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WHERE IT'S AT IS WHERE YOU ARE

This is a set of ten spectral, melancholy songs that combine the minimalism of Young Marble Giants, the acoustic drone of Broadcast’s folkier moments 3 and Liz ‘Grouper’ Harris’s forests of reverb. Sparse guitar, ebow drones and fragile synth tones carry Melinda’s layered, repeating vocals over music that is elemental, unhurried and possessed of its own uncomplicated resonance, yet still detailed and engaging.

The songs are rooted in the pair’s love of ambient and esoteric modern pop music, sounds made with whatever instruments are to hand, unselfconscious and effortless. The album’s outwardly contained and assured personal space belies a lengthy and fragmented journey to fruition, with each element recorded over large distances of time and geography (Walthamstow, Wood Green, Peckham, Dungeness, Tenerife). The songs began as improvised, instrumental sketches with no destination, recorded by Matt at home in between working on Leaf Library material.

The music, mostly first takes with mistakes still intact, was then sent to Melinda to see if she could find a way to work with them, part experiment, part challenge. Her outpouring of words, built in painterly layers over the bare shapes of the music gradually, over the course of many months, gave the songs a life of their own. Mike Cranny, from dream pop band Firestations’ crystal clear mixes and arrangements provided the essential final part, turning the album from a simple collection of songs into a cohesive, glassy whole.


This disjointed (and prescient) method of production gives the album its title, as well as suggesting the endlessly moving coastal drifts that deliver the band’s titular glass gems. Melinda’s voice here is reminiscent of Beth Gibbons’ more tender moments, or a more forthright equivalent of the aforementioned Liz Harris, dark lullabies in which the lyrics edge in places towards confession – “I know you better than myself, I don’t know how to know anything else” from How Can I Be You – before pulling away again into more abstract realms, such as in the synth-led An Ending – “a tree in the pool, the tea on a spoon, all traces removed, no-one is there”. The pair first met while playing drums (Melinda) and guitar (Matt) in indie janglers Singing Adams, with Melinda going on to gradually join Matt’s ever-expanding Leaf Library family when the former group disbanded. This is the first time Melinda’s vocal has been the main focus, despite having been writing for many years, spending time in Absentee, Wet Paint and Scow, as well as more recent excursions into improvised music and performance, including Annea Lockwood’s choir at Café Oto. Shifts provides the listener with a glimpse into the quiet, unsettling, but by no means unwelcome eco system of Sea Glass. An album of minimal yet enveloping music that rewards attention, a place in which to let the rising tide of sounds gradually cover you.

TRACK LISTING

01 Splicing Shadows
02 I've Been Here
03 How Can I Be You
04 Come To The Door
05 Berth
06 An Ending
07 Night Tide
08 Spring Chant
09 Silken Tide
10 Give Up 

The Leaf Library

The World Is A Bell

    The record is an ambitious and expansive update of their warm, hypnotic drone-pop encompassing gently pulsing electronics, chiming guitars, minimalist piano, acoustic and synthesised drones, noise, improv and intricate brass and string arrangements, all in the service of the band’s most assured and experimental songwriting yet. Two years in the making it features guest contributions from (amongst others) celebrated singer Ed Dowie, noise group Far Rainbow, fellow space-pop travellers Firestations and the string quartet Iskra Strings. It draws on all aspects of the band’s work so far, from indie guitar pop to ambient atmospherics, via surging rhythms and layered, melancholic vocals. This is the band’s second album (seventh if you count the various remix, side-project and short run CDR and tape releases they have put out over the last few years), and is the official follow up to 2015’s debut Daylight Versions (5* The Guardian). It begins with ‘In Doors And Out Through Windows’, a minimal piano and vibraphone incantation in 7/4, with shades of Dot and Loops-era Stereolab, their summery strum replaced here with twilit, unsettling repetition and melancholy brass swells.


    First single ‘Hissing Waves’ is the most pop the band have ever sounded, its skipping Insides-esque electronics and looping verses pulling the listener back to daylight and the disorienting “transparent spaces” of the city. ‘Patience’ (featuring guest vocals by Ed Dowie) is the closest the band come to the sound of ‘Daylight Versions’, cresting on waves of guitars and an insistent synth arpeggio. Elsewhere we find the title track’s pointillist strings (arranged by the band’s saxophonist Daniel Fordham), hypnotic vocal rituals on noise/improv detour ‘Bodies Carried Off By Bees’ (featuring Far Rainbow) and the Yo La Tengo-meet-Section 25 repetitions of ‘An Endless’, its bright guitar arpeggios and billowing synths unfurling across ten minutes of glorious repetition.

