By Guided *
So how does this work? Out of nowhere, a lo-fi, home recorded CD goes on the stereo after a hard day. Before you've properly heard any of the songs it caresses nurtures and rebuilds you. It cherishes all the things you love about music. It puts you back on the optimistic side. Who are these lovely people?
Guided* are four twenty somethings from Newtonards a small town a bus ride away from Belfast with no live venues and nothing special going on. They've played Auntie Annie's in Belfast, and they've been on a compilation put together by John O'Neill of the Undertones. They've done another demo album "Trying Not to Crash" and there's a side project called Dreams of 43. They're thinking about a small tour to promote the new album when the art work's done.
Little Light was recorded on a 16 track machine of some kind, with pre-programmed percussion (and some live drumming on track 12 "Pistols Drawn For Heartbreak at Dawn"). It comes in with "Music You Play", the darkest song on the album. Big drum noises and a loud rough guitar riff clear the air. In the background some scattering noise flails about and there's a pained voice being muscled over the threshold into distortion and murk, like Mark Linkous on one of his less happy days.
But once that's done, we're free to feel a whole lot better and move into an Apples in Stereo kind of happy/sad mood with tough emotional credentials fully established. Female voices drift in like Hilary in "Silver Chain". Clear guitars ring out and the bass picks a gentle steady path through open hearted chords. All kinds of synth parts colour the spaces above and it really does shimmer. I love this a lot.
"The Christmas Lights" has echoey church voices and more interesting noises keeping it cool. Like all the vocal tracks on this CD, there's a small gem of a guitar song right inside the music. But there's also loads of mind altering/mood shifting music swirling around. At one point I find myself imagining Fleetwood Mac's Rumours rewritten by people who had managed to grow up emotionally.
Every track has some kind of sonic experiment. Every one has a different presentation for the vocal parts: excepting of course the instrumentals like the delightful "Trapdoor".
"(Carry On) In a Jazz Style" is inspired in its weird orchestration and bursts of 33 and third crackling. All of the tracks ring with affection and sad eyed optimism. I want to sell you this CD, and I won't ask a penny less than twenty pounds. Email Ricky Graham (who wrote the songs) and he'll probably let you have one for something you can afford. When the art work's done.