FRACTURED AIR

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Posts Tagged ‘Nicholas Palmer

Fractured Air 09: Love Is Everywhere (A Mixtape by Directorsound)

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To listen on Mixcloud:

http://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/fractured-air-09-love-is-everywhere-a-mixtape-by-directorsound/

“Its kind of themed. Trying to splice my twin loves of jazz and psych-folk essentially. It was great fun to make. Turns out I’ve got a lot of flutes in my record collection. And a surprising amount of sitar.”
(Nicholas Palmer)

Directorsound is the moniker for Dorset-based musician Nicholas Palmer. As well as comprising one half of The A. Lords (alongside Michael Tanner), Palmer’s Directorsound project has thus far created a string of gorgeous pastoral folk, jazz and exotica-inspired albums, culminating with the release of current studio album ‘I Hunt Alone’ (Second Language) and ‘Other Rivers’, a collection of fourteen previously unreleased Directorsound tracks (available now on Direcotrsound’s Bandcamp Page HERE).

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Tracklisting:

01. Marion Brown – Introduction
02. Django Reinhardt – Bolero De Django
03. Pharoah Sanders – Love Is Everywhere
04. Synanthesia – Shifting Sands
05. People Band – Part 1 (excerpt)
06. Harry Partch – Study on Olympos’ Pentatonic
07. Incredible String Band – Yellow Snake
08. Alain Goraguer & His Orchestra – Les Loups Dans La Bergerie
09. Brigitte Fontaine – Le Goudron
10. Davy Graham – Majaan (A Taste Of Tangier)
11. Art Ensemble Of Chicago – Sangaredi (excerpt)
12. Sun Ra – Ancient Ethiopia
13. Charlie Byrd – Interlude
14. COB – Let It Be You
15. Don Cherry And Ed Blackwell – Sun Of The East (excerpt)
16. The Trees Community – Psalm 46
17. Menelik Wesnatchew – Tezeta

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To listen on Mixcloud:

http://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/fractured-air-09-love-is-everywhere-a-mixtape-by-directorsound/

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The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or their respective record labels. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.

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‘I Hunt Alone’ is available now on Second Language. 

http://directorsound.bandcamp.com
http://www.secondlanguagemusic.com

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Written by admin

January 6, 2014 at 11:21 am

Chosen One: Directorsound

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Interview with Nicholas Palmer, Directorsound.

I very quickly heard how beautifully constructed it was, and what unusual arrangements they had – they ached of a lost England, beautiful and evocative pastoral landscapes – I soon became hooked.”

Mark Fry

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry

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Directorsound is the alias for Dorset-based multi-instrumentalist and composer, Nicholas Palmer. The latest release from Directorsound – the follow-up to 2010’s ‘Two Years Today’ – is a record that showcases the album as an artform in itself. The name of this gorgeous album is ‘I Hunt Alone’ where Palmer’s distinctive blend of transcendent instrumental folk music wanders into the pools of your mind, and lingers there like the scent of a flower during spring. The instrumentation of guitars, piano, accordion, drums, cello, flute conjures up the sound of an English countryside – Dorset perhaps – but more so, a world in itself, alive with vivid imagination and artistry in full-flow. ‘I Hunt Alone’ is the latest chapter in Palmer’s treasured songbook.

The warm tapestry of sound contained on ‘I Hunt Alone’ derives from an all-acoustic lineup, including guitar, piano, accordion, harmonium, clarinet, trumpet, recorders, bouzouki, balalaika, banjo, ukulele, autoharp, bass, percussion/drums, and a vast collection of bells collected from around the world. The result is a musical feast of many styles – Eastern European, Balkan, English folk, traditional – gorgeously fused together, mapping a glorious travelogue of the places and paths ventured down by the artist. Interestingly, the place that became the source of inspiration for Palmer, was in fact, Transylvania. The record was recorded in the summer of 2011, as an attempt to produce “a cohesive, narrative-driven folk horror symphony”, inspired by a holiday in Transylvania the previous year.

