If you are of a certain age, you will probably be most familiar with Will Sergeant as guitarist and founder member of Liverpool legends Echo & The Bunnymen. Their classic album Ocean Rain became a particular favourite of mine during my student days in the mid 80s and I still consider it one of the best releases of that period.
But Will has not limited his musical horizons to the Bunnymen; he has worked on other projects over the past couple of years and discovering them has been one of 2013’s unexpected pleasures for me.
Back in January, Will and fellow Bunnyman Les Pattinson formed a new band called Poltergeist and announced a PledgeMusic campaign to fund production of their debut album. That album, entitled Your Mind Is A Box (Let Us Fill It With Wonder), appeared as a download for pledgers in March and had a worldwide release in June. According to Will,
We create a form of rock music with its toes paddling in the progressive ocean foam of the sixties and seventies and its head in the bone dry air of the present day.
Your Mind Is A Box is a splendid slice of instrumental prog/post-rock that deserves a place in my Best Of 2013 list, being denied that right solely due only to the incredible strength and depth of this year’s album releases. Fans of The Fierce & The Dead and their ilk should definitely give this a listen.
In September, Will launched another PledgeMusic campaign, this time for a new album from occasional project Glide. This resulted in the release of Assemblage One & Two at the start of November. Glide is a quite different beast to Poltergeist, drawing inspiration from the 1970s electronica of Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. Will describes the project thus:
It is an unashamed self indulgent venture. I see nothing wrong with being self indulgent. In my view all art of any worth is built on self indulgence. From the first stroke of a brush, word of literature, note of an instrument or strike of the chisel against the cold stone or wood. The only person that a true artist should be aiming to please should be himself. If you start worrying about what the people may say about the work it is immediately compromised and is a dead duck. So I walk alone once more through electronic landscape for only one reason: I like it there.
Well I like it too, Will: as a devoted fan of early to mid-period TD, I like it very much indeed! The two tracks from Assemblage – clocking in at truly proggy lengths of 19:34 and 22:28, respectively – are hypnotic and utterly absorbing, evoking the spirit of this genre’s German pioneers superbly.
Last week I was privileged to attend a play-through of Assemblage One & Two by Will, in the planetarium at Liverpool’s World Museum. The computer-projected visuals of planets, stars and galaxies were the perfect mind-expanding accompaniment to the music. Will had a small merch desk at the event, so I took a punt on a CD of his from 2012, called Things Inside – and I am so glad I did!
Things Inside – available as a CD or as a download – is another instrumental album, but one quite different in tone from the work produced by the Poltergeist and Glide projects. For one thing, it is almost entirely acoustic. Instruments used include acoustic guitars, ukulele, melodica, vibraphone, hammered dulcimer, celeste, auto harp, Schoenhut toy piano, acoustic bass, flute, french horn and wind chimes! I’ve only listened to it a couple of times, but I’m already loving it.
It’s wonderful when an artist known for one particular style of music reveals a hidden side, a more broad-ranging creativity than you were expecting. Here’s hoping there is more to come from ‘Sergeant Fuzz’ in 2014!