The Sparrow is an single-sided, screen-printed 12" vinyl EP released by Blue Tapes and X-Ray Records. The B-side "Monadanom" is digital only. The bundles contain Jute Gyte material released by other labels and are limited to the number of artist copies I have left.
IF YOU ARE ORDERING FROM EUROPE: You will probably get a lower shipping price on The Sparrow 12" when buying from Blue Tapes in the UK: bluetapes.bandcamp.com/album/x-ray-five-the-sparrow-12
The cassettes are also available from Black Horizons at www.black-horizons.com
“The Sparrow” is built around a nine-note quarter-tone cluster spanning C natural to E natural, with D natural, in the center, forming the drone at the heart of the track. With the exception of the sections from 2:30 to 6:40 (see below), those nine notes are the only pitches that appear in the song.
The track opens with a D natural drone, then the other pitches of the cluster enter one at a time. The sequence of note appearances is D (0:00), D half-sharp (0:25), D half-flat (0:38), D sharp (0:54), D flat (1:13), D sharp-and-a-half (1:36) and D flat-and-a-half (2:01). The guitars alternate D natural with their other pitch. The guitars with pitches higher than D are panned successively further left, the guitars with lower pitches are panned successively further right. Each guitar has a time signature one beat longer than that of the previous guitar, starting with the D half-sharp guitar's 4/4 (the D natural drone being effectively meterless). The guitars are spread out over four octaves, which prevents the cluster from sounding like mush. During this opening section, the bass and synthesizer fade in, playing sequences using the notes D natural, C natural and E natural, outlining the borders of the cluster. The bass and synth have their own independent time signatures.
In the second section, beginning at 2:30, the same material is presented in multiple simultaneous tempos. In the subsection beginning at 2:30 all the guitars are stretched to fill the same amount of time as the 9/4 D flat-and-a-half guitar, in the subsection beginning at 2:59 all the guitars are stretched or compressed to fill the same amount of time as the 8/4 D sharp-and-a-half guitar, at 3:24 all the guitars are stretched or compressed to fill the same amount of time as the 7/4 D flat guitar, etc. for a total of six subsections, each with a faster fundamental tempo but the same 4:5:6:7:8:9 ratio. This section has pitches outside the nine-note cluster established in the previous section because when, in the each new subsection, the guitars are stretched or compressed anew they are also pitched up or down a corresponding amount. This pitch-shifting (and stretching/compressing) is done in software, which makes available intervals not afforded by the quarter-tone guitar.
The clean third section beginning at 4:35 repeats the same process described in the second section, but in canon, with each guitar going through the tempo and pitch changes in a different rotation (one proceeding 9,8,7,6,5,4; another proceeding 8,7,6,5,4,9; a third proceeding 7,6,5,4,9,8; etc).
The fourth (6:40) and fifth (10:04) sections present, first in clean tones and then with distortion, all the different guitar parts playing in the 4:5:6:7:8:9 tempo ratio once more, but very slowly and without deviations from the original nine-note cluster of pitches.
The sixth section (13:29) is a clean restatement of the first section, without the bass guitar. The seventh, and final, section (16:00) presents all the guitars, this time playing only their unique pitch (instead of alternating with D natural). The guitars drop out one at a time in reverse order of their initial entrance. The bass and synth slowly fade out and the track ends on the D natural drone with which it began.