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LISTEN: New Mystery Jets
Christian Eede , November 30th, 2015 18:19

Mystery Jets share lead track from forthcoming album; listen below

With a new album from Mystery Jets, entitled Curve of the Earth, set for release early next year, the band have now shared lead single 'Telomere' which you can check out above right now.

The new album the first from the band in three years with the group having relocated back to London to work on it setting up their own recording space in a disused East London button factory taking on production duties themselves. Frontman Blaine Harrison also embarked on solo writing sessions in a cabin on the Thames Estuary for the album. The band's Will Rees says: "For us we've been through quite a lot in the last couple of years and there have been certain realisations that come with playing in a band that has been together for over two decades. I think these songs have real feeling about them." Curve of the Earth is out on January 22 and you can check out a track-by-track guide to the album written by the band below. You can also find the band's forthcoming tour dates at the foot of this piece.

Curve of the Earth Track-by-Track Guide

Curve of the Earth is our fifth album and it represents not just a new chapter in the journey of the Jets but also a close study of the decade that has come to pass. It wasn’t an easy album to make, everything that is heard on its 48 minutes was written, built, edited, thrown out, thrown back in, recorded, and then, more often than not, re-recorded again in our own studio by the five Jets and our co-producer Matthew Twaites. More than any other, this album is very much our ‘own’. When we began work on this record we talked a lot about scale, conveying the ‘bigger picture’ and somehow writing a suite of songs that could transcend our own ‘skull-sized kingdoms’ and reach further. Stewart Brand’s counter-culture bible Whole Earth Catalogue provided something of a backdrop in the creation of Curve..., and we’d like to credit his influence not only in our artwork but also in the impulse behind the music.

’Stay young. Stay foolish.’, the words he wrote on the back cover of the last Whole Earth Catalogue in 1971 stayed with us throughout the making of this album and capture a certain sense of wonder that we share about this spinning rock that we call home - MJs.

'Telomere'

Last winter I was spending weeks out of the studio writing on a houseboat moored out on a remote stretch of the river Thames. There was no mobile reception or television so I turned to some books I had with me for stimulus, and also distraction. I came across a line in a Milan Kundera book about our ancestry - how all their plights and victories live on through us in our blood. Telomeres are the caps at the ends of our DNA strands and keep our chromosomes from fraying, much like the tips of our shoelaces. They are thought to hold the secret to ageing and ultimately immortality. I loved the idea that there is this co-dependency between life and death that we will never fully understand. This is probably the first time Henry and I have used such an expressionistic approach to writing lyrics. It felt like a chance to let our listeners join the dots, and the same openness applied when we asked film makers to present an idea for the video - Blaine.

'Bombay Blue'

Blaine penned this number and I have to say it’s one of my favourites. I think the roots of the song come from an evening we shared together in Mumbai. We were standing outside a youth hostel discussing the tracklisting for our previous album and just feet away from us, huddled in blankets on the street were a young Indian family with two or three baby boys and girls. It was a powerful experience as one felt desperate to help them whilst at the same time knowing that any help would only offer temporary relief. The lyrics express this melancholy and apathy whilst the music’s got this effervescent, blissful quality like the sound of an endless summer. The friction that’s created between the dark and light of the words and music is what I enjoy so much about the track and the outro for me is a real musical high point for the Jets… us shedding it out in the rehearsal room one afternoon, plagiarising Nile Rodgers as best we could - William.

'Bubblegum'

In the summer of 2014 we sat down with friends and listened to what would become Curve... all the way through for the first time. It felt intense and opaque and I felt compelled to write something immediate to juxtapose with the grander moments on the flipside of the record. Back on the houseboat I found myself being haunted by the same ghosts that brought about some of our more melancholic songs in the past, when all of a sudden this very driving, determined music started coming. I realised that maybe I had become paralysed by my memories, and this was my chance to make peace with those ghosts, and give them a song to call home. A few days later Henry and I were struck by some words written by Libby Gausden, an ex-girlfriend of Syd Barrett’s, describing the time he took her to see Bob Dylan at the Southbank Centre for her birthday in 1964. ‘Look, it’s the me and you of every town’. I rushed home and didn’t leave the studio until the demo was complete, 24 hours later. I realised that If we got it just right, maybe other people’s ghosts could call the song home too - Blaine and Henry.

'Midnight’s Mirror'

I wanted to write this song for a long time, to chronicle as dispassionately as possible some of the experiences I’ve had on my late night mis-adventuring, from the characters I’ve met to the feel of the places I’ve been. Lyrically I’m talking about hedonism but I’m also talking about myself in the middle of it all. I remember thinking at the time, what would it be like if the Jets made an ‘ugly’ song? How would that sound? It was an idea that intrigued me as I felt we’d never done that before. I knew I needed to find the appropriate subject matter to suit and so I decided to look to myself for it, or rather a version of myself. At the start of the track is a sample from the Mike Leigh film Naked. In his rich, northern accent, David Thewlis’ character says ‘Resolve is never stronger than in the morning after the night it was never weaker’. These words and the dark, brooding atmosphere of the film acted like a catalyst upon me and also offered a shadowy, parallel universe in which the song could exist. The song is also a kind of send off or goodbye to the part of me that used to and still occasionally does run head long into the promises of night life - William.

