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Sheffield musicians unite online for 'pass it on' project

Created piece-by-piece via email, Size of a Planet is a unique new album created by 20 local players to escape the limitations of lockdown.

A unique new album created during the pandemic brings together 20 Sheffield musicians in a musical version of the popular parlour game 'pass it on'.

Organised by guitarist Bryan Day, Size Of A Planet sees each player record a musical idea and then email the track to the next in line, until all 20 have added to each composition.

The finished album, which is due to be released in the autumn, ranges from R&B and soul to pop and electronica, and features cellists, flautists, DJs and violinists.

"At the start of the first lockdown when, like all my professional musician friends, my diary suddenly completely emptied, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands," Day told Now Then.

"I thought it'd be interesting to hear how a song might develop from different starting points. So if it began with just a vocal melody, how might someone else interpret the chords to go with that melody and subsequently, how another person could impart their own ideas of rhythm.

"The group includes Simon Stafford of Longpigs and jazz singer Nicola Farnon, as well as musicians who have played with The Cranberries, Richard Hawley, Moloko and Pulp.

The full album will be released on Exquisite Corpse Records, which is named after the children's game which inspired the project. The collective hope to play a one-off launch show later in the year to mark the release.

Three singles have already been released from the record – the double-A side of 'After the Seclusion' and 'Track and Trace', as well as the newly-released 'A Higher Low'.

"It was like testing yourself, to see how truly creative you can be whilst being totally isolated," said Basement Jaxx collaborator Steve Edwards, who was asked to participate by his friend Dan in the first few weeks of lockdown.

"I don’t have a recording set up at home – I go out to the studio to work. I ended up recording all my vocals and guitars on my iPhone."

Edwards told Now Then that while a number of participants having home studios "sprinkled a bit of production fairy dust on things", working from home still presented unique challenges.

"You’d have Nicola Farnon recording birdsong in her garden, Buff Primer playing jam jars. Even I had to sing beneath a duvet, so as not to scare the neighbours."

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