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ALIENATHAN

by Nathan Evans

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1.
Alienathan 01:52
My father was an alien: he came in the night. My Mother woke from her sleep to find me inside. And I grew, I grew in her womb— nine months on, I was born. I was a little alien but I looked like a little boy. And I knew there was something wrong as the cries dried from my eyes: the world in which I found myself did not fit with my world inside. But I grew, I grew, I went to school— couldn't play their games, they called me names. Didn't know I was an alien and neither did I. Then at sixteen things went very wrong and my mother was horrified to see the alien inside appearing outside. My hair it grew, then it turned blue— my eyelids too, and my lips bloomed. Ditched my school uniform and made my own and a universe in my bedroom that I could call home. And at eighteen I left my home and I found aliens from galaxies unknown orbiting round London like planets round the sun and I tried to join their solar system.
2.
UFO 01:48
I'm looking for UFOs. I'm not looking in the stars. I'm looking in the streets, in the bars, in the clubs and on the night bus. And when I... I'm gonna... Gonna... When I find my... Unexplored Foreign Orifice.
3.
[SHIPWRECK] Sailing through my Saturday like a shipwreck, still sinking from that Friday night iceberg I wasn't supposed to hit— oh no, not this week. But hit I did: with my eyes in the other direction with my mind upon other things. And now I'm sinking, I'm sinking: I walk the streets like a drowned man. Everything is underwater, every sound a distant tremor that has nothing to do with me. And everything I see, I cannot see for the million floating pieces around me. And I slide down the side of this iceberg, and I discover that what I thought is everything is nothing: that what is up there, out there in the air is nothing to what's down here. [SATURDAY MORNING] Got a frosted pain of glass installed in my head: it distorts how people look, it distorts what people say. It's made of stale alcohol and too few hours sleep: I think I'll draw the curtains until this time next week.
4.
The bin in my kitchen needs emptying, the plates in my sink need washing, the floor in my bedroom needs hoovering, the sheets on my bed need changing but not today, not today— I'll close my eyes and make them go away. A bill from my bank needs balancing, a call on my phone needs taking, another red letter needs opening, a knock at my door needs answering but not today, not today— I'll close my eyes and make them go away. Somewhere there’s a life I should be living, somewhere there’s a wife I should be loving, somewhere there’s a god I should be praising, somewhere there’s a wage I should be earning but not today, not today— I'll close my eyes and make them go away.
5.
Grey Day 03:38
I can't feel anything. I can't feel anything. I can't feel anything. I can't feel anything. I can't feel any pleasure. I can feel only pain. I can't feel any love. I can feel only hate. I can't feel anything. I can't feel anything. I can't feel anything. I can't feel anything. I can't see anything. I can't see anything. I can't see anything. I can't see anything. I can't see any windows. I can see only walls. I can't see any sun. I can see only clouds. I can't see anything. I can't see anything. I can't see you. Can you see me? I can't feel you. Can you feel me?
6.
Day Return 03:59
I stand by the sea: it's cloudy, it's cold, a strong wind blows. The tide's coming in: the waves keep washing and my life comes rushing in on me. I want a god, I want a drug, I want to love and be loved— want to be safe but somehow stay free. I want money, I want success, I want purity and excess— want to change but somehow stay me. These are the things for which a boy longs and, when a man, he will find he cannot have. I stand by the sea: I pick up a stone, I imagine it's me and throw it to the horizon but it falls short, like I fall short of my dreams. I want the best, I want better, I want more, I want to matter but nothing matters here by the sea: whatever I want, whatever I need the waves will wash on without me. I stand by the sea: I could walk out into it 'til it covered my feet, 'til it covered my waist, 'til it covered my neck— I could walk out into it 'til it covered my head. I could open my mouth and just let it in. But I don't: I stand and I stare, seeing my death there and refusing to die and feeling somehow more alive.
7.
Another day, another morning: I'm here again, oh god, I'm here again. Last night I prayed when I opened my eyes I'd be someone else, I'd be somewhere else: I'd change these human limbs for a fish's fins or a bird's wings. And I would live in the sea or I would live in the air: I would live anywhere but here, here, here. And now it's day and now it's morning should I pull back the bedclothes and open my eyes, draw back the curtains and look outside to find I'm here again, oh god, I'm here again. Or should I stay in bed and keep shut my eyes, hold on to this moment when these things on the ends of my arms they might not be hands, these things on the ends of my legs they might not be feet— I might be anyone and I might be anywhere but here.
8.
Lap Dog 01:29
I've got a little dog. He sits in my lap. He goes yap, yap, yap, yap, yap, yap. He's always hungry. And sometimes I give my dog a bone and he's quiet for a wile but he's never quiet for long. I wonder why I keep my little dog— he does nothing but eat and sleep and play, he spends my money and he wastes my days and sometimes he makes me happy.
