly?
Fixed to go, an echo
Of industry
We’re fixed and we’re oiled
We’re bodged and we’re soiled
We’re bought and we’re sold
For parts now we’re old
We’re machines, has-beens, we’re the means
Of production

We’re machines, has-beens, we’re the means
We’re machines, has-beens, we’re the means
We’re machines, has-beens, we’re the means
Of production

Waltz to the edge

Another instrumental palate cleanser. It may have had lyrics at one time, but they didn’t get recorded and probably still wander this world looking for a tune.

They gonna send the heavies in soon

I can’t pretend
Can’t pretend to know what to do
They’re gonna send, they’re gonna send
They gonna send the heavies in soon

In the end
In the end we’ll know what to do
They’re gonna send, they’re gonna send
They gonna send the heavies in soon
They’re gonna send, they’re gonna send
They gonna send the heavies in soon

Drowning in a bubbling brook

Thrown back, let down off the hook
But drowning in a bubbling brook
Dropped on a stick under the bridge
Afloat but never rich

Never saw that so far below
Was the only place to go
Never climbed this far just to fall
I would have seen it all
Gone, gone, gone, gone, gone, gone, gone

Dragged myself out through the mire
Climbed a hill, lit a fire
But I can’t put right all I’ve wronged
Can’t drag this load along no more

How did we bring this curse around
To see so far from under a cloud
I didn’t climb this far just to fall
The only memories I see are all of things
Gone, gone, gone, gone, gone, gone, gone

Take comfort in the certainty

Everywhere I go and take the air
I see the ashes scattered there
Awake, dreams of putting down our fate
In the ground where the rain rains on

How did we bring this curse on us
To get off the rails just to wait for a bus
Lets climb til we’re too far to fall
Who’ll miss us when we’re all
Gone, gone, gone, gone, gone, gone, gone

We never said

I don’t know why we never said
I don’t know why we never said

Alone is a big
Big enough word
Big enough to smother us all
In a blanket of doubt
But when you’re
Tucked up inside
Everything but alive
There’ll always be
Someone to
Look out for you

But we never said
No we never said
Goodbye

Technology will make us better

Pianos with more notes, bright from dark sparks of life
Trenchcoats and tanks eternal lightbulbs of strife
My life, my mistakes and all my good work gone to waste

But technology will make us better
These men of science will make us better
Let optimism leave us never
Technology will make us
Technology will make us better

Horseless carts, size of a house that hover out of doors
Bylaws and flaws and wars to end all wars
My life, my mistakes and all my good work gone to waste

Technology will make us better
These men of science will make us better
Help us forget what we remember
Technology will make us
Technology will make us better

Technology will make us better
These men of science will make us better
Let optimism leave us never
Technology will make us
Technology will make us better

 

 

 

Reviews:

May 2006 – manchestermusic.co.uk – Technology will make us better – album review

Creak. Rattle. waaaaaiiinnnngongongogogogong. Welcome to the whispery, hoarsely-hollered world of Julian Gaskell, who pronounces all his rounded vowels as though he’s got a throat chock full of bitter molasses mixed with Marmite and is attempting not to gip. Pulsing, thrusting, scratchy guitars and scrapes of slithering mandolin ebb and surge dramatically – hungrily – throughout seventeen tracks, whilst squelches of saliva and leering consonants scuttle about above. From the creepy wink of ‘Learn From Your Mistakes’, in which ghostly black spiders scramble at cracks in the walls and floorboards moan, where the innards and guts of ancient clocks spill out onto the floor, to ‘The Sweet, Sweet Smell of Decay’, where yellowing crumbs of plaster peel, of their own accord, from the bricks of a deserted old room locked away at the back of a derelict country mansion, you slowly begin to build a picture of Gaskell as a murky nomad, hunched over a withering book, gruffly reading to an ominous melody. Somewhere, by the dripping moonlight seeping in through fogged-up, muck-coated grey windows, blasted by the moors, his face furry with isolated weeks of stubble and his voice aching yet warm like a willowing candle, he crouches, spirit-like, on a moth-eaten, garish, ruined old sofa – some thrown-out throwback from a bygone era – plagued with rubbed patches of faded, threadbare material and pitted with holes chewed through by generations of rats. A bit spooky, yes? Yes. But in the best of archaic, somehow-comforting ways. All shaky corridors and drunken harmonicas, ‘Technology Will Make Us Better’ was recorded in Falmouth, solely with the natural aids of charity shop bits and pieces from across the world. Surrounded by squalor and the sea, the album groans with spray from the shores, soaring gulls and murky, thoughtful pools of deepest, darkest blue-black algae. At once burrowed in the silted-up, folky myths of a land time forgot, then buried alongside barndances at midnight, his sound varies from the brooding (nearly all tracks) to the twinkly and carefree, the likes of which ‘It’s Been Said’ is an example, with its lighter, prettier, flowing tones and dusky, dusty underlays of quiet organ. Speckled with drone-based instrumentals and gasping breaths of piano, Gaskell’s solo project is a humbly beautiful collection of gnarled wobblings and picturesque, pastoral warblings. Lovely.

Nov 2005 – City Life (Manchester) Julian Gaskell – Technology Will Make Us Better

First impression: a nutter in the tradition of John Otway or our own Edward Barton, and nothing wrong with that. On second hearing, you get a deeper impression of Gaskell’s troubled personality, one that is in a constant state of agitation and anxiety. The songs have echoes of bluegrass, blues, world music and good old punk attitude. He plays most of the instruments himself and hence sounds like a one-man garage orchestra. ‘The Sweet, Sweet Smell of Decay’ is the ranting of a mind at the end of its tether and is utterly compelling. Not only does Technology… purposely exclude itself from the Mercury Award Shortlist, it seems designed for the oblivion so lovingly invoked on ‘We Never Said’. (MB) Rating: 8/10 Standout track: ‘If You Can’t Be Pleasant To Me’ Influenced by: Lambchop, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy Related artists: Skip Spence, Richey Edwards

April 2006 – 247 Magazine

He’s shot away, he drawls like a cockney cowboy junky, he picks and slides on his acoustic guitar like he’s straddling Satan’s stretch rack, his name is JULIAN GASKELL and his 17-song album ‘Technology Will Make Us Better’ is what happens when Tom Waits falls into a Cornish tin mine, collides with Nick Drake on the way down and bangs his head in the wrong – or perhaps, right – place. It’s brilliant, original, full of character, full of sin and nothing whatsoever like the usual insipid acoustic-based guff you often hear in South West bars. I’m just sorry that we’ve only recently received the CD as it’s been out since October, released through Top Of The Hill Recordings in Hayle.Great stuff.

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