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Spinning The Compass (2016 remaster)

by Tom Slatter

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Sven B. Schreiber
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Sven B. Schreiber Although this item is available for purchase to everyone, I received it for free as part of my "Immoral Supporters" membership. Well, not exactly for free - there is some immoral membership fee, which helps Tom to feed his cats, but... yeah, I guess you know what I mean. I didn't want this album. Never would have purchased it. But heck, it was a bargain, so I downloaded it and... well, it's a great album! Really, quite unexpectedly! In fact, I guess it's one of my favorites now. So let me check out the other junk I got for selling my soul to Tom. OK OK, I just gave him my credit card number, but that's about the same... will be back soon... Favorite track: The Man Who Learned To Fly.
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about

Spinning the Compass is my first solo album. Originally released in early 2010, here it is remastered and in places remixed.

I had not planned on going solo in 2009 when I started working on these songs. I was still doing silly things with Comrade Robot, and at the time that was my main musical undertaking. But as part of February Album Writing Month 2009 I had written a few songs that seemed to fit into a steampunk theme, so on and off over that year I put things together.

It just so happened that independently at the same time, my brother Joe was also working on steampunk projects, particularly his 'Oldroid' models, so there was a ready made set of photos and ideas to use as artwork.

Spinning the Compass is about body horror, bad dreams and machines that get in the way or substitute for real love. Mechanism talks about love gone wrong, I Still Smile about latex and rubber alternatives to human contact, the title track is about being lost in a contracting world that doesn't make sense and threatens to disappear.

Nevertheless, it is to me a happy album. It was recorded cheap mics and even cheaper software, and I didn't really know what I was doing. It received my first bad review in which it was referred to as 'an experiment too far' (and a few good reviews too) and I learnt a hell of a lot from making it.

It is also where the Seven Bells John saga started. The Steam engine Murders and the Trail of Seven Bells John, from my fourth album, was written at the same time as Spinning the Compass. Lines Overheard at a Séance is most definitely part of that narrative. Indeed if you've heard my most recent EP, Black Water you will have heard the musical echoes of this in 'Ghosts in my Dreams'.

This version of the album also includes two new tracks 'The Man Who Learned To Fly' and 'Lines in the Dirt' both of which I wrote at the time but didn't have time to finish recording before I finally got bored and released the album.

This accidental album kicked off a solo 'career' that so far has encompassed 4 albums albums, a few EPs and lots of fun.

Thanks for listening!

Tom Slatter January 2016


Spinning the Compass, a Progressive, Steampunk acoustic-indie album.

"Spinning The Compass is almost a metal album. All Tom would need to do is swap acoustic for electric guitar and the keyboard parts for more electric guitars and he’d be there ... the unexpected quirks and lunges in strange directions never get in the way of a melody or a strong chorus, particularly on the excellent title song and the opener, Mechanism. Buzzing at the centre of this album is Lines Overheard At A Séance, all fuzzy keys and crackling drums. It’s a dark and hypnotic piece,easily one of the best things I think Tom has recorded.:
- Thanks, Tom Hanks! thankstomhanks.tumblr.com

"Nerdish themes of machines and humanity... a neat collection of songs with a really cool sound"
Andrew Liptak - Carry You Away carryyouaway.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/a-geek-interlude/

"Tom Slatter’s Spinning the Compass is best described, I think, as acoustic prog-rock. From alternating measures of 5/4 to wildly chromatic key changes to rowdy (acoustic) guitar solos, all of the prog-rock elements are there... the songwriting is brilliant and the instrumental performances are wonderful."
Rob Weber - Playing in Peoria robntweber.wordpress.com

"Spinning the Compass - 'Quintessentially “steampunk”, and not just because of the subject matter of the songs or how “period” the music is. He nails steampunk by capturing the essence of subtle subversion that it is. The music is weird, but you know what, so is dressing up in goggles and mechanical body parts.'"
- Pikestaff, Clockwork Hare

"Mr. Slatter’s music evokes images of ill-lit workshops, dark libraries in mansions where spirits are contacted, cabaret in run-down theaters and the taste of absinthe."
- The Traveler, The Traveler's Steampunk Blog

credits

released February 3, 2016

Written, performed and recorded by Tom Slatter.
Remastered by David Elliott

Art by Joe Slatter.

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about

Tom Slatter London

A latter-day Victorian street-theatre barker with a guitar promising tales of mystery, imagination, ‘orrible murders and bloody great waving tentacles’ is how Tom Slatter has been described. Since 2010 he has been scaring audiences with five albums and numerous EPs of storytelling songs. ... more

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Track Name: Mechanism
This mechanism it’s driving us apart,
It shines a prism on the kind of love we share
This mechanism is making passion spoil
It tastes of something the cloying tang of wine and oil
Our love relies on clockwork
The careful use of gears and wheel

This mechanism it isn’t how we feel

You and me in the gaslight with our machinery
Our artificial steam powered hearts will never set us free
This mecanism isn’t you or me

The games we’re playing type writers for our hearts
The rules and rhythms
The limits of a steam powered love
It started somewhere lighter
Somehow we got lost somewhre
This mechanism won’t get us anywhere

You and me in the gaslight with our machinery
Our artificial steam powered hearts will never set us free
This mechanism isn’t you or me

Oil is the wine
Roses in the chains
Burning a pilot light
Isn’t carrying a flame

You and me in the gaslight with our machinery
Our artificial steam powered hearts will never set us free
This mechanism isn’t you or me
Track Name: Ingenious Devices
I’ve seen them, with cracking skin,
Greying hair, yellow teeth
And haunted eyes.

