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Factory Star


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Enter Castle Perilous sleeve-notes

Music nowadays moves at a glacial pace. Bands take three or four years to make an album and it shows, with records that’ve often been rehearsed, honed and edited to within an inch of their lives.

Not so here. Just before Christmas 2010 Martin Bramah asked me if I’d be interested in making a Factory Star record. As someone once said, “if it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly” and we began scaling the walls of Castle Perilous on 15th January 2011.

This is a record with volumes to say; I felt very strongly that it would speak most eloquently if Martin sang live, thrashing away at his guitar as he spat out the words with the band lashing out and away. Old-fashioned, you say? From the moment I heard them I thought Factory Star sounded positively ancient... and the record’s certainly been fashioned, as though hewn out of an English hillside.

I took a non-interventionist approach to producing Factory Star: set up, press record and interfere as little as possible, so I allowed them to rip through the songs and that’s what you’re hearing. At one point Richard, the heroic engineer responsible for capturing the maelstrom, shouted over the din “I’m not doing anything! Fantastic!”

By day two we’d recorded the whole album live - including vocals - four or five takes per song, so we moved briskly on to overdubs. Just a few. Ann, Hop Man, Chris, Tom and I crowded round a microphone while Martin acted as choirmaster, orchestrating backing vocals and hand-claps, then added a single guitar part to most of the songs and that was it: an entire album done in less time than most bands spend getting a snare sound.

When I got home I rang Martin to suggest mixing at The Hidden Room. “Tomorrow OK?” he asked and in no time we emerged blinking into the winter light with mixes which I then tightened up, although I hope I’ve lost none of the raw urgency that makes Enter Castle Perilous such an extraordinary record. If you listen it snarls, spits and speaks... volumes.

Nick Halliwell

February 2011