To term the record a symphony serves justice to the breathtaking music on display throughout ‘I Hunt Alone’. Guest musicians include Chris Cole of Third Eye Foundation, Matt Elliot’s ensemble, and Many Fingers, on cello, Ian Holford (Nectarine No. 9) on drums, and Jess Sweetman on flute. A wonderful addition to the sonic tapestry is the myriad of field recordings that find their way in the music. The sounds of the locality – bells of church towers, rattling train journeys – are dotted across the album’s narrative. ‘I Hunt Alone’ was recorded in Palmer’s native Dorset and partly in Mark Fry’s rural Normandy home. Most of the music was written before the recording process took place.

My first introduction to the music of Nicholas Palmer was under another guise, namely The A. Lords – a wonderful collaboration between Palmer and Michael Tanner (he of Plinth, Cloisters, Taskerlands fame) – and the record was a beautiful collaborative venture between like-minded artists, English songwriter Mark Fry, and the A. Lords. The album ‘I Lived In Trees’ was released on London-based Second Language – also home to Directorsound’s ‘I Hunt Alone’ – that forms an indispensable part to any invaluable music collection. The musical telepathy between the A. Lords and Fry is a joy to behold, where the poetic lyrics of Fry and mesmerizing passages of music meanders, like a river-flow, into the sea of your heart and mind. One song in particular, ‘All Day Long’ epitomizes the masterful artistry of Palmer. A musical interlude arrives as the song fades out, containing achingly beautiful tapestries of nylon guitar, flute, and many other sources of acoustic sounds. The sonic palette – just like that of Palmer’s other projects – is forever immersed in a divine sound of impossible beauty.

The title-track ‘I Hunt Alone’ begins with church bells, before delicate notes of nylon guitar ascends into the atmosphere. This solo piece of music is reminiscent of The A. Lords and takes me back to Mark Fry’s gorgeous ‘I Lived In Trees’. The chord progression is gradual and the lovely diminished chords float peacefully by. ‘Serpents In The Jaws Of October’ – as the title itself suggests – is one of the album’s milestones. The opening sounds of music boxes conjures up the sound of label-mate Colleen. The sound of a passing train is placed in the background of the mix. A haunting soundscape of bouzouki and collection of many instruments moves at a slow tempo for the first half. Soon, the tempo is increased, and drums/percussion and a guitar groove comes to the foreground, sharing the spirit of 70’s folk of The Strawbs and Fairport Convention. An utterly timeless sound is formed.

‘Pan In Paradise’ is a mini-folk orchestra containing nylon guitars, woodwind instruments, drums, piano, and accordion. The windswept sound provides yet another special moment. The gradual layering of sounds and pristine arrangements by Palmer, is wonderfully showcased here. The accordion blends effortlessly with the soft chords of piano and gentle drum beat. The perfect prologue to the fulfilling journey of ‘I Hunt Alone’. ‘Sun Dazed & Dancing’ conjures up the sound of Eastern Europe and Balkan sounds, reminiscent of A Hawk And A Hacksaw. The feel to the piece is immaculate, as the dynamic changes from frantic polka rhythms to mournful embellishes of accordion waltz. Palmer can do no wrong. ‘Nocturne For Grace’ is a tour de force, encompassing many worlds of sound, from film score and gothic worlds to Eastern European traditional forms. The enchanting piece of music contains several glorious movements. The romantic bliss of the piano-led melody could be ‘As Time Goes By’ from the 1942 drama, ‘Casablanca’, where scenes of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman comes to mind. ‘I Hunt Alone’ is a musical world, belonging in its own separate realm, where you are invited to wander and get lost in its endless wonder and marvel.

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‘I Hunt Alone’ is out now on Second Language.

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Interview with Nicholas Palmer, Directorsound.

Congratulations on the newest Directorsound album, ‘I Hunt Alone’. It is a truly gorgeous and breathtaking tour de force. The instrumentation and arrangements, as ever, are things of pure beauty. Please tell me about the new album and the inspiration of a holiday in Transylvania that led to the inception of ‘I Hunt Alone’?

