We’ve got a lot of history with the members of London four-piece Shattercones, dating back to the very earliest days of Joyzine in the nascent years of the current millennium when drummer Arran Goodchild was bashing seven shades out of his kit as part of indie-punks Rhesus, who featured many times within these pages. Many more bands and projects followed, including The Bridport Dagger with singer/guitarist Jason Powdrill, who later added violist Neil Walsh to their ranks. Following the Dagger’s split a few years ago, the trio joined forces with lapsteel guitarist Dermot Watson and Shattercones was born.
“Love On Repeat” from last year’s debut EP Oppenheimer featured in Joyzine’s 20 Tracks for 2020 playlist for its “sombre beauty”, and today sees the release of a new collection of four songs gathered together as a new EP, This Septic Isle. From the surfy twang that kicks off dusty widescreen Americana opener “Ghoul Driver”, through the mournful Latin vibes of “Say Goodbye”, which has the feel of Tom Waits headlining a Dia De Los Muertos festival, and “Butterfly Room”‘s 115 second blast of frantic discord, to the mechanical grind of epic closing track “The Man Who Ate Capitalism”, This Septic Isle is a meticulously constructed record that unfolds natually before your ears albeit often in unexpected directions. It’s spacious, lugubrious and often beautiful, but with the grit at the centre of the pearl ever present.
We asked the band to guide us through the record and share a playlist of the artists who influenced its creation.
The folks at Joyzine asked us to shed some insight on the songs contained within our new EP “This Septic Isle” and so here follows some possibly incoherent rambling as I thrust my mind down the cobbled street that is Memory Lane.
A song that can be traced back to a repetitive, hammering, one-chord drone that we plucked out of thin air whilst rehearsing in a converted public lavatory several or more years ago. Naturally, we stretched it out and nurtured it to maturity, and it’s appeared in our set lists in one form or another before we nailed down this definitive version. The lyrics have changed over time in reflection of more current events, but the music has always been a snarling beast of barely contained disgust. If I was asked what influenced this track the most, I’d point you in the direction of “American Twilight” by Crime and the City Solution, another song that reeks of social decay, whilst being a veritable club banger.
When the dust from “Ghoul Driver” clears, we figured those of you with a more nervous disposition might want your ears cushioned by a lush blanket of Latin-influenced, doomed romance. “Say Goodbye” is a distant cousin of “Love on Repeat” from the first EP, insofar as it’s relatively conventional and fairly straightforward. It’s an intense, passionate declaration of love and devotion that somehow fits perfectly after a song filled with little Englander skid-marks, lockdown depression and death (death, death). Naturally, this being us, there’s some odd textures buried in the mix, along with a chorus of backing vocals that were lovingly dubbed the “man choir”.
Sounding like a really fucking angry wasp, “Butterfly Room” won the EP earworm competition to take pole position as the first track out of the gates. Somehow, a rattling, noisy, comically brief spoken-word missive concerned with the drab futility of dull-grey Brexit soup edged its way into our hearts and was thrust forward to alert you, the public, to our forthcoming release following a preceding EP of epic, swooping, widescreen Mimi-symphonies. Yep.
The Man Who Ate Capitalism
Closing the EP naturally fell to this chugging, clanking beast of a song. And in a nice parallel to opener “Ghoul Driver”, it also sprang out of a weird, looped little idea that first emerged in that converted public lavatory. Much like “Starlings”, the closing track off our first EP (Oppenheimer), the finished product came from teasing out elements from many, many layers of instruments and noises that were recorded. Multi-layered it most certainly is, without being overblown, and the song feels very much like a gateway to EP 3 (which is most definitely in the bag, and I am not at liberty to talk about unless I wish to have my stomach repurposed as a shopping bag). Very special thanks needs to go to Rob Wilks for recording us, indulging our whims and encouraging us to really stretch ourselves whilst not pointing loaded weapons in our general direction. And that’s all folks. They say the proof is in the proverbial pudding, so if you haven’t already, go forth and listen to the finished product, download/stream/summon/enchant it and may your ears feast upon the delightful sounds contained therein.
For further insight into the process of creating the EP, Shattercones have shared a playlist of their influences, ranging from current favourites like psych-folk duo Wyndow and the gothic folk of Smoke Fairies to vintage cuts from Wanda Jackson, Joan Jett and Leonard Cohen.
Shattercones This Septic Isle EP is out today via Gare Du Nord Records on all the usual streaming platforms and as a digital download via Bandcamp
Find out more about Shattercones on their official website
Introduction by Paul Maps
Photograph by Brian Edwards
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