Solo album #5 is now ready and about to make its way into the wider world. As mentioned in several interviews, Flowers At The Scene feels like something of a necessary refreshing of the palette. At the very least, it’s a decisive move away from the long-form conceptual nature of Lost In The Ghost Light, which was an album that always felt like a satisfying end in itself.
FATS is a collection of 11 quite different songs with 11 totally unrelated lyrics that all seem to possess a cinematic short story quality. For the first time since Returning Jesus, there’s no overriding theme and no overriding concept, yet Flowers At The Scene still feels very much like an album.
When I’m making albums, I always record what I want to while also trying to view the project from a more objective external perspective. I’ve always preferred the ‘classic’ 38-45 minute album statement. Partly because I think that length suits the intensity of music like mine and partly because I think it provides discipline and structure that enhances the overall listening experience. I’d rather be left wanting more than feeling drained. The CD age ushered in albums that were far too long (for the sake of filling available space) and streaming has cultivated even longer albums (because it can), as well as a more pronounced emphasis on singles, mixes and EPs.
Beyond multiple alternate versions of pieces, Flowers At The Scene had two songs dropped from the final track list. One – Beyond The Firing Line – was arguably as strong as anything else on the album. It’s an ambitious and atmospheric piece with some great contributions from the likes of Adam Holzman, Peter Hammill and Colin Edwin. On reflection, it felt too similar to one of the other pieces on the album so out it went. The other outtake – Newblood – is the shortest and most obviously ‘Pop’ piece I’ve come up with since no-man’s Only Baby. The horror, the horror!
As a fan of the 1980s vinyl single – short Pop song on one side and experimental piece on the other – at some point this year I’m intending to release a 7” vinyl single with CD featuring the two outtakes.
no-man finally got together to complete an album in Autumn. Over three days and late evenings, SW and I participated in the most immersive and enjoyable session since the early days of the band.
We traded ideas and just got on with trying to realise them with no external distractions. As is always the case, the ideas ended up taking us somewhere unexpected. The resulting album is something that’s 100% no-man – in terms of its mood, atmospheres and collection of disparate influences – while being completely unlike any previous no-man release.
Recording is currently ongoing and we’re hoping for a late 2019 release.
Playing the Summer’s End festival in October was a great experience for the T-Bo band. The Booker Boy / John ‘JJ’ Jowitt rhythm section were on astonishing (almost elastic) form while Maestro Bingham played like a fiddler possessed.
The main thrill, however, was being able to perform to a genuinely attentive and responsive audience. A 12 minute whisper to a scream version of Days Turn Into Years provided my personal highlight.
2019 will see the band playing in quite a few places over Europe (several we’ve never been to before).
Be very afraid.
These are in alphabetical order rather than order of preference.
If I had to choose a winner it would be Eric Chenaux’s Slowly Paradise. Eric has an incredibly sweet and soulful voice that contrasts beautifully with some extreme guitar textures/playing. Imagine Terry Callier singing gently over Derek Bailey free form experiments or Nick Drake crooning atop a more organic/acoustic My Bloody Valentine.
David Byrne – American Utopia
Bernice – Puff: In The Air Without A Shape
The Caretaker – Everywhere At The End Of Time (Stage 4)
Eric Chenaux - Slowly Paradise
Julia Holter – Aviary
Paul McCartney – Egypt Station
Joshua Redman – Still Dreaming
Steve Reich – Pulse / Quartet
Suede - The Blue Hour
Thumpermonkey – Make Me Young Etc
Joshua Trinidad – In November
Devon Welsh – Dream Songs
The Beatles – The Beatles / The Esher Demos (50th Anniversary Edition)
David Bowie – Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ’78)
Kate Bush – Remastered Back Catalogue
Alice Coltrane – The Ecstatic Music Of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda
John Coltrane – Both Directions At Once – The Lost Album
Eric Dolphy – Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions
The Durutti Column – Without Mercy (Deluxe Edition)
The Flaming Lips – Greatest Hits Vol 1
Jethro Tull – Heavy Horses (New Shoes Version)
Frank Sinatra – Only The Lonely (60th Anniversary Edition)
David Sylvian – Dead Bees On A Cake (Deluxe vinyl)
This Mortal Coil – It’ll End In Tears
Pete Townshend – Who Came First (Deluxe Edition)
Yes – Fly From Here (Return Trip)