Tamara Schlesinger is the talented lead singer and main brains behind the foot stomping folk sounds of 6 Day Riot, a band I have listened to countless times on record and loved many times over live – they even played a storming set at the launch of Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration in 2011. Over the past year, with a little help from Creative Scotland, she’s put together her first solo album, The Procession. In this her honeyed vocals are looped to magnificent effect over the simplest of instrumentals. It’s a step away from the unabashed raucousness of her band, with melancholic lyrics such as those in the beautiful No Coming Back, So Long and Again (previewed on soundcloud below) inspired by a reflective period in her life. The Procession works best when taken together as a whole, each song subtly altering in mood as the listener is led on a meditative journey by the woven layers of Tamara Schlesinger‘s beautiful voice. I caught up with the singer to find out about the changes in her life.
The Procession, your first solo album, came out this week. What has the reception been like so far?
So far the reception has been great. The album was quite an experimental project for me, moving away from the 6 Day Riot sound and working with a capella vocals and I really enjoyed the challenge. I’ve had some lovely reviews already and a few spins on 6 music, XFM and Amazing Radio. Also Amazing Radio have made the album Album of the Month so I’m pretty happy so far.
The album was made in Glasgow with help from Creative Scotland – how did that process work and how did being at home forge the process?
I wrote the album over the course of a year and discovered that I could apply for funding from Creative Scotland. As I run my own label and have always self-released my music I thought it was a great opportunity. I was so delighted when I received the funding, it allowed me to spend longer in the studio than I normally get the chance to. It also allowed me to work with new musicians (all of whom are Scottish) and to work in a different manner. I went into the studio with ideas, but really they came to life once I was in there, and that was a very different process for me. Normally I would have rehearsed the tracks with the band and arranged all the parts before recording due to budget limitations. Being home was also great, it was fantastic to be in Glasgow, the mood is very different to London and it definitely affected the way the recording went in a positive way.
It’s much more mellow than the work 6 Day Riot is known for – was this deliberate and if so why?
Yes, I didn’t want to do a solo project that sounded like 6 Day Riot, I didn’t see the point in that. If I was going to do something on my own it really needed to sound different to the band. I was in a more melancholy place at the time of writing as well so that is definitely reflective in the mood to the record. I felt like doing an album that flowed together as a whole and I think I managed to achieve that.
What inspired the new direction and lyrics?
I was in the process of packing up my home and moving when a lot of the album was written, along with having some potentially life changing things to deal with – so I was in a very reflective mood. I was thinking a lot about what your home really means, whether it holds your memories or whether you can pick everything up and start a new. I was also waiting for some test results that could have meant a big change in my life – so the lyrics ended up being more personal to me than usual. I had also been co-writing with Deadly Avenger, we co-wrote the trailer music for 127 Hours (a survival drama film), and the tracks were all cinematic dance in style. So I think when I began writing my own music it ended up bit more cinematic than usual.
You’re expecting a baby soon: how is this affecting your plans to tour and what are your hopes and dreams for your little one?
Well, it is already affecting me as I am much more tired than usual! so I will probably be touring the album again at the start of next year when I release more singles. I just want a healthy, happy baby, but hopefully one that enjoys coming to lots of gigs and festivals and doesn’t get too bored hearing my songs and voice over and over again.
Lead single Again
The Procession by Tamara Schlesinger was released on Tantrum Records on the 6th of August 2012. If you are based in Scotland you can catch Tamara performing at Stereo Cafe Bar in Glasgow on August 15th – a series of dates will be confirmed soon so catch her live if you can: it’s a wonderful experience (read my review of a 6 Day Riot concert here). Hear 6 Day Riot play live at the launch party of Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration in the video below.
There is an intense pleasure in looking at something that makes your toes curl into your shoes, buy more aboutpurchase your face contort with disgust, and laugh all at once – a bit like smelling your own fart. Concrete Hermit opens the year with the an exhibition in the style of “the Contemporary Grotesque” – five artists working with drawing, painting and sculpture to create something remarkably gross that you can’t quite peel your eyes from.
We were especially excited because two of the artists have featured in past issues of the magazine. Andrew James Jones and James Unsworth first pricked our interest for their depictions of obscure characters tied up in some unsavory activity, a world that is dark and humorous, and a nice antidote to all things pretty and quaint. I would love to have seen the margins of their exercise books at school, files covered in heavily detailed sketches that made the teachers furrow their brows and the girls convulse. Well, what was weird and creepy inevitably becomes cool and quirky, and the eyebrow-raising work of these artists is sure to turn your stomach with a nice dose of irony that is strangely relatable.
Andrew James Jones has been turning stomachs for an increasingly global following with his prolific output of paintings, drawings and self published photocopy books. Named a scary idiot and a madman, it is well worth dipping into Concrete Hermit for a look. His work is grimly complimented by Unsworth’s macabre transformation of folkloric images, some very surreal photographs from Mudwig Dan, and some amazing cross-breed sculptures from Kate McMorrine. You can even pick up an copy of issue ten whilst you’re there.
We’ll be popping down, hope to see you there!
The Coventry Kasbah on a Monday night is somewhere I readily avoid. It’s full of lairy students and scary middle age men all out with the single aim of upholding Britain’s image as booze-fueled nation of oafish thugs. It was a bit of a surprise therefore to see that much-tipped star of 2009 La Roux was playing one of her first ever gigs there. Baptisms of fire are always worth seeing, viagra so I thought I’d pop along.
