The Broken Divide: Fragments

Posted on Posted in Music, Neffle, Obscurer, Pieces, The Broken Divide

I started writing what would eventually become The Broken Divide towards the latter half of 2013. This was coming off of the back of the release of Icarus (which was released in April 2013) and a couple of other production albums. For the first time in a long time, I was working with a completely blank slate. Being in a similar situation right now (although, as of writing, I’m currently working on another project which is keeping me very busy and sounds amazing), that particular feeling of starting fresh and working on something completely new is both incredibly exciting and daunting.

Generally speaking, when I’m working on a production album or doing some other kind of freelance work, I’ll be working to a very particular specification or purpose. That’s sort of the whole point. Over the past several years I’ve taught myself to be flexible in the face of stringent specifications, and nowadays I actually find having a place to start to be hugely beneficial. I’ve never experienced a creative block while working on a job, and I think having that initial direction is a huge part of why that’s the case.

This was definitely not the case with The Broken Divide.

In a strangely similar fashion to Pieces, a lot of the writing process for The Broken Divide was fragmented into clusters of tracks. Over the course of writing the album, I stuck to the same general source of inspiration (which I detailed in a previous post) that drove me to write the title track way back in 2013, but it was a tough process.

When the ideas were coming, it felt completely natural to want to express these ideas and emotions. It’s also worth bearing in mind that I was working on a lot of other audio-related stuff during the creation of The Broken Divide… I knew I wasn’t tied to a particular deadline, so I wanted to let it all happen naturally. I experimented a lot with different ideas during the creation of the album, which is why I ended up with releases like Pieces and Obscurer. It was a real reminder of why I enjoyed releasing music independently so much – when you’re working with audio for a living, there’s a wonderful sense of freedom in having a completely open creative outlet.

When the ideas weren’t coming, it was frustrating. I knew I was onto something that I wanted to release and put my name on, and after writing what I would consider to be the second “cluster” of tracks, it was particularly frustrating because I knew for sure that, with what I’d already hit, there was at least an album’s worth of further exploration in the source material. The clusters were almost forming their own narratives, and that was something that really excited me.

Having a clear idea of what you want to do and knowing that you’ll get there eventually is fantastic from the point of view of having something to strive toward, but it’s creatively frustrating in the sense that you just want it all to be out there. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely adore the creative process of writing music. I love it to bits, and when I’m really into it… I’m really, really, really into it. That’s why I do it! But there’s something incredibly satisfying about getting these ideas out, taking a step back and realising “yeah, that’s exactly what I wanted – and I made that”.

After completing this second “cluster” (which was around mid-late 2014 or so), things slowed down

This was nearly a thing.
This was nearly a thing.

for The Broken Divide. I did some more production work, was busy with sound design work, released Pieces, worked on the Neffle material… it was a fantastic time creatively, but during this break from The Broken Divide I started to doubt whether I would be able to complete it as an album. I started thinking about alternative release methods and, towards the end of 2014, gave serious consideration to releasing what I had as a series of EPs.

“So why didn’t you, then?”, you may be wondering. Well… for the past few years, I had an annual tradition of writing a load of music in October. I called these sessions “October Sessions” – original name, right? The idea was to write a load of sketches, and just see where it took me. It’s how I got started with Pieces, and in 2014 I had another really good burst of creativity during October. I started experimenting with the idea of mixing some of the ideas from these sessions into what I already had for The Broken Divide, and I liked the results… initially. I even sent this weird mish-mash of an album to a few people and said “hey guys, this is my album!”.

After a couple of months had passed and the new year had settled in, I realised this was a terrible idea. I love what I already had for The Broken Divide, and I loved what I already had for my October Sessions – but the two were not supposed to completely co-mingle, and it was tonally jarring to listen to it like that. But! It made me realise that I knew for sure that I could finish The Broken Divide, and that the parts that worked as an album worked really, really well for me from the point of view of continuity and narrative. It just needed one final push. Knowing that I wasn’t in a rush to release it, I made the decision to hang onto it until it was a complete album. As far as I’m concerned, that was a good idea. As a whole album, there was a really solid sense of coherence and progression that would have been missing from a series of EPs. That said, I still like the idea of releasing EPs while working on an album – I’m glad I held off this time around, but next time around it might be cool to release a series of EPs in advance of an album… as it transpires, albums take a really bloody long time to write!

In any case – the final push came in 2015. I ended up with a mixture of vocal and instrumental tracks during this final push, and once I slotted those into the existing collection of tracks it just brought everything together in a ridiculously satisfying way. I started sending out this pre-mastered version to a few friends, and I knew this was it. At the end of the year, I set myself a release date that would give me plenty of time to get things finalised – after all, I still needed to sort out mastering, artwork, bonus materials…

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.

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