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Roll as a Hexagon

18th Jul 2018

Roll as a Hexagon is my first full-length album of original songs. It was recorded over seven years, initially as a sporadic side project to whatever else I was doing at the time, but it became my main focus over the past year. The songs were mainly written between 2011 and 2017, although there are two older songs - from 2001 and 2009 - included as well.

Most of the songs are underpinned by a keyboard instrument: there's a wide variety of different keyboard sounds, including piano, electric piano, clavinet, organs and synthesizers. As you might expect, there's some viola and violin too, but in addition there's an equal smattering of accordion, recorders, bass guitar and drums.

I originally imagined the album to be in two halves - a Side 1 and Side 2 - but in the end decided that was silly, because nobody is going to actually be turning over a record in the middle since I haven't done a vinyl pressing. However, the first section is perhaps more introspective and more concerned with personal relationships, and was written earlier; the second was written more recently and is a little more outward-looking.

The digital download comes with an illustrated lyric book in pdf format. You can also view the artwork online on my lyrics page. The book is available in print, and there are physical CDs too.

This is a solo album, but would not have been possible without the myriad and wide-ranging input of Tom Drinkwater, who not only mixed and co-produced it but also played drums and half of the bass guitar parts, told me whenever I hadn't quite finished writing the songs yet when I thought I had, taught me which microphones sound best on what, taught me how to sing better, painstakingly tweaked the synth sounds so they were just right, built the amplifiers and cabinets that the synths were played through, and even built the microphone pre-amps used for recording it all.

"Roll As A Hexagon is a solid showcase of Bell's multi-instrumental talents and her impressive vocal timbre (a voice that contains equal parts grit and gloss, and calls to mind the rich twang of the likes of Nancy Kerr or Kate Bush). Moreover, it is a masterpiece of compositional creativity. Catchy riffs and soaring melodies go hand in hand with jaunty time signatures, satisfyingly unpredictable shifting harmonies, and lyrics of a beautiful clarity and quality.

The album smoothly intertwines darkness and light, frivolity and immense depth. It draws on multiple musical languages and influences, and has something to appeal to a wide range of tastes. I can easily see fans of electronica, folk, classical, pop and contemporary art music seeing themselves reflected in this collection of songs. It is as though The Incredible String Band, The Books, The Full English, Eels, Donnacha Dennehy and White-Album-era Paul McCartney went for a picnic at a seaside fairground!"

Emily Crossland, composer