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  • Writer's pictureBlake

"Kaleidoscope" released 24th September 2021 on Subjangle

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

My new album, Kaleidoscope, is released on 24th September on Subjangle. It's been a while coming, by my standards, but I'm pleased with it and hopefully it's been worth the wait.

After the unexpected success of 1971 and being approached by the label last year, resulting in the release of HMS Blake (and my dreams coming true!), I was determined to record the follow-up in a studio. Not only that, I wanted to record in analogue – to put my money where my mouth was because I’m always banging on about how analogue recordings sound superior! I came across Radar Sound Studios in London and arranged some recording dates with owner, Fuzz. This was earlier in the year so some lockdown restrictions were in place. Fortunately, we were able to proceed safely, although wearing a mask throughout all the sessions was a bit uncomfortable. At least I was able to remove it for the vocal takes.

Here is the promo film for ‘I’ve Got a Secret’, one of the tracks on the LP:

It turned out to be tremendously fortuitous to have discovered Radar Sound because the recording process went really well and Fuzz was exactly the right person to record with. He is intuitive, sympathetic and also REALLY into vintage gear. I can’t recommend him enough to anyone who wants to record the ‘old fashioned way’. We used an ex-Abbey Road Studer 24 track two-inch tape machine and Neve console. Fuzz owns the plate reverb unit that was used on John Williams’ Star Wars OST album with the LSO, and this sounded incredible. Ten of the songs on the album were recorded there over three consecutive weekends. The other five I recorded at home (because I didn't have funds to record more at the studio).

Platt's Eyot
On Platt's Eyot. Photo by Richard Kilbey

I was also blessed to have three of my best mates recording with me for the London sessions – Joe Brown on bass, backing vocals, twelve string acoustic guitar and keyboards, Hugh Lyford on drums and Richard Kilbey on Mellotron (actually a 'Memotron') and Bass VI. It made the experience so much more enjoyable and also meant we could record the songs live, including, in most cases, the lead vocals. Hugh and Rich were in the first band I formed at school when we were sixteen, ‘Embryo’. We used to play in the garage of my parents’ house at every opportunity we could find and dream of making records. It was so great to be in a studio recording with them all these years later. Joe and I have been musical partners since we formed 'All You Need Is The Beatles', our Beatles tribute band back in 2006. (We played our final gig, fittingly a Let It Be fiftieth anniversary celebration show, in February 2020.)

Radar Sounds is situated on an island in the Thames and was previously owned by 4AD. Platt's Eyot is only accessible via a narrow bridge that isn’t wide enough for a vehicle except a little Daihatsu mini-van. During the mixing sessions, a fire on the island destroyed many buildings but fortunately Radar Sounds survived. I would have lost all the master tapes if it hadn’t! And of course, more importantly and rather less selfishly, Fuzz would have lost his business.

Fire on Platt's Eyot
Fire! Fire!

With this record I attempted to write songs in a variety of different styles to create a kind of musical kaleidoscope. I was inspired by The White Album and the Velvet Underground’s Loaded, in this respect. There’s a little background to each song below.

The album cover was designed by Diann Zimmerman, a wonderful artist, whom I became acquainted with via Instagram. Diann didn’t even charge me for the commission, so please check out her website at More of her art is featured in the CD package being lovingly assembled by Subjangle.

Kaleidoscope will be available for order on CD from Subjangle and from my Bandcamp page and website on 24th September. It will be available for immediate digital download on this date, too.

The launch concert takes place on (a rescheduled date of) Friday 1st October at The Pound Arts Centre, Corsham, Wiltshire. Tickets available here or telephone 01249 701628. I will be performing songs from Kaleidoscope plus some of my favourite songs from my other albums and a few numbers from my days with Karma Truffle and The Dandelions. It would be great to see you there.

1. So Good

Blake – vocals, electric guitars, stylophone, tambourine

Joe Brown – bass, vocals

Hugh Lyford – drums

This song was originally called ‘Lawnmower’ and was basically a list of different lawnmower brands. I wisely adjusted the lyric.

2. Whatever You Do

Blake – vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, programming

Daisy Pugsley - vocals

I was in the back garden on a sunny day and I thought I heard the chorus to this song playing from a neighbour’s garden. I decided to write the song just in case it didn’t already exist - I hope I don't find out that it does! My daughter added the high harmony that I couldn’t reach.

3. Andrea Everywhere

Blake – vocals, acoustic and 12 string acoustic guitars, guerro, castanets

Joe Brown – bass, vocals

Hugh Lyford – drums

Richard Kilbey – Memotron

A muse about the Muse. I set out to record this with a ‘mariachi’ feel.

4. Kaleidoscope

Blake – vocals, acoustic guitar, bass, programming

Joe Brown – bass

Hugh Lyford – drums

Richard Kilbey – Memotron, Bass VI

Fairly self-explanatory, this one. I had a kaleidoscope when I was a young child and I loved it. My son has one now. Rich made good use of his Ravish Sitar pedal.

5. The Lost Art of Writing Letters

Blake – vocals, acoustic guitar, keyboards

Richard Kilbey – Memotron

Written as a letter to someone close to me dealing with grief and attempting to find the right words.

6. Paisley Patterned Love

Blake – vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards

Joe Brown – bass, keyboards, vocals

Hugh Lyford – drums

I wrote this song in 2002. Unfortunately, I could only find an instrumental demo when I searched for it amongst all my old tapes and I was forced to write new words. I’m sure one of my friends has a copy of the complete original version on cassette somewhere.

7. Love is the Way

Blake – vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, maracas

Joe Brown – bass, keyboards

Hugh Lyford – drums

I completely fell in love with Spirit’s 12 Dreams of Dr Sardonicus last year and really wanted the entire album to sound like it. This song was the closest I got. