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Wandering Down Darkened Forest Trails and Amongst Echoes of the Past and Future With Bob Fischer, Electronic Sound and Simple Minds

This was another good thing in a week or so where various good things arrived through the letter box etc, including Cathi Unsworth’s review of the A Year in the Country: Cathode Ray and Celluloid Hinterlands book in Fortean Times which I recently posted about.

Issue 95 of Electronic Sound includes an interview with me by Bob Fischer of The Haunted Generation, who has a great knack for making such things entertaining, funny and informative; it wanders from the background and story of A Year In The Country via growing up amongst Cold War warning sirens, Doctor Who, pastoral disquiet, The Wicker Man, The Advisory Circle and Ghost Box Records, TV curio Stargazy on Zummerdown and a whole lot more…

And who would’ve thought that one day I would be sharing magazine pages with Simple Minds? Blimey… The interview in the magazine with Simple Minds founders and mainstays Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill by Push, who is one of the editors of Electronic Sound, is a fine extended read that explores their history old and new, personal and cultural.

The striking artwork for Simple Minds’ new album Direcion of the Heart is the cover image for the issue;  see if you can spot, as mentioned in the interview with Kerr and Burchill,  the “butterflies, a golden Cupid blowing a horn, a bird’s nest with three eggs in it, a scales of justice keyring, a plastic model of a kissing couple, and a ringed planet reflected in one of the eye lenses”. It took me a mo’ or two to be able to see them all, due to them being intriguingly intertwined and hidden in plain sight amongst the main images of the gas mask and the flowers.

And if you get in quick, you can also bundle the magazine with an exclusive limited 7″ of the classic Simple Minds track “I Travel” that was originally released in 1980 and which is backed with “Planet Zero” from their new album.

If you’ve never heard “I Travel” it’s well worth seeking out, as indeed is the Empires and Dance album that it was included on; listening to it today it still sounds like the future and its lyrics are both worryingly appropriate and prescient for present day troubles in the world and, well, I’ll hand over to Bobbie Gillespie of Primal Scream at this point, who on Clash magazine’s site said of the song and Simple Minds:

“Hard as rock cold war Euro-disco, no one did it better. The true European sons of BowieEnoMoroder and brothers of Joy Division, all the way from from Prospecthill circus. ‘In central Europe men are marching’ – ecstatic paranoia. I love it.”

After a rolling drumbeat intro “Planet Zero” seems, particularly in its repeated refrain of “whole world on fire”, to both echo and continue some of the themes of dischord and conflict in the lyrics of “I Travel” and also shares its intertwining of some quite dark lyrical themes and driving, propulsive music or, to re-quote Bobbie Gillespie, “ecstatic paranoia ;  it’s a song that sounds both contemporary and also to contain almost spectral echoes of Simple Minds’ musical past, particularly in some of the layered synths.

Elsewhere in the magazine can be found the usual smorgasboard of potentially wallet punishing synth, book, music etc news, features and reviews. This issue felt particularly dangerous for the health of the old bank balance and included the likes of a £10,000+ reissue of a classic Moog synth from 1971, a rather lovely piece of music studio furniture by Audio Housing, Kevin Foakes’ (aka Strictly Kev and DJ Food) excellent new Wheels of Lights book that collects together and archives the projection disc etc designs for light shows that were released between 1970 and 1990, a particularly reasonably priced “cut your own records” turntable… and, well, that’s before you’ve even gotten past the “Front” end section of the magazine…

Thanks to Bob Fischer and also all at Electronic Sound: Isaak Lewis-Smith, Push, Mark Roland, Mark Hall, Velimir Ilic, Claire Francis, Joel Benjamin, Gill Mullins and Susie Dawes.

Cheers and a tip of the hat to all concerned!

Links at A Year In The Country:

Links elsewhere:


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