London-based heavy psych/prog artist The Bloody Mallard is the project of guitarist, Tom Walding. As you may remember, in late January we premiered his track ‘Subject To Entropy’ taken from his upcoming album titled Realm, a self-release via Onslaught Music. It’s a track that was inspired “by the theories of entropy and influenced by doom and stoner riffs.” It was also “written with down tunings, fuzz and distortion mixed with acoustic layers to reflect entropy’s nature.” The album was produced and engineered by Jarred Hearmen (Katy B, Wretch 32, Mammal, John Butler Trio, The Prodigy, Slipknot) at Konk and City Sounds Studios.
We caught up with Tom and asked him to pick three albums that have influenced him and his music. Check out his picks below.
Baroness – Red Album
There’s always a unique and proud moment when you discover a band for yourself that you can just tell are going to be pioneers and set a new path for others to follow. The more you delve into their world looking at their artwork, listening to back catalogue, watching their live shows the more you get excited when it hits all the correct marks. Baroness are a prime example for me to give with myself discovering them by stumbling on a fan vid of the song ‘Rays of Pinion”. I was immediately hooked. The present Rock and Metal had taken a bit of a dive for me and I was spending my time listening to classic prog and metal from decades before. However listening to Baroness and going back through their EP’s had completely re-awoken me, giving me a sigh of relief knowing that there were still bands pushing it in the right directions.
The song ‘Rays of Pinion’ was from the Red Album a release that moves absolutely flawlessly and is just a riff powerhouse almost creating movements rather than songs. It had everything I wanted, competent playing, great dynamics, ambiguous lyrics, huge vocals and just so much imagination. It was taking all the elements of Metal and recreating it into this amazing sludge, indie, post-rock hot pot. It sets it out with a clear goal and doesn’t drift once in pretentiousness or over indulgent repetition. That was a big focus for me when I started writing again. In a similar way I wrote the riffs for ‘Realm’ with the goal to not over repeat. Chances are if you’re bored of the riff on repeat number x the audience are as well.
The album really speaks for itself. If you haven’t listened to it before then I envy you because you get to have the experience of listening to it for the first time!
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magic
This is a classic album that I have to throw in here. It sadly almost feels a bit cliche because like other teenagers learning guitar at the time there wasn’t one of us who wasn’t influenced by this band. Californication had just been released, everyone was going crazy for it and it inspired me to pick up the guitar and finally to start learning all these songs that I enjoyed listening to. Frusciante is a big driver of how I would learn guitar and his best writing in my opinion is on Blood Sugar Sex Magic. I picked up the tab book for it and wanted to learn it inside out. It was like someone had given me the sorcerer’s spellbook. I was fascinated by what playing techniques created what sounds, how the chords, the harmony and counterpoint worked and most fascinatingly (still to this day) is how much space the band leave for it each other in this record. It’s not overly produced and almost minimalistic in its raw but refined approach. It toes the line perfectly.
‘I could have lied’ was the first guitar solo I learnt and was a little bit of a party piece for me. I got my biggest compliments from that and gave me the confidence to keep playing guitar. They also released a making of documentary for it Funky Monks which I believe is one of the greatest documentaries on recording an album. There’s a great story behind it which creates this extra dimension to the album. This is why for me its their finest work. There is so much more going on than meets the eye and ‘on the surface listens’. It really rewards those who want to delve deep into it.
Susumu Yokota – The Boy and the Tree
I’m not a particular fan of ambient music. Mainly because I find the genre bogged down with very mundane, poorly thought out and lazy musicality that ends up relegated to a clutter or Youtube meditation music. However there are exemplary exceptions to this and in particular an album that has found its way very close to my influence for the Bloody Mallard’s debut.
The Boy and the Tree is an incredible peace of art. Susumu Yokota takes these fantastic snippets of sounds and little phrases and just weaves them together heroically with great range of pace and interplay. Ambient music is (apologies for the lazy and ignorant explanation here) often a soundscape of synth style chords held down and slowly moving around which one could argue is a bit like the principle of Doom metal; a genre I love. However what Doom does differently and what Susumu gets is that an artist must tell the story or communicate the message. In Doom the weapon is called the riff which is essentially a melody slowed down to hammer home to fable or mantra proportions for the listener. Susumu knows precisely what sounds to use in this record to convey the story but what is interesting is how he also frames the context. There’s no lyrics and hardly any vocals, however the title The Boy and the Tree throws your mind instantly to the correct setting. This is furthered by the song titles that conjure great relevant imagery; ‘Grass’, ‘Tree and Stone’, ‘Red Swan’, ‘Rose Necklace’ really take your mind to this place. That really encouraged me to follow my gut in writing Realm and remove lyrics and vocals to keep it instrumental with the song titles being one of the few written framing devices for the listener.
The story is somewhat ambiguous and thankfully so. Not spelling everything out to the listener allows them to use their imagination which is one of the best gifts a composer can give. In this case none more so than the last track ‘Blood and Snow’ which still to this day unnerves me and sometimes when I listen to it’s damn right terrifying. The album up until that point follows a dream like fantasia but the last track feel and song title suggests that things perhaps don’t end well and again harping back to the album title makes it even more emotive and poignant.
Susmu Yokota’s other works are brilliant but this album in particular goes very deep into the core of my listening experience. It’s not easy listening and I deliberately play it sparsely (probably less than 5 times a year) to keep its magic intact. Every time I do it gives me something else that I can bring back to my own writing.