Photographs in Empty Houses
My first chanson/cabaret album.
A limited edition CD reissue is available here: Buy
from online shop.
Photo: Jim Tyson
To complement the September 1999 release of my new album Water of Europe, its predecessor, Photographs in Empty Houses, is now available on CD for the first time. Originally released on cassette back in October 1992, the album provided the basis for my return to solo singer-songwriting and the development of my musical cabaret style.
All 15 tracks from the cassette are included on this CD release, taken from the original DAT masters. They include 11 of my own songs, two songs from shows to texts by Brecht and Strindberg and two covers, from Brel and Behan/Theodorakis. A bonus track taken from a demo produced the following year has also been included. The CD comes with a four-page booklet with full credits and sleeve notes and the original cover photo (below) is supplemented by two previously unpublished photos from the same period.
The album was largely a home production: most of the music was provided by me with computerised assistance, though some tracks are augmented with special guests. Rock guitarist Simon Walker contributes lead to two selections, Anita Visser provides backing vocals on one and the closer, 'Aeroplanes', is a simple arrangement with Sarah Collins at the piano and Marcus Holdaway providing cello obbligato.
For full personnel details, click here.
For production credits, click here.
Photographs was largely an exercise in taking stock. After my first solo recording project, A Bloody Row, an ultra-low-tech effort from the heyday of the indie cassette in 1982, I'd started tentatively to develop my musical cabaret and singer-songwriting side, but I was diverted by academia, politics and then various collaborative projects. By the start of the 1990s I had a small collection of salvaged songs that seemed to indicate some kind of worthwhile artistic direction, and first thought of simply assembling a collection from the demos and live tapes I already had, but my plans soon mushroomed into an album's worth of new production.
The result, the listener should be warned, is flawed by a lack of artistic focus, with material that runs the gamut of styles and arrangements. It was recorded in a vacuum: I had next-to-no experience of performing much of the repertoire and little clear idea of what I was trying to achieve with it. Since it was taped at home on a 4-track portastudio with most of the accompaniment generated by computer-sequenced electronic instruments, the sound quality is somewhat below modern professional par (though it's always acceptable and at times remarkably good considering!), and while electronics are perfectly acceptable in their own right, they are less satisfactory when used, as in many places here, as a cheap and convenient substitute for conventional instruments. And the vocal performances, though undoubtedly my best up to that point, are some notches below what I can achieve today thanks to training and experience.
Nonetheless I've decided it's worthwhile finally making this material available on a limited run CD. I stand by all the compositions and many of the numbers still form a part of my live repertoire, but since it's unlikely I'll be able to re-record them in the forseeable future these are currently the only studio recordings around. And for all its flaws, this was for me a very important beginning.
Click here for details of how to buy this album.
- Sarah Collins piano on 'Aeroplanes'.
Sarah is an old friend who I first met as a sound engineer, but she's also a serious and a theatre composer, specialising in electro-acoustic music with commissions from places like the South Bank. This was our first work together, but she later became my first regular live pianist, and in 1998 we collaborated again on an Eric Satie set.
- Des de Moor voice, acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards and programming, percussion, tapes.
- Marcus Holdaway cello on 'Aeroplanes'.
I met Marcus through the sound work I did with Sean O'Hagen's High Llamas, with whom he played keyboards, but he'd begun his musical carreer as a classically trained cellist.
- Anita Visser backing voice on 'Fear of Bodily Fluids'.
Then guitarist and backing singer in The High Llamas, Anita comes from California and now lives in New York.
- Simon Walker lead guitar on 'Family Way' and 'A Million Stars'..
A stalwart of the Camberwell music scene, Simon enjoyed a stint in indie band The House of Love.
All words and music by Des de Moor unless otherwise stated.
Click on the title to read the lyrics and more notes on the songs, or on the speaker icon where shown to find an MP3 download of that track.
- Photographs in Empty Houses.
Acoustic guitar, digital piano, sampler, digital and analogue synths, programming: Des
- Holy Water.
