Fuzzy Lights, the husband and wife, Cambridge based post-rock band, release their impressive second album this very week, entitled Twin Feathers. We included a taster track on this months podcast, but we also got Xavier and Rachel Watkins to give us a run through the album and tell us a bit about it…
Xav: That was a bit of an odd one… Rachel and I wrote it as we got home after a late night out, just picked up the instruments and it flowed out. We spent the next morning deciphering what we had written… Chris was starting to play the singing saw at the time of recording and it worked perfectly with the mood. Michael from Last Harbour kindly accepted to record the double bass part for us. I’m not sure our neighbours like it very much.
Rach: Xav and I wrote this one night when we got home late. I was messing around with the viola while Xav made toast, then he joined in and Obscura came out of nowhere! I still don’t really know where this song came from, it just appeared under our fingers! The singing saw, wine glasses, glock and double bass added by the others really made it a very special track indeed. The viola part was transposed to violin for the recording.
Xav: This song has had many different incarnations, this one being my favourite. Rachel wrote it on acoustic guitar, we then took it and span it on its head to record it with electric mandolin and noisy guitars before settling on the current arrangement.
Rach: This was a song that I originally wrote back in 2005. It’s about spending your whole life with someone and how even when things don’t always work out the way you want, it can still be better to work through your differences and accept the other person for who they are. The arrangement of the song has changed a lot since then, with a few different versions but I think we finally managed to capture the mood.
Long brew… song about a destructive relationship.
‘The Museum Song’
Xav: The Museum Song was in a shortened version part of a soundtrack Rachel and I played to the Chris Marker film “la Jetée” for the Arts Picturehouse cinema in Cambridge, the scene where they visit the natural history museum.
Rach: After the event we started jamming it as a band in soundchecks on tour last year and it just fell into place really instantly. I think by recording live it’s maintained the spontaneous feel of the track.
Xav: Oldest track on the album, Rach and I wrote it at the very beginning of Fuzzy Lights, when we first got a harmonium. It never felt right to have on any of our other releases until now. It was recorded straight to tape, which gives it a dreamy mood. Double bass played by Michael from Last Harbour really lifts the music and helps give it an early baroque feel.
Xav: One morning, I was playing around with different tunings and found the melody. We went for a walk in the afternoon along Granchester Meadows and wrote it there.
Rach: I was in the early stages of pregnancy when Xav wrote Rituals. We spent the afternoon sitting in the sunshine and Xav wrote the lyrics while I lay next to him not feeling very well!
Chris: It always struck me as pretty amazing that when we first played with it in rehearsal everybody’s part was right, pretty much from the very start. I reckon we only actually all played it through on two occasions before recording it.
Shipwrecks took shape during our last tour, every night Mark kept adding more and more speed-of-light drum fills. It would flow into “Bells Chiming in an Empty House” from the first album and then “Something to do With Light”. The fuzz pedal I used for the guitar part in the last section picked up a local radio station during the take, you can slightly hear it at the very very end. Can’t remember which ’80s classic song it was though…probably best you can’t hear it too much so we don’t have to deal with copyright issues.
Xav: This one is about loss and solitude, and how you can get trapped in these feelings and not see a way out. I used to sing it in a falsetto voice through a tape delay but it somehow didn’t work as well on the recording.
Rach: Slowing Time came about from some parts Xav had written on acoustic guitar. The really important element in this song is the interplay between the guitars and drums with the changes of time signature driving it forward. The violin really just sits on top with the delayed melody.
‘The Sea & The Heather’
Xav: Rachel wrote the lyrics and I was playing around with the guitar riff one day and she said it would fit perfectly, which it did! There’s another version of this song, much more folky but we decided to rerecord it as it didn’t have the right feel – this one sounds more soothing where the other one was more jaunty.
Rach: The Sea and the Heather is a song about a girl passing through that stage of adolescence where she’s not yet a woman but isn’t a little girl any more: about how an old flame remembers her years later as she was then and tries to imagine how she is now.