Micronations

by Andrew Howie

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Fergus McNeill
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Fergus McNeill This is a beautiful and intriguing record. The contrast between deeply nostalgic and reflective lyrics and almost futuristic digital sonic effects and arrangements is powerfully affective. The layered lyrics and vocal effects — sometimes involving the same melody sung across octaves — seem to imply different identities, ages or stages: The child and the man, the past and the present in unison. Maybe the message is that we can’t go back and we don’t know the future, but we can bring both into the present. Here and now; this is home, this is me, this is us.
Daniel Borsos
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Daniel Borsos This is a stunning album. Thematically it feels like a follow up to 2015’s The Great Divide with the writer still wrestling with his demons, wistful but more comfortable in his own skin as he watches his children grow. And it closes with a love song (that had me in tears) that only Andrew Howie could write. Favorite track: Fragile.
Steve Lawson
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Steve Lawson Wow. This is totally new territory but at once deeply familiar. Such beautiful music, lyrics and sounds. Outstanding! Favorite track: Predators.
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about

"... intriguing and beautiful... an album that is both fragile, gentle and beguiling yet robust and striking in its beauty" - Dancing About Architecture

"Recorded entirely on an Alesis Micron synthesizer – a compact instrument, whose range of futuristic sounds seems to be the perfect companion for Howie’s distinctive vocal." - The Scotsman

"The simple electronica and treated vocals bring to mind classic acts like OMD and Ultravox, yet the subject matter is up-to-date, considering family life in the 21st century." - Scottish Daily Express

One of the best albums of 2019 - Jockrock

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micronation

/ˈmaɪkrəuˌneɪʃən/

noun
1. an entity, typically existing only on the internet or within the private property of its members, that lays claim to sovereign status as an independent nation, but which is unrecognized by real nations

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This mini-album is a collection of 8 songs (written between 2014 and 2018) about family, domesticity, failing memory, and the indifference of nature. Originally written on acoustic guitar and piano, Andrew's predilection for self-imposed limitations led him to record the album using just one musical instrument: the compact and colourful Alesis Micron synthesizer. Combining nostalgic, reflective lyrics with futuristic sonic sounds and heavily-processed vocals, this album is the perfect soundtrack for the everyday stresses and strains of 21st-century family life.


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credits

released June 26, 2018

Written, performed, recorded, mixed and mastered at home by Andrew Howie.

'Fragile' contains a sample of 'Tree Song' by Calamateur.

Cover photo & design by Andrew Howie.

Released on Autoclave Records. CLAVE023.

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about

Andrew Howie Stirling, UK

Andrew Howie (ex-Calamateur) is a Scottish singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer & prison/community group music tutor. He combines confessional & empathetic lyricism with acoustic instruments, noisy electronics & ambient textures to create introspective, hook-laden songs about uncertainty, doubt & love. You'll find him either holed up in his home studio or playing in your living room. ... more

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Track Name: Memory Verse
Zero seven hundred hours wake up call
Preceded by the hair-dryer through the wall
Cat out the kitchen, dog out the door
Sweeping up kitty litter off the floor

Hang on

Sculpting sideburns, cleaning teeth
Band T, checked shirt, faded jeans
Thirty minutes in, kick-start the troops
Dishwasher duty on a weekly loop

Hang on
Hang on

Here's a trick to make your life flash by
Like a bullet train behind your eyes
Treat every day like it's a curse
Then repeat by rote like a memory verse

Hang On

School drop off and then round the block
Couple hours prep then a longer walk
Soup, bread, fruit then a TV show
Brew a strong coffee, bring the lights down low

Hang on
Hang on

When did the sediment of grateful tears
Unwept throughout the last twelve years
Become the overwhelming taste
Turning every good thing into waste

Here's a trick to make your life flash by
Like a bullet train behind your eyes
Treat every day like it's a curse
Then repeat by rote like a memory verse
Track Name: Predators
Tell me how you're gonna get
Through another afternoon
With whispered voices baying for your blood

For once please turn the TV off
Our battered brains have had enough
Of being wired for predators and flood

Don't say goodbye
Don't say goodbye

Hummingbirds and sinking ships
Can't justify the things you did
You need more from this life than I can give

I used to think that I could be
The one to wake you from your sleep
But now I only seem to be your worst and closest enemy
Your nemesis, your necessary foe

Don't say goodbye
Don't say goodbye
Don't say goodbye
Don't say goodbye

With my head safe on your shoulder
As you hummed don't dream it's over
I thought this love was bulletproof
But now you're sleeping on the camp bed
And my chest is full of lead
I'm sinking slowly out of view / you

