Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Wrong Button

Here is my album "The Wrong Button" which I am making available for the first time since its' completion three years ago. That is not to say it hasn't been heard by anyone, indeed, Darian Sahanaja, (Brian Wilson Band member and the man responsible for getting Brian to finish SMiLE) said it was one of the best things he had heard for years, which I took as high praise coming from someone who has access to The Beach Boys tape vaults. Nelson Bragg and Probyn Gregory were equally enthused. I had also put three songs on the Garageband site, and "Talking To Myself" had reached the top five of their chart. All of a sudden I was recieving many emails requesting a copy of the album.

So what happened?

I was offered a record contract, which turned out to be a tad dodgy so I didn't sign. Also my wife had just fallen pregnant and I lost my job. In desperation I sent a barrage of emails to Darian and Nelson, demanding they help me out. Suffice to say they stopped responding. Now I could say I lost my faith in my album at that point, and there would be some truth there, but to be honest I am one of lifes great procrastinators, and I missed my moment.

So here finally is "The Wrong Button", the third part in a trilogy of albums which take a comical look at the effects of marujuana and LSD on a fragile mind. I will release the entire trilogy in reverse, what can I say, I am a child of George Lucas (not literally).

If the album proves successful, (i.e. more than ten downloads!), I will gladly write more about the history and multiple meanings in my teenage symphony to drugs, but for now a little background will suffice.

"The Wrong Button" took seven years, off and on to record. The bulk of the album was recorded in my home on a Roland VS840 8 track recorder, a seriously cranky old digital machine which ran on Zip Disks. I had no preamps or anything like that, so I had to be quite creative with my recording techniques. How I hate working with digital sound, bring back tape.

The album documents my final, horrific LSD trip, alone in a house in the Yorkshire Dales on, believe it or not, September the 11th 1996. (I was convinced for a time that I had sent my bum vibe five years into the future, but I'm feeling much better now) In all seriousness it was the most terrifyingly dark experience of my life, all alone with only my trusty dictaphone as a companion, and it is these recordings which form the backbone of "The Wrong Button".

Music wise, my biggest musical influence on this and all my recordings, is the music of Brian Wilson, in particular, SMiLE. I have been listening to this wonderful music since 1988, back when I was 16. This was a time when it was seriously uncool to like The Beach Boys, but I have turned so many people onto his music and like to think I played a small part in his rediscovery during the nineties.

Anyway, it's time to laugh with me, cry with me, and nearly die with me. Download if you dare...............

The Wrong Button by Stephen Newcombe


paul in sunny brighton said...

barely 8 tracks into it
(can you play mp3s on an 8 track?)
quite frankly,
wondering where my mind has wandered...
i left the bally pc downloading the stuff last night
and, wheweee, am i glad i never stayed up to sample a track before retiring!
i'd have been mesmerised into listening right through
- and i fear i'd've been
a cringing wreck on the floor this morning.
i'm genuinely astounded, mr n!
and i'm only @ 'that's where it ends' at this (im)precise moment
in the morning sunshine
in sunny brighton.
i'll be getting back to you
once i've absorbed and,
cleansed the inner noggin.


paul in sunny brighton said...

in the bright light of day,
finished listening to...
the most mindboggling music
that's permeated my noggin
possibly ever!
mr newcombe,
i shan't ask where your head was at
- it's patently obvious!
the distillation is captivating;
there are more than a few moments of
unmitigated beauty
wallowing around in a mighty morass of,
well, um,

(one mundane query:
i take it it's intended to run together
with no gaps between tracks?)

here's to the next emergence!
bravo and cheers

synthbaron said...

More, please.

MARK SACH said...

Superb and brilliantly structured. If Brian Wilson himself released this, we would all be jumping up and down like frogs with bullets up our arses.
I wish you every success sir and can't wait for the other two installments.

Donna Modern said...

oh good to hear from you again! Am going to have to re-return with memorystick etc with which to obtain recordings and wallow in the past...blimey how pleasant to have you back in the world again. Can't wait to hear the stuff...I do sincerely hope you checked out my my myspace preoccupied with a disco album about nuclear war, I hope you is Tish? Is there a baby yet?


john (not lennon) said...

Stephen, gob, well and truely smacked!
Like a blast from the past.

Just what I got up to as a kid, taping everthing, radio shows, myself, editing them, making up stories acting them out, messing with tape speed, of course the only way to do it then was to play with the cassette deck buttons to attempt to slow them down and speed them up, fiddling the fast forward and rewind buttons while recording - what a great reminder, it really took me back.

I also remember you made available "Talking To Myself" to us at some stage, can't remember when, but it sure was great to finally hear what was intended around it, so to speak.

A very creative work, and very humourous to boot.
I can sympathise with you no longer being into music, when you get that wrapped up in it it's hard not to fall out with it.
Hope you patch up your differences and that you feel as you once did.

A friend of mine has been away from music for ten years and I forced him, albiet gently, back to recording this year and it was a delight to see him sparkle like he once did, even for those brief few hours.

Looking forward to hearing more of the trilogy.
Well done, and thanks for sharing.

...j (",)

Linear Zap said...

Hi Stephen,

I had downloaded this album a few weeks ago but I only decided to listen to it today - people were saying that it was great, so I waited, in order to have enough time for a "good" listen.

I've listened to the whole album twice and found myself confused. You obviously have a knack for good melodies and arrangements, but the things that nearly ruined the album for me were the sound effects, the various snippets of people talking, etc. I suppose they're here on purpose, otherwise... Well, otherwise they wouldn't be here.

But to me they "hide" (sonically speaking) the good music that's under them. Or you could see it the other way - they "distract" the listener from the music that's above them.