    Titled after a Johann Wolfgang von Goethe quote (“The world is a bell that is cracked, it clatters but does not ring out clearly”) the album turns its attention away from the coastal obsessions of ‘Daylight Versions’ to more surreal and atmospheric contemplations. The album reaches its end with the fittingly grandiose ‘Paper Boats On Black Ink Lake’. The radio unfriendly (at nearly 20 minutes long) track drifts in on sleepwalk-slow guitars, recalling Earth at their most serene, while Kate Gibson and Melinda Bronstein’s vocals float over a bed of strings that could be Robert Kirby scoring Low’s Secret Name. The World Is A Bell is an album of dense and unhurried songs, rich in sonic detail and ambitious in scope, its music simultaneously intimate and epic. Guitarist and lyricist Matt says, “We wanted to create something that was completely its own thing, that was in no hurry to get anywhere and that contained large expanses for listeners to get lost in. 

    TRACK LISTING

    01 In Doors And Out Through Windows
    02 Hissing Waves
    03 Patience
    04 Larches Eat Moths
    05 The World Is A Bell
    06 Bright Seas
    07 Bodies Carried Off By Bees
    08 An Endless
    09 More Than Half Asleep
    10 Paper Boats On Black Ink Lake 

    Darren Hayman

    12 Astronauts

      Always perfectly capturing the zeitgeist, Darren Hayman releases his 18th solo album, 12 Astronauts, on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing 12 men have walked on the moon, and 12 Astronauts includes a song for each of them, from Neil Armstrong to Harrison Schmitt and Gene Cernan (the Apollo 17 astronauts who quibble about who was the last man on the moon, was it the last person to set foot on the moon (Schmitt) or the last person to take his foot off the moon (Cernan)?). Darren has always had an interest in space travel since 1977 when he saw Star Wars.

      Back in 2001 Hefner (Darren Hayman’s previous band) released a single called Alan Bean about the 4th man on the moon (an all new version is included on 12 Astronauts). In 2011 he contributed songs and pictures to Vostok 5, a London exhibition (and compilation album) about people and animals in space (he has also illustrated the cover of 12 Astronauts). In March 2014, as part of a year-long residency at Dalston’s Vortex, he played a set of his space-related songs supported by Robin Ince (this included the live debut of a number of tracks from 12 Astronauts).

      His record label, ‘Belka’, is named for one of the first two dogs to go into earth orbit and return alive, so it should come as no surprise that the 12 Astronauts were in the back of his mind while he researched, wrote and recorded his classics about Thankful Villages, the Essex Witch Trials, Lidos, William Morris and British seaside resorts. The songs are works of historical fiction. Although Darren researched heavily he is essentially imagining himself as each astronaut and singing in the first person. The songs are not all set during the Apollo missions. Buzz Aldrin battles with his demons and fights for his marriage. Pete Conrad sympathises with his partner’s fear of an accident in flight. David Scott wonders what happened to his bodyguard on his press tour. Gene Cernan list every object he can think of that was left on the moon. Although the subject is big Darren has always written songs about small things and this album is no different. Darren collects together tiny moments from magnificent lives.' The album itself is curious in its genesis as Darren conceived and started the album back in 2008 and only recently came back to complete it. Some of the vocals are recorded 10 years apart.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. Spaceman No More (Neil Armstrong),
      2. Low Orbit (Buzz Aldrin),
      3. Timber Cove (Pete Conrad),
      4. Alan Bean (Alan Bean),
      5. Don't Clip My Wings (Alan Sheppard),
      6. Hard Disk In The Sky (Edgar Mitchell),
      7. Major Sunday (David Scott),
      8. Genesis Rock (James Irwin),
      9. 100% Oxygen (John Young),
      10. Duke's Dream (Charles Duke),
      11. It's Geology (Harrison Schmitt),
      12. Things We Left Behind (Gene Cernan) 

      The Great Electric

      The Great Electric

        The Great Electric, an Indie/kraut supergroup, was formed in the winter of 2012 by Malcolm Doherty (Guitars, FX), Rob Hyde (Drums), Darren Hayman (Synth), and Pete Gofton (Bass/Production), and released their debut EP on the ever exceptional Static Caravan label back in 2014. Alumni of bands as diverse as Hefner, Kenickie, GoKart Mozart & Mum and Dad, the band was united by a love of the classic German electronic and progressive acts of the 1970s coupled with the pop music sensibilities, hooks and production of 90s bands such as Stereolab, Quickspace and Electric Sound of Joy. Encarta - Updated early 90s post rock with added quiet storm sax and Material Girl Music & Colour - If latter day Brian Jonestown had a vocoder rather than a nutcase up front. Some tracks references : Night Music - Beach Boys “Love You” synths, American Analogue Set’s vibraphone. Features the voice of Sam Carelse. Mope - Riders On The Storm rudely segued by Blue Cheer. Top of The Tower - Originally called ‘Bruton Music’. A stab at library synth rock. Mount Nod - Harold Grosskopf, Camel and Steve Reich trade cigarettes. Fata Morgana - Cavern Of Anti Matter in two minutes. All These Worlds Are Yours - A final peek behind the curtain. Unlike the rest of the tracks, no editing of the final take, everything is played as is. A soundtrack to 2018 as the world falls into the sun

        TRACK LISTING

        Encarta
        Music And Colour
        Night Music
        Mope
        Top Of The Tower
        Mount Nod 
        Fata Morgana 
        All These Worlds Are Yours.
         


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