Damage

‘a healing of sorts’

London’s Royal Albert Hall is a spectacular venue for any kind of event. You alight from the underground at South Kensington station just a few streets away from Stanhope Gardens in whose elegant white-washed apartments Messrs Sylvian, Jansen, Barbieri and Karn lived during the height of Japan’s success, and where Steve Jansen photographed the lead singer on the rooftop by night as part of the shoot for the ‘Ghosts’ single. Heading north, past the grandeur of the National History Museum and V&A, you reach the magnificent concert hall opposite the memorial to Prince Albert in Hyde Park. With its rotunda construction, terracotta mosaics and imposing roof of glass and wrought iron it really is like nowhere else. Continue reading “Damage”

New Moon at Red Deer Wallow

‘One of the strangest tracks’

Following their excursion into commercial pop territory with The Dolphin Brothers, Steve Jansen and Richard Barbieri’s next joint project was set to take a very different direction. ‘We try to alternate our recordings in terms of types of album,’ explained Jansen. ‘Our first album [Worlds in a Small Room] was instrumental, the next vocal; so this should have been instrumental. Also, the record company weren’t budgeting enough for a vocal album, which requires studio time. If they had said, “do another vocal album, here’s the budget,” we’d have done it. But we were quite happy not to.’ Continue reading “New Moon at Red Deer Wallow”

Wintersleep – The Wall

‘bearing witness to what’s real’

‘I was pretty well-read by the time I was fourteen, but it never occurred to me to write. I was interested in being a musician or a scientist. Then something happened when I was about fifteen.. ..In the summer my mother and step-father and I used to go to Clear Lake, California, up above Napa Valley. I woke up early one morning and had a strange feeling. I took a walk around dawn out into a walnut orchard, and I sat down. This ecstasy came over me, and I started to write. I ended up writing a seven-line poem. I sent it off to my dad, and we started corresponding about it. It was clear to me that I had to have this sensation again. I had never felt anything like this. I felt that this was what I was supposed to do. Continue reading “Wintersleep – The Wall”

Linoleum

‘fear, anger and paranoia’

In 1995 Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails won a Grammy award for their live performance of the song ‘Happiness in Slavery’ as captured on Woodstock ’94. The category was ‘Best Metal Performance’. I’m not sure anyone watching the recording – with its military assault on the senses and body-surfing audience – would have seen a possible David Sylvian collaboration on the horizon for one of the musicians.. ..but that was how things panned out. Chris Vrenna had been a performing member of NIN since 1989, contributing powerful drums to their hard-edged live industrial rock sound. Continue reading “Linoleum”

Kin

Melding abstract art forms

I graduated from university in 1987 and was living in a new town with a new job. The only way to keep abreast of the news of my favourite musicians was to pop into the newsagent at lunch-time and quickly scan the first few pages of the music weeklies – NME, Sounds, Melody Maker. It was impossible to dwell too long for fear of incurring the wrath of the shop-keeper. My budget did not allow for weekly purchases, but vital updates had to be sought out… Continue reading “Kin”