Total Folklore, the new solo album from Dan Friel, is released this week, so we thought we'd fire some questions over to him, something we tasked Gareth O'Malley with. Read on for talk of string quartets, 'drone diaries' and the Mexican/Californian cave system, as well as the album itself. There's also a chance for you to win a music box. Yes, really.

Hello Dan! Total Folklore's been a while in arriving - it's almost 5 years since your debut solo album. How long have the ideas for the new record been around?

Hello! Ugh. Yes, it's been way too long between solo records. Most of this record came together in 2011, but some ideas do date back to right after the last album. I meant to get something out sooner, but 2010 and 2011 were crazy with Parts & Labor business.

In your opinion, how does the creative process for your solo work differ from, say, your work with Parts & Labor? Is there more freedom because it's just you?

There is more freedom because it's just me, but not just because of that. I always approached Parts & Labor as my pop band, and I approach the solo thing as being intentionally more open ended.

Will we be hearing more material from you in the coming months? There was a new song, 'Exoskeleton', on the Valedictorian single that came out in October) - is there more where that came from?

Now that Parts & Labor is hibernating indefinitely I'm going to be releasing solo music much more frequently. Next up is a string quartet I just finished writing for Ethel), that will premiere this summer. Not sure if there will be additional recordings in the coming months, but at a minimum there will be another new album in 2014.

'Exoskeleton' seems different from the stuff that ended up on the album - where did that idea come from? It seems more atmospheric and less noise-driven than the album tracks.

The core idea is older than anything that made it onto the album. I left it off because it felt out of place, but I really love that track, and I'm hoping to do more shit like it down the road.

Sometimes I listen to Total Folklore and think, ''Some of this stuff could soundtrack a video game' - have you ever considered composing soundtracks or writing material for games or films? The high-energy electronic stuff could definitely work in that sort of context.

It would really depend on the game or the film. I'm not into doing video game-y sounding stuff for the hell of it, but if, say, Portal 3 came knocking, I would not say no.

Likewise, there's potential for you to make more ambient tracks - the interludes on the record are rather different to what surrounds them. Do you have much of an idea what you might do next, or are you simply focusing on the new LP for now?

Not sure, but I have been thinking about doing an online drone journal. It would mix day to day field recordings, collaborations, and experiments to make short ambient pieces on a regular basis.

Which of the songs on the album is your favourite, and why?

'Ulysses' is easily my favourite, although I'm not sure I could properly explain why. It just never gets old to me.

Are there any plans for a UK tour later in the year? How do you see the record being brought into a live environment?

I love playing live. It is usually just me sitting in a chair, with a pile of gear in my lap, losing myself in a loud sound system. I improvise a lot with the songs at shows, and lately I've been experimenting with video collaborations and other musicians. No plans yet for a proper UK tour, but I would really love to do it soon.

Finally, if you could tour anywhere in the world, where would it be, and who would you tour with?

Tour of the Mexican/Californian crystal cave system with Hendrix, John Cage, Brian Eno and Cat Power. Bookers/promoters get in touch.

Total Folklore is released today via Thrill Jockey. To be in with a chance to win the limited-edition music box and a copy of the album, simply answer this question:

What was the name of the last album Parts & Labor released before going on hiatus?

Send your answer to comps@thefourohfive.com; the closing date for entries is Friday February 22nd.


"I assembled some simple music boxes that play a continuous loop of 'Thumper' (a song on the new album), says Friel of the music box. It's something I've been meaning to try since visiting this place (Museum Speelklok) a few years ago: museumspeelklok.nl. Each box is mounted on a metal can (mostly olive oil so far - it's a good shape) to make it resonate louder, and the physical loops are made out of assorted funky plastics from the Canal Plastics scrap bin."