Feat. Haiku Salut
For this track I would suggest a nice fruity cider (preferably cold with a summer breeze and the heat of a BBQ)
The brainchild and alter-ego of James Machin, Derbyshire-based Grawl!x has announced the forthcoming release of his brand new album, Aye! (out May 28th) and shared mesmerising new single, ‘Pando’. ‘Pando‘ is an explosion of sun-drenched colour – with layered guitars, jumping pop beats and yearning vocals, the track was written as an ode to an elusive person that Machin had not heard from in a long time.
Recorded over months of disjointed sessions in various bedrooms and spaces, and featuring vocals and instrumentation by Haiku Salut, Grawl!x’s hypnotic experimental dream-pop album recalls Dan Deacon and Animal Collective at their finest.
Truly captivating; swells of psychedelic guitars accompany layers of distant voices, and hazy, hypnotic drums – stylistically reminiscent of Panda Bear and, in parts, Alt-J. The album theme was derived from a concept taken from the Kubler-Ross model of the five stages of dealing with grief, with Aye! (the third album in a trilogy) exploring the final stage – acceptance.
Aye! was written over the course of a number of months in an almost abandoned church on a hill in the Derbyshire countryside. Machin would walk to the church in all weathers, never encountering another soul there. Machin explains: “Inside that rather foreboding structure is an old upright piano, displaying a laminated sheet of paper with the words ‘This Piano was Meant to be Played’. So he did, regularly.
This inspired the concept of an entire church tour – with a full band, Grawl!x played numerous tour dates in some of the UK’s most beautiful churches, bringing audiences Machin’s melodic creations as they were originally intended.
The record’s lyrical themes centre around an unfortunate incident involving a mysterious ‘friend’ of the ex-My Psychoanalyst singer and guitarist. Speaking about these themes, Machin said: “Whereas my response to that would have been to mope around, his was to say ‘YES’ to whatever came his way. An affirmative attitude, that I admired.”
Hence whilst reflections on such dark subjects might in other hands have produced something grim and mawkish, out of grief Machin has wrought songs of beauty and wonder. The multi-instrumentalist played and recorded all of the instruments on Aye!, keen to create an album of two parts – a dream-pop A side and a slicker, electronic B side. Experimental soundscape ‘Compliance’ serves to mark this divide, and signpost a turning point in the album. This is a record about coping with the aftermath of grief – and how life goes on. It’s there in the haunting ‘Destination’ and the cyclical ‘Circadian Riddim’, laden as they are with drum machines and spacey synths.
Final track ‘Gumption’ features instrumentation by acclaimed Derbyshire band Haiku Salut woven around Machin’s carefully constructed soundscapes, these are compositions that tastefully blend acoustic and electronic elements that grow deeper with each listen.
The music James Machin makes as Grawl!x (pronounced ‘Grawlix’- a term used in comic book circles to refer to the ampersands and hash-tags used when a character is using profane language) is gentle and spacious, but with a deep well of feeling that often rises up out of nowhere to take over. This can be joyous, riveting, sometimes even terrifying.
Aye! starts out with simple piano and a string quartet arrangement, a gentle opening that acts as a sort of ‘reset’ button on your world, readying you for the 9 tracks that follow.
Machin will be touring with Grawl!x – full band – in June. Details to follow.
1. (Night Start)
7. Circadian Riddim
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