I’ll not be one of them
I’ll fill my lungs with oil and steam
And never die

Ingenious devices
keep me alive in perpetual motion these
Ingenious devices
filled the steam from a thousand pistons

Ingenious Devices Turn

My heart beats by pendulum
I’ve filled grave with cogs and wheels
so there’s no room.

And my lovers have passed me by,
I’ve seen towers pierce the sky
with crystal eyes

Ingenious devices
keep me alive in perpetual motion these
Ingenious devices
filled the steam from a thousand pistons

Ingenious devices turn

My daughters died,
My sons all met their fate
Wouldn’t join me
Couldn’t see till far too late.
The clockwork beating
of my polished heart
Reassures me that I haven’t gone too far

Ingenious devices keep me from the grave
Piston as the master, tendon as the slave

Tick tock tick tick this heart beats
Tick tick tock tock this heart beats

Ingenious devices
keep me alive in perpetual motion these
Ingenious devices
filled the steam from a thousand pistons
Track Name: Gaslight
Meet me in gaslight
Where the static don't hide your face
Where the lamp’s glow can show you to me

Meet me in gaslight
Where the magic don’t die each day
Where I’ll hold you can keep you with me

Cos even if they got on their knees and prayed for the dawn to come
If they screamed to the heavens the night would never end
And you’d stay there beside me in the chill glow of the night
Embracing under gaslight.

Even if they got on their knees and prayed for the dawn to come
If they screamed to the heavens the night would never end
And you’d stay here beside me in the chill glow of the night
Embracing under gaslight.
Track Name: Lines Overheard At A Seance
There’s a red red room that I can remember
With a clawing branch right outside the window
And I’m not breaking down

On a cold cold night I saw something evil
Turned the red red walls a deep shade of grey
And I’m not breaking down

Won’t you tell me where the last one is?
There are ghosts in my dreams,
But I can’t hear them
Track Name: Bad Dream
The cables break
Car begins to fall down
An electric flash and I’m heading for the ground
All around me people panic and scream the cables break
Another bad dream

Bones begin to fall down
The ashes begin to rain
Red washed cry a strangers cry of pain
Your safe safe world is nothign like it seems
Bones begin tof all down
Another bad dream

They’ve been spinning the compass again
Changing the rules as we play
These Bad dreams are spinning me round
With this compass a way can’t be found
They’ve spinning the compass again.
Spinning the compass again.

Flashing knife broke through my guard
A bolt of light dazzling my eyes
Trip and stumble red water in the stream
A flashing knife
Another bad dream
Track Name: I Still Smile
I have all the time you need
I have all you want
My arms are always here
To make you feel complete

Even when you’re crying, I still smile.

My face is fixed in a permanent grin
My latex skin never frowns
You bought me, to make you feel complete
And I’ll always be here

Even when you’re crying, I still smile.

And your last touch of real skin hurt too much.

But I have all the time you need
My love never dies
Track Name: Home
Leaving the earth was such a thrill
A ship of the sky, lighter that air
At hunting grounds we made our kills
Kings of the great game, on top of the sky

They say we’re took the long way
Say we’ll soon touch down
I don’t see that, I’ve only eyes for home.

Thrill of a lifetime but I’ve been away too long
What I would give, to touch the earth again

They say we took the long way
Say we’ll soon touch down
I don’t see that, I’ve only eyes for home

They say we’re coming home soon
They say the clouds are grey
I don’t see that, I’ve only eyes for home

And all the kills, all the trophies, all the game that we bought down
All the hides, all the skulls, all the savage beast we found
I would give them all, every one if it would bring you close to me
I’d chant your name like spell, reach for you just like a drowning man

They say we took the long way
They say the clouds are grey

They say we’re coming home soon
Say we’ll soon touch down
I don’t see that, I’ve only eyes for home

They say we took the long way
They say the clouds are grey
I don’t see that, I’ve only eyes for home
Track Name: Spinning The Compass
Been spinning the compass again
Changing the rules while I was looking away
5 paths in the same dial

Like living in a world of your own
all the time shrinking till all the roads meet
white lines dashing past at speed
And up is left, east is west and no-one cares

Spinning the compass again
16 down isn’t making sense
cross purpose and silent days
Like living in a mind not your own
thinking thoughts you don’t understand
white lights shining in the dark

Do you get the feeling we’re running out time?
Have you heard the rumours of war planes in the skies?

With this spinning the end is surely nigh?
Do you get the feeling we’re running.

White lines dashing at speed the windows
They’ve been spinning this compass again.
Track Name: The Man Who Learned To Fly
The man who learned to fly didn’t always have success

He’s broke a bone a time or two jumping from his nest
But every time he comes out with his feathers and his wings
He looks resolved to try again,
He looks at peace with things

Line ‘em up
Gathered here to watch him fail to fly
Instead you’ll see him soar into the sky.

The man who learned to fly has an attic where he lives
He dreams of birds and shooting stars and all the sky can give.
A history of failed attempts
A fool that they forgive.
They fool him every time he heads down to the cliff.
Track Name: Lines In The Dirt
Geoglyphs and pyramids
The voices of the aliens
Mashing up
The holy root
The feathers sprouting from your skin

Shaping babies’ skulls

Pyramids and geoglyphs
Feathered lizards flying past
This calendar is counting down
The encroaching of the undergrowth
We talk to the heavens with lines in the dirt.

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