I spoke to La Roux for the final issue of Amelia’s Magazine, try and in the interview she talked about how she was hoping to put together a really wowing live show. At the time I took this to mean something involving pyrotechnics and costumes and my imagination roamed. However, viagra order having seen her live, it seems she actually meant getting a band she liked, and putting together a performance she felt showcased her music. If this was the case then she certainly succeeded. The live show brought new life to her songs, and even the confused/ drunk audience seemed to enjoy it.
She opened with first single Quicksand, a throwback to 80′s electronic pop that showcased amazing songwriting and fantastic vocals, whilst also managing to stay firmly in the mainstream. Live it manages to retain its brashness, and her vocals demanded the crowd’s attention, though she only partially succeeds in maintaining it – which trust me, was still a big achievement.
I can’t wait for the day when she has enough successes behind her to actual have some kind of pyrotechnical, horrendously lavish stage show with glitter explosions and animals and dancers and stuff, but for somebody who hasn’t been in the public eye all that long, playing one of their first gigs – I was still heartily impressed. Try and catch her supporting Lily Allen on her next tour, or at one of her many gigs at YoYo (she’s playing every week in February).
XX Teens are so stand offish that it would be very easy to simply dismiss them as weirdos. They’re shirt, for salewhat is ed tie and gawmless stares are supposed to create an atmosphere of impending doom. These efforts are however in vain, remedy due to the slightly foolish looking lead singer wearing sunglasses indoors, at night – obviously believing himself to be the embodiment of Lou Reed. Which is a shame, because a band who can create an atmosphere of impending doom are always a real treat.
The only problem with their completely non-emotive stage manner is that it receives a very static reaction from a crowd. Something I’ve seen many times, but it’s not often that it would appear to be the reaction the artist had hoped for. It’s quite an achievement really. Tracks like ‘Darling’ and ‘How To Reduce The Chances Of Becoming A Terror Victim’ should insight at least a small ruckus.
One thing I did enjoy during their set was the lavish use of mega phone. Mainly used for eerie, evil genius style, laughing into the microphone. I liked this mainly for the look the guitarist gave to another band member after executing this act. It seemed to say, “right, well at least that bits over – I still don’t know whether it’s really necessary, but damn am I good at it.”
My favourite thing about their songs is how the guitar licks are reminiscent of bands like The Rakes. Formed around simple yet attractive loops, the bass lines imitate them to create something that drills into your conscious, a feeling that is heightened by the commanding vocals from the man in the shades. There was something very ‘1984‘ about ‘How To Reduce The Chances Of Becoming A Terror Victim’ in particular.
This is music that makes you look at your computer generic -Katmai-N.jpg”target=”_blank”>strange and start looking for the source of the problem that’s causing it to create such obscure noises.
Keyboard Choir come across as a Jean Micheal-Jarre for the last.fm generation. Their production appears to be encapsulating the sounds of their experimentations with keyboards within something recognizable as structure, creating an end product which just sounds really, really good
Their influences would appear to be obvious, with Aphex Twin, DJ Shadow and Briano Eno being detectable. But they also bring something of their own to the table – something a lot more post-rock than many of the aforementioned. The exclusive use of keyboards gives the album a live feel which is often very difficult to create in electronic music.
Tracks like ‘Skylab’, ‘Legal Boards’ and ‘In This Situation, Thinking Wont Help’ really show the range of sounds they can create so masterfully. It’s an album that will fill you with intrigue and delight you on every listen.
They are definitely one of the flagship groups for Oxford’s impressive music scene, and those thinking Foals were the most experimental band to come from should definitely check them out.
About a month ago I received an out-of-the-blue email from stylist to the stars, buyRebekah Roy. I was already planning to attend her presentation ‘Create a unique personal look’ at the Barbican, approved so I was absolutely delighted when she asked for a quote from both Amelia and little ol’ me, ailment to use as part of her talk. The question that she put to us both was,
‘In your opinion, what’s the best way for someone to create their own distinct personal style?’
Knowing this was likely to be quite a high profile event, I agonised for a good two days over what direction to take with my words of wisdom. I thought it best not to try and sound like some sort of all-knowing fashion wizard since the room was bound to be full of fashion types who, lets face it, probably knew better. On the other hand I was aware of how embarrassing it could be if it appeared as though I didn’t have a clue, so I deliberated, sat back, then deliberated some more before conjuring up the following:
‘It’s impossible to create a self-image using preconceived ideas. Your discomfort can be seen through even the most expensive of designer gowns, should you attempt to construct a persona that doesn’t belong to you. People that are noted for their distinct personal style are often those whose clothing is almost an accessory to their personality or attitude to life. To a genuine trendsetter, that bold pair of fuchsia heels isn’t used to denote wealth or forward thinking style, they’re merely the best footwear to compliment a love for all things bright and colourful’.
And Amelia wrote this quote:
‘For me the only people who have a distinct personal style are those who have absolutely no regard for what other people think about the way they dress, it being merely an outward expression of a strong personality and a creative mind. They are unlikely to follow trends, instead preferring to find their own way of dressing in a sea of similar looks – this, somewhat ironically, means that they are likely to kickstart the very trends they steer clear of’.
