The album front cover image was created by Yasmin Lloyd and we used it because it seemed to capture the darkness and tone of the album as well as a hinting at the elements of absurdity present in the lyrical content. Yasmin is a local artist and fashion designer living and working near Weston-Super-Mare. A track by track description follows ....
1. On The Wind
The genesis of this track could fill a web site on its own. One of the first tracks written, it was started using beats from Pro Logic by Q. When Doc heard the Eastern flavour of the track he immediately thought of ancient Chinese poet Li Po who declared that 'wine makes its own manners' when upbraided for drunkenness by a high official (that phrase crops up again later in the album). And so began this ode to the heavenly pleasures of alcohol and wistful connections to the past. Originally the track had no bass line but production consultant Paul Whitrow was playing an early version to Angelo Bruschini, rather aptly after wine had been taken, and he was inspired to lay down the insistent, urgent and driving bass line that underpins the track so well. A gift. We are most grateful. Earmarked as 3rd single to be released in conjunction with the album with a 'B' side dubby remix of the same track.
3. Shadows of Your Mind
A song of the darkness within. Of the shadowy figures that dwell inside, that, wherever you go, come along for the ride. You can't hide from these kind of tormentors. They go wherever you do. Q's bass rhythm sets the stall out and lays the foundation for lush strings and dark atmospherics for Doc's paranoia-inspired vocal.
2. To Watch Over Me
In contrast, this track (and first single) introduces the political context that threads through the album. It addresses the 'surveillance state' and the obsession successive governments display in their desire to wield ever more control over the population, and in this case to spy, watch, snoop and pry into every facet of what should be private lives. There are those who follow the authoritative line, and that mindset is represented vocally by QJB who sings their childlike desire to be held safe from bogeymen by state powers. Doc Satori counters with a spoken version of the same lyrics - you want us to watch over you? Believe us we are. And we won't ever stop. A call to resist corporate-state abuses of position.
The Future of Mass Hysteria
This page is about the first album from The Real King(s) of Spain, The Future of Mass Hysteria released in December 2013. The album is a rich and textured recording that explores the pain, anger, fury, injustice, hallucinatory bliss, hope and intoxication of the human spirit.
The album is a far cry from the anything the duo have done in their solo careers or with other groups and collaborators but is informed by their shared political views and a wish to create something new. The Future of Mass Hysteria is an album that comprises electronica, instrumentation, spoken word, sung vocals, downloads, samples and is a mixture of political and artistic material - angry, blissed, provocative, hallucinatory, experimental, poppy, using their experience of previous projects fused with that indefinable ‘magic’ that exists in any successful collaboration. Working to a philosophy of only including that which they both agree on they have raised the bar for each other lyrically, musically and creatively.
The album was co-produced and remixed with the vastly experienced local Bristol producer Paul Whitrow, veteran of Channel House Studios and has been creating interest on the local scene with both new and established figures.
4. All Hail The Real King(s) of Spain
A bit knockabout, a bit tongue-in-cheek, but also rooted in anti-monarchy sentiment. In an unhinged, high-spirited delivery. All hail!
5. Elysian Dreams
Elysian Dreams is a poem of desire, wistfulness, longing, passion and yearning in melancholy embrace of a higher connection. Is death the end?
6. Song of A Preacher Man
What holds your heart of darkness? Thus sings Doc Satori. The answer, for QJB, just might be too dark to shine light upon. A raging torrent of abuse at abusers. A searing howl against power misused. A psychological emetic to cleanse the self of the filth and the fury. This will not be played on daytime radio. Trust us. It won't.
9. See A Little Light
Another track that started life with QJB's Pro Logic experimentation. Upon hearing it Doc Satori was immediately minded of an urban environment and set about capturing that image. Having both been residents of the Stokes Croft area of Bristol with its mixture of arty bohemianism and homeless and drug hostels, he wrote a spoken piece in tribute to the area. Q's chunky guitar rhythms and dirty brass made it easy to visualise. The poets still read their verse in the basement, every Thursday evening.
11. One Slap and You're Out!
Inspired by stories of 3 women Q knows personally being victims of attacks by their partners. Ordinary, common-placed lives devastated by violent men. The list of abuse types compiled from notes and the internet. The cheery tunes covering the hidden violence and arguments. Do not tolerate being hit. Whoever you are. One slap and they're out!
7. Hallucinate Me
Trippy and hallucinatory, this track is another example of what happens when two musicians get together with no idea of what they're about to create. Doc wrote the words in a mood of mindful expansion. It's a piece about the pain and the ecstasy of connection; to a significant other, to the wider cosmos and to the self. Melancholy and yearning, it is couched in Q's digital trip into a similar dimension, spaced and soulful.
8. Are They Mad? (Social Network Mix)
Sometimes it can be baffling to figure out why people and their representatives behave the way they do. Step back and observe the rules and regulations, the hysterics and the specious mongers of doom as they tighten their grip on the public imagination. Watch as they create yet another bogeyman to fear. And ask: When they do that, are they mad?
