This Bamboo Dart Press special project is a book comprised of essays, photographs, a making of the album vignette, and a mini graphic novella based on the Spanish revolutionary Durruti but is also much more than that. This work a unique look into the creative process minus the navel gazing where the CD and book are in fact of one piece. David Lester & Wendy Atkinson of Horde of Two discuss their new album and book, I Knew I Was A Rebel Then below.

WENDY: We typically create music by improvising together. For our first album we improvised while watching film noir, the tension and moody visuals acted as our conductor.

DAVID: I’ve always been fascinated with creating a longer piece of linked music. Very different from my punk rock origins. But still retaining a political edge. The increasing lurch of the world towards tyranny led me to think of anti-fascist movements and individuals. The Spanish revolutionary and anti-fascist Durruti came to mind and I figured structuring a piece around his life would give the music a narrative shape. Luckily Wendy was game to attempt this project.

WENDY: For this album, in the rainy spring, we packed up our recording gear and booked a cabin at a deserted resort on Mayne Island. In preparation, David created an 8-part musical sketch for us to improvise around.

DAVID: Both of us have a long interest in the power of social justice and the arts. Me with my duo Mecca Normal and my political graphic novels and Wendy with her long-running performance series Beyond Words that presented artists tackling social issues.

WENDY: Our interests coalesced to create a piece to represent Durutti’s fight against fascism. A fight that seems particularly relevant now.

DAVID: The Durruti piece takes up half the album, but equally important are the other songs which demonstrate our pleasure in improvising and our humour, particularly in “If I Can’t Dance” where we spontaneously break out into laughter. Wendy, do you remember why we started laughing?

WENDY: We were playing around making vocal sounds and then you yawned, which made me laugh and then we both started laughing. This was the last song we recorded for the album, just before Dennis at Shrimper contacted us.

DAVID: Dennis at Shrimper partnered with Mark Givens at Pelekinesis to form the Bamboo Dart Press imprint and they proposed the book/CD idea. We wanted the text to reveal the roundabout, up/down convoluted process that is often the nature of how creative projects unfold.

WENDY: We incorporated a short story I wrote that explored the uncertain nature of triumph and defeat. These themes permeate this project. For example, Durutti didn’t live to see the end of fascism in Spain.

DAVID: Activism and creativity can have immediate results but may often encounter setbacks over a long-term body of work.

WENDY: The illustrations in the book came from a graphic novel that David is working on. Combining my short story and David’s art mirrors our musical collaboration by intertwining visual art and text.

DAVID: Our intention was to metaphorically link all the aspects of this project. Each element complements the others to express the theme of triumph/defeat.

WENDY: David and I have different musical styles but they balance each other. When we improvise, we just hit play on the 4-track recorder and let it run so we captured all the great moments as well as the ‘less great’ ones! 

DAVID: The project started with improvisation but the rest of the album was carefully constructed. Mixing was an intense process as Wendy stitched the sections together seamlessly. She beautifully crafted the work. 

WENDY: We would listen to the recording together and talk about the changes. We both overdubbed many tracks and I would remix it and send David the new version. Lots of back and forthing! 

DAVID: But we reached consensus on every element of the recording. Our aim was to capture the musical dynamic between us, allowing an alchemy of raw, energetic guitar and melodic bass. 

WENDY: I feel that the music evocatively conveys the story of a time when people rose up against tyranny. The short sample of Durutti’s voice adds a poignancy to the piece. Given the state of the world, we hope his life and the music are inspiring.

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