The presentation took place in a tiny room in the gallery, which was jam-packed with predominately female, Roy followers. I was ushered in and advised to take a seat on the floor alongside the other cramped and flustered looking visitors. This did bother me slightly, particularly as the lady in front insisted on invading every inch of space I attempted to create for myself. My feelings of discomfort were slightly sidetracked by the arrival of Rebekah herself, who entered the room like a great beacon of fashionable light. Her adventurous teaming of long pop socks with court shoes immediately caught my eye and had me wondering how many other females in the room had made a mental ‘to do’ note, of this particular style.
Her presentation consisted of a light-hearted and humorous discussion on individuality and personal taste. She employed a model and a single rail of clothing to illustrate how a simple pair of jeans and plain white tee can be transformed to create different looks. Quotes from various creative’s within the fashion industry were projected on a wall behind her throughout the presentation. I couldn’t help but wait anxiously for my quote to appear – my discomfort growing by the minute as I shuffled around the square foot of space I’d been allocated in an attempt to minimise the cramp festering in my lower back. This went down a treat with a couple of done-up ladies sat beside me, who didn’t take too kindly to having their manicured toes trampled on.
I’d nearly given up hope of seeing my words appear when low and behold, my name flashes up in lights alongside my apparently ‘expert opinion’. I jumped up and fumbled around with my camera in an attempt to get a picture while vainly scanning the room for any hint of a reaction. My efforts failed miserably as, sods law, my camera decided to use that particular moment to run low on battery. I did however manage to get a slightly blurry pic of Amelia’s words on the wall from my phone.
So there’s the evidence guys and girls, we do actually know a little about the weird and wonderful world that is fashion, even if we do appear to be spending most of our time seeking out the free drinks at glammed up press events!
At the end – we all couldn’t wait to stand up and stretch our legs
Visitors browsing the clothing rail at the end
The site for Climate Camp has just been secured! At 3pm this very afternoon activists scaled tripods to prevent the cops from moving them along and have erected a banner reading “No New Coal.”
Photograph by Mike Russell
Activist Paddy on the tripod ready to tie up the banner (how they got up there is a mystery) with the targeted power station in the background
Photograph by Mike Russell
Photograph by Mike Russell
Quite an impressive banner
Photograph by Mike Russell
Fellow activists erecting the marquee
Situated in an uncultivated field occupied by 20 sheep, viagra sale the ballsy ones have rounded up the woolly creatures and have provided them with food and water.
The sheep happily grazing
Plans were previously kept under wraps to ensure the police and E.ON did not spoil their intentions, pill yet activists and spokesperson Terry Graves now “warmly invite people from the local community to come down and see for themselves what the camp is all about.” A quick reminder why? “We have a future to protect” states Hannah Abbots, more about backed up by Christina Greensford outlining “people from all over the UK are here to create a democratic, low-carbon society in which our long term future on this planet is prioritised over the short term profit margins of the fossil fuel industry.”
With the land located between Hoo St Werburgh and High Halstow, rail links to Strood and buses to Hoo which is a half hour walk away from the site, there simply isn’t any excuse not to join Amelia and all of us interns between 3-11 August.
So come on guys, lets head down as soon as we can.
It’s not all about the music.
Except, troche it is. But really, this site it isn’t. Not when Daniel Johnston is at the mic. The man with the notorious mental history, cheapest who in his forties lives next door to his parents, who’s had a film dedicated to his problems, who was fetishised by Kurt Cobain in public, and who creates music that strips his troubled heart and soul so bare you can see his blood cells.
Schizophrenic, depressive and diabetic, he no longer looks young on the neon-blue encrusted (and fantastically inappropriate) Indig02 stage. His hair has greyed and he has the belly of a man who long stopped looking after himself. But his frame is still small. He’s in a baggy grey t-shirt and black slacks. He’s lumbering and unassuming.
The set starts with him as a solo artist. His voice is deeper now, but it still cracks when he strains himself, like it always used to. Scout Niblett, Niblett’s drummer, Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, James McNew of Yo La Tengo, and Jad Fair of Half Japanese help Johnston out on guitars, drums, bass, chord organ and tom-tom tonight.
Up on stage, I guess he’s still the same kid inside. The same kid that wrote tonight’s early crowd pleasers: the adventurous, excited ‘Speeding Motorcycle’ and the dedication to a childhood hero, ‘Casper The Friendly Ghost’. And because he’s still the same kid inside, the songs mean the same as they did when they were demos in the 70s and 80s.
He’s coming from the same place: still damaged, still confused by the world. Without the music, you suspect Johnston wouldn’t have much. But he does have music. And more poignantly, music has him. He’s the ultimate story for musical romanticists.
His genius lies in the songs: the harmonies from nowhere, the outbursts of naivety, the inability to recover from unrequited love, images of death, immense sadness and visions of doom. His past makes him more interesting, sure. But he’s a walking triumph over adversity, a man to admire.
The Indig02 finds Niblett singing often behind Johnston, her sharp, eerie scrawl clashing weirdly with his squeak. The band is disjointed and works by accident. A supergroup sounding like they’ve barely practised, this is Johnston’s way. This is pure. His music is easy and natural. At a guess, he’s the kind of writer who’s prolific when in the mood, but feels no obligation. Talent is the word.
When Johnston sings, he shakes, but he’s with pals and enjoying the occasion. ‘Walking The Cow’ is greeted with the whoops of a greatest hit. And his set ends with an acapella version of the minute-long ‘Devil Town’.
