Wednesday, April 26, 2006:

Richard Underhill -- Morse Code

Richard Underhill -- Morse Code
The joy and the curse of instrumentals is that they can be about nearly anything the listener wants. For instance, this one is about a man of unremarkable looks, in an overcoat, standing in an office in Europe in early 1942, receiving a coded message. The Code Talkers haven't been introduced yet; messages sent by Morse Code are prone to interception and decryption. And his message: BSK OFC: message sent not received. Must destroy.

He tears it off once it's done, rips it in half and in half again, chews it up, swallows it. Chases it with some whiskey from a flask in his overcoat. Caps it, nods to the elderly gentleman at the counter, steps out into the city and boards a bus beneath the constant droning of planes.

The percussion sets the pacing: pressing, urgent, except when it's more pressing and more urgent.

The saxophones trade messages: incoming, outgoing, padded with deceptions and double dealings.

The piano is the man, slipping through busy sidewalks and city squares, focused and efficient--ducking into alleys, going in through cook's entrances and out by fire escapes, leaping to the next building and entering the street again a half-block away.

The center of the track is an inspired chaos of misinformation and conflicting goals, marking our hero's arrival at BSK OFC. It's a three-story building on a wooded riverbank; the enemy is across the river.

He sprints for the door, hears the machine gun: bullets hitting wood, snowy dirt, brick, glass: thwock, crunch, chink!, tinkle. In through the door and diving for cover. Crawling to the telegraph machine, tearing the paper off, seeing that it is in fact coded. Tearing it up, eating it. More whiskey. The machine gun has stopped. Peeking out through broken windowpanes, ready to duck back. The enemy are piling into jeeps. The bridge is three miles away. He codes his message, quickly, realizes a mistake, tries again, taps it out: "Destroyed. Do not respond." And then it's back to the window for a quick glance, and sprinting out the front door, his breath burning in his chest. Around the building and into the woods to work his way back to the city.

None of the above is true, though Underhill did base the track on a message in Morse Code.
[Richard Underhill's site, with CDs available]

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Wow, nice evocative writing, Tuwa!

Thank you, sir. Very kind.

Ditto, super writeup. You're right, such a thrilling, suspenseful track with those tap tap taps...

Hi Tuwa!

Thanks so much for this wonderfully evocative story about my song! If only I was thinking of this when writing it... I was just looking for a good hook to get a song going, but it did take on a life of it's own.

all the best and thanks again.


Thanks, Rich. I'm glad you like it. More importantly, though, thanks for writing the track. ^_^

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