Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Thirty Years

This month Dayglo Fishermen celebrate their 30th anniversary. It's a rare thing for a band to reach such a milestone, and it takes a special level of commitment and passion to get even close.

Over those three decades Dayglo Fishermen have released 20 studio albums - an average of one album every 18 months, and an average of one track composed, recorded and mastered every six weeks during that period. It's an astonishing achievement.

A very early Dayglo Fishermen group photo, taken in 1991, during the recording of the band's second album, 'Strange Plaice'. The band's so called 'classic' line up can be seen here (clockwise from the left): Eamonn Maddick, Peter Fothergill, Richard Burton, David Fothergill and Peter Carmichael.

It's hard to choose just what to pick as highlights of the band's long career, so here's an extreme summary of how things have transpired so far.

In the Beginning

During the spring of 1990 four young men got together with the intention of recording a single song. It was meant to be nothing more than an example of what could be achieved in a hillside recording studio on the edge of a small town in a very rural location. After just a couple of hours the results far exceeded what was intended. The song 'Fish' had been brought into existence. You can read the full account of how the band's first song was recorded in the article 'The Origin of 'Fish''.

The album cover cassette inlay for 'Drenched', Dayglo Fishermen's debut album, released in 1990

That recording session cultivated such a wave of excitement and enthusiasm that the four men, Peter Fothergill, David Fothergill, Peter Carmichael and Eamonn Maddick, immediately made plans to record more together. Just a few months later Dayglo Fishermen released their debut album, 'Drenched'. The music was an unusual and refreshing change from the high school rock bands that had saturated the local music scene. It was very well received.

Richard Burton, who had been working with Peter Fothergill for a couple of years on other projects, joined the band, bringing with him fresh ideas and his unique guitar sound. Over the following two years Dayglo Fishermen's extraordinary creativity was unleashed with such relentless passion that four more studio albums were released, including 'Strange Plaice' and 'And So It Is', most notable for the song 'But Where Were the Mice?'.

With a new band member, Sean Wills, on board, that frenetic period culminated in the 1992 release of 'Magic Organ', which lingered solely on the dark side of life. The music is harsh, lyrically as well as aurally, but somehow just as compelling as much of their lighter work.

The album cover artwork for 'Magic Organ', released in 1992 (left: front cover, right: inside cover). The imagery features an almost maddening array of burning scratches, which complements the music perfectly.

The production of  'Magic Organ' proved to be an almost torturous experience which stretched an already growing tension within the band to its limit. Creative differences became intolerable. Read the article 'The Art of Darkness' to learn just how dark the experience of creating an album can go.

Second Wind

Dayglo Fishermen were down to just two members, but the air had been cleared and the future was full of promise. With renewed vigour Peter Fothergill and Richard Burton began work on a new album and in September 1992 released 'What the Hell'. The contrast with 'Magic Organ' was profound. The new album was lighter, fresher, and positive, despite its occasional drift into political references.

Over the next two years the band released five more albums, which included the eponymous 'The Dayglo Fishermen'  in 1993, but it was the release of the now classic 'Big Spoon' a year later that really stands out during that period.

The album cover for 'Big Spoon', released in 1994. The album is widely regarded as one of Dayglo Fishermen's finest and most influential.  

'Big Spoon' was a significant change from the band's usual sequence of song structures, and that was exactly as it was planned to be. It was far more instrumental in nature, and featured a deeper and much more sophisticated sound that would be carried through to later albums. Read the article 'Big Spoon' for a detailed account of the album.

Towards the end of 1994 the band took a long break from recording. Richard moved to southeast England, and within months Peter also headed south to London.


In the spring of 1996, with Peter established in London, and Richard in Buckinghamshire, Dayglo Fishermen began recording once again. They were joined by Ginny Owens, a talented local singer with a unique voice. Just over a year later the 'Space Dog' album was released. The album was a return to a more typical song structure, but with more a more refined sound and some wonderfully subtle layers of orchestration. And it was all crowned with the smooth and often haunting sound of Ginny's vocals. You can read an in-depth account of the album in the article 'Space Dog - The Pound of the Hound'.
The album cover artwork for 'Space Dog' (left) released in 1997, and 'Painting Aliens' released in 1998

Just a year later Dayglo Fishermen released what has become known as their classic pop album: 'Painting Aliens'. The blending of traditional pop methods with the band's own unconventional ideas proved highly popular, making it one of the band's most accessible albums ever. Read a detailed account of the album in the article 'Painting Aliens'.

Many of the album's tracks, such as 'Something's Watching', 'Underground' and the title song 'Painting Aliens', were so popular that they have been performed at every one of the band's concerts ever since the album was released.

