Sunday, 1 November 2015

Midnight Souls Revealed

After a five and a half year wait, the immense patience of Dayglo Fishermen fans was finally rewarded in October 2015 with the release of the band's new studio album.

'Midnight Souls Still Remain' CD cover image - front

Titled 'Midnight Souls Still Remain', the album's 12 tracks have already firmly embedded themselves as part of Dayglo Fishermen's immense back catalogue.

That's all well and good, but are any of them destined to become classics?

Let's find out.

Track 1: Fractured Heart

A crash of thunder and a two minute rainstorm herald the start of the album, something only a seasoned and established band could get away with. After an aching guitar strains to break through the storm we hear the welcome tones of a slow base rhythm. As a distant police siren appears the song's main section thumps to life. It's a rousing piece of work, and features what is probably the best keyboard solo on the album.

According to the production notes, as well as being the first track Fractured Heart was the first song written for the new album way back in 2010. The notes also show that the original intention was to have the rainstorm intro as a separate track, allowing listeners to easily skip it if preferred. Bravely (and thankfully) that idea was dropped. The stormy introduction works well, and is essential to guide the listener into the right mood to feel the full benefit of the song that follows.

Track 2: The Great Unspoken

A short and powerful drum roll shocks the listener into the high-tempo sound of the second track, immediately followed by a rapid synth arpeggio. The song seems to build and build, before dropping right back to a relaxing interlude, complete with spoken french vocals - a tradition now on Dayglo Fishermen albums. Such tranquility does not last. A guitar solo leads the song back to a crescendo of choruses, with the synth arpeggio taking the song to its conclusion. It's a wonderfully retro-sounding track, and one that would have been a chart-topping hit back in the early 1980s.

Track 3: Midnight Souls Still Remain

The title track of the album creates a lighter and more melodic feel as its mid-tempo, off-beat bass line confidently strolls along. With sparser guitars and keyboards, and gentle piano chords filling out the chorus, the song's dreamy vocals are given the space needed to flourish. They key change for the final chorus, and the vocal leap up another octave, take the song to its final satisfying peak, before letting the core rhythm play out. One of the stand-out tracks of the album.

'Midnight Souls Still Remain' CD cover image - inside

Track 4: No Questions Asked

The tempo rises once more, quite considerably in fact as according to the production notes this track has the highest tempo on the album. After a rapid bass drum and guitar intro the song bursts straight in with two vocalists who continue together for the whole track.  This dual and mainly spoken vocal, combined with a frantic and almost panicky bass line and regular offbeat synth stabs, creates a strong sense of intensity, and even anxiety. Wisely this lets up for a short time in the middle section of the song, but it comes back as expected, finishing with a long rock guitar solo.

Track 5: I Cannot See Your Face

Things need to slow down a bit, and the fifth track on the album obliges. The song, about missing someone that has headed off to a war they will never return from, is a melancholic theme for the band, but this is offset by the unexpected guitar style of the verses and the highly melodic synth sounds of the chorus and solo. The song finishes with more unexpected guitar that emerges from the final instrumental chorus. As the sound of distant warfare haunts the end of the track the innocence of a child singing brings us back from the brink. A memorable and poignant addition to the album.

Track 6: One Day I'll Sleep

This song is brimming with paranoia, making it a match with 'Something's Watching', featured on the band's 1998 album 'Painting Aliens'. This time though the subject matter is demonic visitation within dreams. While not as horrific as alien impregnation, it is enough to bring back the feelings of anxiety aroused by the earlier track, 'No Questions Asked'.

As always with Dayglo Fishermen's less positive songs there is some quirkiness to act as a counterbalance. In this case it's the vocals on the verses, which are sung in an almost country and western style. What inspired this is not mentioned in the production notes, but it was certainly the right thing to do. With tense choruses, and an even tenser keyboard solo, the track progresses without remorse. It finishes with a short verse ending with the ominous line 'One day I'll sleep, and they'll be there'.

'Midnight Souls Still Remain' CD cover image - back

Track 7: Out of the Picture

With a punchy up-tempo beat, this bass guitar and guitar heavy song lifts the mood at the album's halfway mark. Borrowing one of its chord progressions from 'Soncabaret' - one of the highlights of the 2001 album 'Comet Nerdlinger', the track cruises along, its momentum maintained by the captivating rhythm of the vocals, particularly in the verses.

The long solo section in the song stands out as a classic Dayglo Fishermen arrangement. Starting out with a haunting violin, it moves without warning to a series of rapid trumpet bursts, and then on to a pleasantly upbeat guitar solo, a solo that soon transforms into something much more edgy during the lead up to the final chorus.

Track 8: Sinking Deeply

Notable for its complete lack of cymbals on the drum track, 'Sinking Deeply' was actually the second song written for the album, sometime during the autumn of 2011. With odd lyrics that at one point compare the freakiness of snow to tangy fruits, the track features some highly original synthesiser sounds and patterns that flit across the upper octaves - a great contrast to the deep and dependable bass line that stomps along far below. The guitars complement all that perfectly, chugging along in the verses and sliding through the choruses.