I suppose (tell me if I'm wrong) that you have to have experienced drugs to fully understand this album... By the way, please note that I'm not judging you for having done (or doing?) drugs, everyone should be able to choose. But personally I'm not into drugs and it shouldn't happen anytime soon. But back to the point I was making: I feel that having experienced drugs is necessary to understand and relate to this music.

Actually the album is a bit frightening sometimes, and I think this album is the closest thing I'll ever get to a "LSD trip" (on this particular aspect, it's quite an impressive achievement, by the way).

I've always imagined that an LSD trip would make you feel like that, hear various weird things that mix in your head, etc.

Anyway... Oh, another thing that was distracting is that some songs sound muddy. But that might be due to technical limitations, from what I've read on the blog. That's sad, because there are some songs that would deserve to sparkle - I'm thinking "Automata", "That's Where It Ends" and "Space Rocket".

But then, if they sounded clearer, they probably wouldn't achieve that "LSD trip" effect anymore...

Having said all that, this album is very interesting. I really think it's an oddity that should be made available to a wider audience. Like I've said above, there are good melodies ("Space Rocket" is quite catchy!), great arrangements, and funny moments (I've had a laugh a few times, and if I've understood what you've said on your blog correctly, that was your goal).

I'll be downloading the second album in a few minutes!


Linear Zap said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linear Zap said...

(and please forgive me for my grammar mistakes if I've made any - as you may (or not) know, I'm French)

bobbypennock said...

Stephen, I've been searching for you for some time. We had been in e-mail contact, but then your aol account stopped working. Anyway, are your two albums available as downloads only now? If so, I shall download asap. This is like an early Xmas present finding you again. All the best, Bobby in Motown

warnakey said...

Hey Stephen, I just wanted to leave you a comment, to let you know a I wrote a little review of your album here:

Anyway, I really do love the album, and it certainly is wonderful. I thought I'd throw in my 2 cents after Linear Zap's comment.

I love the lo-fi sound. I have been a gigantic fan of rocketship and I completely understand what you were doing from a production stand point. I think it sounds great.

And further more, while I do think some of the "ambient" sections of the album do ramble on and on, the songs are great. But certainly drugs have absolutely nothing to do with understanding the album.

Or maybe they do?

But why should that get in the way of the album is my point. Anyway, I am about to sit down and listen to the second album in a little bit, I'll let you know what I think soon.

- eric

Linear Zap said...


The lo-fi sound didn't bother me. As I said, it's not really important, and I can understand it because of the technical limitations.

...And if it's not because of these limitations but because Stephen really wanted to give it that kind of sound, then fine - as I also said, it's okay in that "LSD trip" perspective.

But I firmly believe that drugs *HAVE* something to do with this album (might I add again that it's not criticism at all). And even though they don't "get in the way" when you "simply listen" to the album, they *DO* get in the way if you try to really understand the album and, eventually, to relate to it. Or at least in my opinion - I obviously can't speak for Stephen, I'm just telling what I felt while I was listening to the album.


(As I'm writing this, I'm listening to the second album. I'm completely hooked by "Doing The Wiggly Wormy")

Stephen said...

Linear - I welcome any criticism, and yours was well voiced and constructive, and contained positive comments as well. The structure is different to that of a normal album, and I'd be suprised if everyone liked it. Glad you like Wiggly Wormy. That song used to make my nieces burst into tears. And thanks in advance for the reuploads. I missed Today and Party first time round, and All Summer Long. Stephen

Brother John said...

I'd love to hear this but the Sendspace link is going to take about eight and a half weeks to download, if it doesn't drop out first...

Is there anyway you could use a different host for the files? You'd get more downloads and more listens that way...

In anticipation...


Brother John said...

Okay... I've managed it, and am now working on the other two albums. I shall listen to it as soon as I can. Looking forward to the others. I still have my reservations about Sendspace, but maybe its just me...

Will be back with comments soon!

Cheers Stephen,


Peter said...

At the end of Time, when all the black holes in the universe have sucked up all the other black holes and there is just one big black mother of a hole left...that event still won't be as dark as "The Wrong Button". Yet how can dark be dark when the whole is so so brilliant? And brilliant is an understatement for this album. Stephen Newcombe has matured as a musician and composer to a state of sublime excellence, which if it was mirrored in his personal life, would make him the happiest man on Earth.
If "Hickory Violet" was a boy showing off his new bike, and "Toes" was a young man showing off his new Clipper, then "Button" is a mature man showing off his neurosis. The humour that is part of Stephen's nature is still there of course, but now it's not friendly sprites that cause him concern, but spiteful friends... There never were any of course, and it's the realisation of it that makes this very personal album so poignantand yes, so perfect.

Stephen said...

Cheers Peter. The wierd thing is, out of the three albums, I find this one the funniest. Don't ask me why. I always found "Toes" the dark one. I think the Wrong Button was intentionally dark, but Toes was supposed to funny, and yet is full of real hatred and bitterness. Anyhow, I've copied your above Email, so you can delete it if you want. I'll be in touch soon. Stephen

chadwick64 said...

Hey Stephen,
Amazing album! I was a little put off at first by all the ambient stuff, but I think I understand what's going on with most of it now. I was wondering if you could possibly post the lyrics, and/or give a bit of explanation for each song. I've got my take on the album, and I'd love to compare it to what you actually had in mind.

Anyway, thanks for the great music, I'm quite impressed!

Stephen said...

Chadwick, I've been meaning to post an explanation to the album, and will do at some point. Keep coming back, and I should have a web site up and running. Thanks for the kind comments, Stephen

Granulet said...


I love what i heard for your album The wrong Button !
The links are broken (the file is deleted).
Are you planning to put it again ?
I really want to hear more from you.

Granulet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.