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LISTEN: Gemma Ray & Alan Vega RSD Collab
Laurie Tuffrey , April 19th, 2014 06:30

Stream Motorbike featuring the Suicide man from Ray's ace Death Disc 7"

One of the slabs tQ is most looking forward to picking up today is Gemma Ray's 'Death Disc', featuring a couple of newly-penned teenage tragedy songs, 'Motorbike' and 'Waving At Mirrors', with the former aided and abetted by Alan Vega of Suicide no less. Factor in the ace picture disc artwork by Lucy Dyson (have a look above and watch the trailer at the foot of the piece) and the strictly limited run of 750, and we're chomping at the bit to get hold of it. Bronze Rat - who have lined up a mighty RSD offering, their other release being the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's Beastie Boys and Link Wray mash-up 'She's On It'/'Jack The Ripper' - have kindly given us a first spin of 'Motorbike' - listen above - while Ray herself fills us in on their beginnings below. Additionally, to mark the release, Ray will be playing David's in Letchworth Garden City at 3.30 pm, so head down if you're in the area.

"This song has had a strange journey! It was originally just me on organ and singing, but then my bass player (Ed Turner) hit the magic Suicide buttons on the drum machine and laid down a filthy bass line whilst rehearsing and recording in Wales. I liked the idea of juxtaposing a melodic girl group-style song, with the more brutal production being in line with the (Death Disc) theme. (I've been a longtime fan of that small clutch of songs that were recorded in the 50s and 60s along the themes of death and teenage love/tragedy).

"Whilst I'm not usually a fan of using elements of another band's style, especially one as iconic as Alan Vega/Suicide, I liked the way these worlds collided, so I thought it could be a great idea to ask him to be a part of the song so it was a more straight-up hats-off to him and Suicide. I'd always imagined the song needing a male counterpoint, to make a twist on the role of the Shangri-La narrations of Mary Weiss, and when Alan was keen to be involved I was very honoured. Matt Verta-Ray (of Heavy Trash, also producer of my record It's A Shame About Gemma Ray) recorded Alan at N.Y. Hed, NYC on the sidewalk, 75 metres from the tape machine as the sun went down (the basement studio was tricky for access). The session was then cut short by a thunderstorm, but Matt still got some great stuff from Alan, very touching, haunting and poignant. Matt remarked that it was like watching the official last punk event on the Lower East Side... I wish I could have been there!

"Later last year, I started mixing it in Candybomber Studio, Berlin (based in the old imposing Nazi-era Tempelhof airport) with Ingo Krauss (an incredible engineer known for his work at Conny Plank studios). Ingo really started to put the track in a great place, and then halfway through making my new (as-yet-unreleased) record I had the incredible opportunity to record with the Filmorchester Babelsberg. I couldn't resist the idea of turning the outro into an orchestral wig-out - a cinematic step into another chapter within the same song. Fiona Brice wrote a modern and ambitious arrangement which the orchestra really delivered- but I'm saving that mix for the record. Everyone involved was excited about making a concise "radio edit" and Ingo put some effects from the orchestra in this "Death Disc" mix too - a very decadent and indulgent way to use a 64-piece orchestra, but you just can't fake that kind of stuff. Lucy Dyson (artist/animator) then created the great picture disc art, which was the icing on the cake - she always seems to step straight inside the songs I write and creates a world for them to live and thrive in. (She also created the cover art on 'Island Fire' and video for 'Rescue Me'. The B-side ('Waving At Mirrors', which follows a similar lyrical theme) was recorded in one take during the same session in Wales last year - Andrew Zammit played drums, Carwyn Ellis on piano and Ed Turner on bass guitar, I really like the spirit of the take and the feel of how everyone is playing together. I'm really into capturing that mood, when you record a time, place and a room as well as just a song."