All Becompassed By Stars - Track by Track

Track by Track guide to
All Becompassed By Stars

by Nicholas

All Becompassed By Stars

This piece actually came up quite late in the process of recording the album. Most of the songs were written and or recorded but I kept singing things around the house that eventually coalesced into the main lyrics/vocals for this song. It definitely needed a male voice for this part but I had initially planned on getting a different singer in to do it. I recorded some rough textures and beats and then sang what I thought would be a guide vocal until I played it to Naomi and we both agreed that it was done. Then Naomi layered up the amazing ethereal clouds of vocals and added her lead part. This track is one of the many bell cittern songs on this album, with a bit of hammered dulcimer for good measure.


This song originated from some drum programming experimentation while we were flat-sitting a friend's apartment in Kreuzberg. At first I thought it was not very Dandelion Wine but Naomi thought otherwise - she was right. Once the hammered dulcimer part was written it suddenly it was very much a DW song and Naomi's percussion further cemented that. Most of the vocal melodies and lyrics were also written in that apartment . It's one of the few (probably the only?) DW songs that makes use of soft synths - normally we're hardware all the way but this one worked and we're not ones to fight against that! Oh, and when you get to the end you get treated to some slabs of Big Muff and Fuzz Factory guitars… yeah!


The riff in Shards was one of the first riffs I came up with when I got the bell cittern and I knew it was going to be a keeper. The beats for this were also devised in the same apartment as Gravity and the bell cittern track was a guide that was going to be replaced… but again, it just worked as is. Now it's been a long time since a Dandelion WIne album has featured a guitar solo - ten years to be exact - so it was a surprise to both of us when we realised we had a two minute solo on our hands! I recorded this solo in Berlin while Naomi was in Paris. I was fairly sure she was going to come back and say "why the hell did you ruin a perfectly good song?!??!" Instead her response was "That was awesome! Take it back and play it again!" So it stayed. I have to say that makes me pretty happy… can anyone tell I'm a bit of a Paul Gilbert fan?


This was another song that was written fairly late in the proceedings. Lots of Mopho analogue bass on this, enough to shake your house in fact. Also lots of strangulated Fuzz Factory. Somehow the combination of those elements with Naomi's heavily middle eastern inspired vocals, flute and percussion on this really struck a chord with us. There was a period of frustration where it needed something but we weren't sure what. I was about to go to sleep when the answer was obvious: triple the flute melody, distort it and play it backwards!


I came up with the main nylon string guitar riff for this in yet another Kreuzberg apartment but wasn't sure what to do with it. More ideas started coming while playing around with a looping pedal while flat-sitting some other friends' parliament in Neukölln. Once we had set up the studio properly it grew into the monster that it became. At one stage there was a brutally heavy sludgy half time guitar section but sanity prevailed and went back to being synthy in that section. Again, lots more Mopho, lots of dirty strat (yep, the Fuzz Face even makes an appearance again) but still with plenty of hammered dulcimer and percussion.

Early Warning Sign

Upon arriving in Europe in May of 2009 we needed to find an electric/acoustic nylon string guitar for the tour so we set about scouring Paris' La Pigalle area for a suitable one. Found one and got a killer deal on it (who cares about the slight crack in the top - it sounded amazing and Colin from Guitar Notdienst in Berlin sorted that out!). We went back to our friends Heligoland's apartment and this song appeared almost fully formed - I started playing it and Naomi joined in and in one go we pretty much had the song (all hail the digital camera to catch these moments on!). The lyrics were finished in Neukölln to become what you hear on the album and the heavier section was added in then as well. While the rest of the album all features the Mopho synth for bass, this song called for live bass but we didn't have one on hand. So, in a moment of foolhardiness we borrowed a friend's bass and BassPod (formerly belonging to Brendan Perry no less - haha!) and recorded the bass in Paris the night before we headed to Clisson to do the mastering. Not something I recommend but it worked in this case!


This song has another riff that was one of the first things I played on bell cittern when it was new (the first time I tuned it to DADGAD to be precise!). We worked on this with an Eventide looper in Neukölln and played it live at Schokoladen Berlin and Summer Darkness (NL) before we recorded it in Kreuzberg. Everything you hear on this track is entirely bell cittern, flute and vocal. Even the percussion. In fact the first flute line is actually played into the cittern and recorded through the cittern's pickup. It doesn't get played live a lot because it involves retuning the whole bell cittern for one song but I must say I love it when we do play this.


The first DW song to feature the Sansula. It blends very nicely with the Appalachian dulcimer and nylon string in this and gives it its unique haunting quality. The outro is full blown swirly psychedelia… and I still get lost in it overtime I hear it. We had played a couple of acoustic version of this song in Europe in 2009 & 2010 before and after it was recorded but it wasn't until the Sydney launch party that we first played an electro-acoustic version of XVII with glitchy beats, sub bass, and an extended dulcimer, Sansula and reverby guitar jam at the end (with me playing dulcimer and guitar simultaneously - I'd be lying if I said I don't love doing that)

Seven Times As Bright

Nothing on here except Naomi's vocals (lots of 'em!) and some shanti chimes. The last piece recorded for the album and also finished off in Paris the night before it was mastered (why do we keep doing that???). It's not a DW album without at least one completely ambient track and this one bookends nicely with All Becompassed By Stars… not something we have ever played live but it's not that kind of thing at all…


Banner image by Andreas Rehkopp,