Why, thank you Mark! I’d had the seedlings of the general idea of an album that would then later become ‘I Hunt Alone’. Then a trip with my partner to Transylvania helped to shape the mood and direction of it. I love the idea of the album as an artform in itself. So not as not just a bunch of songs but a cohesive, narrative driven whole. This is probably more so important with instrumental music, where the lyricism must come only from the instruments.

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Please tell me about the stages involved in recording ‘I Hunt Alone’? The found sounds of church bell towers, trains and a myriad of other sources find their way, wonderfully in the music. The wide array of instrumentation is something to truly behold, where a whole spectrum of emotion and texture is etched across the sonic canvas.

So I used the field recordings I made in Transylvania as the starting point. Unusually for a Directorsound record, most of the music was written before I started to record with many of the pieces having been refined and practiced while on tour as part of my one-man-band stage show promoting the previous album ‘Two Years Today’. The bulk was then recorded over a few months during summer 2011. Arranging pieces for various instruments is probably my favourite part of the process.

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The piece I’ve been obsessed with lately is ‘Nocturne For Grace’. This piece of music is hauntingly beautiful. The lead piano melody is steeped in mesmerizing beauty. There are worlds of sound created, from Balkan and Eastern European, to gothic and film score works. I would love to gain an insight into this composition, and your memories of writing/composing ‘Nocturne For Grace’?

Thanks again Mark for your very kind words! I believe I wrote the first section years ago and then the remainder building up to the start of recording. Essentially I see it as a piano work. It took a lot of practising, especially as I write nothing down! I then recorded it over one weekend while I was house-sitting/watering the greenhouses for my folks where my main piano is still housed. I seem to remember it being fairly nerve-wracking. Being 10 minutes in length, so many times I got so close to the end of a take only to bottle it and fluff the ending. As an Irishman you may recognise that the translation of Grace into Irish is Grainne, the name of my now wife who I met while on an Irish Directorsound tour nigh on 5 years ago. I’m not sure how she feels about its dark undertones but in fairness, not every gal gets a ramshackle gothic opus written for her!

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Tell me please about the instrumentation used on ‘I Hunt Alone’. What were the first instruments you learned to play?

I had lessons on an old 2-tier furniture organ from about the age of 9. And before that, I’m guessing much like for you guys and the penny whistle, we all had to learn the recorder at school. I was awful. I never did and still don’t get on with reading music and those formal introductions into playing music put me right off for many years. And then as I got to the age where you start forming a counter-cultural identity and developing a ‘taste’ in music I began to teach myself guitar. Still got loads of bad habits from self-teaching I reckon.
On this record it’s entirely acoustic, essentially as part of an attempt to create a sound without a temporal context. I’ve been lucky over the years, people have kindly off-loaded lots of archaic instruments on me. Consequently along with picking up a few bits of my own I seem to have amassed a small folk-orchestra’s worth of instruments most of which were employed on ‘I Hunt Alone’. Then I was joined by Jess Sweetman on flute who also played on the Mark Fry and the Alords record, friend and old work colleague Ian Holford from Nectarine no.9 and the Sexual Objects who plays drums on one track and old chum Chris Cole from Many fingers and Third eye foundation/ Matt Elliott’s band on cello.

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As a multi-instrumentalist and gifted composer, I would love to gain an insight into your creative process? In your music, do you normally begin with a guitar or piano and work from there, or is there no real conscious method involved?

The writing method varies but the base instruments I write with mostly are piano, accordion and guitar. If I’m working purely from music in my head I’ll write on the piano as it’s the most logical and easily visualised instrument. Accordion tracks come mostly from messing around. The guitar’s pretty much a combination of these techniques but aided these days (including the Mark Fry record) from experimenting with the possibilities of various altered tunings.

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Discuss for me please the influence that your native Dorset has on your music?