Portobello Market never fails to make its way into the list of must-see places for the ultimate tourist trip to London. Pastel-coloured houses, prescription legendary vintage stalls and some rather delicious spots for a quick snack make it one of the favourite stops for visitors and locals alike. The ideal Saturday in London often starts with a stroll down Portobello Road, information pills a stop for coffee and cupcakes and then on to the shopping, from one-of-a-kind vintage to up-and-coming new designers.
Too bad this is the ideal Saturday for all of Londoners. All seven millions of us, it might seem. So the idea of spending Saturday morning sitting on the couch with a cup of tea might sound a lot more appealing than dragging oneself to the crammed streets of Notting Hill, fighting with aggressive tourists for that last piece of jewellery.
The people behind Pret A Portobello must have had the same idea, as they decided to join the two, gathering a bunch of stalls from the most famous London markets to sell their merchandise online. Focusing on young designers, their goal is to provide an alternative to the “ ‘samey’ fashion from high street stores” we all see everywhere and everyday. There are Ducie’s candy-coloured summer dresses, Miss Crofton and her ruffled flowered underwear and Dahlia’s eclectic, trend-inspired collections (her leather goods are to die for). Vintage is obviously on the menu, with a stall full of Lanvin, Christian Lacroix and bespoke pieces by exclusive collaborator Zandra Rhodes.
Plenty of choice, plenty of time to browse, without anxious tourists screaming and pushing and stealing your picks. Pretty appealing, no?
The best part, however, is the “let’s trade!” section. Think eBay meets Portobello. Some items don’t have a set price, and you are free to barter with the stall owner as much as you want over sample sizes and one off pieces.
Should you still be undecided about what to pick, click on the ‘market trends‘, and let them help you. Whether you feel like pastel shades, romantic ruffles or bold prints, you will find outfits complete with shoes, bags and jewellery.
All considered, Pret A Portobello sounds like the perfect Saturday morning in. Something, however, is missing. Because I can moan about the market as much as I want, but, I must confess, at the end of the day I secretly love to spy on tourists, I can’t live without the cupcakes from Hummingbird Bakery and I love the feel of vintage mink furs and crocodile bags you can find on the stalls.
So I guess I will still hit the road every once in a while. After all, you can’t beat the real thing.
‘Tak O Tak’ effortlessly showcases Stricken City’s notable, patient delightfully tyrannical, hospital songwriting talent in its mere 2 minutes and 51 seconds.
There’s something in the simplicity of the opening, with Casio horns and rolling strums of guitar that makes my ears prick. The vocals from Rebekah Raa aren’t filled with half as much excitement as her name, but they enrich the songs with character, like a subtler Karen O perhaps.
The strip down production of tracks adds to their charm, giving the feel it was recorded in a backroom. I really couldn’t imagine it any other way, it just wouldn’t be as quintessentially indie if it was over produced. Which brings me to another point, Stricken City are the first band to make me feel comfortable defining someone as ‘indie’ in, well, ages.
A band that are really on the up, it would appear that all Stricken City need to really break through is an album. Or perhaps (as usual) I’m getting a little ahead of myself, but for a debut single there really is a lot to get excited about.
I first fell in love with Micachu last year, at a Ladyfest London benefit gig. Playing on a tiny guitar strapped to her with a piece of string and backed only by a tinny little tape player, it was impossible not to fall for her infectious songs about loose change and abstaining from sex due to fear of STDs. There was something immediately endearing about her uncomfortable presence, Sarf London snarl and unruly mop of hair…but I digress. Let’s not get too lovey dovey.
I next saw Micachu supporting Mules at the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen back in June. This time she was backed by her band ‘The Shapes’ – Marc Pell and Raisa Khan on drums and keyboards respectively. Having dragged all my friends along promising “you will LOVE her”, I was more than a little worried about how well her weirdness would actually translate to the uninitiated. Playing with a flesh and bone band backing her up, Micachu’s live act had taken a turn from being an intimate, lo-fi affair (something that had been so refreshing first time around) to a more abrupt, slightly less inviting spectacle. However, when Micachu started up her Henry hoover to perform ‘Turn Me Weller’ I knew I needn’t have worried. When a singer starts hoovering up their own face, you know they can’t really do much else to win you, or your friends, over. And they were definitely won over, for the record…
So on to this single, then. ‘Golden Phone’ has to have been the stand out song from both sets I have seen Micachu perform, and now the masses will be lucky enough to hear what all the fuss is about. It’s a twangy, dancey golden nugget of electro happiness. I like my music cut up, disjointed and sampled to death (Beck being my most played on itunes and, more recently, MIA and Santogold lighting my fire) and ‘Golden Phone’ is Micachu’s best example of her prowess at cut and paste style. No worries about melody being sacrificed at the altar of the electronic sampler however, ‘Golden Phone’ is a catchy and brilliantly crafted -dare I say it- pop song.
Taking up residence as B-side is the aforementioned collaboration with Henry the hoover ‘Turn Me Weller’. Syncopated beats, samples of vacuum cleaners and squeakified singing doesn’t really sound like the perfect recipe for a downbeat love song, but the proof is in the pudding. ‘Turn Me Weller’ is a thoughtful lullaby that showcases a surprisingly gorgeous voice, one that sighs through lyrics such as; “You squeezed my heart so tight tonight, you must return it before you leave”.