Track 9: After Hours Down Empty Streets

A single deep piano note immediately draws the listener into this song. As the brooding low tones of a sustained synthetic sound develops, pulsing up and down in volume rather than pitch, a gentle high piano melody takes us on to a trumpet and then the vocals of the first verse. This is the slowest song on the album, but despite that, and the gentleness of all the instruments and voices, the track somehow possesses a power and strength above all others on the album. Remarkable.

Official band photo for the 'Midnight Souls Still Remains' album

Track 10: Will the Stars Come Out Tonight?

Featuring a dual vocal throughout, and also a dual bass line of guitar and keyboards, this slow melodic song creates a sense of peace and joy that's almost impossible to put into words. Every instrumental line is kept simple, allowing the vocalists the space to carry the song in a seemingly effortless manner. Its purity is almost perfect, and a fitting song to follow the gentle power of the previous track.

Of course, this is still a Dayglo Fishermen song, and the signs of that are obvious. The cymbals are not acoustic samples but synthetic, quite a contrast to the natural-sounding bass and snare drums, and the odd guitar at the start of the middle section is typical of the band, yet still unexpected. This song will become a favourite for many.

Track 11: Running Through My Dreams

By far the shortest song on the album, ‘Running Through My Dreams’ is a frantic and quirky little track – an interlude of sorts before the grandness of the finale that follows. The vocals match the pace of the music, and the thickening layers of voices on the chorus, along with the alternating piano notes, gives the illusion of an ever quickening tempo, adding to the interest. There’s a lot of fun to be had here.

Track 12: Cool People Meet

The track’s vocal-only introduction sounds like it has a strong Gaelic influence, which doesn’t seem too unusual when you consider the band’s Northumbrian origins. With its slow tempo and folk-like melodies the song oozes power and emotion as the deep bass, spacious keyboards and mellow guitar create an epic soundscape. It’s a magnificent way to end the album, and to celebrate the band’s 25th anniversary.

Cover images of the albums from which 'Cool People Meet' samples were taken

The song 'Cool People Meet' is all about the early years of Dayglo Fishermen, and features numerous samples from the band’s earlier songs, especially from the first few albums. Some are used quite subtly. Here’s a list of the songs used. See if you can spot them:

Free Roky Erikson’, ‘Easy Projector’ and ‘Fish’ from the album ‘Drenched’ (1990).

Marsport’, the introductory sequence on the ‘Strange Plaice’ album (1991).

But Where Were the Mice?’ from the ‘And So It Is’ album (1992).

Love as Emotion’ from the ‘Keep to the Path’ album (1993).

Nag Lisa’ from the ‘Animate’ album (1993).

Space Dog’, the title track of the ‘Space Dog’ album (1997).

Underground’ and ‘Voodoo’, from the ‘Painting Aliens’ album (1998).

Nerdlinger One’ from the ‘Comet Nerdlinger’ album (2001).

My Friend’ from the ‘Queen of the Sunset City’ album (2003).

Screams Inside My Head’ from the ‘I Can See a Boat … It No Longer Floats’ album (2006).

A final note: on the very limited edition CD version of the album tracks 1 to 6 and tracks 7 to 12 are all linked, providing an even more satisfying experience for the listener as the songs flow together. If you are not lucky enough to have a CD copy you can now download the linked versions of the songs in two parts. Just click on the links below, or go direct to the album page on the website.

‘Midnight Souls Still Remain’ – Part 1 – CD version tracks 1 – 6

‘Midnight Souls Still Remain’ – Part 2 – CD version tracks 7 - 12

So, are any of the songs on the new album destined to become classics? The answer is a most definite yes.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

New Album Teaser

The release of the new Dayglo Fishermen album feels tantalisingly close. And it is, according to the information in the video teaser trailer published this month. We can expect it no later than November 2015.

The trailer gives the viewer a brief glimpse of parts of the album's cover image, and more crucially some excerpts from a few of the tracks. It's essential viewing for fans, and indeed for teaser trailer enthusiasts everywhere:

Such teasers are rare for Dayglo Fishermen. The band usually keep everything under wraps until the moment of release. But there have been some previous examples.

The band's 1993 album 'The Dayglo Fishermen' had two tracks released three months early under the name 'Horoscope'. The tracks had different names and lyrics to the final album tracks, but they certainly pleased those finding it hard to wait for the full release. And the bizarre and disturbing cover artwork made it something hard to ignore.

Horoscope Cover Artwork

Two further teasers were released, but in the less generous form of posters.  The 'Painting Aliens' album was announced two months before release.  The poster was a little too revealing, giving away the album's full title, but at least it refrained from revealing the striking cover image, which was to become one of the band's most memorable.

Painting Aliens Pre-Launch Poster

In January 2006 a poster appeared to promote what was to become the 'I Can See a Boat ... It No Longer Floats' album. Part of the albums glorious artwork was revealed, but thankfully the title remained a secret.

'I Can See a Boat ... It No Longer Floats' Teaser Poster

The poster announced that the album was due in the Spring of that year, but for various unfathomable reasons it was not released until October. It must have tried the patience of those keen to get their hands on the much anticipated release, after having waiting more than three years since the release of the previous album.  It would certainly have induced a sense of stressful desire to hear the album.

