Hanging On In A Hurricane: a track-by-track breakdown.

Hanging On In A Hurricane cover artwork

Guy Hatton’s album “Hanging On In A Hurricane” is out now on Bandcamp and all major streaming services. Here’s a detailed breakdown of what you will hear on this continuous 71-minute epic recording!

Track 1: Harlequin Fields (Parts 1, 2, and 3)

A dark marimba roll leads us into the opening section (Part 1), in which the main themes of “Harlequin Fields” are introduced by the orchestra, bouncing between woodwinds, cellos and trumpets. This then settles into a pulsing pizzicato section which leads us into Part 2, and the entry of the band. The melody is stated by double-tracked guitars twice, after which a short breakdown interlude takes us into an extended, singing guitar solo.

The orchestra returns after the solo, followed by the band playing the main theme leading up to the beginning of Part 3. Here we have slow-moving melodic fragments layered over a shifting electronic ambience. Plaintive synthesiser chords, organ arpeggios and rhythmic marimba prepare us for the following piece, “Hanging On In A Hurricane”

Track 2: Hanging On In A Hurricane (feat. Phil Meadows)

The synthesiser tones from the previous piece state a series of ambiguous chords, while guitar and keyboards set up the tempo and key. The band enters and we hear the main theme in A-B-A form, with the central section in half-time. The melody reflects the dark mood of the chords. An arpeggiated electric piano and the bass guitar prepare the ground for Phil Meadows to solo on alto saxophone.

Passing over several harmonic variations, the solo builds in intensity before giving way to the orchestra. Piano, strings, horns and sampled voices are paired first with woodwind, then brass ostinato figures. This section ends with lush chords, before being interrupted by a heavily distorted organ riff, the basic pattern that will underpin Guy’s wah-wah-drenched solo.

Organ, horns and white noise swirl around the guitar in increasing amounts until the solo gives way to a reappearance of the main theme, this time with additional harmonic movement. This in turn dissolves into the haunting chords, a buzzing synth arpeggio and rolling percussion.

Track 3: A Floating Rock (feat. Phil Meadows)

A piano riff in 9/4 time rises from the preceding chaos, outlining a simple two-chord cycle with a harmonically divergent tag. The main melody is played over this cycle twice by guitar and synth. Phil Meadows’s soprano saxophone navigates the solo section with grace and elegance.

Following the saxophone solo, the orchestra introduces new melodies to the existing chord structures, and there then follows a floating section with three backwards guitar parts over a steady pulsing pedal point. A helicopter flies overhead, and then the piano once more takes us into the primary theme. A percussive keyboard part is layered in, and this continues into a short coda. The helicopter is heard once more, and the sonic landscape is established for the following track, “The Chiming Of The Almshouse Bell”.

Track 4: The Chiming Of The Almshouse Bell

A tubular bell plays a single repetitive chime while the orchestra lays out a slow melodic section, led by the harp. This is followed by a pizzicato-driven ostinato overlayed with woodwinds and brass, and then a return to the initial melody.

Suddenly, a looping pattern in 11/8 time is joined by the band, and Guy solos freely on this, via a number of harmonic shifts. The solo is concluded when a melody previously heard before the solo returns, but this time re-arranged in 3/4 time. This falls away into a synthetic variation of the first theme, and a rising noise segues into the next track, “Phase Cancel”.

Track 5: Phase Cancel (feat. Andy Tillison)

The relative peace is shattered by a roaring rhythm guitar, grinding bass and electric piano stabs, before we hear a new element: the human voice. Andy Tillison delivers a scathing commentary on the state of social and political discourse in the technological age via multiple layered and distributed voices. At the same time, he brings various organ and synthesiser parts to bear on the rich, powerful arrangement.

Guy solos over an ever-more-hectic rhythm section, but the section eventually falls away to be replaced by a quiet piano presenting a series of simple but haunting chords as a prelude to the introduction of a new, half-time melody on synths and vibraphone. This sets up Andy to solo excitingly over an E pedal and a series of chords, building up eventually to a restatement of the previous melody, this time guitar-led and enveloped in orchestral reinforcement.

The main song form returns as Andy concludes his dissertation, and a ringing multi-guitar chord and organ line drift off into the following track, “Six Poor Travellers”

Track 6: Six Poor Travellers

The track begins with the orchestra establishing a D major tonality with airy timbres which seem to hang like a cloud. Bass and drums enter while horns and woodwinds lay out a flowing melody and accompaniment. A rich, creamy-toned guitar solo acts as a bridge into the main theme, heard on guitar, synth and Mellotron flute, with bubbling synthesiser arpeggios joining in.

A second guitar solo follows, then the orchestra retakes the lead before we return to the main theme, which gives way first to synths, then low strings before we hear a melody based on an inversion of the primary motif from the theme, featuring strings and mournful brass.

Track 7: Headcorn

As “Six Poor Travellers” fades off into the distance, we are presented with a new ambience, full of strange, chattering cellos and sepulchral organ-like tones. This is the beginning of “Headcorn”. It doesn’t take before this sonic terrain is overtaken by fast synth lines and a long snare drum roll which unexpectedly ends with a crack, whereupon we hear the electric piano present a pattern in 13/4 time which will underpin much of the piece. This is joined first by cellos, then violas and other orchestral layers, before guitar and synth play the main melody.

A short, quiet interlude with mysterious harmonies is followed by a searing guitar solo, then a new section with previously-unheard material.

The main theme returns, with the orchestra becoming increasingly insistent, and the rising tag melody surrenders to the final, eerie section. A synth arpeggio and melody are set in a dark, rumbling, rattling bed of sounds. Eventually, our journey is over, and we literally arrive home…

“Hanging On In A Hurricane” is out now. Available to download in various formats (including lossless) from Bandcamp, and also streaming on all major platforms.

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