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Overrider Share Video For ‘The Left Hand’

15th May 2020

Listen: https://overrider.bandcamp.com/album/the-eft-hand

This track takes its title from The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin. It’s one of the best science fiction novels ever written, and we wouldn’t do something as crass as attempt to provide a counterpoint to it in a three-minute long song.

Specifically, the title of the book is taken from a poem – and it’s this that gave this song its title. “Light is the left hand of darkness” implies that the title of the track is ‘light’, and that’s the intention. The poem is influenced by Le Guin’s interest in Taoism, reckon the critics; a balance between light and dark, and this resonated with both ‘Cycler’ and the imagery we put together for it.

Each track on the album has a corresponding piece of artwork, which are included in the Bandcamp version and on the rear cover – starting with the hollow circle appearing to “rise” for ‘Sky Ladder’, and ending with the echoed circle appearing to “set” for ‘Wings Over The World’. There’s a little bit of symmetry between the start and end of those two tracks as well, although we deliberately didn’t make it so they began and ended with the same motif, as that was a bit too obvious.

Returning to ‘The Left Hand’—it’s one of the tracks that was written after our guitarist was hit by a car, hence the theme of “light”, and the video’s climactic motif of a crash being wound back and reversed.

The writing process was pretty simple – we took a bunch of guitar progressions that we’d written off as too obvious or too simple and checked our attitude, basically. We sketched a few of them out in code and played around with which ones worked or didn’t with some vocal samples. Then, finally we came up with the time signature shift into the chorus, which was an idea that happened to be in the same key.

A ripped-up, distorted vocal sample gave us our hook, but this was very different from what ended up in the track. What we had loaded up initially would probably have presented some sample clearance issues, so we created a new hook using a royalty-free audio clip, and auditioned samples until we had it.

Although the code scratchpad is lost to time, we’ve re-created a version of the verse using the online live-coding tool Gibber, so you can marvel at just how simple it is.

You can check out the code for the verse, with some new interactive elements here: https://gibber.cc/?path=ovrrdr/publications/the_left_hand.

We’ll be chipping away at adding new bits to it, maybe we’ll remix the entire track before isolation is over…

Stay safe out there.