9.
If I were a book would you read it? If I were a song would you sing? If I were a game would you play it? If I were a phone would you ring? If I were a road would you walk it? If I were a drug would you drink? If I were a shirt would you wear it? If I were a thought would you think? If I were a vow would you break it? If I were a bill would you pay? If I were a war would you fight it? If I were a prayer would you pray? If I were the air would you breathe? If I were a door would you leave?
10.
Subliminal 01:15
Don't want your name on me. Don't want your name on me. Don't want your name on my feet. Don't want your name on me. Don't want your name on me. Don't want your name on me. Don't want your name on my TV screen. Don't want your name on me. Don't want your name on me. Don't want your name on me. Don't want your name on my magazine. Don't want your name on me.
11.
Liminal 02:33
I don't want you and I don't not want you but I don't want to be alone. Don't want to meet your friends, don't want to walk your dog, don't want to make your bed or do your washing up but I don't want to be alone. When I wake in the night you've stolen all the covers— this bed's too small for two. Can't get comfortable, can't sleep— I stare into the darkness, the darkness outside our white sheets. And the darkness says, 'come with me' but I won't go, I'll stay.
12.
Well Worn 01:26
Trying to find a boyfriend is like trying to buy new jeans— no matter how good they seem there’s always something wrong with them. This one’s too grey, this one’s too green, this one’s too dirty, this one’s to clean, this one’s too wide, this one’s too thin, this one’s too neat and this too frayed at the seams. I’ve had a drink, there’s not much light— I walk along the rail, I think that one’s alright. I pick him out, I try him on— he seems to fit, I take him home. And in the morning he’s rumpled on the floor and I think maybe he should go back to the store but men are like jeans— if, at first, they don’t quite fit the more you wear them the more comfortable they get.
13.
The Fall 02:12
You’ve been holding it back for weeks— words have been pressed to the inside of your lips, ripening like berries, now heavy they fall between the gaps in your teeth and you hear yourself saying, ‘I love you,’ and he says, ‘I love you too,’ and it's there in that moment you know to get ready for the fall. And way back in the Garden of Eden, God made man and an apple and God made a serpent: God made many things and God made man want them. Pity poor Adam for he did not know and in a few bites it was gone— left with only a core, wanting more. Left waiting for the fall.
14.
Road 02:57
I left my home when I was twelve years old: I didn’t know where I was going but I knew I had to go, so I shut the door on everything I’d ever known and set off down the road. I was on the road; I was lost and it was raining. I had no map; there was no-one to give me directions. Suddenly a car pulled up beside me. The door opened: a man was driving. He said his name was God and he asked me where I was going. I said, ‘I know I’m going somewhere ‘but I don’t know exactly where.’ He said, ‘Get in. 'I’ll take you there.’ And I said, ‘Give me more than I see ‘give me something bigger to believe in.’ God said, ‘Believe in me and I will give you 'everything.’ So I got in. For seven years I sat in that passenger seat and God sat behind the wheel and as we drove he told me about heaven and he told me about hell. He said, ‘Heaven’s where we’re headin' and hell’s 'what happens if we stop. Keep your eyes 'on the road ahead and never turn to look.' So for seven years we never stopped and I never turned to look. I saw the world through a windscreen and I only saw it: I never touched it. But after seven years I was hungry and I needed a piss so I asked God if I could get out for a bit. God looked disapproving.He said, ‘Can’t you wait?’ I said, ‘How much longer?’ He said, ‘As long as it takes.’ He dropped me by the side of the road. He gave me money for food. He said, 'Be back 'in ten minutes,' and I really thought I would. But I left God sitting by the side of the road. Perhaps he’s still there, perhaps he picked up someone else or perhaps he’s driving on to heaven alone.
15.
New Nothing 02:31
Standing in a station, waiting for a train– been waiting for a while now, the train has been delayed. And in every pound you say I'll pay another percentage 'p'— for what, for waiting in the rain? Oo, it's funny: things keep getting worse for me. Oo, it's funny: you're not what you said you'd be. I'm eighteen again, want to go to university. My parents are poor and I'm scared of owing money: do I go to university, do I learn a little more than me, or do I stay at home and just earn money? I'm twenty-one again, just left university. I want to see the world but I owe so much money: do I go see the world, do I learn a little more than me, or do I stay at home and just earn money? Oo, it's funny: things keep getting worse for me. Oo, it's funny: you're not what you said you'd be. And if this is earth then hell must be great and I'm booking my place. At least in hell you know you have no hope: there's no carrot and no rope. This life is such a joke.
16.
