In celebration of her “double-30 birthday” in June 2021, Ann Margaret Hogan has released “Without The Moon,” a special six-track compilation that draws from some of the most magical musical collaborations of her long career. The collection consists of “Vixo” (featuring Nick Cave + Budgie), “Delirious Eyes” (featuring Gini Ball), “Burning Boats (Foetus Drum Version)” (featuring Marc Almond + JG Thirlwell), “Scattered Carelessly” (featuring Jarboe), “Black Nocturne” (featuring Kid Congo Powers), and “Come Take My Hand” (featuring Barry Adamson + Paul ‘PK’ Kendall). Over email, Hogan answered a few questions about the release.
I know you released “Without The Moon” to coincide with your 60th birthday. Was a collection like this the obvious thing to do? Had you been considering any other approaches?
AMH: I had just released a solo piano LP Funeral Cargo on vinyl on Downwards in May and so I was not too focused on another record so soon and had initially thought about maybe a little free mini photo booklet or something to celebrate my birthday. After a chat with Downwards to my delight, they suggested a 6 track vinyl LP was needed to celebrate my 60th. I may yet do a special book with Mike Morton’s photographs as he did some amazing sessions with me back in the 80’s. For Without The Moon I used a couple of fantastic shots Mike took back in ‘85, they seemed to be just the right images for the sleeve. The name of the album is taken from my friend and author Cathi Unsworth’s book Without The Moon. The title screamed out of a list I had made (a double Gemini’s list is almost endless…haha! I asked Cathi if she was cool with it and she was over the moon : )
What factors went into the song selection?
AMH: The process was not too difficult and very inspiring and exciting. I wanted to include pieces from my 1985 Doublevision release Kickabye which included an epic song Vixo with Nick Cave & Budgie (Banshees) and Burning Boats with Marc Almond & JG Thirlwell aka Foetus, lyric by Jessamy Calkin with extra recording and musical help from a few Mambas. These were always thrilling moments and favourite memories in my life, and the Foetus Drum Version of Burning Boats had never been released on vinyl. So these were my first two choices especially as Downwards were keen to remaster. I wanted the fantastic talents of Veronica Vasicka who runs Minimal Wave records in New York. Veronica mastered Funeral Cargo and she is a visceral mastering genie so I felt confident her modern mastering techniques would fire up and find extra bandwidth in the old pieces and bring out even more from the original recordings and performances.
There was an extra track Delirious Eyes that never made the original ‘85 Kickabye 12”. I always loved the piece. In 1985 in Wave studios in Hoxton Square, Gini Ball and I had great late night fun in the studio and ended up with an experimental Eastern – Spanish influenced psychedelic trippy affair with violin and some vocals from Gini. It had never been released on vinyl and Downwards thought once remastered it would sit perfectly on side A between Vixo and Burning Boats representing that special‘83-’85 Kickabye time.
I very much wanted to include Jarboe and Kid Congo as they are genius artists and good friends and I adore their work and I knew them back in the day. Jarboe and I made a very special piece around 2008, Scattered Carelessly and I wanted to revisit and strip it down to the initial recording of just piano and vocal as we had originally intended. I produced a new duet version in my Studio Blue and sent it for added supersonic expansion mastering in New York.
Black Nocturne was a brand new track written on piano early 2021 and with Downwards encouragement I sent it over to Kid Congo..could he get anything done in the limited time for this special release? Of course he could, a brilliant shimmering cinematic response on guitar to my dark piano chordal motifs.
Finally, Come Take My Hand, an unreleased track from a recently unearthed DAT by Mute engineering legend Paul Kendall which had a very early demos from late ‘88 early ‘89. It was around this point when I was recording with Barry Adamason and Paul. I had first worked on a couple of tracks on Barry’s phenomenal Moss Side Story and then Barry worked with me on a few demos of mine with me singing, all done at the old Mute studios with PK engineering. Anyway it was pretty ace to hear it again after over 30 years!
Once Downwards heard it, it was a done deal. I felt it would be a good one to include with me singing, it was unreleased, unheard and with fantastic Barry Adamson and Paul Kendall. A perfect finale to my double 30th special LP.
With Veronica’s modern mastering, it was the obvious choice for the last track on side B. Regis head of Downwards enthused along the way as he always does with my records, he feels my music deeply and seems to be able to curate the perfect running order every time.
I really like “Come Take My Hand,” which sounds quite different from the others. Could you comment on the making of, and your thoughts on, this song?
AMH: I had a demo of Come Take My Hand on cassette of me playing everything on my RD1000 to a simple rhythm on my Dr Boss drum machine and I took this demo into Mute studios with Barry Adamson and Paul Kendall (who I have always known as ‘PK’.) It’s all a bit hazy but I remember recording the vocal, I was nervous but with Barry producing and PK engineering it was easier to get it together, Barry was kind and encouraging and also straight up with how to go for it etc. I was out of my comfort zone for sure but he and PK ensured some calm and I really think the vocals sound pretty strong so it must have worked somehow. I wrote the lyric so that may have helped my delivery. Barry and PK created the rhythms via samplers and I can hear Barry’s Mirage strings on the main backing. Barry played his incredible indelible bass and I played piano vibes on my RD… The guys mixed it and as far as I can remember that was it. To me it sounds like a pop hit if it had been released back then.
Is there anything that you’d like to add?
I think the record sounds fantastic and I feel honoured to have worked with the artists on Without The Moon.
I am very grateful to everyone on the record and involved with it’s release.
Remembering Anita Lane and Charles Gray may they rest in peace.