Into the New Millennium

The frequency of Dayglo Fishermen releases would slow quite significantly from now on, but the creativity and desire of the band never waned. As the rest of the world embraced the possibilities of the new century the band quietly recorded and released an eclectic series of albums, including 'Comet Nerdlinger', 'Queen of the Sunset City' and 'I Can See a Boat ... It No Longer Floats'. Each album features a wild variety of styles and textures, and each saw the band's technical and creative abilities reach new heights.

The album cover artwork for 'Comet Nerdlinger' - released in 2001 (top left), 'Queen of the Sunset City' released in 2003 (top right), 'I Can See a Boat ... It No Longer Floats' released in 2006 (bottom left) and 'In the Limelight', the band's first live album, released in 2008.

This period closed with the release of Dayglo Fishermen's first ever live album, 'In the Limelight' - a recording of the band's exhilarating 2008 concert at the Limelight Theatre in Aylesbury, UK.

Up Until Now

The arrival of advanced new equipment energised the band. The result, in 2010, was the release of 'Moons That Cast Their Light'. The album has a retro feel and is brimming with sparkling synths,  lush guitar textures and dreamy vocals. It contains several stand out tracks, including the quirky pop song 'Teen Angst' and the beautiful 'Never a Shadow (Without a Light)'.

The band photo used in publicity for Dayglo Fishermen's 2011 concert following the release of the album 'Moons That Cast Their Light' the previous year. Seen on the top row are Richard Burton, Ginny Owens and Peter Fothergill. Below is Sean Wills, a former band member who had been a featured artist on the last few albums. He would rejoin the band as a full member after the concert.

To help promote the album, in 2011 Dayglo Fishermen performed once again at the Limelight Theatre in Aylesbury. The concert, which featured performances of many of the band's classic songs as well as new material, was such a success that a live recording of the event, titled '260311', was released soon after.

Dayglo Fishermen performing at their 2011 Limelight Theatre concert. This photo was used as the cover for '260311', the live album of that performance, which was released later that same year.

After opening a new dedicated production facility in London, Dayglo Fishermen commenced work on the album 'Midnight Souls Still Remain', which was released in 2015. The album is a powerful mix of pulsing synthesiser rhythms, energising guitars and expansive and layered vocals. At times it's purity of vision is quite astonishing as each track leads into the next. The article 'Midnight Souls Revealed' provides a full insight into each song.

The CD cover and inside images for the 2015 album 'Midnight Souls Still Remain'

The band immediately started work on another album, but in 2016 still found the time to showcase 'Midnight Souls Still Remain' and, of course, some of their classic songs live at the Limelight Theatre. The following year they released a live DVD of the event titled 'Midnight Souls Come (a)Live'.

In recent years Dayglo Fishermen have been very tight lipped about an album's contents before release, and their latest studio album was no exception. There were many rumours, of course: the main one being that the album was far more instrumental in nature. When the album was released in 2019 that rumour was proven correct. Named simply 'Time', the album is an epic soundscape that's like nothing else the band has ever released, yet it's also unmistakably Dayglo Fishermen with influences stretching back to the band's earliest compositions. Read ''Time' Has Come' for a detailed account of the album.

The cover image for the album 'Time', released in 2019

Back in 1990 Dayglo Fishermen embarked on an epic journey, one that is still underway today. The destination is unknown and it may never be reached, but along the way the band have managed to create quite remarkable music. And they have honoured us by releasing it for all the world to hear.

With their latest album, 'Time', now available to stream on all the major music services, such as Spotify, Amazon MusicGoogle Play and Deezer, the whole world now has even more opportunity to hear the band's work.

Here's to the next 30 years...

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

'Time' Has Come

In November last year Dayglo Fishermen released their much anticipated new album, 'Time'.

Just over two and a half years in production, the album marks a departure from the relatively conventionally structured collections of songs that the band usually releases. Largely instrumental in nature, the new album is vast and epic in its scope, and has been described as "a remarkable cinematic journey through the lightness and darkness of existence", and "an immense soundscape that straddles worlds and dimensions".

The CD cover image for Dayglo Fishermen's album 'Time'

As the album plays, and as each track seamlessly blends with the next, there is a clear impression of sophisticated progression; like a complex story unfolding as its tapestry of plot lines and twists weave together in an often unpredictable, but ultimately satisfying, fashion.

The album begins with the rush of waves as 'First Light' eases us into that story. The gentle sound of water as it shifts sand and pebbles is incredibly soothing. A mellow keyboard pad joins the mix as the waves slowly intensify, and then a thoughtful guitar melody takes control. The guitar evokes images of deserts and salt flats; an intriguing contrast to the waves that continue to ebb and flow all around. The track's intention, perhaps, is to issue a warning that our planet's current oceans will one day become arid and lifeless. That may be reading too much into a beginning that, for most, will having nothing but a calming effect. It's a perfect start to the album.

