Sometimes, it does the power of good to step outside of what you would normally listen to and immerse yourself in something a bit different. Even better, it’s when you look sideways and notice that there’s something already there that you’ve not previously paid attention to. For me, this is found in scores and soundtracks, not just from the usual film and televisual sources, but from videogames. Even back in its relative infancy, the gaming industry has created emotional musical content through increasingly advanced sound chips, and there are many gems from all manner of genres to be found in a medium still treated with some suspicion in many quarters as a mere pastime for kids. This particular gem is one of those times when you could play this to any one of these naysayers, and will absolutely blow their minds when it is pointed out that this is from one such game.
Following on from the revelations on and about the Soulsavers’ new Reconsidering the Madman album, the conversation with Rich Machin turns to more general matters regarding work previous and planned, with a bunch of questions that veer towards the eclectic and back again, as well as me just noticing as I was putting this bit together that I’d asked the same question twice. Moving swiftly on from that faux pas, I hope from a reader’s perspective that the questions that were asked and very kindly answered are among the very things that everyone wanted to know about what’s going on with the band and their various satellite vocalists…
Over the very varied course of their recorded history, the word Cinematic is one that has been applied constantly to the Soulsavers, and with good reason. Whether it’s the VHS pulp noir of their Tough Guys Don’t Dance debut, the Wim Wenders outsider Americana of their It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s The Way You Land follow-up or the full-blown epics of Broken and The Light The Dead See, the impression I always got from the collected musical output of Rich Machin and Ian Glover is of a soundtrack to a film that the rest of us aren’t privy to. So it’s perhaps a happy inevitability that the Stoke-On-Trent duo have cast their sights somewhat more specifically in this direction by applying for and receiving a grant from the PRS For Music Foundation in order to realise an ambition to put together an instrumental record to be pitched as a calling-card to the film industry. 6 Days From Tomorrow is thrilled that Rich took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about this project, film music in general, and what the future holds for the Soulsavers.
Back in 2010, I was in a bad way. Some days, I still am. Such is life. One day, I decided to try to do something about it by putting things in order and perspective in the only way I knew how to do without the presence of other people, by letting my record collection tell my own story through the way that I listened to other people’s music and how that coloured in my own experiences, whether mundane or catastrophic. Nobody was ever going to see it, I’d get all my ducks in a row once more and I’d probably go off and do something else in a few weeks anyway.
I don’t think I realised how much I’d enjoy it. Yeah, some of the reminiscence was horrible (and still is), I’ve probably exhausted all my major milestone things (except two, and with reason) and it didn’t really help much anyway to the point that I rarely do any soul-searching on here any more. But things are made to change, and I’m still here five years later with a subscription to renew. Hi.
To mark this occasion such as it is, I have decided to get drunk and mess about a bit, because if none of this is any fun, we may as well all bugger off right now. And what better way to have fun than to get angry about dumb listy articles about how you should collect, cherish, maintain and otherwise fetishise the way you enjoy listening to stuff…
I consider myself very lucky to be the age that I am. Not now of course, as that’s awful. But the age I am allowed me to be the age that I was at the back end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s when there was so much wonderful chaos in the world of music, and I will always be amazed that it was all going on around me, going a huge defining the person I was then and hopefully laying down the groundwork for whatever I am now. It was a brilliant time when every weekend hanging out in record shops uncovered new treasures and new friends, and almost every night was filled with live shows and clubs where all manner of people gathered to share in this delight.
That’s how I remember it anyway, and I’m sure that it’s wholly incorrect. I don’t particularly care though, as this book helps to reassure me that it really was that much fun and important. In this book, I feel that I have fully corroborated evidence that it Happened, by virtue of the people involved on both sides of Steve Gullick’s camera being slap bang in the centre of it all.
On the last day of the year, it’s my favourite record of the year. When I first heard this in April by accident, I was pretty sure that this was going to end up on the top of the 2014 pile. After a small amount of doubt in the middle of Summer, I can’t believe that I thought that it could have been anything else at any point. All good and great albums are supposed to be something different as well as something that, for want of a better term, just “fits” whether that tessellation comes in the form of the meeting of moods, becoming a subconscious part of a specific event, or merely by dint of becoming the zeitgeist of a whole litany of events. This is it. The only record I heard this (almost last) year that does all of that.
This record and the one that follows were pretty interchangeable during the month or so that it took to put this whole Top Fifty together. I’m pretty sure I have them the right way round though, as I hope to explain tomorrow (yes! I
will might actually get this review of 2014 completed in 2014!). As it’s a personal statement, it’s only fitting that the ones that made the most personal impact became such favourites of mine, and for such disparate reasons. With this one, the impact is something created rather than reflected, and that’s a gift well worth celebrating.
Genre pigeonholing, don’t you just love it? Ever since Faith No More were dubbed “Funk Metal” back in the 1980s, mankind’s desire to label things that sound a bit different to everything else has seen labels get sillier and sillier. Then again, it all started with Rock and Roll, which makes little sense anyway. I did try to find something all-encompassing to encapsulate whatever goes on during the course of this record, but nothing fits. Even the current trend for “Post-” anything doesn’t seem to work, as even looking up something as outwardly clever as “Post-Blues” brought up Booker T and the MG’s, Jethro Tull and Chris Cornell, so it’s anyone’s guess really. Ultimately though, it doesn’t really matter except to people who don’t read past an arbitrary number of stars and the first sentence of anything. What does matter is how something moves you, and Phantom Radio moves like nothing else. A Post-Lanegan record, perhaps?
Sometimes, something just grabs you and doesn’t let go. Inventions, a coming-together of Explosions In The Sky’s Matt T. Smith and Eluvium’s Matthew Cooper is most definitely one of those somethings. The first play of this album overwhelmed and reprogrammed the senses, and a later, memorable playthrough on a train journey down to London cemented its status as a record to be cherished. It’s a record that suggests constant movement, described before a single note is played thanks to the arresting cover art, taken from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope tracking a pulsar’s journey over the course of 51 months. As a visual accompaniment to the music, one could do a lot worse and very little better at describing wonder in a single image.
It’s all going in fits and starts here, and with three days left until the end of the year it’s all getting a bit fraught here. It will be finished though, even if it’s nudging midnight at the last timezone on the planet. It’s an enjoyable pursuit, not only because of the excuse to revisit and re-evaluate all the best musical bits of 2014, but just to have a bit of a laugh and kill a bit more time while doing so. These things do have a habit of being a bit po-faced and serious, and whenever it feels like enjoying something starts to approach seriousness, it’s time to step away, put the kettle on and think about playing outside for a bit.
As an aside, doing this sort of thing isn’t the same as it was when I started. Every platform I use to try to let people know what I’m doing here has been taken over by people uninterested in sharing experiences and engaging in a like-minded word-of-mouth spirit of community, and instead concentrate on letting me know that unless I spend (a lot of) money, it’s all guaranteed to be a bit pointless as I cannot reach my “customers”, and presumably this will also mean that people wanting to have a gander at/interact with this site (or a whole host of other, better ones) are going to find it a bit more of a struggle to do so. I don’t want any, and have no need of, customers. Next year, I’ll start afresh, or at last the same as I did 5 years ago when the intention was to quietly not be read while I put things in order.