High weirdness from The Lake District.
If, as is often claimed, the internet is finally democratising music, allowing the obscure, experimental and otherwise disenfranchised to find an audience without the need for even cool record label tastemakers to filter the process, we should start to see the results right about … now.
Away from the oppressive scenes and scenesters of the cities, musicians from odder parts of the country that have so far barely registered in the accepted histoire de pop are making genuine inroads. Step forward North Wales and Cornwall. Step forward the likes of Frightened Rabbit from the Scottish Borders and now The Witch and the Robot, striding down from the lonely fellsides of Cumbria.
Their debut album, On Safari released later this month on Atic Records, is a smorgasbord of teenage psychedelia that will find favour with fans of Gorky’s and exiled fellow countymen British Sea Power, two bands who overcame their own rural isolation to deliver a singular vision, unemcumbered by the latest fashion.
Emerging from the mist, The Witch and the Robot kindly took five minutes away from the runes to tell The Music Fix the stories behind all eleven tracks:
Giants’ Graves: People die. And I spent childhood summers looking in Scottish graveyards for abnormally large graves.
The Beatification Of St Thomas Aquinas: His philosophical teachings have informed much of modern society, particularly the legal system. I think he told a silly lie on his death bed. Sometimes relationships can be a bit like that and isn’t religion just a bit weird?
Rapture of the Deep: An ode to the lost at sea. Divers driven to death by a strange state of hysteria and euphoria called ‘Nitrogen Narcosis’. A feeling of invincibility and “oneness” with the open ocean, sometimes resulting in the diver removing their diving mask and air supply while in the depths. Jaques Cousteau referred to it as “The Rapture of the Deep”.
The Best Free Show On Earth: The joys of depression, regret and staring off into the middle distance.
A Crocodile Song: A song about fear and the route across the sands from Grange to Morecambe Bay. How do you survive when caught in sinking sand? Try to lie on your back and ‘star float’. Don’t struggle because you will be pulled under.
No Flies On Me (Ballad Of The Jam Head): In foreign places it has been said that to keep rich golfers free of flies they are inclined to employ a ‘Jam Head’ – a man who has covered his head with jam, drawing the flies from the privileged as they enjoy a quick round.
Sex Music (Beef On Wax): About as far from ‘sex music’ as you can get – about a sense of place.
The Puppeteer: A sort of twisted nursery rhyme about a dead woman who puts on a puppet show at a touring carnival for children, depicting the true horror of her experiences while alive.
De-Nihilism: Maybe there really is nothing to worry about or is that what they want you think? I blame society, but then I thank it as well.
You already know everything there is to know about time travel (just look at the
stars): All in the title really.