'1985'

This is the first song that came to me post-Radlands, right around the same time as William wrote 'Saturnine'. It actually started life with this pounding drumline beat behind it but the boys convinced me to strip it back to the bone -and I’m glad they did. I played it on Henry’s white grand piano on Eel Pie Island and you can hear his girlfriend Gabi doing the dishes in the background. It introduces a breathing space on the record which we knew we needed. I remember us talking about the phenomenon of ‘Saturn’s Return’ whilst we were building our studio. A lot. The planet takes between 28 and 30 years to fully orbit the zodiac, and western astrologers believe that, as Saturn "returns" to the degree in its orbit occupied at the time of birth, a person crosses over a major threshold and enters the next stage of life. I’ve never cared much for astrology but found myself asking a lot of questions in my mid-to-late twenties that I couldn’t seem to find a way to articulate. I couldn’t decide whether I was more afraid of the future or the past, and found this strange sort of psychological space open up in between the two where I could live in limbo, neither a child nor an adult. Over a two year period I endured a string of horrid panic attacks and I feel thankful to have this song to look back at (if wearily) and say ‘I don’t know what that was, but I lived through it’ - Blaine.

'Blood Red Balloon'

After our last tour in the states I found myself retreating from going out in London and spent much of the winter of 2013 and the spring/summer of 2014 writing alone in a rented beach hut down on the south-east coast of the UK. This song appeared in waves, from the wreckage of several others that I had hauled onto the scrapheap after they fizzled out. The idea of the Blood Red Balloon evolved from the compelling power of the moon over our everyday lives. It is our biological clock, governs the tides of our seas and one can only wonder what effect is has on the water that comprises 60 per cent of our bodies. By some freakish act of nature, the day Henry came down to write the lyrics with me coincided with the worst flash floods seen in the south of England in 60 years. We hunkered down in the cabin, writing late into the evening, defiant that the water would not engulf us, bolting only at the eleventh hour as the surf creeped under our front step. We finished the lyrics the same night at a local guesthouse, watching the words develop and expand into a multi-viewpoint of a night in the life of our times, as seen through the eyes of William Blake and our two other protagonists - Henry and Blaine.

'Taken by the Tide'

I vividly remember long wine-fuelled nights at the beach house, barking drunkenly into my 8 track reel to reel until dawn, when the fishermen appeared on the flats to dig up their worms for the day - at which time I knew it was time to take myself to bed. I relentlessly played the music that became ’Taken by the Tide’ on loop, hoping that words would eventually come. When Henry came down to visit at weekends I’d stick the headphones on his head, quietly hoping that he’d jump to his feet and exclaim ‘FINALLY WE’VE GOT ONE!’ at the top of his lungs. On this occasion he turned to me when the song ended and said ‘I’m seeing fire…tall black smokestacks’. Immediately it triggered memories of the band’s vacation to India the previous January. The trip ended in Varanasi, the holy mecca where the Hindu people bring their dead from all over the country to be cremated on the banks of the river Ganges. Our last day there is one I’ll never forget. Gathered together on the roof of our homestead, looking out over the Ghats, our brother (and founding Mystery Jet) Kai told us that his chapter in the band had come to an end. This song crystallises that moment for me, huddled together on that rooftop, ash all around us, choking up - Blaine.

'Saturnine'

In the summer of 2013 we moved all of our equipment into an ex-button factory in leafy north-east London and there began setting up a recording studio, the same studio where we would record Curve of the Earth. I felt inspired by this new space and so would get in during the evenings and work all night, flight cases and unpacked boxes surrounding me as I strummed and sang. Around this time, Henry, Blaine and myself where talking a lot about the phenomenon of Saturn’s return, this point of astrological transition that’s experienced as one approaches the end of their twenties and the beginning of their thirties. I remember my emotions fluctuating wildly during this period; we were between albums and life felt uncertain. I was full of questions about my past and my future and as I couldn’t answer them myself this idea of Saturn’s return seemed the only plausible explanation. Henry and I spent many months working on the lyrics, sequestered in his flat on Eel Pie Island, trying to see the whole of the puzzle with what pieces we had. It was a tricky one to finish but my abiding memory is of an evening when Blaine came round to hear what I was working on, it was the first new music I’d written since Radlands and outside, as we shared a cigarette in the growing dark, we enthused over its Floydian sound - William.

'The End-Up'

This song started to emerge just as we were finishing the last album and it took about 18 months to complete. It’s auto-biographical without being specific and when I think of the song I see it as a time lapse of people, relationships and situations that I’ve known, a kind of sped-up, frenzied film of my world. Lyrically it’s about growing up, or trying to, and watching as good friends start families and settle into their early adulthood. It’s also about the unknown elements of life that can spring up and wreak havoc on otherwise happy existences. The arrangement of the song came together very quickly one hungover morning. I played the band an excerpt from Talk Talk’s ’Spirit of Eden’ and then about 30 minutes later, miraculously, the song appeared in front of us completely finished. Before that point there was always a little voice in my head saying ‘it’s not finished yet’, ‘there’s more to come’ so I kept chipping away at it, working on it and strumming it through whenever I had a free moment. Looking at it now I realise it took so long to write because I hadn’t experienced all of the song when I begun writing it. It’s a swan song to my twenties - William.

Mystery Jets UK Tour Dates

February

12th - Whelan's, Dublin
16th - Brixton Electric, London
18th - O2 Institute 2, Birmingham
19th - Gorilla, Manchester
20th - Art School, Glasgow

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