For Directorsound its main impact was the isolation, quietness and hence space for thought that it allowed. Virtually without a musical scene so to speak, other than some admirable work from a handful of promoters and musicians, it helps facilitate the creation of a little musical world of your own. I guess the “Dorset sound” if you will is most overt in my work with Michael Tanner and the Alords. The pastoral thing was definitely in mind for us albeit an idealised notion of Dorset. Michael and I have never really discussed it in detail and obviously I can’t speak for him but I guess, idealised or not it nonetheless impacted on the music we made and our sound palette. I worked in the country for years so its bound to have an influence. I mean it’s a stunning part of the country. Cider country too, so that’s almost certainly had an influence for good or worse on my music…

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Please take me back to your collaboration with Mark Fry on the stunning album ‘I Lived In Trees’? Between you and Michael Tanner, as The A. Lords, your beautifully constructed music serves the perfect canvas for Mark Fry’s endearing folk songs. Mark Fry described The A. Lords music to me in wonderful detail: “I very quickly heard how beautifully constructed it was, and what unusual arrangements they had – they ached of a lost England, beautiful and evocative pastoral landscapes – I soon became hooked.” I would love for you to share some of your memories of this dream-collaboration?

Personally it was pleasingly odd and novel-writing in mind of knowing the music would eventually become a ‘song’. And Mark has the most beautifully poignant voice. It has all the comfort of a happy memory from long ago, remembered with pathos and a hint of sorrow for a time passed. It was extraordinary getting tracks we sent to him back with that voice added. Not to mention, Mark and his wife Roxy are about the two nicest people you’re likely to meet and their house in Normandy is sublime. In fact, it’s where I proposed to my wife!

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What albums are you listening to most lately?

Marion Brown’s ‘Geechee Recollections’ and ‘Sweet Earth Flying’ a lot. And I’m still ploughing through the complete works of Mahler that I picked up last Autumn. I’m still after years obsessed with the unfinished Symphony no.10. I picked up Morricone’s ‘Moses’ soundtrack on vinyl a while back and an LP of London Barrel Organ music in a charity shop. You’ve kinda got to be in the right mood for that one though. And spring has finally appeared which tends to mean the 60’s folk comes out this time of year for me. I’ve not much money for records these days (like many) so I’ve been digging out some old favourite’s like Bridget St John’s ‘Songs for a gentle man’. Likewise another favourite for this time of year, Sam Prekop’s eponymous debut’s begun to have some airings again. My friends at Swedish label Tona Serenad who released my ‘Two Years Today’ record sent me and are about to release the debut album from the new band formed by Musette’s mastermind Joel Danell, ‘Joe Davolas’ spread over a series of 7″s which is smile-inducingly awesome. They’re like every charity shop record I own squeezed into a handful of songs. Oh and I’m re-watching a load of Argento films, so plenty of Goblin.

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‘I Hunt Alone’ is out now on Second Language.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Directorsound/148924375122494
http://www.secondlanguagemusic.com

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Written by admin

August 8, 2013 at 10:44 am

Chosen One: The Cloisters

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Interview with Michael Tanner, The Cloisters.

“I vaguely recall wanting to invent a raft of bands for my label that didn’t actually exist…I love myth-making in music. But I suppose The Cloisters really festered away there at the back of my mind and this – 14 years later – is that album (sort of).”

—Michael Tanner

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry

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The Cloisters is the latest music project of Dorset-based musician Michael Tanner. The debut album was released late last year on the wonderful independent label, Second Language. Across four tracks and 41 minutes in length, the self-titled release is gorgeously layered ambient music with delicate etchings of divine folk. For those already familiar with Michael Tanner’s diverse body of work, a terrific sense of nostalgia and mystery is embedded in the masterfully crafted songs. The Cloisters’ intricate arrangements and gorgeous instrumentation allows the listener to be immersed in an insular world of forgotten dreams. This album has served as my headphone listening for many a winter’s evening, forever shining light onto the night’s sky. The musicians on this collaborative project display their peerless musicianship. The sounds and textures are intricately woven together forming abstract landscapes of an English countryside and fantasy filled dreams. The album features Áine O’ Dwyer (United Bible Studies) on harp, Daniel Merrill (Dead Rat Orchestra) on viola, Aaron Martin on cello, and Hanna Tuulikki on church harmonium. The tracks were recorded in some of the places Michael Tanner grew up in, including Symonds Yat, in Herefordshire and a few Welsh border towns. In this way, the music evokes childhood memories and vivid nostalgia across the tapestry of sound. The material was heavily influenced by re-reading Susan Cooper’s ‘Dark Is Rising’ series of pagan children’s books, with their tales of billowing mists rolling down Welsh mountains. My favourite piece is ‘A Pelagic Recital’, written by Áine O’ Dwyer and Michael Tanner. Delicate notes of O’ Dwyer’s harp are the first sounds you hear, before a wave of church harmonium and strings provide a spectrum of ambient flourishes. The harp as the lead instrument is simply mesmerizing, as it meanders like a river flowing out to sea. Sublime indeed.

