Sunday, 12 May 2013

Bevis Frond – After You (and more…)



When Nick Saloman released the most recent Bevis Frond album, The Leaving of London, back in October 2011, it’s fair to say that there came an almost audible sigh of relief from his many admirers. Bevis Frond had been silent since releasing 2004’s Hit Squad and it seemed to many as though Saloman’s pop psychedelia had run its course and that he’d slunk into musical retirement. I talked to him for R2 magazine when The Leaving of London surfaced, and filed a 5-Star review in the same publication and he explained those gaps years.

“A number of things all conspired. I’d been putting out an album year and touring in Europe with the occasional gig in the states and here and there, all going on quite nicely – it was nothing significant but I been doing a tour in about 2004 and when I got home, put my guitars up in my music room and I said to my wife, Jan, “that’s it, I’ve had enough. I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m bored, I’m doing the same old thing over and over again and not enjoying.” I thought the music still sounded good and people were coming along and enjoying what I was doing but I wasn’t enjoying it and I felt that if I continued putting out albums and going on tour it was going to suffer because of it. I thought I’d give it a break for a while – I’d been doing it for fifteen years without ever having a proper record deal so having to do the business side of it myself. I thought I’d take a break for a year, recharge the batteries, write some songs, and it seem to kind of last… longer than I’d anticipated. Every time I thought about doing something I’d think, “Oh God, I can’t be bothered.” At the same time stuff was going on; my mum was dying of cancer and I was the only kid so I had to see her everyday, watch her fade out, and she’d brought me up on her own, and that doesn’t make you feel too creative. Then she died, and that coincided with Jan retiring from teaching and we thought we’d move; I’d lived in London all my life and thought if I didn’t move now I never would, so we upped sticks and moved down to Hastings and all that kind of took priority. So I got settled down in Hastings, started writing some songs and got something of a buzz back again. Booked up a couple of weeks in a studio to lay down a new album and see what it was like. I really didn’t know if I’d left it too long and people would turn around and go, “Who’s he?” The music business had changed so much in the seven years I’d been away that there might not have been any market for it anyhow. But as it happens it seems to have been a fantastically smart strategy!”

The Leaving of London wasn’t just a justifiably acclaimed ‘return to form’, lauded across magazines, newspapers, and on-line postings, but it seems to have been a catalyst for a continuing re-engagement with the music world and with Nick’s own creativity and desire to make music. There’s a new, double, album that’s just been issued – and which I’ll post about in due course – and a number of smaller projects that have seen the light of day in recent months on various labels. So while the purpose of this blog was initially to review just one of those happenings, it’s an opportunity to round-up two or three bits and pieces that have arrived carrying or including the Bevis Frond name.

‘After You’ is the A-side of a split 7” single released by Adam Goldman and available through here. Goldman professes himself as a long-time Frond/Saloman admirer and it’s clear that the opportunity to release a previously unissued Bevis Frond track is something of a delight to him. It packs a fair amount into a quite moving, thoughtful and melancholic number that’s also a mood piece of loss and longings with bitter undertones in Saloman’s idiosyncratic vocals set across a hazy psychedelic soundtrack.

Equally as appealing is the enchanting B-side, provided by thebrotheregg, who haven’t got onto my radar previously but who released an album, Snowflake and Fingerprint Machine, on Saloman and Adrian Shaw’s (now defunct I believe) Woronzow label. They’re on this 7” with a song curiously entitled ‘Murky Up The Lagoon’, again a lazily drifting slice of psychedelia and one with an easy-going charm to it. I love the idea of these ‘split’ singles (this one comes with a download code as well), the pairing of something that is going to have a collector’s appeal because of its lead performance helping to bring something to the surface that perhaps would otherwise gather less attention on its own. A smashing pairing then, enhanced further by the evocative cover art of Chuck Bloom.

I’ve always thought of Nick Saloman in a similar vein to Paul Roland, who I’ve also reviewed extensively on this blog and in R2 and Record Collector. Though their subject matter is rather different, they both inhabit that strain of English psych-pop of catchy melodies that leave you wondering why such great songwriters aren’t ones who are covered extensively by others or achieving the recognition beyond the confines of their chosen genre simply because of the charm and elegancy and accessibility of the songs they compose. My friends at Fruits De Mer recently put the two of them together on the same EP – separate tracks – along with another who falls into the same field, Nick Nicely, and Anton Barbeau, whose other FDM vinyl I reviewed last autumn here. The resulting EP was The League of Psychedelic Gentlemen, which got released back in December and which I’m afraid to say will now take you to the collector’s market to source, since FDM are showing its 1,000 print run as being sold out. 

Just as sold out now, is FDM’s The White EP, a covers tribute to The Beatles’ White Album, where the Frond contributed a spunky interpretation of ‘Glass Onion’; I’ll not dwell too much on either of these releases given that I’m late to the party on this one – more blog downtime unfortunately which I’m working to rectify across the next few months by both catching up with a plethora of unanswered emails and posting up some previously written material that perhaps didn’t make its intended destination. And, of course, to write-up the new Frond album.

This entry, then, to highlight particularly the TotallyPunk 7”; looks a great package, certainly has a couple of smashing tracks and comes very much as a recommendation from this blog.

Bevis Frond @ Bandcamp

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