10. Dazed New World
In which Doc and QJB discovered the Love Police (aka Charles Veitch) and were rather taken with his views on consumerism. A homage to the consumerist hell where we are all bombarded with new bright shiny things every 30 seconds and where our children grow up with miniscule attention spans so we create a label for them and medicate them handing huge profits to drug companies. Where darkness is light. (Thanks to Charles for his permission to use snippets of audio for this track. He is a nice man. He hugs the police. Really.)
12. Lizard Lounge
The hypocrisy of our war on drugs. Governments and corporations deal in alcohol and tobacco yet refuse to face legalising other drugs and undercut the drug barons and organised crime whilst supporting corporate drug pushers. Why? I think we know why ...
Government targets binge drinkers whilst taking their taxes and sipping fine wines. They condemn the alcohol culture of our cities whilst condoning and subsidising the alcohol corporations.
The title is more inspired by the backing track vibe and is NOT a reference to the Bristol club of the same name which we are sure is a very nice venue. Probably. They've not asked us to play. (Yet).
13. First Truth Then Justice
The gap between the Hillsborough panel declaring the biggest cover-up in British history and the full horror of Jimmy Saville's actions being unveiled was a week and a half. Add to this the whole Leveson affair and this track basically suggested itself. Doc and Q sat down together and wrote this with those three elements in mind, though it does refer to a wider malaise in British political culture; too many cover-ups, too many people left in anguish while well-connected people get away with it. A pop song with genuine anger behind it, though it is also uplifting with a message of hope and defiance....
14. Know Your Place
....which re-appear in this polemical song that kicks against the pricks and asserts hope through the refusal to accept when we are told is THIS IS HOW IT IS. These last two tracks in effect sum up the album and the ethos of The Real King(s) of Spain; angry yet hopeful that people can overcome the corrupt ways of the powers-that be, that we can have some say in how our lives are run, and to the sound of strings, trumpets, melodies, harmonies and the underlying joy of creating that is the basis of The Future of Mass Hysteria.
Footnotes - The photographs on this page were taken by Tony Barrett-Powell, Damian Polley and Jason Flinter at our commission or request. They are all copyright of Mass Hysteria Ltd. Please do not use without our permission.
At each stage of making the album we have tried to raise the bar and stretch ourselves to take our music to the best it can possibly be. In that process we have had a lot of support, help and advice. With the exception of the lead vocals on 'To Watch Over Me' all of the source audio was recorded and assembled at Q's SongSmith Studio off Stokes Croft, much of it recorded on the fly as we wrote with the intention of re-recording, particularly the vocals, later. The rawness and energy of the performances persuaded us to leave most of it as was.
Once the first mix was done we decided it was good enough to find an experienced, professional producer to take it to the next level. Through the Bristol Music Industry Network Q met Paul Whitrow and after playing him the album we (and he) were convinced he was the right man for the job. Paul sweated many long days and nights, way beyond the original brief with us listening and commenting, (and ocasionally falling asleep). Much of the audio was reprocessed and a new mix created which elevated the album to the next level, a professional sounding coherent piece of work. First Truth was taken back by us and new parts recorded as the first mix just didn't stand up. All three of us persevered to produce the final version of this key song for us. Also during this time Paul played the album to Angelo which inspired him to donate us a masterful bass track for On The Wind, the only performance not by one of us on the album.
Once the mixing and production was finished we took the listening version to Mr Wolf's one SongSmith Monday and persuaded DJ and sound engineer Simon Palmer to play it over the sound system between acts. It told us what we already suspected. Further mastering was required and Paul 'engineered' an introduction to Loud mastering in Taunton, a place where so many top artists have been made to sound even better and home to John Dent, Mastering World's 2014 Mastering Engineer of the Year and to Jason Mitchell who has worked with John for 14 years and soaked up the best mastering tutorial in the world. Here once again the quality of the album leapt up until we believe we have created with all their help an album to be proud of and which stands up against anything being produced today.
Somewhat overspent on our quite small initial budget we then spent time accumulating some more cash to get the album pressed and printed. Time spent in doing 2 new mixes of On The Wind and one of Are They Mad? including lyrics dropped from the Social Network version originally because it was too long but which were important because they reflected the genesis of the piece inspired by the ludicrous policy of putting armaments on tower blocks during the Olympics and wondering just what affect this might have on house prices! Along with a remastered version of our very first collaboration, Songs of Katrina, these became our spare and bonus tracks. Working from Yasmin's powerful image we created the album cover ourselves with help and advice from DMS on the layout.
Thanks to all these people and more (e.g. Nicole and Chris for appearing in the video for To Watch Over Me). Any mistakes or glitches are all our own. We stuck to our guns. It was a blast. We plan to do it all over again.
QJB and Doc Satori - August 2014