This year Gravenhurst celebrates a decade of work on Warp Records with the reissue of two classic albums, Flashlight Seasons and Black Holes In The Sand, and an additional new album: Offerings: Lost Songs 2000 – 2004, a compilation of unreleased material from that period.
The first release with Warp, 2004’s Flashlight Seasons quickly earned Gravenhurst a devoted fan base, consistently strong support from the music press, and cemented Nick Talbot’s reputation as a unique talent, and one of the most original British singer-songwriters and producers of his generation.
Flashlight Seasons was quickly followed the same year by Black Holes In The Sand. A mini-album half an hour in length and comprised of six songs, Nick regarded it as a set of clues to the sound of future Gravenhurst records. A noisier and more overtly lo-fi record of dark pastoral psychedelia, Black Holes In The Sand firmly established an enduring Gravenhurst aesthetic: enigmatic lyrics, ghostly vocals and virtuoso finger-picked guitars against a backdrop of cinematic, shape-shifting, semi-conscious textures; subliminal transmissions from the surrounding landscape. For the last decade the title track has frequently featured as the show closer, with its sprawling second half ending the performance amidst a wall of quaking feedback, electronic pulsations and pounding ceremonial drums; a sonic evocation of the forces of nature.
These two records established Gravenhurst as a place; a place of revenants. Plotting a journey from the unquiet graves of the unjustly accused, through the dark temptations of the city to the ancient rituals of the forest, Gravenhurst is a musical treasure map of sigils and codes, where the earth itself has a message to convey.
The surprise new release, Offerings: Lost Songs 2000 – 2004, is a collection of previously unheard recordings which resulted from an archival search for extra material to accompany the reissues as digital downloads. The unexpected discoveries were however quickly deemed worthy of an exclusive release. Comprised of two early demos that differ from album versions in intriguing ways and eight previously unheard songs, the result is a carefully selected and coherent collection. ‘The Citizen’ contrasts a lyric of urban alienation with an early demonstration of Nick’s mastery of acoustic minimalism, while the strong narrative arc of the title track ‘Offerings’ contains the earliest incarnation of a recurring Gravenhurst theme: the indifference of nature and the folly of the human urge to seek spiritual communion with its destructive power. One of four diverse instrumental tracks, ‘Who Put Bella In The Wych Elm?’ provides a hypnotic soundtrack to one of England’s most unnerving unsolved crimes. Unable to recall recording some of these tracks, Nick describes the collection as a musical Mary Celeste; a vessel found captain-less and crew-less, with its cargo fully preserved after many years adrift.
The three albums will be pressed on vinyl accompanied with digital download codes, essays by Nick reflecting on this early material after a decade of progress, and a limited run of hand-made and signed lino-cut prints which will be made available to the first 200 customers who buy all three albums on vinyl through Bleep.com. A triple CD release will comprise all three albums.
The release will be supported by extensive touring of the UK and Europe, to be billed as “Gravenhurst Plays Flashlight Seasons – Ten Year Anniversary Tour” where the Gravenhurst Ensemble (Nick Talbot, Claire Adams and Rachel Lancaster) will perform the album in its entirety followed by material picked from the other albums. Honing their sound over two years of touring and promoting The Ghost In Daylight, with their emphasis on three part vocal harmonies and subtle dynamics, the Gravenhurst Ensemble offer the opportunity to hear Flashlight Seasons for the first time performed in a manner truly befitting its unique production and haunting atmosphere.
Over the last decade Nick has released five Gravenhurst albums on Warp Records, each different to the last, and each met with huge critical acclaim. 2012’s The Ghost In Daylight was supported by over a year of touring the UK and Europe with festival appearances including a headline slot at The End Of The Road. 2013 saw Nick collaborate with Mike Paradinas, providing lyrics and vocals for four songs on Love & Devotion, the debut album from the electronica producer’s new project Heterotic. Amidst continuing live performances and starting work on a new Gravenhurst album planned for release next year, 2013 also saw Nick begin regular journalistic contributions to the online music and arts site The Quietus, with highlights including exclusive interviews with the philosopher John Gray and the comic book legend Alan Moore.
02 FOG ROUND THE FIGUREHEAD
03 I TURN MY FACE TO THE FOREST FLOOR
05 THE DIVER
06 EAST OF THE CITY
08 DAMAGE II
09 THE ICE TREE
10 HOPECHAPEL HILL
BLACK HOLES IN THE SAND
01 BLACK HOLES IN THE SAND
02 FLOWERS IN HER HAIR
03 STILL WATER
04 WINTER MOON
06 FLASHLIGHT SEASONS
OFFERINGS: LOST SONGS 2000 – 2004
01 THE CITIZEN
02 ENTERTAINMENT (DEMO)
03 THE DIVER (DEMO)
04 WHO PUT BELLA IN THE WYCH ELM?
05 GAS MASK DAYS
07 FOR ERIN
08 ABILENE / STILL WATER OUTRO
10 RETURN TO STAPLETON ROAD