Wrote a letter this morning: another 'Dear Sir or Madam', another 'Yours Sincerely' but beneath polite phrases and word-processed pages was scrawled a big 'help me'. I don't know what 'yes' means 'cause no one's ever said it to me. Only know what 'no' means and 'sorry', 'maybe', 'unfortunately'. Posted a letter this morning— another stamp, another twenty 'p'— and, as I posted it, I looked up to the sky hoping to see hope there in big neon lights but there was only clouds: God was not at home. Today, as every day, I am on my own. I don't know what 'yes' means, only know what 'no' means and 'sorry', 'maybe', 'unfortunately', 'probably', 'possibly', 'regrettably'.
17.
Bitchy 01:50
Posh bitch, parading her privilege in public— which is horse and which is human? Go back to your pen. Your road was so smooth you made your own stones. Go and pop another pill. You wear your depression like a lifetime's achievement but I know depression and where I come from that's not what they call it—they call it life and they just live it. And when they're sad, they don't talk about it. When they're hurt, they don't know about it. They're too busy making money, paying bills, changing nappies, queueing in Tesco's for the bargains, telly weekdays, pub at weekends. So fuck off to your meetings, 'My name is...' Tell your sad stories. But you don't know... Posh school, posh job, posh house, posh kids, posh life, posh death, posh funeral and I only hate you because I want it too.
18.
It's 1992: I'm wearing a tie-dyed t-shirt and hair down to my nipples, paint-spattered denim and unlaced army boots. Mum says, ‘You look a fool!’ but I know I look cool as I shut the door on our semi-detached and I make my way to the local art college where I know I'll be more at home 'cause they're all wearing tie-dye and paint-spattered denim so I don't know why I fix on you with your ginger crew-cut and your dodgy DM shoes— maybe because you looked like you didn't want to be spoken to and you're halfway out the door before I dare to approach you… Oh, Patrick—why d'ya do it? So your name is Patrick, you're a mature student working night shifts to put yourself through college, ‘A starving artist and not some stupid kid who 'thinks they're living La Boheme whilst sponging off their parents.’ You turn up your nose and take another road and I head home, where there's Marks and Spencers vegetarian lasagne in the oven and Mum wants to know, ‘How’s your day been?’ I tell her, ‘I'm not hungry,’and take refuge in my room. Oh, Patrick—why d'ya do it? Next day they give us a camera and tell us to work in pairs: you lift your lens to me and say, 'So you wanna be in my movie?' I don't know what’s changed since the night before but we shoot together all that year—you are my director and I am you star. You show me Jarman, Anger, Fassbinder, Passolini— we pore over pirate copies and pour ourselves cheap whiskey. I crash on your floor (I cherish even your snores) and never tell my bourgeois parents that I'm staying over. Oh, Patrick—why d'ya do it? You gave me so much and I gave you 'Maurice': an end of year present, I say, 'Read it. It's research.' You say, 'They already filmed it.' I say, 'I want to live it.' You say, 'I'm not like that. I'm sorry if I've misled…' It's the end of year party, I've had six pints already. You say, 'Maybe it's best if we don't meet after this?' The last time I see you there's some girl around your waist and I run home to my bourgeois parents and my bourgeois pillow case. Oh, Patrick—why d'ya do it?
19.
[1] She keeps me tombed in clockwork womb, feeds me and carefully selects what I can see. Sometimes the kids across the way come to ask me out to play but she won’t let me go: she’s afraid I won’t come home. She did let me out once— coiled a rope around her waist and the other end to me, told me to be back in time for tea. I wanted to breathe, breathe to the balls of my feet. Everyone else was breathing and I tried to join in but however hard I sucked the air just stayed throat-stuck. So I wound myself in early; she was waiting with her key. Next time I’ll do it properly— though she cry and cogs grow rusty, though she set her clock against me, though I go short-breathed and hungry— then I shall be free. [2] 'Hi this is Nathan, please leave me a message.' 'Nathan, it's Mum. Can you call home please?' Should I ring her and tell her where I was last night, what I did and who I spent the night with? Should I tell her I'm in love and who I love and how I don't know how to make him love me? Should I tell her I love her? Should I tell her I can't bear to look at her and see the disappointment in her eyes? Should I tell her how I cried when her last cheque came through the post because I knew she wanted to give it but I knew she couldn't afford it and I couldn't afford to say 'no'. Should I tell her I don't know any more and I used to be so sure? Should I tell her she was right?
20.
Mummy, when I grow up I want to be a gay boy so buy me 'I Should Be So Lucky' so I can pickle my brain in Kylie or, if that fails, book me a lobotomy for my sixteenth birthday then I can be just like all the gay boys. I wanna be a gay boy. Mummy, please. Mummy, when I grow up I want to be a gay boy so buy me anabolic steroids so I can get the perfect deltoids or, if that fails, book me plastic surgery for my sixteenth birthday then I can be just like all the gay boys. I wanna be a gay boy. Mummy, please. Mummy, now I've grown up and tried to be a gay boy but I did it all the wrong way— oh, Mummy, why did you nor help me? I have failed so put me from my misery for my thirty-second birthday 'cause I'll never be just like all the gay boys. At least, that's what I say— do you believe me?

