Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Young Marble Giants sculpted a sparse sound in the muted monochromatic machinations of this charmingly unconventional abstract. Brothers Philip and Stuart Moxham started the band with Philip's girlfriend Allison Statton in 1978. Stuart Moxham says: "There was actually a virtual fourth member of the band, a cousin of mine and Phil's, Pete Joyce. He was a telephone engineer at the time, and a bit of a gearhead. He built our drum machine and few other things as well. He had a very early synthesizer which was built into a briefcase...He was quite a big influence, in that he supplied all the technical know-how, and all the gear we used. We actually made tapes of our music as we were writing it, as we went along. We actually made tapes on a reel-to-reel...The year before [Colossal Youth]. Most we did at home. We just did them in order to suit what we were sounding like, really. Before we started playing live, I had the idea to put the tapes, just locally. I was just working at Virgin Records in Cardiff at time, and the manager there let me put a poster up and sell them in the shop. Then we basically just put a couple of tracks on post-punk DIY compilation album called Is the War Over. Rough Trade heard that...We never really fitted in. Even though it was Rough Trade, it was still very much, everyone wore black and was into the Keith Richard kind of rockist idea of existence. Black leather and drugs and all that sort of stuff. We were lounge lizards before our time, I think...I had been writing songs, but I'd say I was pretty much a learner up to that point. I'd say I'd written maybe a handful of really good songs before the Young Marble Giants. The thing about the Young Marble Giants is that we wanted to write, to make a body of work that was exceptional, that was really gonna stand out. We were all kind of desperate to make it and get out of Cardiff. This music had to achieve a lot for us, basically. It had to get us a record deal, which nobody we knew had ever done. Cardiff wasn't on the musical map at all until recently. It was like a kind of impossible dream. My songwriting before the Young Marble Giants was kind of organic, it's just what I did, whatever came to mind. It wasn't really considered, it wasn't styled in any way. The Young Marble Giants stuff was very rigidly written for that kind of formula, really. Very stylized, very molded, for a purpose."
They recorded 'Colossal Youth' at Foel Studios near Welshpool in North Wales for about £1000. The sessions featured Alison Statton on vocals; Stuart Moxham on guitar and organ; and Philip Moxham on bass. Stuart considers: "It's quiet. It's minimal. My whole idea, really, was this is what's happening, this is what's out there, this is what we know about, and everyone kind of does the same stuff. Let's just turn out backs on that, and see what else there is to do. Being quiet was one thing, and being very minimal was another thing. So we thought right, we'll go against all the grains and see if we can come up with something. As somebody once said in Rough Trade, basically it's rock and roll. It's basically twelve-bar blues. It's just sort of chopped up a bit...We knew nothing about production. The short answer is yes, definitely. The whole thing was--we planned the whole thing very economically. Basically we bumped our drum machine down to a cassette, and we used that one cassette for every gig we did. And we used that same cassette to make a record with. We kept it all very minimal and very simple. We did exactly the same thing in the studio as we did live. I think we did about two or three overdubs on the whole album. The album was done in five days, and we mixed it in 20 minutes. The whole idea was to keep it very simple. Since then, I've got fucked into the way of working everybody else works, endless overdubs and multitracking and mixing and remixing, all that kind of stuff, I've done all that kind of business. At times I just think to myself, God, I got it right the first time around. Why am I doing all this? It's crazy!"
'Colossal Youth' went to number twenty in New Zealand and number three on the UK indie album chart.
"Brand - New - Life"
"Credit in the Straight World"
All songs written by Stuart Moxham, except for where noted.
"Searching for Mr. Right" - 3:03
"Include Me Out" - 2:01
"The Taxi" - 2:07
"Eating Noddemix" (Phillip Moxham, Alison Statton) - 2:04
"Constantly Changing" - 2:04
"N.I.T.A." - 3:31
"Colossal Youth" - 1:54
"Music for Evenings" - 3:02
"The Man Amplifier" - 3:15
"Choci Loni" (S. Moxham, P. Moxham) - 2:37
"Wurlitzer Jukebox" - 2:45
"Salad Days" (S. Moxham, Statton) - 2:01
"Credit in the Straight World" - 2:29
"Brand - New - Life" - 2:54
"Wind in the Rigging" - 2:25