Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Albatross Archive on Clouds (Guest Post)

Earlier this week, I wrote about the albums I'm most looking forward to hearing in 2016. However, I realise now that I made one glaring omission: the 2nd volume of Songs About Albums!

You may remember that I unveiled one song from Volume 2 - Laurence Made Me Cry's tribute to Moloko - back in November. The full compilation will be made available for free download in the springtime, but don't worry if you can't wait that long because I've got another track to share with you today.

Painting is a song about Joni Mitchell's Clouds. It was written and recorded by Richard Jackson of Albatross Archive; the track can be found below, along with Richard's explanation of why he chose Clouds as his subject.

With the brief as wonderfully open as it was ("Write a song about one of your favourite albums"), there was a lot of scope in the initial direction. Though we'd initially wanted to choose an album which both myself and my bandmate Kit had mutual attachment to (Polar Bear's Peepers was a strong contender; Joanna Newsom's Ys felt impossible to comment on in any suitable way), time/deadlines led to this becoming a more focused solo effort on my part than normal.

For some reason, whenever I think of important/favourite albums, Joni Mitchell's Clouds always sticks out to me, despite the fact that I couldn't, off the top of my head, give you a track listing for it. It's an album I associate with growing up, hearing it played around the house before I could even's just an album I've always known, and which has always just 'been there'.  A friend of mine once told me that her favourite album wasn't necessarily the best album, not necessarily even a good album, it was just one that meant something that no other album ever could, and that is what this record is to me.

(I also remember being told that she was either 12 or 14 when she recorded it, which is an awesome lie as she was most definitely 26.)

There's a stark emptiness to this record; performed primarily with just solo voice and guitar (occasional, wonderful harmonies, but little else), these songs can feel skeletal at times, so incredibly bare, yet still with such warmth and depth - nothing else is needed, nothing at all. The lyrics all tell such gorgeous stories, told with nothing but consistent passion, and the music itself - meandering one moment, fierce the next, never quite feeling entirely settled - really draws me into the world of the oil-painted artwork of the album (a self-portrait by Joni herself).

Ultimately, the song that was written for this project is a love song to growing up and being grateful for things that you can't describe or even place correctly; the little parts of day-to-day childhood that just stick with you, no matter how minor, and how they can shape you from that day onward. The song itself is written with small references to what I remember about the album, though I absolutely refused to re-listen to it before writing; it's the image, rather than the actual, that has left its mark, and I wanted to keep it that way.

Visit Albatross Archive's website to hear more of their music. Richard also has a site of his own here.

No comments:

Post a Comment