At the beginning of last year, Stuart first got in touch to let us know about a project he was just starting which was going to be “a new series of compilation records featuring new music inspired by train travel” which on the face of it could have gone either way really but the fact that the first one had Paddy Shine from Gnod, Ran Slavin and Greg Fox (drummer with Guardian Alien / Liturgy / Ben Frost) on it piqued our interest.

Ever since them they’ve been knocking it out of the park with their releases. The latest installment is out in January and features Steven Hodson (Oceansize / Kong) under his name NO FUN, Gareth JS Thomas (USA Nails), Sophie T and Yuuko Haii; which is quite the impressive & eclectic collection of artists.

We thought it would be a good time to ask Stu to pick his three records that set him off down this path.

At The Drive In – Relationship of Command

A friend had lent me a cassette tape with a live recording of At the Drive In from a gig they had played in London to support the release of their new album Relationship of Command.

I was going through a bit of a teenage angst stage in my life, this cassette tape turned out to be the perfect soundtrack for walking round Kendal at night, silently screaming along with the lyrics to the pavements. It was the energy in all the parts that made the sound as a whole truly electrifying to me. It was an album I would constantly return to for inspiration when starting to play in the band Arficeden with my brothers Med and Dan.

Learning Sir – Smutty

When Arficeden stopped playing, Med locked himself away for a few months smoking weed and using GarageBand to record a collection of music called Smutty. I always feel Med had a style all of his own. I often think the melodies he harbours deep down originated from hearing the church bells ring out around Kendal every few nights. Listen to the melody on ‘Sisters in Rusholme’ and I think you’ll see what I mean. He struck the balance perfectly for me between experimental music and expressive pop music. There were attempts at more conventional chorus / verse compositions, with inspired choices for vocalists….but there was also some of the most intense experimental compositions on here. I feel you can here the complete darkness of Med’s mood at that time in the composition ‘Jessy’.

This collection inspired me to write an EP that I thought could match it in intensity. I had just finished reading ‘Our Band Could Be Your Life’ and one thing that I really liked was the songwriting style of the band Mission of Burma. The fact it was the two musicians Clint Conley and Roger Miller, each time one would write something, the other would try to better it. I remember thinking it sounded like the most creative, perfect way of constantly inspiring each other and egging each other on constructively. Inspired by Smutty and after just coming out of a 9 year relationship myself, I recorded an EP called Sleep Collages. I hoped Med would rally back with an ep straight after but life begun to take on a new strange shifting tempo for us both. Still fruitful with the results of his labour, Med would eventually create a follow up called Permanent Noir, which was fantastic, but by this time my personal thirst for writing music had started to run a little dry.

Greg Fox – Mitral Transmission

A strange highlight from the last few years of my life was setting my own leg on fire. I ended up in hospital for 10 nights whilst receiving a skin graft. I left the hospital feeling I needed to try to do something other than stack shelves in a supermarket whilst everyone was asleep. It was on a train journey from Newcastle to London not long after leaving the hospital that I decided I would ask my favourite musicians about creating music inspired by train travel.
It was actually the collection of music Mitral Transmission by drummer Greg Fox, that I was listening to as I was first watching the rail cables dance in sync with  the music in my headphones so uncannily. I’d come across this collection as I was intrigued by the label that put it out. They are called Data Garden. All their releases come with plantable download cards. They choose which flowers they feel work well with each release and include the seeds for you to grow them yourself. This blew my mind. Although I didn’t realise it at the time, I think my mind was probably just as excited about the idea that a label can have more of an artistic concept behind it than just art and music nowadays. 
Greg Fox is a brilliant drummer who has played for Liturgy, Guardian Alien, Zs, Ben Frost and a whole load of other acts….live he is ferocious. But this collection of music found him experimenting with some very high resolution percussive samples. You can hear the fun he’s having triggering the samples via midi from his electronic kit. It’s no wonder I was so hypnotised by the coincidental rhythms both the music and the cables flying past my eyes happened to be producing. Though Greg’s style is trance inducing in its repetition, it is also so full of freedom. Exactly how I would describe the movement and flow of rail cables when viewed from a moving train.
The embedded Mixcloud links at the start and the end of the articles are new mixes created by Steven Hodson (No Fun) and Gareth JS Thomas (USA Nails) showcasing their wide ranging influences.

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