LISTEN: I Like Trains LP Stream
, May 10th, 2012 17:08
Plus! Track-by-track guide by the band
Back in the early days of the Quietus, John and Luke went to a stunning I Like Trains concert at the Bush Hall in Shepherd's Bush. Rather overly refreshed, we were moved to tears by the list of names of those who died so the plague didn't progress beyond their Derbyshire village that progressed slowly up the screen behind the band as they played their wonderful track 'We All Fall Down'.
Afterwards, we made rather silly fools of ourselves enthusing to some of the band members how great it all was. Since then, I Like Trains have continued in their own quiet yet sure way, releasing limited edition bags of tea as well as last LP He Who Saw The Deep, a record that considered the impact of climate change.
Now, they return with The Shallows, a reflection on our hyperspeed, information overloaded age. The full review comes tomorrow, you can buy the record at their site, but for now you can listen to a stream and read vocalist David Martin's guide to the album below:
The brooding opener. Given the record's technological themes, I was keen for the first sound you hear to be a machine. Hence the throbbing synth line around which the track is built. It also marks a departure for us, in using synthesisers more prominently, so that first track sets the scene. I'm hoping that it will catch a few people off guard. The basis of the song built on that driving synth line is relatively simple, but this turned into a full-on production with layers of guitars and waves of synth. Richard Formby (producer) is never happier than when he is tweaking his modular synthesiser, and for this track we let him go to town on it! It's a pretty dense song which gives way to the space that we aimed for on much of the rest of the record.
I see this as our skeletal funk song. None of us are particularly funk orientated. Prince is as far it goes in my record collection. Our live sound engineer and tour manager often have a funk off in the tour van. I can only conclude that some of it must have rubbed off. Where wah-wah guitar and a horn section should be in a conventional funk song we put a haunting synth wash in to make things slightly uneasy. This was an exercise in seeing how far we could push ourselves out of our comfort zone. I'm really pleased with where we ended up. At the beginning of the album writing process, I said I wanted an I LIKE TRAINS record you could dance to. I'm not sure anyone believed me at the time, but I reckon this one could work on the dance floor. Miserable indie disco DJs take note.
One of the first tracks we wrote for the record, and one that we road tested out in Europe last year. It is a pop song. It was straighter when we first wrote it, but then we went a little more awkward on the rhythms.
At the beginning of our careers we wrote pretty much exclusively in 3/4 or 6/8 time. On this record we're now down to just the one song, and this is it! Another early song in the process and also road tested. Since the road test I re wrote the second verse for a little bit of variety. Some hefty double drumming from Simon and Guy keep this one ticking over. A little bit psychedelic perhaps. It sounded great as soon as we started playing it, but we were worried about how it would fit in with the rest of the record. It seems to work… I think.
I don't think I've ever sung so high and so low in a single song. Range isn't really my strong point. I was a little self conscious of the higher parts for while whilst we were writing this, but it all came together nicely. I love the full melodic bass line/ chords that fill out the verses. It's a proper work out for Alistair. I was looking for a really close authentic 70s sound before it all opens out at the end.
'The Turning of the Bones'
We wrote this one very quickly in the studio. I had some lyrics lying around with nothing to do, so Guy and I sat around the harmonium and got it down. The harmonium never made it into the final mix which is a shame because it is a great sound. Its there on The Hive though. We left this very open at the start. Slow attack bass guitar chords run through a load of pedals and a heavily effected piano are at the core of the track. We built things up with some synths, some synth drums and a drum loop. I think this is the first ILT album track to feature no guitars (unless you count bass). Oh, its about Madagascar. You should look up 'The Turning of the Bones' on the internet.
This is probably most like an ILT song of old. The basis of this song has been around for a while, but we never really knew what to do with it. It never felt quite right when we played it and we were pretty close to getting rid of it at one stage. What saved it was the fact that we made a really rough recording of it in a rehearsal, and listening back to it a while later it sounded great. We couldn't really get our heads around that. Anyway, we revisited it after a time away and tried to get it more keeping with our newer songs. Simon added the motorik beat and the rest is history. Interestingly it feels great to play it in rehearsal now. I can't wait to unleash it live.
'We Used to Talk'
I had a very rough idea for this song when we went into pre-production but we hadn't played it together before. We hit record and played it through a few times and it started to come together. Things really started to get interesting when we got Richard's Wasp synthesiser out and added the one note bass line. I had it stuck in my head for days. Can a one note bass line be a hook?! I got to play the lap steel guitar on the intro which was good fun. I love Guy's 'Edge goes disco' guitar part and the imperfect drum loops on this track.
Richard seemed most excited about taking on our album when we played him the demo of this one. It hasn't changed a great deal from that demo. We added some vibraphone and that's about it. I've become a real sucker for analogue arpeggiators. I guess this is the first ILT album track to feature no guitars or bass guitars. Mmmm synths.