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Context: PhilsMusic

SandTray Play

In around 1995 I was living in Brighton and renting a room with a couple of local folk musicians. My landlady had a day-job as some kind of "play therapist", working with children and adults who'd been through traumatic (and often violent) experiences. In the living room was a tray filled with sand and a number of toys and puppets which her patients used to act out and "play through" their traumas.

There was a devilish Punch, which one woman threw across the room crying "I hate you, mummy!"; a hypodermic needle for children to act out stories of parents overdosing on heroin; toy-cars (for road accidents I guess) and other figures.

The music was composed between about 1994-5, the first couple of tracks were only vaguely related to the theme and reconceived and renamed later to fit it. By about track four, I'd chosen explicitly to do this "concept album" about the toys and the idea of therapy in general, and the rest were composed with the themes and names in mind.

My studio at the time consisted of a Kawai K1 keyboard, a Yahama MT100 4-track recorder (on which these were recorded). Alesis SR16 drum-machine. And an Atari computer which could be used as a sequencer, sampler or effects unit (but not all at the same time). I think I had a phaser/chorus guitar pedal too. And there might be a bit of real cowbell in Hyperdermic.

These have all been sitting on cassettes that were mixed-down from 4 track in 1995. Some have had tape-hiss removed, but on others that turned out to be impossible : the high-end drums and hi-hats suffered too much. I've boosted the bass of the first track "The Way We Live Now" because it was always meant to be heavier, and it doesn't upset the rest of it. The others are as they were.

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