Following on from last week’s This Is The Kit track, first up this week is Rozi Plain, one of Kate Stables’s regulator collaborators, usually on bass and adding backing vocals, but here transplanted to the Isle of Eigg. Here, Johnny Lynch’s Lost Map Records’s V I S I T ▲ T I O N S project sets musicians up for a week at a time in St. Franny’s Bothan, literally garden shed-cum-accommodation-cum-recording studio, and where isolation and inspiring scenery allows musicians to work their magic in a bit of peace. In return, this brings life, and a bit of welcome diversified income, to Eigg – or, at least, it did, that is until Covid-19 appeared. Johnny, a musician himself with Pictish Trail, knows the sort of space that musicians want and whose own music is also about isolation and making sense of isolation.
Rozi, formerly a Lost Map artist until Memphis Industries came a-calling, visited the project at the start of 2020; and the results of her collaboration with Gerard Black and Jamie Whitby-Coles, who also regularly drums with This Is The Kit, were released at the start of October as the third and final part of V I S I T ▲ T I O N S series 2. You can hear all about the trip in the Lost Map podcast and read it on the (very funny) blog (where you can also of course buy the recordings). You can expect ‘woozy, groovy instrumentals and songs’, based on Rozi’s ‘gently hypnotic, slightly askew’ songs in which ‘dreamy guitars, soft analogue synths, floaty drums and percussion collide’. The whole takes on the flavour of ‘Disappear in the air, once was there, nothing there‘, leaving a cosy feeling inside and the vapours of hot chocolate, as well as a bit of wonderment as to whether you just heard what you thought you did and which all ends just a bit too soon: like waking up from a dream.
As a taster for the whole thing – both V I S I T ▲ T I O N S and Eigg itself on a misty, winter’s day, low-lying cloud and all, and including getting the ferry there, here’s ‘Beiggy’:
Saturday was the third and final RSD ‘drop’ for 2020 (other than a ‘Black Friday’ special coming next month) – Record Store Day itself practising some social distancing. I do have a mini-haul (thank you, Tracy!) which is working its way up and out to me as I type, so my second track this week is inspired by the first drop, back at the end of August (and also secured by Tracy).
Both Rozi and This Is The Kit are regulars on Marc Riley’s show on 6Music and I picked up on Cherry Ghost – a vehicle for singer-songwriter Simon Aldred – via the same source, expressly a couple of knock-out sessions live on the programme. Sadly, Simon decided to pack it all in to become a teacher (and songwriter) after the last of these sessions, but Heavenly Recordings released a live Cherry Ghost double album for RSD 1 recorded in 2015 at the label’s regular Hebden Bridge weekender at the town’s legendary Trades Club – as it turns out, the band’s farewell ‘big band’ performance, the radio sessions being acoustic, just keys and guitar.
Heavenly were due to have another weekender, celebrating its 30th anniversary, in April but this was cancelled by the pandemic. Cherry Ghost were on the bill, after a four/five-year hiatus – reinvigorated, it seems, by a songwriting partnership between Simon and Liam Gallagher, whose wife-to-be, Debbie Gwyther, is a big fan.
Live at the Trades Club Hebden Bridge has, so far, been a genuine RSD release and not available elsewhere – clicking the link for the release at Heavenly just takes you back to the RSD website – and (entirely rightly) there’s none of it on YouTube; but I did find an audience-shot video of Simon doing ‘Mathematics’, solo, on stage at Niamos in Hulme, Manchester, in early March this year, apparently as part of a live interview and gig event:
‘Mathematics’ – the first Cherry Ghost single – is a typical Aldred lyric: an artist trying to live his best life as a poet and romantic but for whom hard reality – ‘cold mathematics’ – has become a call which is increasingly impossible to ignore. Heart-breakingly tender, and achingly played and sung in Simon’s high-register voice, it may well (have) be(en) autobiographical: either way, it’s great to see him back on stage again, even if this is not his major calling these days. Talent this good needs a stage.
Beneath this Burning Shoreline, Cherry Ghost’s second album released originally in 2010, was due a first-time-out-on-vinyl release under the original RSD plans although this was dropped after the pandemic hit and the album ended up being almost sneaked out in the middle of June, the date to which Record Store Day, as a single entity, was initially postponed. You can still pick it up via bandcamp, of course – but you will need to hurry if it’s the physical product you’re after: there’s less than a handful of copies left. And good job, too.