'Time Out From This World' comes to life with an indecisive drift through random radio stations. A luscious synth pad begins swelling back and forth - a fine complement to waves of the previous track. A gentle bell-like arpeggio begins, and then drops away as a rich bass sound take charge, accompanied by a soft jazz drum section. Guitars build, and the bells return, almost whistling at times as the multiplex of textures intermingle: and all of this progresses at a leisurely pace, instilling a sense of security and peace, and feelings of confidence and serenity with the accomplished ease we expect on any band's 20th studio album. As things drop away an almost vocal synth begins a regular punch of the sound space. A muted trumpet, a familiar sample to those that have listened to the band's previous albums, plays mournfully, eventually followed by a more optimistic piano that lifts the mood with a beautiful melody, and then the main sequence returns. As a distorted guitar builds and slides up in pitch the track drops back to skim through some radio stations once again. Here we are left to drift awhile, unfocused, until a lonely voice asks 'Can you hear me?'.

North African flutes play through the introduction of 'Before the Storm' evoking thoughts of deserts, campfires and deep sunsets. A hypnotic drum sequence soon kicks in, followed by a rasping synth bass sound, and then layers of guitar begin to build as keyboard pads swirl in the background. An unexpected synth melody suddenly appears as an interlude, but it's short-lived. The main theme returns, this time with a wandering bass guitar line in the mix as the guitars layer up once more. As the keyboards build in the background a distorted guitar takes over to create the track's final crescendo. And then things drop back until the drums cease and a brief whisper of voices is heard; an eerie hint of what is to come later on.

The CD inside cover image for Dayglo Fishermen's album 'Time'

A rich rhythmic synth riff, drifting left and right across the aural landscape, heralds the start of 'The Heavens Opened'. As the soft synth bass drum sequence begins two bass lines, keyboard and guitar, play along, matching the bass drum. Ever so gently a guitar joins in, strumming slowly and sweetly, and then a high and pulsing staccato synth cycles through the octaves as it fades in over several bars. An orchestral flourish rushes in to signal the start of the second and highly melodic section. Everything picks up as full drum sequence and a compelling synth melody takes over. Things repeat, building in intensity, before dropping back to the rhythmic synth riff. Whale song makes a surprising appearance here; A classic Dayglo Fishermen ploy, and then a pulsating synth introduces itself. A guitar plays around, until the orchestral flourish launches the final act. The pulsating synth takes control this time, playing through its addictive melody. As the key rises a powerful distorted guitar harmony joins the fray, lifting the track up to its glorious finale before releasing the listener back to how it started. It's an incredibly energising experience.

The whisper of voices returns, their words incomprehensible, mysterious, even ominous. At a remarkably slow 30 beats per minute 'Cracks Appear' begins. A lonely bass drum, accompanied by a plucked double bass, maintains the feeling of dread as a distant distorted guitar comes into play. A sparse piano plays chords on the beat, and soon some light cymbals manage brighten things just a bit. The voices return on occasion to remind us of their presence, and a whirling section of strings building during the sparse middle section, both of which remind us that there is something sinister lurking just beyond our comprehension. Everything works together to instil a chilling and almost hopeless sensation. As the track draws to a close with melancholic piano and a short guitar melody, the voices make a final appearance and repeat their unfathomable message.

A pulsing synth bass and gently chugging guitar brings us back from the brink of darkness as 'Ghosts in My Life' kicks in. Soon a simple, soft synth melody captivates the listener.  After brief and sparkling bridge section the synth melody plays again, this time with some interesting interplay with another synth and guitar. And soon we are in new section, with vocals, accompanied by powerful sustained keyboards that fill the background with a broad and rich sound. A simplified first section plays again, and then we enter a sparse middle section as an unusual synth sound plays, interspersed with some heavily distorted guitars, building until the vocal section returns and brings everything to a close.

Dominated by a loosely tapped cymbal rhythm, 'Darkness Falls' ends the first half of the album with a softly hypnotic piece. Despite its title, the track feels light and soothing as guitars and smooth keyboard pads drift around. Some deep chanting voices appear now and then, which are slightly unsettling, if only for the briefest of moments, but those moments are forgotten as uplifting vocals take over. A distorted guitar leads the listener out of the track and on to a moment of silence in preparation for the second half of the album. Its an outstandingly fluid composition.