It is a real joy to see a music label like Second Language deliver such artistic gems, especially in this modern age of digital music. The independent label releases collectible new music by a wonderful international roster of hand-chosen artists (including Heather Woods Broderick, Piano Magic, Plinth, Mark Fry And The A. Lords) and not to mention their awe-inspiring compilations. The releases are often very limited editions with such time and dedication taken for every detail of the particular work of art to be realized. Each album is unique and holds a special significance that represents a specific space and time, far removed from the commercial mainstream. It is a fitting testament to Michael Tanner’s artistry that sees a wide range of his works home to this prestigious label. Plinth, The A. Lords are just a couple. The Cloisters represents the latest chapter. As mentioned above, it was through Mark Fry And The A. Lords that I was first introduced to Michael Tanner and one very beautiful album entitled ‘I Lived In Trees’. The vinyl album was released a couple of years ago on Second Language.

‘I Lived In Trees’ was an album that came some 39 years after the release of his cult-classic ‘Dreaming With Alice’ in the early 70’s. The album is a collaboration between Mark Fry and The A. Lords. This wonderfully named musical entity is Michael Tanner and Nicholas Palmer. ‘I Lived In Trees’ was given its wings when the pair would send Mark Fry (while at home in Normandy, France) some instrumental pieces they had recorded in Dorset. In the words of Mark Fry: “I very quickly heard how beautifully constructed it was, and what unusual arrangements they had-they ached of a lost England, beautiful and evocative pastoral landscapes-I soon became hooked.” The album itself is a true work of art and the songs have been a daily soundtrack for me since first purchasing the vinyl in my local record store a couple of years ago. Songs so beautiful and so true and touching. It’s not often that albums like this come around, breathing such meaning and truth. I know I will be revisiting ‘I Lived In Trees’ for the next 39 years and more.

It is amazing to look into the discography of Michael Tanner. The myriad of aliases and side-projects are staggering but it’s the high level of artistic quality attached to this output is what’s most endearing. These sonic ventures include Plinth, as part of the duo The A. Lords, United Bible Studies, Directorsound, and Taskerlands. I have yet to delve into some of these projects but I soon will. Music is an endless exploration and the songbook of Mr Tanner is precisely just that.

‘The Cloisters’ by The Cloisters is out now on Second Language Music.

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Michael Tanner Interview. 

Congratulations Michael on your latest project, The Cloisters-a gorgeous collage of pastoral folk and cinematic soundscapes. It’s great to ask you a few questions about your music. Thanks for your time.

Thanks Mark. It’s had four years of lurking on various hard drives and shifting shapes prior to last November’s release.

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What was the pre-cursor that led to the formation of The Cloisters?

There was no formation as such – the name merely reflects a more collaborative nature in the material, which is usually whittled away in private. When I first started my tape/CDr label in the late 90s, we listed a forthcoming release by The Cloisters, which promised to be modern classical quintet. I hadn’t recorded any material in that vein nor was I capable of doing so with just a primitive sampler, guitar and total lack of ability, so I don’t know what I was thinking. I vaguely recall wanting to invent a raft of bands for my label that didn’t actually exist…I love myth-making in music. But I suppose The Cloisters really festered away there at the back of my mind and this – 14 years later – is that album (sort of).