Micachu is a busy bee right now, as one look at the schedule of her upcoming gigs on MySpace suggests. With a growing fan base, that is said to include Bjork, Bat for Lashes and Saul Williams, now is the time to see her – before she gets as big as she deserves to be.
Golden Phone is released via Accidental Records on August the 11th. The debut album is scheduled for October 2008.
Today I experienced something out of the ordinary and very magical as I visited Tatton Park in Cheshire. Although I’ve lived in the North of England all my life, stuff I’d never previously visited these beautiful gardens. However, after seeing them and experiencing everything there is to see and do, I know I will be visiting again soon.
The day started early as I decided to make my trip to the park an adventure, so I thought the most enjoyable way to travel would be on my bicycle. Unfortunately for me, I managed to puncture one of my tires yesterday (the first flat tyre I’ve had in two years!) so I had to quickly mend that before setting off on my long journey. I printed off a couple of maps, made some sandwiches for lunch, said bye to my cat Elliot and then jumped on my bike.
I cycle round Cheshire a lot, I love that you can see so much and travel so far without the restrictions of road traffic and the expense of a car. Providing I maintain my bike enough to keep it working I take pride in the fact that I’m not contributing any harmful greenhouse gases to the environment by using it regularly.
Having not previously ridden in this area, it pleased me to find most of the journey was well sign posted and the path followed a very scenic route through the countryside. I took many photographs along the way, I strive to always record and document what I see, from interesting looking trees, pretty streams, acres of open fields and numerous interesting species of flora and fauna. At one point I stopped to take a closer look at some large thistles as they were very intriuging in appearance, covered in bees and hover flies. I left promptly when a yellow-jacket tried to sting me.
Not only did I see lots of wildlife on this trip, but also many interesting buildings and mechanical manmade machinery. The most memorable structure was the Lovell Telescope in the Jodrell Bank Observatory. Although this satellite is located near Goostrey and Holmes Chapel in the Borough of Macclesfield, I could see it standing tall above the trees in distant fields. It makes quite a contrast to the green and brown countryside, but it is a fascinating ice white structure.
There were many interesting pieces of new and old farming machinery to be seen along the way, some for which looked old and abandoned. There were also many old buildings to be seen, all of which fascinated me. I adore old and dilapidated buildings, and any structure with history and a story to tell. On these buildings exteriors I noticed thousands of details such as peeling paint, evidence of old plant growth on the bricks, and cracked and broken windows. I also discovered a sign for ‘Cuckooland’ hidden within the ferns on the side of the road. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to explore Cuckooland too… maybe next time though.
About halfway through my journey I crossed the M6 motorway. This was an instant stark contrast to the quiet and calm grassy fields I had been passing for the previous hour.
One of the most attractive and interesting buildings I passed on my journey was the Gatehouse to the Mere Golf & Country Club. It reminded me of a small palace from inside a magical fairytale as the façade is covered almost completely with green vine leaves. The windows feature detailed panelled pains of glass in painted metal frames. The brickwork includes geometric patterns created with alternating coloured bricks. There are beautiful turrets on all roofs, and the gardens are carefully tamed and delicately dressed with brightly coloured marigolds.
Much of the remaining journey towards Tatton Park was a concentration of very expensive looking houses mixed in with beautiful lakes and huge gardens, some of which were new builds with glass fronts and numerous extensions. I did have one near miss along this stretch of road when a super expensive looking car suddenly pulled out of a drive at about 50 mph and nearly hit me! Luckily he managed to brake in time to avoid a collision, and my heart skipped a few beats.
The rest of the cycle ride was lovely as it was very peaceful and there weren’t many cars on the road. Plus there was a huge downward sloping hill so I could give my legs a rest and ride really fast for a while.
As I reached the park as, not only was the weather really brightening up, but the first glimpse of wildlife I saw when looking in the fields was a herd of deer! It was quite breath taking and uplifting to see them strolling round in the huge grassy land.
A few more metres cycling and I had arrived at the entrance of the park. I was now feeling very excited as apart from getting in for free as I was on a bike, everywhere looked completely amazing and it really was like a vision from the most beautiful oil painting you have ever seen.
There were gigantic trees lining either side of the road leading to a huge sand coloured Edwardian mansion which stood proudly behind a well maintained courtyard. I had a brief look around the exterior and then made my way over to the farm to see all the animals.
On the way to the farm I past a few fields, the first of which contained a red deer, which had apparently recently been rescued. I also passed lots of black and white sheep of which two were very friendly and came over to day hello. One of them seemed to enjoy having his photograph taken as he kept sticking his head through the fence to get close to my camera. Or maybe he just wanted to eat it? For some reason he seemed to be enjoying eating a spikey plant, which I think must have really hurt his mouth to chew!
The farm is set in a corner of the park known as Tatton Dale and was, in its heyday, at the heart of the vast Egerton estates, feeding family, guests and staff at the mansion, as well as servicing the park and the outlying properties. Today it is still an authentic working farm that uses traditional farming methods and has recently been given Rare Breeds Accreditation for its commitment to helping to sustain rare breed farm animals.
Once in the farmyard you are spoilt for choice as to which animal you can see. The farm provides a picture of rural life where time has stood still since the 1930s and traditional breeds are still resident. Everyone is allowed to feed the goats and hens, meet the pigs and donkeys and visit Mary Sant’s 1930s cottage.