The CD back cover image for Dayglo Fishermen's album 'Time'

'An Enchanted Evening' begins with a mellow and sustained synth sound. The curious and soft hooting of birdsong is soon heard, captivating the listener as a gentle and sparse guitar starts to play. And so it continues, drifting beautifully without purpose and structure, drawing the listener in, and closing out the world beyond. It's as if nothing else exists, and nothing else matters. It's quite possibly one of the purest moments of pleasure on the album, made all the more remarkable due to the absolute simplicity of the track's arrangement. Perfection.

A mid tempo drum and bass rhythm, complete with the crackle of dust on a stylus, lead us straight in to the wonderful 'I Returned Her Glance'. Gentle guitar and mellow keyboards ease things along until the vocals, softy spoken, begin, and then a superb instrumental section builds, with a loosely played high synth arpeggio twinkling all around until a guitar melody takes over. The vocals return briefly, and then another instrumental section, featuring an exquisitely played piano melody, takes the piece to its conclusion. This track stands out as not only one of the finest on the album, but as one of the band's finest ever. It is impossible to praise it enough.

A fast and complex rhythm of cymbals, both acoustic and synthesised, takes us in to 'No One Home'. Guitar and keyboard bass lines kick in with the drums and after a bizarre trumpet plays a brief solo a soft keyboard melody begins; a comfortable contrast to the oddly timed and staccato synth bass. All the while a gently strummed guitar, and later a distant distorted guitar, provide a subtle but vital depth to the sound. As the track progresses we are treated to a mix of sections featuring a walking lead synth backed by organs, and a longer part with a simple but effective guitar melody - essential as always with the bass line as it is. Vocals appear briefly in the later stages, providing a satisfying human presence in the lead up to the finale.

With its synth dominated melodies 'Fight or Flight' is the perfect companion to the previous track. The melodies evoke more tension this time, and the more unusual drum rhythm and a sustained bass guitar over the synth bass line enhances that feeling. Numerous lines of guitar - plucked, sustained, distorted - build as the piece progresses, dropping back on occasion to make room for vocals. The concluding section intensifies with a rich distorted guitar melody that provides an immaculate harmony to the ongoing keyboard melody beneath it.  As the guitar slides up into a wash of reverberation we are left alone, expecting a moment of contemplation. But it is not to be.

Photos from inner sanctum of Dayglo Fishermen are very rare nowadays. This one was taken in the band's primary production facility, Cozmic Studios, sometime in 2018 as the album 'Time' was being recorded. The new Korg Kronos Workstation is shown, along with some of the band's vast collection of guitars, all of  which feature heavily on the new album.

An interlude of sorts follows. 'Exorcising Ghosts' is a brief return to the vocal section of 'Ghosts in My Life'. Most of the orchestration is stripped away leaving nothing but the guitar and voices. Despite its familiarity it is still an unexpected shock that creates a moment of confusion, jarring us out of the mood created by the previous two tracks. We are being set up for something quite different.

'Surfing on a Cloud' starts with a short vocal before a simple up-tempo drum sequence begins. We are teased for a while with bursts of synth bass and a deep chorused pad sound, drawing us in until the fast bass arpeggio kicks off. Distorted and clean guitars build along with the keyboards as this relentlessly shameless and unapologetic dance track does exactly what it's supposed to do; get our bodies moving and our minds freed of inhibitions. It's so refreshing, and utterly addicting.

The sound of random radio stations returns. 'Time's Up' takes us back to an earlier track for a while; the final section of 'Time Out From This World'. There's an additional guitar melody in the mix, subtly lifting the mood and circling us back to our experience an hour ago.

Smoothly, and without a sign of tension, 'Barefoot Through My Heart' begins. The final track on the album is a canvas of soft and sustained synths, with a sparse echoing melody dancing in the high notes. Now and then a slow breath eases in and out, and then a bass guitar booms into existence. As the piece draws to a close guitars suddenly join in creating a short rhythmic section that soon drops back to the soft synths. The arid guitar from the very start of the album returns, and then the ambience of the seashore drifts back into our consciousness. The music has gone. We are left standing in the foaming water as waves crash and sand rushes around our feet.

'Time' is an extraordinarily mountainous experience of emotions. At its peak we feel the joyous delight of life, and in its deepest valley we are grasped tightly by tension and dread. It is by far Dayglo Fishermen's finest ever concept album.

All the tracks of the album flow together beautifully, and that's how it should be experienced. If you are lucky enough to own the CD version then that is the best way to play it, but if not the following links will allow you to hear the album as it's meant to be heard - as a two-part experience.


'Time' Part One - Tracks 1-7 Linked

'Time' Part Two - Tracks 8-15 Linked