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Please tell me about the beautiful artwork that graces the album’s sleeve?

Like most of my artwork, the images were sourced at various Dorset car boot sales. They were a series of slides found in a large mouldy box that housed over 30 years of images of a certain family taking various European holidays…mostly round the Alps and Germany.
I was pretty staggered to find them there, and the thought process that can go into letting a generation of your family history become a box of junk, yours for £2 or less if you fancy haggling.

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The pieces of music were recorded and mixed between 2008 and 2012. Please give me an insight into this process and the ensemble of musicians that feature on the release? 

It just took a really long time and kept changing shape. It just happens sometimes. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted the album to be, which was a first for me. The contributions from Aine O’Dwyer (harp), Dan Merrill (Viola) Aaron Martin (Cello) and Hanna Tuulikki (harmonium) really helped shape it into a cohesive whole and define a much-needed structure to proceedings.

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Is there a central theme that ties the pieces of music together?

As I mentioned this is the first record I’ve worked on without any strictly wound concept, something I normally have to enforce on myself to focus, otherwise my mind tends to uncontrollably wander. Two significant moments are the album’s opening – my cat Michu with several contact mics over her, purring away – and the outro, again, Michu coming down stairs to let out a plaintive mew after the final note on the record is played. That scheduling, if you will, happened unplanned. I liked that it bookended the record, gave it a consistent whole. She died unexpectedly as the album was being mastered and since then it’s been a tough listen for me, but as stupid as this sounds, I’ve had these crazy revisionist thoughts about the album. Hearing her content in that opening minute prior to a wall of bowed strings rising up…it sounds like death to me. Not in a goth-y/black hat kind of way, just the beginning of a journey, an afterlife. It makes her final meow at the end of the record take on this weird cyclical, metaphysical importance. I realise this makes me sound completely insane, but I can live with that.

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I love the opening piece ‘Riverchrist’. There seems to be several sections within the composition itself. Can you talk through the construction of ‘Riverchrist’ please?

Normally I find dissecting the music making process either robs some of the magic from the playback or is only of interest to musos, so anyone reading this should feel free to skip this section! (But for the rest of you…)

The opening 8 or so minutes of Riverchrist were the first to be recorded. I remember it being a freezing March evening and I was toying around with bowing my 12 string guitar through a loop pedal. I was re-reading ‘Over Sea and Under Stone’ by Susan Cooper, and found myself switching between reading the chapters of the book on the couch and layering the next sound, with the previously recorded loop ringing out of the amp in the meanwhile. This slowed the whole music-making process down in a really interesting way, meaning that the next sound I overdubbed was very considered and couldn’t be too obtrusive. This bowed section gives way to Hanna, in Lullington church, playing the tiny harmonium. You can hear my wristwatch ticking as I’m holding the recorder, and again as I record the seagulls on the window ledges of the Brighton hotel I stayed in that evening. There’s a larger, disorientating section after this with strings, gongs and water-bowls prior to Dan’s wonderful Viola arrangements. He’d initially recorded these as an overdub for the opening 8 minutes of bowed guitar, but they were so evocative and bold that I wanted them to be heard without my ‘busy’ undertow. So I chopped them up, did some re-arranging and incorporated them into the larger body of the piece. I think his contributions gave a wonderful finality to proceedings.

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You have an endless array of collaborations and projects ongoing from the likes of Plinth and United Bible Studies to The A. Lords, amongst many others.
What’s fascinating is the quality of this musical output. How do you maintain both the high quality and quantity of your music?

That’s a tricky one. For my involvement in those projects, I just have to feel like I’m excited and going into an insular little world. There has to be atmosphere. Each new project should have something novel or unique about it, rather than copying the moves of earlier releases. Normally it then needs to sit with me and my headphones for several months, and if it still sounds worthwhile after that litmus test, it gets released.

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Discuss the A. Lords please – your wonderful collaboration with Nicholas Palmer, and the strong musical connection you both share?

