Marcus.

Bill Baird – Earth Into Aether

I’ve just found and am currently typing on my laptop which hasn’t been opened for about 3 years. It is a rather strange feeling actually, even just to discover that the thing still works. After remembering my password with the hint: “The usual” on the 6th time of asking I watched the thing walk back into life, I’d forgotten what my background was and that my shortcuts included Age Of Empires, a blueprint for a poorly executed hot tub project back in 2010 and multiple folders filled with ancient and half-forgotten blog paraphernalia. For me this laptop has pretty much been the only tangible element of A Pocket Full Of Seeds I’ve ever had. It has been years since I’ve posted and just as long since I’ve typed on this keyboard and now I keep missing keys and having to delete huge banks of gibberish.

I remember as youth my dad would occasionally work at his laptop at the kitchen table as my brother, sister and I all did homework. I wouldn’t be able to see what he was typing but was always amazed at how fast he could type. Also after typing frenetically for a few minutes he would then just hold down the delete button and start again several times, looking to rephrase or to approach something from a different line. I would love to know what precise changes he was making, put them all together, attempt to intellectualise them and create theories about my dad and the kind of guy he is. Things like this, things like desktop backgrounds, passwords and forgotten plans give us insight despite, or indeed because of, their apparent triviality. They can catch our curiosity and push us to imagine, hypothesise and look for more.  Looking back on them now, having been long forgotten, feelings of nostalagia mix with those of surprise as we realise just how much or how little has changed. Priorities change, phases pass through and we progress through life but the evidence of the path we have taken can remain for long time after.

And so I wonder how Bill Baird feels about this album. Earth Into Aether is the culmination of an extraordinary time spent making music. Having tasted life on a major label and promptly left with a grimmace on his face Bill has largely been working with and for his own steam. Playing, recording, screen printing, distributing and inventing all the while he gently washes onto our shores with this record in hand. Standing in a rowboat with an improvised umbrella roof which doubles up as a paddle/ice crushing machine. Stately, extraordinary, baffling, beautiful and perfectly according to plan B.

The spectrum of the mood, genre and humour on this record and the quality of execution is most lasting impression of mine after listening to this. Each side, and almost each track, feels like a snippet of what could be an entire albums worth of conceptual direction. Every time the albums shifts and morphs you get a sense that the context changes with it. The lyrical tone of Side A, with deadpan song titles, almost rolling eyes at our lives of social insecurity and trivial concerns, coupled with Freewheelin’-esque finger picking and homemade production gently builds and sets up Side B which is where ones curiosity really starts to catch. I want to know if the piano work on Late Night Dawning was something that just appeared from an improvised instinct at the time of writing or whether there is an album of that kind of magic swirling in the wake of Bills rowboat. Or the intro to Spring Break Of The Soul. The intro to that song sprawls over and eclipses anything else I’ve heard this year. Where the fuck was Bill when he wrote that? How long has that been in his mind or on someones hard drive before I heard it?

The progression continues and it’s as if Bill knows he has us snared, as if he can hear through my speakers the questions being asked aloud and incoherently. On Mans Heart Complaint and Go To Mexico the piano becomes a darker, more brooding instrument and vocals echo and loop over through increasingly distant production. And, while the vocals never truly return to earth, the contrast couldn’t be starker between these 2 tracks and their successors, Your Dark Sunglasses… and Captain Brain, which call upon catchy organ hooks, rock n roll drums, Tony Iommi style guitar riffs and anything else it can get hold of to make you completely rethink what on earth it is you’re listening to. Captain Brain in particular really pushes you before Skull Castle Decorator chases you off the edge 99% sure that the bungee rope is tied securely.

But from where there was darkness and anxiety and protracted looped lyrical refrains comes something new. Strings, orchestration, live applause, instrumentals, space, silence, rest.  By the end of side C you find you’ve been wound tightly around insistent beats and layered vocals without realising it. That is until Side D starts. Initially hinting at the tension that came before it, then thawing and finally breaking it with the applause that follows the stunning tones of both Silence and Surfing, soothing but never simplified. By the time we get to the album closers of Sonnerie’s De la Rose+Croix and Dreams Of Sandy the sense of calm has been not only restored but it’s been extended to a sense of resolution and almost exhaustion as if suddenly realising just how much ground has been covered. It’s a sensation similar to suddenly realising that the film you’re watching is nearly at its end and that this is the final scene and very shortly the house lights will come up and the credits will roll. But you wont leave you’re seat, instead you wait and sit through the reams of names and job titles, allowing yourself time and space to think and for those thoughts and sensations to continue resonating. But after 3 instrumental tracks Bill’s voice walks back into life on my favourite song on the album to tell you very sincerely he is “going home” before allowing the record to button itself to a close.