Visiting the cottage was one of the highlights of my day as I thought it was fascinating how they have retained all the original features of the cottage interior. It looks almost identical to how it did in 1930 when it was the home of the Farm’s caretaker, Miss Mary Sant. According to the records, Miss. Sant was responsible for cleaning the offices, closing the gate to the farm at night and locking up, for which she received £26 per year. It was quite an eye opener to be reminded of how people in my Grandparents generation lived, and how much this differs from our privileged living conditions today. There was only one piece of electrical equipment I could see, which was the radio, and of course there was no television!
I went back outside to have a look around the yard, and saw several large pieces of old machinery and iron structures. Inside the barns there were many different animals with their young, such as cows, horses, donkeys, sheep, chickens, ducks, and goats. Many of these animals are rare breeds, such as the longhaired sheep, which were very cute!
After looking round the remaining barns and workshop rooms I decided to head back to the mansion to have a look at the gardens. On the way I passed the bright green passenger train on the road, which carries people between the different areas of the park. It looked like lots of fun to travel on!
Back at the mansion, I had a bite to eat and then started to locate the gardens. There was a great atmosphere within the whole park as there is a parks for children to play on, rope slides and swings, and on that particular day they also had several fun fair rides, one of them being a beautiful carousel.
I found the shops and restaurant, and eventually discovered the entrance to the gardens where the Biennial artwork was also being displayed. To get into the gardens you have to walk though a narrow building containing various facts and photographs about the history of the park and gardens. As soon as you leave this building you are confronted with one of the most beautiful and breath taking sights you could ever see!
Walking into the gardens for me was like stepping into an Edwardian secret dream garden as lots of old features are fantastically preserved, and the variety of flora is immense and so beautiful. I walked around the orchard and pineapple house for a while, admiring every detail. I then decided to have a look at some of the featured pieces of artwork, which had been created for the displays.
It was he first Biennial show which has been featured in Tatton Park, and the theme was ‘Botanical Collections and Collectors’, suggesting new ways of looking at established spaces and their initial inspirations. Over 30 artists, performers and writers had developed new work in response to Tatton Park’s gardens, investigating the legacy of collections, collectors and the designed landscape amid current issues of climate change and globalisation.
The Biennial supports the work of emerging and established artists through a process that reveals the history of the Park. It is a launch pad for future events that will further understanding of exceptional artistic practice within the laboratory of this historic property, managed by Cheshire County Council and owned by The National Trust.
I managed to see and experience a couple of the featured displays, including the ‘Sensory Tour’ which was guided by Gayle Chong Kwan. This event invited participants to experience the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the grounds. Gayle asked the group to place a blindfold over their eyes, and she then proceeded to guide them around the kitchen garden so they could taste various herbs and learn about the produce which grows there.
Whilst in this garden I also discovered several funny scarecrows dressed in all sorts of attire. There was a tin can robot, a plant pot lady, a lady dressed in an evening gown, and even a scarecrow man dressed in a tuxedo with a curly moustache! I also found a piece of artwork which had been created by Lisa Cheung aka the Kitchen Goddess. It was a human-like vegetable sculpture with a round transparent head made from wire. This work was both sculptural and performative: a growing gown of plants, fruit and vegetables that will ultimately be eaten.
I then wondered deep into the gardens so I could explore the whole park. I was continually amazed with ever footstep and blink of an eye, as every single detail within the Park gardens were astonishingly beautiful. Some of the details I adored were; the panelled glass roofs on the greenhouses, the giant 20 foot dog shaped hedge, the secret hidden faces and beautiful patterns incorporated into the stone vases and seating, and the accuracy, symmetry and expanses of high detail incorporated into every single object or plant I saw.
However, my favourite garden of all the gardens in the park was the rose garden. To enter this garden you have to walk through an early 20th century tea house, and then all of a sudden you are confronted with a strong sent of roses, and the vision of thousands of roses of various breeds. Although, this was one of the smallest gardens, I found it the most inspiring and calming place to be within the park. It was a very intimate space packed with small pathways to allow you to walk between the plants, and there was also a beautiful stone and tiled pool situated in the centre as a focal point. In the early 1900s this was used as an occasional bathing area for the family in summer, and in other times of the year it was used as a pond for fish. When I saw the rose garden bath however, it was dry and contained several strange robotic fern creatures. They were standing stationary for a while, but all of a sudden as the clouds cleared and it became a lot sunnier, they began to walk about! These ‘Walking Ferns’ created by Paulette Phillips, were described as a herd of 10 solar-powered ‘fern-bots’. The inspiration for the idea was based on the Canadian Walking Fern, and the many fern species in Tatton’s collections.
I then proceeded to walk around the rest of the gardens in order to see the remaining pieces of distributed artwork and permanent garden landmarks. I saw ‘The Monument for the Happy Immigrant (Japanese Knotweed), which was featured in the Tower Garden. I encountered several of the large photographs, which had previously been taken of features within the garden, then printed onto clear Perspex sheets and suspended in the air in various locations. The idea behind this was to question your ability to recognise accurate perspective, when a disjointed view of perspective is placed in front of you.
I was running out of time, but as a result I got a bit lost in the Arboretum and Deep Woods. Hearing the warning siren to tell you it was ten minutes till closing time, so I had a little panic attack and continued to run until I eventually found the African Hut, and moments later saw the Mercury Pool which had a beautiful little fountain in the centre.
