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Bad Elephant Music

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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1.
Mechanism 03:38
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
2.
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
3.
Gaslight 03:04
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.
4.
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
5.
Bad Dream 04:37
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
6.
Two 02:52
7.
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
8.
Home 04:40
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
9.
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.
10.
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.
11.
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.

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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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 six albums and numerous EPs of storytelling songs. ... more

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