Feature: The Ingredients of Start Clanging Cymbals with Wovoka Gentle

Friday, June 21, 2019
Photo by Ozge Cone

London-based experimental trio Wovoka Gentle earlier this month unveiled their highly anticipated debut album Start Clanging Cymbals via Nude Records. Featuring William J Stokes and twins Imogen and Ellie Mason, Wovoka Gentle continue to redefine genre rules and expectations through their music. To celebrate the release of their incredible debut album, they took some time out to share the influences behind it.

The Pembrokeshire coastline, Wales
We recorded most of the album in a house right on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path national park, on the south-west coast of Wales; which is an area of spectacular beauty. On the days we weren’t in the studio we went exploring around that area and took lots of field recordings of rivers, rocks breaking, waves, crickets and things like that. Those sounds are all across the record.

Instant Light by Andrei Tarkovsky
We found it helpful to have a few poetry books and things with us in the studio. Often we’d use them as a starting point for lyrical improvisations when we were writing together. There’s this beautiful little book we had of polaroids taken by the director Andrei Tarkovsky, with each image accompanied by an extract from his diary. It was in the room with us (with several pages marked) pretty much the entire time we were there.

Outside the studio, there were these three trees in a line, and in the later winter around sunset they would be completely filled with starlings chattering, and sometimes it was so loud we’d have to stop recording! Birds were a big part of our day-to-day life during the recording of this album, and also we could track the progression of the seasons by which birds were around. Rooks, Red Kites, House Martens in the eaves of the house we were in, Seagulls, Oystercatchers, Herons; we recorded a lot of them (sometimes on purpose).

Sonic The Hedgehog
We realised as we got further into the album process that we were referring a lot to nostalgic computer game soundtracks and children’s TV themes. We had a version of the original Sonic The Hedgehog on our phones which we were playing, and on 'Peculiar Form Of Sleep (Tiresias Theban)' we decided to try and mimic the sounds of Sonic jumping and catching rings and things. It sounded interesting and felt fitting as that song races through a lot of different sections, a little bit like different levels on a computer game.

Moog Little Phatty Stage II
The Moog Little Phatty has been at the backbone of the band since we started. It was the first synth we bought and has featured on every recording we’ve ever made. It’s the main arpeggio on 'Small Victory'; '1,000 Opera Singers Working In Starbucks' is centred around this squelchy bottom end we created on it; it makes the pulsing bass in Oystercatcher, and so on. It was the last synth to be designed by Bob Moog himself so it has a lot of heritage as an instrument, and it feels like it was the original gateway for us into the type of sound we make as a band.

Listen to Start Clanging Cymbals by Wovoka Gentle below:

Watch the video for 'Sin Is Crouching At Your Door':

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