But that is the power and the point of a good teaser release, whatever its form. It should do more than just wet the appetite. It should initiate a feeling of tense anticipation, and grow enthusiasm with every viewing or hearing.

Dayglo Fishermen's 2015 teaser trailer certainly succeeds in that respect.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Layers of Video

Music videos can often look simple, but such simplicity often consists of many layers of visuals to create the final result. Dayglo Fishermen videos are no exception.

To illustrate this, here's a break down of the final scene for the band's 'I Can Dance Now' video, a promo for their 2010 album 'Moons That Cast Their Light'. The scene utilises a still photo of the band several times with many effects, pans and zooms applied, creating a drifting and calming effect as the end credits are played

First, on top of a black background, a layer featuring a slow zoom in to Ginny's hair is added. The hue and saturation of the colour is enhanced, an animated CRT TV simulation is added, and finally the brightness raised to create an over-exposed look:

The next layer features a close up pan of the band photo from left to right. Again the hue and saturation are enhanced and an animated CRT TV simulation added. but this time the brightness is lowered to create a dark and shadowy impression:

Next a layer is added featuring a slow zoom out from Ginny to reveal the whole band. Initially the hue and saturation colour levels are high, but they reduce throughout the sequence until the image is black and white. The CRT TV simulation is also present once again, but softened to remove the grid effect:

And finally, a white text layer is added featuring a black outline and shadow to ensure the production credit is readable against the ever changing background:

The finished scene is remarkably mezmerising, compelling the viewer to watch right to the final fade. Watch it now, along with all Dayglo Fishermen promo and concert videos, on the band's YouTube channel.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

25 Years in the Studio

Twenty-five years ago this month, up a hill on the western edge of a small rural town in the far north of England, four young men gathered in a rather modest recording studio to record a single song. They were there to see a demonstration of some of the studio's equipment, and the song was intended to be nothing more than an interesting way to see the equipment in action.

The original Dayglo Fishermen line-up
Eamonn Maddick, Peter Carmichael, Peter Fothergill and David Fothergill

From the very start, that time in the studio became more than a mere demonstration. Something special was happening. Ideas flowed easily, and enthusiasm for what was being created grew with every moment. Within hours the song was completed.

The Drenched album cover
That song was 'Fish', the first ever song by the band known as Dayglo Fishermen, and it was released to the world just a few months later on the band's debut album 'Drenched'. To find out more about that song and its production read the earlier article, 'The Origin of Fish'.

In the years that followed, and with various line-ups, the band have gone on to record numerous albums and perform concerts in some impressive venues, including 'The Rock Garden' in Covent Garden, London, and the Moot Hall, an imposing medieval building in Hexham, Northumberland.

After quarter of a century of recording and performing the band has amassed an extensive and remarkably diverse back catalogue of music spanning 18 studio albums and two live concert albums. All are available to download on the band's official website.

The album artwork from Dayglo Fishermen's extensive back catalogue

Dayglo Fishermen have a new album scheduled for release later this year, and rumours from the band's inner circle suggest that it will be yet another unique and very special collection of songs.

The band's current line-up, Peter Fothergill, Richard Burton, Ginny Owens and Sean Wills, are showing no signs of retiring. They are looking forward to the next stage of the band's evolution, and even before the release of the new album they are germinating the ideas that will result in yet another collection of finely crafted music sometime over the next few years.

The current Dayglo Fishermen line-up
Peter Fothergill, Ginny Owens, Sean Wills and Richard Burton

Happy 25th birthday, Dayglo Fishermen

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Chilling in the Woods

It was March 1993.  In need of a band photo for their forthcoming new album, Dayglo Fishermen headed into the depths of a Northumbrian Forest with the eminent Scottish photographer,  J. Lorne Inglis. It was bitterly cold, and soon all concerned were experiencing the effects of mild exposure. Despite the suffering the band endured the lengthy shoot with good humour, which resulted in one of the band's most iconic photos, shown below:

The cover photo for Dayglo Fishermen's 'The Dayglo Fishermen' album
Photography by J Lorne Inglis

The photo was used on the cover of the band's eponymous 1993 album, 'The Dayglo Fishermen', and also in the follow-up album, 'Animate' later that same year.

But there were also some other arguably more interesting photos take during that painfully frigid outing.

The one below is particularly interesting. The lighting conditions, combined with the band's clothing, posture and expressions, gives the impression that it was taken a century earlier. Its Victorian feel gives the image a sense of depth and mystery that was never intended or expected.

Dayglo Fishermen as they would have looked circa 1880
Photography by J Lorne Inglis

An experiment with a wide angle lens produced the following close-up photographs.  They present an informal and more playful aspect of the band:

Interesting wide-angle close-ups
Photography by J Lorne Inglis

Finally, in a remarkably over-exposed flash image, a former band member emerges from the darkening gloom to perform an expertly executed photobomb:

From the darkness he came
Photography by J Lorne Inglis

To see a few more visit Dayglo Fishermen's group photos page for 1993.