Nick and I both spent our teenage years here in Dorset, frustrated by the lack of any local scene. I think I met him when he was 18/19 in a local indie nightclub. I was wearing a Palace Brothers T-shirt and I think he might have been sporting a mauve Labradford number, which sealed the deal. We exchanged tapes and got to become closer friends on his return from studying in London. I played various things in live incarnations of Directorsound for a few years and he made some wonderful additions to early Plinth music, so The A.Lords just seemed a natural extension of hanging out and music making. I think our early cassette material was really lo-fi, very abstract…at least until we saw the re-release of Wicker Man (2001?) which had a profound effect on both of us defining a folkier path ahead. We were already experimenting with recording outside, having miked up the roof of Nick’s parents bungalow to record overpassing planes. I think we were averaging a song a year until the self-titled album’s eventual release in 2011 – not a great batting average – but I think it’s a very personal record, one that’ll stay with us.

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Can you discuss the concept behind ‘Music For Smalls Lighthouse’ please. This is an exceptional album and one of my favourite Plinth releases.

Thank you. It was just a story that evoked an almost overwhelming sense of atmosphere, and ticked all of my dark fetish boxes…The stench of death astride the abyssal sea – who could not love a story like that? When I was 10 I went on a trip to the Yorvik Viking Centre in the north of England – memorable for being my one school trip that didn’t end in near-death/disaster. The ‘Vikings’ were barely convincing models with balding beards made of thatch-y material and the whole experience would have been a naff write-off were it not for a sequestered tape machine looping insane environment sounds alongside the smells of ‘battle’ and ‘farming’. Aurally, It was completely overpowering in the presence of relatively poor mannequins. That over-compensation of sound really stayed with me and in hindsight, sowed the whole conceptual seeds of playing with a historical story and littering it with heavy thuds, thunder, heavy rainfall etc…I can still recall the waxworks with a shudder.

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I would love to learn more about your musical background. What instruments did you begin to play first? 

I was a really late bloomer. I’m still not particularly adept at any one thing…I just hammer away at instruments and objects until they fit through the holes in my head. The sound source for the first Plinth recording was a sewage line that was running outside a friend’s house. I had a guitar in my house from the age of 15 but didn’t learn to tune it until I was almost 20. I’m ok with my inept playing style. I used to beat myself up about it, but equally there are aspects of astonishing acts of musical virtuosity that make me feel uncomfortable. And jealous. But mostly uncomfortable.

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In what way does the English countryside influence your unique blend of music?

Well I’ve been chained by the ankle to it since birth, so there’s no way it could not effect not just my music, but certain attitudes and traits that are hard to beat out of myself. It’s a bit of a jaded love affair, to be honest. I vacillate between craving the culture and faces of city life and longing for the solitude the country offers. I’m told there’s an English-ness to my output, and I get that. It feels like a dirty word sometimes. I think it all stems from an intense craving for something/someplace that doesn’t really exist.

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What albums are you listening to most these days?

I tend to go through phases whereby I get obsessed with one particular album and live inside it for a while. Most recently that’s been side A of ‘Sir John A Lot’ by John Renbourn, but before that it was a collection of Lassus’ psalms by the Hilliard Ensemble. Virginia Astley EPs. I like a Tame Impala song I heard on the internet. I also have an ongoing, slightly-debilitating and completely unhealthy obsession with the entire recorded output of England’s greatest dark knight, Mike Oldfield.

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What is next for you Michael?

I have no idea. Musically, I feel everything needs to change but I’m not sure how. I’m becoming very suspicious of what is loosely termed ‘ambient/experimental’ music. I have an album of Vangelis synth-inspired pieces due on my friend Paul’s Fort Evil Fruit cassette label early in 2013 which should be quite different to my usual output. I’m recording the new Noa Babayof album at my home studio in Dorset over Christmas. Locally, I’m attempting to form the Bournemouth Improvisers Orchestra to get some of my latent live performing frustrations out for when I’m not playing with United Bible Studies. Other than that, the usual bollocks. Chart domination.

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The self-titled album by The Cloisters is out now on Second Language Music.

http://www.secondlanguagemusic.com

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Words: http://michaeljohntanner.wordpress.com/