After listening to this record I couldn’t begin to pinpoint Bill as an artist. There is such a wealth of detail and diversity of songwriting on here, the only consistent elements seem to be a delight in extending and surprising your expectations as well as a wry smile or an edge of tongue in cheek humour. And with so many facets to put forward, each one executed perfectly and slotted together into one body of work, it is impossible to comprehend or even guess at the path taken to reach each one. And it is that sense of listening to an enigma at work which is so utterly compelling.

Thanks for reading and listening

marcus

Buy from Rough Trade

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Day On Day Off

Headphone music. Blissful headphone music.

 

Context is everything. These cut and polished basslines curve like thick trails of solid diamond and ruby peppered with perfect circles of marble and spray painted shellac blue and when put into music like this need to be listened through a magnifying glass. They need to be listened to over and over. The drums switching between a live-but-looped quality and a more vacuum sealed thud/half-gasp are what really bring this piece of music to life for me, they bring the track in and out of focus from watching a drum kit in the far corner of a room to having your nose pressed up against it.

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marcus

Latitude 2014


For those of you who were tuned into the blog when we ran our preview pieces and who have read our thoughts on the festival over the years you will know just how much we love it. How that year after it has become a ritual. A ritual made up of wooded raves, forested rambling, canopied dancing, open air dancing, lakeside sprawls, teenage crowd surfing, Poetry laced naps and a general feeling of wonderment and contentedness. In the more recent years I must admit we have found ourselves not so much crowd surfing to CSS and New Young Pony Club and nipping across the site for improvised interviews or tweeting pictures of 3D glasses. This year we

 

Even though our tastes change Latitude is always there catering to the highest quality. In 2007 all 8 of us went straight to the main stage as soon as it opened on Sunday to wait for Arcade Fire’s headline slot. That day I saw for the first time bands that would go on to be some of my favourite acts around today  including The National, Au Revoir Simone, Cold War Kids, The Rapture and Andrew Bird. Even if any festival could book a run of acts as fantastic as that I don’t think I could enjoy it more than I did aged 17. Latitude has always been the festival where I experienced and got to know my music as a teenager and you can never get that sensation back (although you can get pretty close).

It was a funny thing to look at the thousands of kids packed out to see Haim this year and going absolutely berserk for every song whether they knew the words or not. The buzz of seeing great new music in an immediate crowd of friends who in turn are surrounded by many thousands of like minded individuals is huge and should be a seminal part of every teenagers life. It was an odd moment of perspective noticing that we have these annual music institutions where kids can do exactly that whether those bands are The Rapture, CSS and The Hold Steady or Haim, Crystal Fighters and Catfish And The Bottlemen.

The year that Hold Steady played we had all been packed into the Obelisk Stage crowd for hours having the time of our teenage lives. The security guys were handing out water to everyone at the front which was filtering back providing momentary hydration or ammunition to throw at the girl you fancy. The band each had a bottle of beer by their side and every time Craig Finn took a swig it was almost torture to watch, especially when all you could hope for that weekend would be a smuggled Lucozade bottle of underage whisky or something equally gross when you got back toy our tent. This year I accidentally bought some prosecco with a raspberry in it before putting my head inside a tree to enjoy a small piece of installation art. In the process I realised that I had indeed grown older and my tastes had changed. But this was no issue for Latitude and its arsenal of the extraordinary and the unexpected of entertainment I would’t have thought twice about in my formative years.

But the festival really has not changed despite almost being 10 years old. Granted it has grown and is now at a very stately 35,000 capacity with each stage/tent sprawling accordingly. But rather than pile us all into 1 bigger pot Latitude caters for an increasingly diverse crowd with more focus going in to the late night parties, heritage acts and the genuinely stunning Thursday/Friday night performances carried out on the lake surface. Everything from the post exam youngsters to mid 20s hipsters to families of 6 to elderly couples come to Latitude and have an extraordinary time. Indeed they could easily spend the entire weekend at Henham Park unaware that there are entire other demographics a stones throw also having the time of their life but rather than creased up to WitTank in the Cabaret Tent they are in fact being stunned by the extraordinary Nils Frahm playing in the woods or just maybe they are watching Damien Albarn being joined on stage by Graham Coxon under a sky filled with thunder and lightning.

