Si siguen en la racha que llevan será un buen álbum seguro.
Esto es lo que dice John Wetton sobre el álbum:
As an ASIA record, Gravitas shows a whole spectrum of musical, lyrical and sonic material, a mix of prog, rock, pop, folk, classical, melodic, alternative—all as it should be, accessible songs about real-life relationships and situations. The album’s original title was ‘Valkyrie’, and indeed that is the opening track of the collection. This song was the first to emerge from our (myself and Geoff Downes) many writing sessions that take place before the formal recording takes place.
I remember clearly we were in Wales (all our writing for this album was done either at Geoff’s studio in Wales or in Dorset, where I live. I had the title and a chord sequence, and we tossed this around for a while, until something clicked, and there was a moment, that spark that ignites the afternoon, and tells us that we have something—the muse gives it her blessing, and another ASIA song is conceived.
The title had been buzzing around for a while in my head, and in my heart—I have read enough Scandinavian folk lore and literature to know what the function of this super-male sacred feminine can do—her purpose to choose between those who live or die on the battlefield, and to escort them safely and gloriously to the next world. I tried a version of Valkyrie which would be a modern, 21st Century businesswoman—but went back to the Valkyrie’s original purpose of safe delivery to the afterlife, whatever that may be. It’s wishing safe passage to someone who passed away—the imagery is of a battlefield where the storyteller is lifted by the Valkyrie and taken to a safe place—the recurrent Guardian Angel theme in the lyrics of Gravitas comes from personal experience.
The location of the birthplace of the song is echoed in the introduction, an Asian Welsh male voice choir. Haunting cello is provided by the lovely Katinka Steijns, who graces the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
As with ‘Valkyrie’, I had the title “Gravitas’ before the track was written, and it was at a band meeting where the majority vote went to this title for the album.
I wrote the intro/chorus chords on the ‘magic piano’ at home (on which many ASIA songs were written by Wetton/Downes from 1981 onwards—this piano has followed me through three major domestic location changes over the last 30 + years). However, the opening chords were destined to be played on a noisy, in-your-face electric guitar. The ‘Gravitas’ lyric is a fairly jaundiced view of emotional split/divorce, and all the acrimony that it entails, with a plea to leave the other party at least some of their dignity. Great guitar solo from Sam on this one—what gets me every time is just as you think he might be running out of steam, he kicks into another tone, and just nails it. Fabulous drums from Mr.Palmer on this, as on all the songs—he hits harder than any drummer I’ve ever worked with, he plays what is right for the track while maintaining his unique identity. ‘Gravitas’ is preceded by ‘Lento’, a beautiful Mahleresque adagio by Geoffrey—the calm before the storm.
‘The Closer I Get to You’ was one of the last two tracks written for this album. An intimate A and B section leads you into a huge chorus. The story is of the disintegration of a relationship. Most of us have experienced this, and it’s not pretty, so it does strike a chord in most people—- including the two authors of this song. I tried to get the verses to sound as close as possible—no reverb, as if I’m speaking to you. The chorus is the opposite—kitchen sink meets The Hollies—-definitive chords from GD, and our storyteller is confused and more than a bit angry. I thank Rob Aubrey, the vocal sound engineer, for his patience in the recording of this, it took a long time to capture the mood, many takes, and some tortuous editing.
‘Nyctophobia’, again one of the first batch of songs to be written—about fear of the dark. I had the opening line, and at my house in Bournemouth, Geoff and I expanded the sequence, and birthed the song. I hardly ever write about anything that I haven’t experienced myself, and this is no exception—all of the characters you hear about are real, too—they may not do the jobs they appear to in the lyric, but they are real people—their names just fit the bill perfectly—it’s the same with situations and locations, the songwriter’s license to adapt can be a mischievous device, but it also protects the anonymity of the person/location.
‘Russian Dolls’ —the germ of this idea started on an iCon tour some years ago, when we took the mid-Winter midnight train after a club gig in Moscow, en route to an ice-stadium in Saint Petersburg. The trip takes all night, plenty of time to document the atmosphere of this incredible journey. Moscow Main Station in sub-zero snow at midnight, with all the steam, hustle, bustle was amazing, and the journey itself, down to the tea Samovar in your sleeper car, and the fur-trimmed uniform of the stewardesses—so evocative. Arrival in the morning—still freezing, but clear blue skies and the phenomenal city of St.Petersburg—it had to be documented. Geoff’s verse, my chorus—and if anyone asks the question about ‘as close as Russian Dolls’ —the answer is that one fits inside the other—and it doesn’t get any closer than that.
‘Heaven Help Me Now’ was also in the first batch of songs that Geoff and I started playing with—it started with a chord sequence, and mushroomed from there. The ‘Tryptich’ nature of this song starts with a small request to a Guardian Angel, a short hymn, ‘Wings of Angels’ which began its life 20 years ago in Vancouver B.C., into the second part, ‘Prelude’, which I remember Geoff playing at a sound check (Ton Probe) in Darmstadt on our last tour of Germany in 2013. When I heard it, I just asked GD to remember it, we agreed that it would be terrific in sequence on the album. The main body of the song is a plea to whatever is out there—sometimes I need a little extra help, if I’m running on my own power, it’s simply not enough.
‘I Would Die For You’ was written by Geoff and myself around 1987, at a time when we would just go into a studio for a weekend and record as many new songs as we could. The Snake Ranch on Lots Road, Chelsea, Hans Zimmer’s studio on Fulham Road, we would be toiling away writing and recording—of course we had no idea that any of it would be useful decades later, but IWDFY is a stonking, riffy, no-nonsense tune about love in the first blossom of lust. The guy just can’t get enough of this poor girl, and would die for her—which leads onto the only uplifting love song of the album…………..
…………….’Joe DiMaggio’s Glove’, where the hero, a cynical, battle-hardened bachelor is tamed by a summer with the woman who loves him. The juxtaposition of his life before, then the change in his heart, is documented here, and for once, it’s a happy ending. Is Joe’s glove that soft? I’ve no idea, but it sounds great.
‘Till We Meet Again” ends the album. It was not our intention to write a ‘closer’ for this collection, but this song seems to slip comfortably into that role— a rocky, Celtic, rootsy hoedown. I’d been to a rock gig the night before in Southampton, and my ears were still ringing with this miscellany when GD and I started work at my house the next day. It’s a celebration of friendship, and a farewell to the audience to be well and think good thoughts until we meet again—in this world, or the next. Which is where ‘Valkyrie’ starts………
John Wetton, New Forest, Jan 30, 2014