Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Midlake - The Courage Of Others

It was Bill Forsyth at Minus Zero who got me into Midlake, probably about three years ago. Over the years there've been more than a few records he's insisted I buy and generally he's been right. I found that I was taken by The Trials Of Van Occupanther pretty much immediately, and most people I played it to were of the same mind. My thoughts on the album are summed up in the following:

"It’s a record of magic and otherness. A series of conceptually linked songs set in the American wilderness in the late 19th century, involving a ‘lonely scientist’, in an atmosphere that’s mainly pastoral but at times menacing. Harking back to pre-punk days and gentle psych-folk it has a rich and organic sound that warms and reassures, and its lyrical elisions invite you to join, as part-creator, this second life.

"Comparisons are made, not altogether accurately, to later Fleetwood Mac and America, and the shade of the mysterious Jimmie Spheeris has been invoked by the band itself. However in their spirit of evocation of other times, though not necessarily musically, they are perhaps closest to Tandy and The Band."

That's from the preface to an interview I did with Tim Smith, from Summer 2007, that ran in Rock'n'Reel that autumn (Nov/Dec issue). Tim also talked about their intended follow-up as they'd been playing a new song,‘The Children Of The Grounds':

“It’s a little darker sounding. I think the next album will be darker. Maybe half the album is written. I still have a lot to write but I just want to get started recording. We’ll begin when we get back. We’re still waiting on gear to come in, but now we’ve got a proper studio or at least a space we can convert. We recorded the first two in the living room.

“We’re doing it ourselves again. We’re still figuring things out. It’s a learning thing. It’s a bit of a frustrating process as being fun. It can be so gruelling by the time it’s done. I’m just saying that as it might take us a year. There’s pressure but I’m quite confident it’ll be a better album. I’m pretty sure from listening to the demos. I just think the songs are better. I don’t know if there’s any ‘Roscoe’s. There’s definitely no ‘Roscoe’s in the bunch, but you can’t expect to write 20 of those! We’ll see.”

It's now been announced that album, 'The Courage Of Others', is slated for release on 1st February next year. To quote from Bella Union's press release:

"Midlake’s new album also looks to a slightly earlier, and definitely British, trad-tainted folk sound. It may share the same gorgeously analogue-warm electro-acoustic template as Van Occupanther but it’s a slower, darker and more carved record, both eerier and dreamier...Neither do the new songs feature any hermit-scientists like Van Occupanther, or the mythical Roscoe. The songs that constitute The Courage Of Others, Tim says, are closer to his heart than those of their first two albums because, “I don’t feel I’m looking at the songs through someone else’s eyes. I’ve tried to keep it as true to myself as I could.”

The tracks are:

Acts Of Man
Winter Dies
Small Mountain
Core Of Nature
Rulers, Ruling All Things
Children Of The Grounds
Bring Down
The Horn
The Courage Of Others
In The Ground

and there's a projected short tour of the UK to coincide

Friday 22 January – NEWCASTLE – The Cluny
Saturday 23 January – LEICESTER – The Musician
Sunday 24 January – CAMBRIDGE – Junction2
Wednesday 27 January – NORWICH – Arts Centre
Thursday 28 January – LONDON – Tabernacle

1 comment:

Jason said...

I may have to go to the London date.