On my way back up to the mansion I passed several small wicker and wool sculptures, which were hanging in several trees. I later read that these were a collection of bird feeders, baths and tables created by the artist Shane Waltener. The idea behind them was to ask whether the exotic mix of seeds from Tatton’s global population of plants has brought new birds to the grounds.
One of the final beautiful garden features I saw before leaving the grounds was a life size fountain sculpture of a male mermaid. This was situated directly in front of the Mansion and it over looked the whole park and surrounding landscape.
It was sadly then time to leave Tatton Park and go home. I returned to the stableyard, jumped on my bike and made my way towards the exit. When I had almost reached the gates I was confronted with one last glimpse of beauty. I looked to my left and saw a field with hundreds of deer and stags. I slowly and quietly walked down the path towards them, and then walked on my knees a little so I could get much closer as they didn’t seem to mind that as much. I was very close, just tens of metres away from them and they didn’t seem to mind. I then made my way back to the road, and yet again became distracted with another herd of stags, which had huge horns.
Just as I was walking back towards my bike and about to leave, something amazing happened as the Park Rangers had encouraged all the deer and stags from the adjacent field to cross the road and join the stags. I stood still and the rangers passed me with an encouraging smile whilst he fed them so I knew I was allowed to stand and observe them running all around and past me until they were all together in the same field. It was an amazing experience and I would recommend a visit to the Park to everybody!
For me, Tatton Park is my very own mystical garden.
Nikki felt so inspired by her time in the Tatton Park Gardens she made us a beautiful illustration. Responding to a story she read about a lady who used to read and write in solitude in the gardens during the 1930′s, Nikki’s illustration entitled The Dream Collector deals with themes of of escapism and dreams. Have a peek at more of her beautiful mystical work here.
To celebrate the release of the Eine Kleine Nachtmusik album, this Modular Records threw a little shindig at the Dazed and Confused Gallery with ‘a little night melody, a little film & a little art’. I arrived feeling rather flustered and hot having walked around in the summery heat for the best part of an hour. Ambitiously I thought I could attend two not very close events in an hour, I couldn’t. I presumed Charles the music editor would be waiting for me there. However, after about 30 minutes of me waiting for him it became obvious that he was not coming (later I found out he got lost, oh the perils of lacking an A-Z, and arrived after I had gone).
Feeling rather hot, I inched through the crowd to find the cool cool cool beer. What sweet relief it was to plunge my hand into the icy cold bucket, so much so I contemplated keeping it there forever or at least till the end of the evening. Garnering a few looks I decided it was probably best to remove my hand and go in search of the artwork produced by Fergadelic, renowned for his work with Silas, X-Girl and his own label Tonite and Mel Bles who had contributed photographs. This is where I got confused. While I did find the artwork and it was suitable 70′s intergalactic inspired I scratched my head as to why they had gone to the trouble. Showcased in a rather wee room, the little stressed on the PR invite was no exaggeration. I thought there must have been more to it. Once again I set off in search of delights. This ended with no more artwork found and me outside on the street with a large portion of the guests, occasionally catching snippets of the variousAustralian accents.
Waiting for the showing of the video I was hoping some individual would take pity on my Billy-no-mates status. I even thought about resorting to puppy dog eyes (I didn’t). Then I saw my chance, another girl by herself. But too late, she was joined by a posse of others. Just like everyone else there. I decided to wander back in to check out the art again.
Back inside, with unusually good timing I realised the film was about to start. A ten minute animation of an intergalactic psychedelic space odyssey produced, directed and animated by David Bailey Ross to accompany the first three tracks off the Eine Kleine Nachtmusik album. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik was created by Riton and is an interpretation of the cosmic sounds of German Krautrock of the late 70′s and early 80′s. The lushly layered sparse sounds went perfectly with the trippy visuals. I have to confess though; I got rather distracted by the resemblance of the room to a sweat box and took to fanning myself with the copy of the album I had picked up. A bit of ventilation wouldn’t have gone amiss. Before I could pass out, the film ended to a riotous applause and I made my exit.
I like a party as much as the next person, perhaps less so when I’m on my own but I was under the impression with the impending credit crunch we are all having to tighten our belts (at least this is what GMTV is telling me). Confusion over the execution of the concept for the night left me feeling this was quite extravagant and dare I say it, slightly unnecessary. But with the Midas touch, perhaps Modular Records have no stresses over spending a few pennies.
Aided in no uncertain terms by a show stopping performance at Texas’ recent South By Southwest festival, ordercase Portland three-piece Menomena present their debut UK release. This is in fact the bands third release – with their two previous albums available in the US exclusively. School friends Danny Seim, mindJustin Harris and Brent Knopf have derived a creative process of much interest that has resulted in a work that is both experimental and forward thinking without being inaccessible.
The bands sound is essentially a combination of looped sounds which are selected from a computer programme called Deeler. The Deeler Sessions culminate in the layering of these looped sounds and vocal addition. The good news is that for the most part this results in songs of sonic density that are out of left field but rich in melody. It is a combination that makes ‘Friend and Foe’ a compelling listen.
Often the fragmented nature of the songs will result in a messy, disjointed sound to begin with. But cohesion arises from moments of inspiration that morph abstract noises into quasi – pop melodies. It maybe a gorgeous piano line, delicate vocal harmony or obscure drum loop. Whatever, these songs keep you guessing, and aside from the odd ill judged inclusion (notably at the tail end of the album) they are nothing less than enthralling.
