New EP - Moving On

As Kim slides the bottleneck across the strings of his bouzouki, it screams an unearthly sound more akin to a beast from the deep calling out in challenge, than some kind of folk instrument. Plugging the bouzouki through a distortion box and delay pedal we think, not for the first time, the recordings we have available online don't really reflect the full range of music styles The Cracked Man is now producing.

Yes, some of our music is distinctly acoustic with a bluesy or folky feel to it, as represented by our first EP, but some is harder and rockier or even a bit psychedelic.

Time to put some more tracks online to give a fuller flavour of The Cracked Man.

Although we are currently developing our debut album, the completion will be some way off yet - and at that point, the tracks will have many more instruments than just the 2 we use when playing live. So we set up in Marcus's living room and did a "live" recording to a bunch of microphones and recording equipment.

So as a taster for what to expect if you can come along to any of our gigs, or a flavour of what we sound like if you can't, below you will find 4 tracks - Moving On, Zero Energy, Footprints in the Sea, and Demon on Your Shoulder.

Video Soundtrack - The Cracked Man and Dance Beats...

When Kim's not playing the bouzouki in The Cracked Man, he fills his time being a professional photographer.

Recently he was doing a fashion shoot with a small team of models, hairdressers and makeup artist, and a textile designer, but also managed to get a couple of friends to shoot some video footage.

After editing the video together, Kim decided it needed a punchy piece of music, possibly with a dance beat.

Rather than grab some nondescript generic piece of music from somewhere else, he and Marcus decided to run a beat behind the track Zero Energy (now, Zero NRG), and re-edit it to fit the video which was less than 2 minutes long.

Here's the result!

Fundraiser for MOOL (Massive Outpouring of Love - D&G Refugee Action)

The Cracked Man recently played at Auchencairn Village Hall, along with Under The Hammer, to help raise funds for MOOL (Massive Outpouring of Love) - a local organisation dedicated to helping refugees by "organising the collection and delivery of supplies and human kindness to those in need at home and abroad. So far, we have helped locally, and in Calais, Lesvos,Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Hungary and Jordan."

We were delighted to be a part of an event that raised £750 for such a deserving cause.

Just before we started our set Kim handed his camera to his friend, photographer Allan Wright and asked him if he could attempt to grab a few shots of us playing. Below are some of the ones he got.

Not bad for a landscape photographer...

Thanks Allan!

The Cracked Man Video Diaries #5 - Demon On Your Shoulder

Continuing our exploration of the possibilities of going beyond the live performance restrictions of only 2 instruments and one voice as we record our album.

After the fun intro mentioned in episode #4, we got carried away developing the rest of "Demon On Your Shoulder" into a major rock 'n' roll scream-fest, but somehow lost "The Cracked Man" in the process. So we stripped it back and started again to see if there were other directions we could take it in...

The Cracked Man Video Diaries #4 - Demon On Your Shoulder

Continuing our exploration of the possibilities of going beyond the live performance restrictions of only 2 instruments and one voice as we record our album.

In this episode we make Kim's bouzouki sound big.

Really Big.


Turn your volume up to 11...

The Cracked Man Video Diaries #3 - Moving On (again)

Continuing our exploration of the possibilities of going beyond the live performance restrictions of only 2 instruments and one voice as we record our album.

In this episode we look for different "drone" sounds to run behind the music. In addition to hunting down a shruti-box sound, Marcus nicks an idea from Steve Hillage...

The Cracked Man Video Diaries #2 - Moving On

We've discovered as we've begun recording for The Cracked Man debut album, the arrangement of each of our songs goes through changes as we explore the possibilities of going beyond the live performance restrictions of only 2 instruments and one voice.

Continuing to document some of the changes, here is the 2nd of our short Video Diaries and is to do with our song, "Moving On", where we discovered the one bodhran rhythm Kim knows worked quite well in the climactic section of the song. Apologies to anyone who plays bodhran professionally and is cringing at his technique.

The Cracked Man Video Diaries #1 - Zero Energy

It's coming up to 2 years since we formed The Cracked Man, and not far off a year since we released our EP. So now we're working on an album.

One of the core aspects of The Cracked Man is every song we create, and every arrangement we produce, has to be something we both approve of. If one brings in a riff the other dislikes, or suggests an alteration that doesn't appeal to both, then it is discarded. This means no song has a sound completely dictated by either Kim or Marcus - every output is a collaboration.

As Marcus once said, "We're not a democracy, we're a dual dictatorship..."

Although we're pretty satisfied with the arrangements of our songs for our live performances, the album is turning into quite a different beast - not least because we don't have to be restricted to to a maximum of 2 instruments and 1 voice.

Marcus is a producer and sound engineer by trade, which gives us the wonderful luxury of being able to play, record, listen back, tweak, add, adjust, rearrange, experiment, delete and start again until we're both satisfied.

And what we've discovered is every time we start recording one of our songs, something new happens that we couldn't have predicted before we began. It could be the addition of an instrument, a different way of producing a sound or even a change of rhythm.

So what we've decided to do, for anyone who is at all vaguely interested in how songs develop, is create a series of short video diaries, documenting some of these changes on the very evening they've occured.

This means the videos are not rehearsed, highly produced or polished - they are just 2 blokes talking or playing to the camera to illustrate a particular alteration. We hope this means that what might be lost in slickness is more than made up for in a sense of authenticity.

At the moment, we are unsure how often these video diaries will be put up online - anything from weekly to monthly is our best guess - but over time they should accumulate into a collection that gives an insight into our creative process.

Here is our first, which is looking at our song, "Zero Energy"

Zero Energy

Kim reckons one of the things he enjoys the most in the world is standing on stage with his bouzouki, while it is plugged through a delay pedal and distortion box, and he's using a bottle-neck slide.

Photo courtesy of Mark Robinson

One such time was when we played at "Stereo" in Glasgow, and in a rare stroke of fortune, it was actually videoed from 2 different angles. We were sent the footage, but unfortunately the sound quality wasn't very good, so it got shelved.

However, we are slowly putting an album together and a few weeks ago we were working on the track, "Zero Energy", which is one of our songs where Kim gets to use the magic combination of delay, distortion and slide.

Although the recorded version of this song is still being developed, Kim decided to see if he could construct a video using the footage from Glasgow and one of our more recent recordings.

It took a little while to line up the music with the video, because it turned out we played it live at a slightly different speed to our recorded version. However, changing the video angle each time it started to drift, helped a bit.

He also raided the freely available video archives of The Hubble Telescope to throw in some images of planets and exploding stars, to add a bit of texture to the visuals.

The result was this:

Hope you like it