I’ve done a few festivals now and, sentimental and biased though I am, I don’t think there is another one out there that books acts and artists of such a high calibre across such an incredibly diverse range of the arts and I hope that doesn’t change

 

Our highlights of this year (in no particular order):

The Meridian Brothers

Editors

Lone

Ilotopie

Rag N Bone Man

The Acid

Agnes Obel

Booker T Jones

A short film about a boy and a girl who share a flat in Glasgow

Tom Vek

Wit Tank

Nils Frahm

James (1000 times James)

Parquet Courts

The War On Drugs

Haim

Tame Impala

 

Huge thank you to the festival and to all at Midas PR for being so wonderful as ever.

Marcus

See You By The Sheep: Marcus’ Latitude 2014 Preview

Evening all,

The seasons are revolving, the weathers are coming around. Over the last year lots of things have come and gone and we are standing here so much the better for it. One thing that is a constant for us here and for plenty of others is Latitude Festival. Very much a staple of both George and my formative musical years Latitude has away been the highlight of the year since we first went in 2007. Sigur Ros, Arcade Fire, Thom Yorke, The National and countless other seminal artists have all graced us with life changing sets. We’ve written about it many times over the years and probably repeat ourselves each time, for that we apologise. But is an amazing place to be. As well as the best lineup year on year, Latitude boasts an extraordinary representation of the arts from literature to cabaret to comedy. If you want our tip then make sure you poke your head in at the Film and Music stage, every year some absolute gems are snuck in there and you are guaranteed to see something amazing.

I could wax lyrical about the joys and gems of Latitude Festival for a lot longer. Punting on the lake, the hungover naps in a sunny corner outside the poetry tent, the teenage crowdsurfing, the disco shed, the woods, the colours, the chance encounters, the jam packed and diverse lineup, the friendly security, the food, the year there was a Radio 4 stage, The Waterfront Stage, the Sunday Midday Obelisk slot…

It’s all gold.

As is tradition now at APFOS we have put together a streamable playlist on 8tracks (who very kindly featured it on their homepage last week) for you all to hear exactly what you could be missing out on! Have a look below and enjoy.

 

Click through for the tracklisting.

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Heather Woods Broderick

I’m listening to this for the first time as I write this which is a nice sensation as it might put you an I in the same boat.

Heather Woods Broderick is something of  new name for me. I picked up the new Sharon van Etten album last Thursday and Heather performs on nearly all the tracks in some capacity. That album is shaping up to be one of my favourite of the year so that combined with the fact that she is Peter Broderick’s sister and Peter released one of my favourite albums of 2012 (These Walls Of Mine on Erased Tapes) meant very god things indeed.

Imagine my joy when I found this incredible cover of Peter’s Outside In Here and you start to understand why I was already writing this after the first 15 seconds.

Of course it’s beautiful.

m

 

 

Sink Away


 

Hello.

So we’re back. Everyone breathe normally. It’s been a funny thing bringing this thing back to life as to be honest the people who care most are George and myself. Obviously websites are built to experience traffic but it’s been refreshing knowing that we are mostly doing this because we love to do it and we have missed doing it. The long phone calls into the night and long into the drink between George and I and the endless discussion about both the smallest details and the most abstract have been hugely rewarding and we are both really excited to find out just how we actually run this thing and if there’s any response!

If you are reading this thankyou very much.

Other big thankyous go to Victoria Mcginness for redesigning the site from scratch. We love the new look but bear with us as we iron out the kinks as we go.

Huge thanks also to everyone who has helped the blog over the last 4 years. Dan, Milly, Maddie, Tom, Andrew and Kathleen in particular for writing so many amazing posts, serious big ups.

 

Sothko – Sink Away

I deliberated for too long and for too hard about what track to kick things off with. My rough premise has always to write about things that aren’t readily available on a cursory scan of Hype Machine and the rest of the blogging community. Looking back though my Bandcamp account I saw this old gem which I remember being amazed hadn’t snagged more across the blogosphere.

Sink Away is oozing, bleached out, reverb-on-all-channels groove which plays on the senses. Shimmering programmed strings almost sound like an apocalyptic female chorus accenting the distant raised male half-chanted lyrics. It’s like listening to a master puppeteer losing himself in an ever growing scene of heat and chaos and intoxication.

Hopefully by the time you read this far you have reached the 24 second mark? It’s pure drama but is such a good way to make the song jump out from under the surface of the bath water and drag the listener under into the boiling hot world underneath.

This is the lead song off Sothko’s EP “03:45, North Sea Hardcore” which your can pay as much as you want for on that link. The whole thing is amazing.

Go buy it.

marcus