Following the success of his three previous solo albums, ‘The Kundalini Target’ (2009), ‘Peace City West’ (2011) and ‘Travel Wild – Travel Free’ (2013), Steve Cradock reveals a different side to his musical talents with a new instrumental LP drawing on jazz, folk, classical and film soundtrack influences.
Conceived during the “most extraordinary” months of lockdown, ‘A Sound Track to An Imaginary Movie’ began life one afternoon in summer 2020 when Cradock felt struck by inspiration. “I had a spliff outside my studio, and then just went in and recorded the first two tracks in one go,” he explains. “It just flowed, and it felt really trippy, just like that time did.”
The music that poured out in subsequent sessions suggested to Steve an imaginary film soundtrack – hence the album title – with many of the songs exuding a quiet, hymnal grace and a profound sensation of stillness and inner peace. Hints of Eric Satie, Burt Bacharach, Ennio Morricone and Philip Glass can be detected – together with a piquant flavour of the jazz and classical greats. “I’ve become a big Radio 3 fan, it must be my age,” laughs the guitarist.
One of spiritual jazz’s foundational works was a particular influence. “I was listening to John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’ a lot at the time, which starts with a gong,” Steve explains. “My wife Sal and her mates do Sound therapy using gongs, and they talked to me about the power of repetition in healing. I got into this whole theological discussion with them – it all goes hand in hand with the idea of sacred geometry and the 432 hertz scenario, where concert tuning used to be a semitone or so lower. So, I can hear, and feel, bits of those conversations in the music.”
Besides Sally Cradock adding gongs and Tibetan Singing Bowls to Side 2 opener ‘Dragon’s Blood’ – a deeply haunting, spectral and graceful piece – Steve is also joined by guests including Jess Cox (cello), the Stone Foundation’s Rob Newton (congas), son Cassius Cradock (piano), plus fellow members of The Specials’ touring band Nikolaj Larson (Hammond B-3) and Tim Smart (trombone).
One of the most moving tracks, Sarcoline – each takes the name of a rare colour – grew from a demo recorded around the time of ‘Peace City West’, and features saxophone by UB40’s Brian Travers, who sadly died last year. “It’s beautiful that Brian plays on it,” says Steve. “I embellished the original recording, using the idea you’re walking up the stairs of a club and can hear different sounds coming from each different floor. Three scenarios with the same repeated melody.”
Famously down-to-earth, Cradock is keen to impress that ‘A Sound Track to An Imaginary Movie’ is in his mind essentially a folk record. “I’m not having visions of grandeur as a composer,” he concludes. “Enrico Berto, has been great at making these recordings feel 3-D, he brought out some amazing stuff in them when mixing. But ultimately, I could play most of these tunes on an acoustic guitar.”
‘A Sound Track To An Imaginary Movie’ is released on the Kundalini label on June 10th.