New wave angular guitars agitate spikes of post-punk as anguished vocals slide to the foreground. Chain Of Flowers combine all the best bits of ’80s music, doffing a cap to the likes of Joy Division, The Cure, Japan and The Smiths, amongst others, whilst adding their own inspired and gritty, down-to-earth nuances which gel with modern production values that lift the band into an arena all of their own.
A lot has changed since their 2015 self-titled debut, and not much for the better (Brexit, coronavirus pandemic, war in Ukraine, the rise of nationalism and fascism, loss of music venues, cost of living crisis – need I go on?), and their sophomore long player, Never Ending Space, has been a long time coming. In the interim, I often wondered if the band had fallen between the cracks and slipped off into oblivion. Such an outcome would have been a travesty of unexplored potential for this Welsh group. Thankfully, 2023 sees Chain Of Flowers back and ready to unleash their new album (released today via Alter), which has certainly been worth the wait. Never Ending Space is a brooding presence that captures a very modern mood of introspection, desire and anxiety. The press release promises, “Ten full-blooded anthems of torn dreams, poetic delirium, and hope stretched too far.”
This is music that acknowledges the past but pushes ever forward into the future and energizes the dancers in the dark. Press play and let this record swirl everlasting, as we fearlessly embrace the shadows and capture the noir ghosts together but so alone. “The guitars spiral and slide towards the oblivion of dawn, the chance to crash and do it all again.”
Joyzine caught up with Chain Of Flowers guitarist, Sami Hunt, who shines a little light on the gestation and recording of Never Ending Space.
FIRE (IN THE HEART OF HEARTS) – New gold dreams of practice room primitive painters on reused C86.
“One of the songs that came together through COVID lockdown/s with demo recordings shared, passed around and added to from various laptops and recording software. Recorded as a full band demo in Total Refreshment Centre (TRC) where we recorded the LP.
“It was a relatively last minute choice for the album opener but eventually seemed a fitting song to start the record and displayed some of the sound palettes we wanted to develop since the first album: still recognisable, immediate but a little restrained, with wider use of instruments (digital and percussion; wider use of synths, trumpet, etc.).”
“Another song that came together during the same period that began with a fragment of a song written years ago like a relic from the past. Another that was also demoed at TRC.
“The verses have a ‘themes for great cities’ feel with the arpeggiated Juno, which could be found amidst the walls of synths that crowd you into the control room at TRC. The choruses are led by a somewhat New Order-ish, classical-guitar lick before the song descends into something silly between “Crockett’s Theme“, U2 and A Flock of Seagulls.”
SERVING PURPOSE – The Sound miming on continental television; New Order in the Granada Studio’s stage lights.
“One of the songs that had been performed and recorded for live sessions following the first LP and our 7” single, “Let Your Light In“. I guess one of the first songs that started to feel the closest to a ‘pop’ song that we had yet written, although still with enough rough edges. When I picture this song, I can imagine coming across on YouTube some long-forgotten band playing on a clip from an ’80s Dutch version of ‘Top of the Pops’.”
PRAYING HANDS, TURTLE DOVES – The trumpets of Jericho blow, Sylvian and Bowie drown ghosts of nostalgia as teardrops explode.
“A song born of isolation once more. It came together at the end of our session at TRC and is predominantly synth Korg M1-led. Influenced by David Sylvian’s back catalogue and something like The Pale Fountains, pushing our sound into slightly different territories in style and rhythm. Jonah Falco (producer) provides the plaintive and playful trumpet.”
AMPHETAMINE LUCK – China Crisis coming up; Vini Reilly and Johnny Marr double tracking furiously.
“This is the first song that was recorded for the album and was released as a flexi disc single. Initially considered as the lead-off song but its ending of tangled guitar leads and throbbing [APR?] seemed a fitting end to the A-side of the LP.
“In a trend that continued throughout the recording, we tried to give space to individual melodies and give them (slightly more) room to breathe, rather than racing in to pile on top of each other.”
TORCALON – The Chameleons strum behind the fallen iron curtain.
“The title of the song means ‘heartbreak’ in Welsh. During the recording we talked about potential titles for the LP and the themes of memories and dreams came up often. The intro describes a youthful memory of Wales losing to Romania in a football match in 1993 and how, despite how vivid and meaningful the memory was, that it had acquired something dream-like to it with the passage of time.
“There’s something daft and oblique about how this was reached upon with the working title of the song originally being “Transylvanian Holiday” (chosen randomly from a Coronation Street VHS on a shelf).”
THE WALL – Jah Wobble and Thomas Leer swear no promises as a lonely saxophone wails in a World Unknown.
“One of the songs that had been performed and recorded for live sessions prior to the LP recording. We wanted to try something different and looked to slow it down a touch, make greater use of additional instruments (synths, vox, percussion, xylophone, saxophone) and give it this dark, disco-not-disco feel. It feels a little like an interpretation of the songs (that could be remembered) that would be played towards the end of the night at World Unknown parties. There’s something of a dark, fantasy nightclub feel to it.
“The saxophone was recorded remotely by Joseph Shabason. Jonah kindly gave him a brief of ‘city pop’ after we’d clocked off for an evening and listened to Minako Yoshida with a couple bottles of wine in the control room. Within a few passes in a different time zone he’d come up with the searing solo that carries the song to its end and kicks it all the way into the cosmos.”
OLD HUMAN MATERIAL – A bell struck by a red right hand; spurs scrape the boards of a polytechnic stage to a motorik set closer.
“Another that had been performed and recorded for live sessions before being recorded for this LP. Like with “The Wall”, we wanted to give it a slightly different feel from its earlier incarnation. It has something of a darker, Chris Isaak-like cowpoke feel, augmented by chimes, bells, acoustic guitar, and the ever-present Korg M1.”
ANOMIA – Robin Guthrie’s waves of delay wash over the shore from the Café del Mar.
“Another started as an idea during COVID lockdown with inspiration taken from artists like Toshifumi Hinata and down-tempo Balearic sonics. The title is a term that means the inability to name objects and there’s something of the title and the sound of the music that lends itself to that slippery border between memories and dreams.”
NEVER ENDING SPACE – Japanese synths soundtrack a party; Malcolm McLaren, Carly Simon and Scott Walker find themselves in the kitchen at 3am.
“One that came together in the studio from COVID lockdown demos. Like “Anomia”, the synth sounds took some inspiration from artists during Japan’s economic bubble and the rhythm is reinterpreted from Carly Simon’s “Why”. The verse lyrics emulate the nonsensical chaos in conversation between a group of people at an after party, all chasing a high whilst running away from absolutely everything else. The song quite naturally presented itself as a closer to the LP and the eventual title of the record.” – Sami Hunt
Chain Of Flowers release their album Never Ending Space on 26th May via Alter – available now on limited edition transparent light blue vinyl, regular black vinyl, CD and digital download from the band’s Bandcamp page.
Chain Of Flowers will be playing a handful of shows to celebrate the album release on…
1st June: Cardiff – Clwb Ifor Bach
2nd June: Sheffield – Delicious Clam
3rd June: London – The Lower Third (with New German Cinema + Micromoon)