When I was small, I wanted to be an archaeologist.
That’s a lie; I wanted to be Indiana Jones. I’d recently recovered from my fascination with Peter Pan - the boy who never grows up - and was desperate to be a rugged man living a life full of adventure and relics and dusty caves hiding unimaginable treasure. This is similar to the way many future architects find their appetite for the built form whetted by Kevin McCloud and his Grand Designs - which I also went on to do - in that the media provides an idealised version of the profession and skips the boring tasks, the mundane projects and the reality of the daily grind. The most honest portrayals of archaeology in the media, it became clear, were the scenes in Time Team where Tony Robinson wordlessly pleaded Phil Harding to drag the tiniest scrap of something from a knee-deep hole dug in the middle of a sad English field.
But more recently, I read a rather more romantic definition of archaeology that I quite enjoyed. It suggested that archaeology is the practice of digging up the past and putting it on display, so that we might begin to understand what exactly went on. This may seem quite obvious, but for me shifted the focus away from the act of digging up (and the dramatic running from booby traps that might entail), to the purpose of understanding.
I read this at a time when I was doing just that for my personal history; reassessing and re-contextualising older and older memories to identify patterns, triggers and origins. As I was making leaps and bounds in all aspects of my life, I strove to contemplate where I had come from to avoid tripping over - as I had done before - in my haste.
As I’ve mentioned previously, when I started my current job in March 2013, I decided to treat myself with my first two pay cheques (treat myself in a large, Christmas gift sort of way, only conceptually different to the usual treat-graze that manifests as an influx of wine) to a microphone and headphones. Never one to stagnate, I decided to find my feet with something completely experimental and fresh, and make quite a pointed statement about how this next ‘stage’ in my musical 'career’ would differ from any previous period by re-imagining The Foal, an album by my alpha mater band ZIGO, as MANE.
Receiving mass critical acclaim though it did, MANE felt like a slightly dishonest set of first steps as a 'solo’ musician. Old songs filled the coffers, some dating back to my very first strums of a six-string, and they still filled my live sets. I had tried to record them several times to no avail, with demos cluttering various corners of the internet and my hard drive. I felt the need to go from MANE straight into my biggest, boldest musical ideas, but I realised the parallels between this recording process and the process that was happening in my memory and consciousness. I realised that to truly take the steps I want to take with my own style, these songs that marked the path of my musical youth needed to be packaged up and released, so that I might gain a better understanding of where I’d come from. I needed to dig up my past and put it on display, so that I might grasp what has passed all the more clearly. Hence, Archaeology.
Why the ominous Part 1? I have a feeling this won’t be the last time I flip through the old photo albums.
You can download Archaeology for absolutely free here, and it comes with a tasty artwork & lyric booklet.