Acoustic guitar, sampler, analogue and digital synths, programming, backing voice: Des
- The Family Way.
Digital piano, sampler, programming: Des; Electric guitar: Simon
- A Million Stars.
Digital piano, sampler, programming, backing voice: Des; Electric guitar: Simon
- Fear of Bodily Fluids.
Digital piano, sampler, analogue and digital synths, programming, acoustic guitar, backing voice: Des; Backing voice: Anita
- Out of Step.
Digital piano, sampler, programming, backing voice: Des
- Open the window softly.
Sampler, analogue and digital synths, programming: Des
Acoustic guitar, sampler, analogue synth, programming: Des
- The Same Old Game.
Digital piano, sampler, programming: Des
- Old Anne's Song (Christopher Logue, adapted from Bertolt Brecht; Des de Moor).
Digital piano, sampler, programming, shaker, cowbell, backing voices: Des
- Picnic in the Free World.
Sampler, analogue synth, programming: Des
Acoustic and electric guitars, sampler, digital and analogue synths, programming: Des
- Under the Needle.
Sampler, programming, backing voice: Des
- I saw the sun (August Strindberg translated by Jonas Finlay; Des de Moor).
Sampler, digital synth, programming: Des
- Scorchmark in the Sand.
Digital and analogue synths, tapes: Des
Piano: Sarah; Cello: Marcus
Arranged and produced by: Des de Moor
A tape from The Sphere of Production.
'Scorchmark in the Sand': Orpheus Tower, London SE14 March 1991
Backing tracks on 'Old Anne's Song': Orpheus Tower, London SE14 May 1991
Piano track on 'Aeroplanes': Highbury Hill, London N5, April 1992
All other tracks except 'Under the Needle': Orpheus Tower, London SE14 July-August 1992
'Under the Needle': Forest Hill, London SE23 December 1993
All tracks recorded to 4-track analogue cassette portastudio
Recording engineer: Des de Moor
Assistant engineer, 'Under the Needle': Winston Skerritt
All tracks except 'Under the Needle': Orpheus Tower, London SE14 August 1992
Under the Needle: Forest Hill, London SE23 December 1993
All tracks mixed to DAT
Post-production, CD editing and mastering:
Soundsense, London N7 using Pro-Tools September 1999
Postproduction engineer: Richard Lee
Orpheus Tower, September 1992
Booklet Photographer: Jim Tyson
Tray insert photographer: Des de Moor
Typography and layouts
Deptford, London SE8 and Soundsense, London N7 September 1999 using Windows 98/PC
Cover concept, layouts and texts: Des de Moor
The Sphere of Production, London, on cassette only October 1992, catalogue number SPH 2-4. Approximately 150 copies distributed.
The track order of initial copies was as follows: Side One: 'Out of Step', 'Holy Water', 'Photographs in Empty Houses', 'The Family Way', 'A Million Stars', 'Fear of Bodily Fluids', 'Open the window softly'; Side Two: 'L'Ivrogne', 'The Same Old Game', 'Old Anne's Song', 'Picnic in the Free World', 'Adjusted', 'I Saw the Sun', 'Scorchmark in the Sand', 'Aeroplanes'.
The bulk of later issues used the same order as the CD issue, with a side break after 'Open the window softly' and the omission of 'Under the Needle'.
Some later extended play copies also included 'Under the Needle' and demos of 'Water of Europe' and 'Margins' (see Water of Europe).
Production and distribution
CD burning and booklet printing: Soundsense, London N7
Released by: Pirate Jenny's Entertainments, London SE14
Click here for details of how to buy this album.
How to order
Photographs in Empty Houses costs GBP6.00
Postage and packing/shipping charges
- UK 1st class post GBP1.25
- Europe airmail GBP2.00
- Rest of the world airmail GBP3.50
Please allow 14 days for delivery in UK, 28 days to other addresses.
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On this page
Downloads: some tracks from this album are available as MP3s.
Lyrics: all the lyrics are available on this site
Recordings: index of this and other recordings
About me: an overview of my work
Irregular Records website