about

In 1999, Nathan began recording 'Alienathan'. On a four-track in his bedroom. Twenty years from its completion, he releases the album for the first time in a redux twenty-track version.

From the acidic electronic title track to its pop pastiche finale 'I Wanna Be A Gay Boy', 'Alienathan' takes the listener on a dramatic galactic journey via the comically jazzy 'Suspended Animation' and the spoken word symphonics of 'And Transfiguration'.

This is queer electronica with classical overtones, Nathan playing (almost) all instruments: Such an eclectic mix of oboes and synths cannot have been heard since the early days of Roxy Music. Other influences include 90s pioneers Bjork, Massive Attack, PJ Harvey.

Lyrically it explores sexuality, identity, class, capitalism. There’s also a fair helping of twenty-something navel-gazing. Tempered by forty-something experience with judicious editing.

The original tapes have been dusted and digitized, tracks recorded or rerecorded in later years incorporated, overdubs added, songs reordered, the album’s essence restored, reimagined and redelivered.

Nathan says, 'Recording for 'Alienathan' was finished in the first year of the new millennium. It was performed once only in an obscure London gallery. I subsequently recorded a collection of queer cabaret ditties, performed at various venues (in various states of undress) throughout the noughties and—on the occasion of its tenth anniversary—reworked ‘Alienathan’ (not entirely unironically) for performances at Bistrotheque and the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. In 2016 I reworked some of its lyrics for my debut poetry collection and in 2020 reworked it definitively (maybe) for release on its twentieth anniversary.

'Some of the songs—'Shipwreck, Saturday Morning', for instance—weren’t part of the 2009-10 incarnation and had two decades’ dust on them. I dug up my antique four-track to digitise the master tapes and was then able to treat each instrument individually, enabling greater clarity (and creativity). With the luxury of unlimited tracks, I added overdubs on oboe for a more organic feel and stripped away the worst of my twenty-something indulgences (the original Shipwreck was almost double its current length to little additional effect).

'Some of the songs (such as the title track) were rerecorded digitally for the tenth anniversary – programming imported from an old drum machine, new oboes, keyboards and vocals overlaid on them. The tyrannies of software upgrades have rendered some of these files unreadable in the intervening decade: I’ve had to settle for the 2009/10 mix of 'Alienathan' and tinker with compression, for instance. Similarly, 'Suspended Animation', rerecorded for the Threads eBook in 2016.

'The strata of production on other songs are lost in the mists of time: I was surprised to find a rerecorded version of 'Lap Dog', which must be from around 2005 when I was considering its reinterpretation as a cabaret song. Three songs from that period—not on the original 'Alienathan'—have been included. There are several reasons for this: I liked the idea of having twenty tracks for this twenty-twenty release and they make up playtime lost to my pruning. They also inject some humour into proceedings.

'For similar reasons, I’ve chosen Justin David’s sassy and spacey reworking of Tony Wilburn’s 2002 photo for 'The Coming-In Show' over the album’s original, more whimsical artwork. After the first four tracks, the song order is entirely different to that in 2000 and at least half of the song titles have changed. But I’ve resisted changing lyrics which—if I wrote them now—might be rather different: I’ve not wanted to rerecord vocals because my voice now sounds different, and I’ve not wanted to spoil it. I remember first hearing Kate Bush’s 1986 reworking of Wuthering Heights and thinking why did she do that when the original was perfect? This isn’t perfect, but I hope you enjoy exploring its imperfections as much as I have.'

xN

credits

released November 20, 2020

songs written & produced by Nathan Evans

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about

Nathan Evans London, UK

Nathan began songwriting on a Casio keyboard in his bedroom, had recorded seven cassette-deck concept albums by the time he turned sixteen.

He returned to recording in 1999 with the bedsit four-track 'Alienathan', which he's releasing finally to mark its twentieth anniversary.

In his other lives, Nathan is an award-winning writer, director & performer making books, films & theatre.
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