My name is Thomas, I sing and play guitar in Sweet Williams, something I’ve done for nearly ten years. I played in other bands before that, since the age of fourteen, and I still play in other bands now. Listening to music is as important to me as breathing or sleeping, ever since Dad bought “Pearly Dewdrops Drops” by the Cocteau Twins home on 12”. My sister and I heard a lot of interesting stuff growing up. We always listened to the Top Forty (Stan Ridgeway’s “Camouflage”, Technotronic’s “Pump Up The Jam” and Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” would be a few of my favourites), but Mum and Dad would play The Cure, The Beastie Boys, Throwing Muses, New Order. I would tape them for my Walkman. So I’ve stuck to records I found elsewhere, on my own, by chance, or through formative friendships, or that just plain fell out of the sky. I don’t really want to tell you in what way each one changed my life. Rather, how. I could have picked a hundred more.
Mark Hollis – Mark Hollis
I read a review of this record before I heard it and was intrigued. I remembered liking Talk Talk’s “Life’s What You Make It” as a kid but I’d missed their incredible left-turn period. The CD came into the small independent record shop I was working in at the time and I snagged a copy based purely on what I’d read. I’m not sure I got it at first but I stuck with it. There were no electric instruments. It rarely got anywhere near loud. I related it to other stuff I loved, like Marshmallows by The For Carnation, or Movietone’s first LP. It didn’t sound produced at all, yet everything was crystal clear. It sounded almost completely unstructured, and yet everything happened at precisely the right moment. At times almost no music was being played, yet these became the moments of the greatest import. With repeated listens, songs of sublime, time-halting beauty revealed themselves. And, more than twenty years later, continue to do so.
Stars Of The Lid – The Ballasted Orchestra
When I was a really small child, like other really small children, when I couldn’t sleep, I’d go to my parents’ room. Oftentimes they’d still be downstairs, but their bed was wide and cool and neither side touched the walls. I don’t know if this is one particular memory, or a composite of many, but I clearly remember standing on that bed, alone, facing what I now know to be south, watching, through the window, what I now know to be the distant lights of Eastbourne town twinkling in the dark, as the bare trees on the opposite side of our lane waved in the wind, and hearing what I thought to be my own, secret music in my head. It could well have been the water pipes, or the wind, or the blood rushing in my ears, but it seemed to be coming from another place entirely, and to be for me especially and only, as if the night sky and the flickering orange lights were singing, silently, straight to my tiny being.
One summer years later, lying baked and baking on the floor of my friend’s studio flat on Tottenham Court Road, hearing The Ballasted Orchestra for the first time took me straight back to that room. It was, and still is, that music, finally returned to me.
Alice Coltrane – Journey In Satchidananda
I was not, and am still not, necessarily, a fan of jazz, when I first heard Alice Coltrane. I had not heard Miles Davis’ electric period. I had not heard A Love Supreme. I did not count Dave Brubeck as jazz. I was twenty years old and still reeling from getting Beefheart. I was playing in a band with my friends Jon and Andy, both older than me, both trying to wring the GCSE post-rock out of my guitar playing. Car journeys and rehearsals with them meant hearing Tom Waits, Charley Patton, NWA, The Sonics, The Beach Boys, Portishead… One night in Andy’s kitchen, tired of sifting through practice tapes, Jon rolled a joint and played Alice Coltrane. It was Cecil McBee’s bass that pulled me in. Constant, steady, subtle variations just here and here. And the rest of it that spun me away. It’s all colour and texture, only the faintest suggestion of rhythm or structure. Heady minutes explode into scorched hours. You think you’ve been listening to an amorphous slumbering beast of sound, until your ear catches hold of something that’s been there all along, and the whole takes new form around that thing, and you realise you’ve been tricked, not by this music, but by all the music you ever heard before it.
Sweet Williams is a post-punk band from Brighton, England.
Their latest album “Where Does the Time Come From” is out 20th September and you can get it via Gringo Records.