The Squiggle Game

by Alexander MacSween

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From The Squiggle Game liner notes:

Soon after beginning work on this record I experienced a stifling creative block characterised not by an absence of inspiration but by an excess of ideas as to what it could be. Seeking a strategy to overcome this I asked Fabrizio Gilardino, co-owner of et records and designer of its album covers, to design a cover in advance of the music. I proposed this would be done complete with titles and durations for each piece, invented by Fabrizio, as well as credits for guest musicians of his own choosing. My task would then be to create the music that fit within these parameters. Fabrizio obliged enthusiastically and a few months later I received a draft of a blue and gold cover for a record called Dust that contained thirteen tracks with very inventive titles.

Although the plan worked well initially, I soon began to feel constrained, particularly by the titles and durations of the pieces, which seemed more and more in conflict with the music that was emerging. I persevered but soon realised it was pointless to let the music be compromised by a set of rules that were meant to inspire it.

At this time I was reading about the English psychoanalyst, Donald Winnicott, who played a game with his child patients in which he would draw a squiggle on a piece of paper then ask the children to continue the drawing. He called this ‘the squiggle game’. Reading this, it occurred to me that Fabrizio’s album cover and the included information, rather than functioning as a kind of musical colouring book, could be treated as a set of squiggles on which I could elaborate more freely.

Neither the original graphics nor any of the original titles remain, although many of the durations are quite close to the originals. The only thing unchanged from the original cover is the inclusion of the three exceptional musicians whose contribution to this record is, more than anything, what made it what it is. Corinne, Nicolas and Sam, merci, merci, merci.


released March 15, 2015

Alexander MacSween rhythm programming . sampler . tom toms . keyboards . voice . drum set (3). marimba (10)

Corinne René marimba (3, 5, 6, 11) . wood blocks, drum set (1) .
tympani (2, 4) . bowed gong (7) . cymbal (8, 10) .
percussion (8) . bowed vibraphone (9)

Nicolas Caloia contrabass . Univox MaxiKorg (2, 11)

Sam Shalabi electric guitar (1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8 ,10) .
nylon-string guitar (5, 6, 9, 11)

Composed, recorded and mixed by Alexander MacSween
September and October 2014, Montreal
Masterd by Harris Newman at greymarket mastering

Design . Fabrizio Gilardino
Illustration . Michal MacSween
Silkscreen Printing . Simon Bossé / Mille Putois
Executive Producers . Michel F Côté + FG
et records 21
Alexander MacSween . © SOCAN 2015



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Alexander MacSween Montreal, Québec

Musician-composer Alexander MacSween has drummed in many Montreal-based rock and improvised music groups, including The Nils, Bionic, and Detention. He currently plays electronic drums and keyboards in the electro indie pop duo La Dauphine and performs solo as MACHEEN, playing drum machines and effects pedals. He also makes sound installations and composes music for dance, theatre and film. ... more

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