There are echoes of Mercury Rev on the defiant ‘Rotten Hell’, whilst howling guitars and brooding Saxophone characterise ‘Weird’. Elsewhere Menomena take ‘Up’ era REM as a reference point on ‘My My’- A brilliantly structured song defined by its paradoxical use of warm keyboards and choppy, industrial beats. It is one of many gems.
It’s a shame that the record falls away so badly in its last quarter. The final three songs appear to be an afterthought – lumped on at the end to pad things out when there really is no need for their presence. It leaves a slightly bitter taste in the mouth, but spin straight back to the start and all is forgotten. Friend and Foe deserves attention.
Written by Emyr Price on Monday September 10th, 2007 4:23 pm
The Traveller by Gemma Cotterell. This illustration was inspired by the concept of a A Fairer Sea, title of Co-Pilgrim‘s album. The octopus is taming the sea with his melodic folk music.
Co-pilgrim is the new project from Mike Gale, who has enlisted various friends to join him on A Fairer Sea. The album opens with a rollicking beat before the more melancholic Trapeze takes over: songs are inspired by the difficulties of a trans-atlantic relationship, combining often sad lyrics with beautiful tunes and harmonies. Third in the beautiful title track A Fairer Sea makes copious use of slide guitar to create a gentle slice of Americana that belies the lovelorn words. Other highlights include the combination of upbeat chorus and lonely lyrics on I’m Going to the Country, and the final tune, No Guiding LIght, a spiritual questioning in times of woe. Mike Gale has successfully woven together different musical genres and personal experience to create a gorgeous album that deserves a wide audience.
My mum actually came up with the name, I just liked the sound of it. I didn’t want the project to be called Mike Gale. Co-pilgrim felt like a good name for a band that isn’t strictly a band in the traditional sense in that we don’t really have a fixed line up, people can come and go as they wish.
I believe this is the most recent of many projects for all your members, what has been your musical trajectory so far and how did you end up here?
Everyone in the current line up apart from Claire ( vocals ) has known and worked with each other for at least 10 years or so. Myself, Andy ( bass ) and Tom ( drums ) were all in a band called Black Nielson. We were lucky enough to get picked up by Joe ( Slide, vocals, keys ) and his brother Robin’s label Truck records about 13 years ago and released some albums through them. I’ve worked on and off with both brothers since. After Black Nielson split I travelled around for a while and worked on Co-pilgrim songs with the people I met but when it came time to make A Fairer Sea I wanted to work with the people that I felt most comfortable with and had the biggest musical connection to, I was lucky enough that Joe, Tom and Andy wanted to do it. We’re also really lucky to have Claire, who is Joe’s wife, on board because her beautiful vocal harmony is exactly what we’ve been missing.
You are a fan of both Smog and the Beach Boys – how do these two influences manifest in your music?
I think that they both make music designed to get right into your soul. I know some people may consider Bill Callahan‘s music to be a bit miserable and The Beach Boys to be happy and full of sunshine but I think the opposite is often the case. Bill Callahan‘s lyrics are more often than not really funny where as a lot of Beach Boys songs are heartbreaking, especially the later stuff when Brian was losing his way. I guess the thing that I take from them both the most, apart from the harmonies is the idea that just because the feel of a song is happy or sad it doesn’t mean the lyrics need be the same, I really like that trick.
Co-Pilgrim by Carina Martina. Co-Pilgrim’s album A Fairer Sea inspired my illustration with its aquatic references and dreamy melodies.
Would it be fair to say that Co-pilgrim is a combination of folk and country, with a strong American influence? Why do you think British bands have taken Americana to heart in recent years?
Yeah I suppose that’s fair, though the first bands that I really fell in love with were Stiff Little Fingers and The Jam, I still love them and they’ll always have an influence on me and my songs. I’m not sure It’s only been recently that British bands have been influenced by Americana, I think It’s been an influence for a while, maybe a few breakthrough artists have made it seem like a recent thing? To be honest I’m not really even sure what qualifies a band to be called Americana, it’s quite a broad genre.
A good melody is clearly very important to you, how do you write your tunes?
Thanks, yep, the melody is definitely the most important part of any song for me, then the harmonies. My songwriting style is quite simple I guess. I just sit with my guitar for a while until I find a few chords I like and then try to mumble a melody over the top. I don’t always write a full song in one go, often I’ll have a bunch of little sections that will all end up in different songs. Lyrics always come second to the melody for me, though I really am trying to work harder on my words.
Is there a theme to the new album, and if so what is it?
Yeah, the main recurring theme of the album is a long distance relationship I was involved in a while ago with a woman from New York and the struggles we faced in trying to make it work. I moved over there to be with her but ultimately we couldn’t keep it going. It was nobody’s fault and she’s still a dear friend.
What is title track Fairer Sea about, and what was the idea behind the accompanying video? Who made it? A Fairer Sea is again about that same relationship. It’s just about how with a bit more luck then maybe we could have made it. The sea is the distance we always had to fight against. Claire from the band and our friend Suzy made the video, it came out brilliantly and fits the theme of the song perfectly.
What can we expect next from Co-Pilgrim?
We are going to release a couple more singles from A Fairer Sea over the next few months. During that time we’ll also be starting to record the next album, I’m really excited about the new songs. We’ve got some festival appearances booked over the summer including my favourite little festival, Wood Festival. We’ll see you there!