If you know a band intimately, there’s a good chance your fave tracks aren’t their big hits, or the opener on their breakthrough album. No, it’s more likely some obscure song from their early days - an old b-side, or perhaps a hidden cut if you’re getting on a bit (damn you streaming for ruining hidden tracks). Andrew Groves introduces his top deep cuts from Arcane Roots’ back catalogue.
'Blood & Chemistry' was originally twelve tracks long, but once we'd finally assembled it into something resembling an album it ran a little too long to fit onto vinyl, so, unfortunately, we had to lose two songs to make space. Luckily, we were able to release one as a bonus track on iTunes called 'Harboured At Sea'. I think it was originally track eight on the record and it was one of the last songs we recorded for the album at the Moles Studio in Bath with Dan Austin & Chris Coulter. The title was inspired by a lyric from 'The Water' by Feist, and later became the first dance at my wedding and is now, consequently, tattooed on my arm. I love the connotations of being 'harboured' at sea, the waves enveloping something that is usually associated with comfort and feelings of home. The second I heard it, it resonated with me so strongly that I knew I had to write about it, and within the song, I use it as a way to welcome the oncoming waves and accept the idea of a turbulent harbour as my home.
Also from the 'Blood & Chemistry' sessions, this was originally a song in three parts that gradually grew in its production throughout the course of the album, littered in the spaces between each song. Again, due to the restriction in space, we had to adapt it to fit into just two little parts placed after the end of 'Sacred Shapes' and 'Slow'. Quite probably the most personal song on the record, I saved every dying ember of a past love for the vocals. Raw, ugly and full of self-pity. We've never played it, though I'd like to one day.
This was the bonus track at the end of 'Heaven & Earth', hidden just after 'Vows & Ceremony'. Anyone hearing this now, post-'Melancholia Hymns', might see it as the bridge between the two records, and if you do, then you're correct because it also lyrically foreshadows 'Before Me', the first track on 'Melancholia Hymns'. All of the songs on Heaven & Earth started off as quick verse & chorus demos that we then fleshed out in the rehearsal room, but I wanted to keep this as it was, simple, delicate and fleeting. It remained completely unchanged during the entire album recording. The first song to feature piano as a main instrument, it also held my favourite lyric at the time: "We had a suitcase full of lungs, but no one had a tongue."
'Melancholia Hymns' holds the record for the most alternative versions of an Arcane Roots song, and this little reprise after 'Indigo' is a prime example. In one of my usual fits of deleting everything and starting again, this beautifully haunting little version fell out of me and subsequently cursed every version since. Much like the other secret tracks we've made, it also decided to contain my favourite lyrics from the entire session, making it impossible to bin. I could neither re-create the original sounds nor extend it in any way no matter how hard I tried (and I really did try). After trying absolutely everything to crowbar it into every other version of the song, it just never quite sat right. So, inspired by Nine Inch Nails 'The Fragile', we made it into a little 'pre'-reprise that foreshadowed the song to come. If you haven't had that 'oh yeah' moment, then check out its return mid-'Solemn'.
Taken from the September issue of Upset. Arcane Roots' new EP 'Landslide' is out 14th September.
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