Don't say goodbye
Don't say goodbye
Don't say goodbye
Don't say goodbye
Don't say goodbye
Don't say goodbye
Don't say goodbye
Don't say goodbye
Track Name: Fragile
I hold my arms high
The nettles are weighed down by yesterday's rain
Looking up through the leaves I glimpse the sun

This world is too beautiful
Too fragile and beautiful
She waits for the dutiful / dew to fall
This world
This world

I tread my own path
Listening carefully I hear the burn

This world is too beautiful
Too fragile and beautiful
She waits for the dutiful / dew to fall
This world
This world

I slip on the bank
I hit the ground hard on my shoulder
I climb to my feet
I am paid no mind

This world is too beautiful
Too fragile and beautiful
This world is too beautiful
Too fragile and beautiful
She waits for the dutiful / dew to fall
This world
This world
Track Name: Look At Her Go
Shiny new black shoes
Pinched at the toes
Hair up in pigtails
Just look at her go

My pride is like a time-bomb
Set to explode
The way he holds it together
Is a secret untold

I make them laugh as I'm leaving
Daddy do that again
I don't know who is more scared
Is it us or is it them

So fill us with courage
And leave a line we can trace
Keep us from all kinds of harm
And slowen our pace
Track Name: Honourable Love
I can hear you talking at the table through the wall
Exchanging heated opinions from the cradle to the fall
I twist my body round I put my hand over my ear
I dream of being the hero in the hope you disappear

It's not an honourable love

I've kept the baby but the bathwater's running down the hole
But no-one's picking up the child, it just lies there growing cold
Getting bluer by the moment, getting clammy to the touch
I dream of simpler times and definitions of a crutch

It's not an honourable love (I don't want to be alone anymore)
It's not an honourable love (I don't want to be alone anymore)
It's not an honourable love (I don't want to be alone anymore)

I keep getting told that this chapter is coming to an end
But I'll be good-god-damned if I have start all this again
There's got to be another exit, a signpost I've not seen
You're not making progress if you keep going back to where you've been

It's not an honourable love (I don't want to be alone anymore)
It's not an honourable love (I don't want to be alone anymore)
It's not an honourable love (I don't want to be alone anymore)
It's not an honourable love (I don't want to be alone anymore)
It's not an honourable love
Track Name: Harbour Wall
Do you remember when you were young?
Do you remember when you were young?
When the light in your eyes was like the glare of the morning sun?
Do you remember, remember when you were young?

I hid a secret in the harbour wall
I hid a secret in the harbour wall
Behind a brick near my favourite port of call
I hid a secret deep, deep in the harbour wall

My mind is like a stereoscope
With faded discs in a yellowing envelope
With just one flick of my finger I can travel through time
My mind plays like a broken down stereoscope

I played piano in a dance hall band
I played piano in a Saturday night dance hall band
The click of her heels echoes like the tick of my second hand
I played piano, piano in a dance hall band

Do you remember when you were young?
Do you remember when you were young?
Now the look in my eyes is like the blaze of the setting sun
Do you remember, remember when you were young?

When you were young
Remember when you were young
Remember when you were young
Remember when you were young
Remember when you were young
Track Name: Lanark 1984
All I ever wanted was to love you more
To hold you steady as you staggered through that door
So close your eyes and dream of us walking with you
Just try to breathe and know we'll be right beside you

Understand that know one could have loved you more
That I'm not ready to believe there's nothing more
So count to ten and hold your hand in mine
You'll wake up soon and we can leave this behind

All I ever wanted was to love you more
Track Name: Pick Axe
When she was just 16, she loved Keith Green
And she cried at the news he was dead
She watched Brother Sun and Sister Moon
Then took a pick-axe to her bed
She dismantled all her comforts, surrendered up her soul
Until the blood that filled her veins
Was demon-free, as pure as the snow

Itinerant evangelist
She travelled far and wide
From Bosnia to Birmingham
With the Spirit as her guide
Until she landed in the sleepy, south-side town of Waterfoot
Where she strode across my path
In her knee-high leather boots

It took 3 long years to allay the fears
I'd been trying not to face
My laziness and cowardice
Were tempered by her grace
Until I set that phone to ring at 5am, not a moment too soon
And I whisked her off, blindfolded
To that wooden bench in Troon

Then we hit the road to No Man's Land
Where we hunkered down inside
Our family of two increased
Exponentially to five
Our disappointments, disillusions at the certainties we'd felt
Made us take our life into our hands
And retreat to the Central Belt

If it were up to the worst part of me
This house would be a keep
Locking out the undesirables
The losers and the freaks
But her extrovert compassion rips the hinges off the walls
And I remember
Who's the biggest freak of all

She sometimes thinks the girl
Who chopped her bed up is long gone
That the radical nature of her belief
Has been watered down
But her progress isn't measured by her prayers, books or songs
But by the space she makes inside her heart
For love and lives gone wrong

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