The Broken Divide is something I’ve been working on for a few years now, and it’s an incredibly personal body of work. I thought it would be kind of interesting to talk a bit about what exactly I mean by that, and where the name itself actually came from… sort of.
In keeping with tradition, the first track I worked on and had in a more-or-less complete state for The Broken Divide was the title track. The title track was written and produced in October 2013, and was my first proper foray back into writing solo material since the release of Icarus earlier in the year. There’s something very refreshing about working with a completely blank slate, and – as happy as I was (and still am!) with Icarus as a musical work – I knew I wanted to try something different. So that’s exactly what I did.
I had been thinking a lot about events and memories from the past decade or so when I started writing The Broken Divide. The more I worked on it, the more I seemed to get sucked into this mindset of drawing strong emotional connections to events and places that I hadn’t really considered for an awfully long time. Even the very act of developing an album focussed primarily around memory and nostalgia began to feed back into the album itself. I’ve frequently thought of nostalgia as a means of looking back without really getting a true sense of how the pieces fit, and – as things panned out – there are certain parts of the album that explore how beautiful-yet-disparate that kind of fixation can be.
As for the actual title track itself – and, by extension, the name of the album – it was written about a very particular place, close to where I grew up. I never really thought much about it as a kid, but in recent years when I’ve gone back to this place I’ve realised that it’s both an aesthetically wonderful and conceptually bizarre place – at times calm and peaceful, and at other times loud and terrifying… and often times both at the same time. I thought it was interesting that I’d have such a strong nostalgic connection to a place like that, and it really got me thinking about how our own recollections and experiences alter our interpretations of the world around us. The Broken Divide is a reference both to that particular place, and the divide between recollection and reality. Memory is a fragile thing, especially in a constantly shifting world. Without really realising it back in 2013, I’d found my underlying concept. It’s a concept I’ve flirted with before now, but never to such a direct extent.
Now… I realise that a lot of this probably sounds more than a little self-indulgent and, hey, I guess you’d be totally correct in that observation! Generally speaking, when I’m working on a new track or solo project, I’ll tend to come up with a vague idea of a scene or story while I’m working on a particular musical idea. Sometimes I’ll come up with an idea beforehand. These “scenes” can range from quite detailed ideas to a somewhat more abstract playing-out of events. The Broken Divide is the first collection of music where all of these “scenes” and ideas came entirely from my own personal experiences, along with the memories and frequent mental gymnastics associated with them.
I must admit to being incredibly tempted to posting a detailed explanation of where all of the track ideas and names came from, along with the particular thoughts and memories associated with them. I actually ended up typing up the inspirations associated with each track once the album was completed, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised how counter-productive it would be to post that. In retrospect, putting this album together was almost an attempt to make some sort of sense out of some of my memories and recollections – the things that make me who I am. That said – while I might have a particularly strong connection to these memories and “scenes” – the emotional connection and recollection of these memories is something I wanted to express in the music itself, rather than the exact “scene” associated with it… and the wonderful thing about music is that it’s generally completely open to interpretation.
I understand that for some people that this might seem like a complete cop-out, but I don’t want it to seem like there is only one “correct” way of interpreting this album. Despite it being an incredibly personal work, I don’t really feel like it would benefit the album in any way for me to explain the story behind each individual track in detail. In fact, in some cases, having these particular ideas associated with the individual tracks might even take away from your own interpretation and enjoyment of the music. And that’d be kinda crap, right?
“So why bother with this post, then?”, you might be wondering. Fair question! While I might not think it necessary to explain in detail what the story is behind every single track, the fact is that it is still an incredibly personal body of work (I might have mentioned that once or twice, you know). Having a vague idea of the concept behind the album might give you a better sense of what I was shooting for without force-feeding my own interpretations and expectations of the music itself.
…plus, y’know, I thought it’d be kind of cool to explain where the name came from.
The Broken Divide is available NOW through Bandcamp. You can listen to it in its entirety and download it from my Bandcamp page. Bandcamp subscribers also get access to an exclusive audiophile master, along with bonus tracks and instrumentals.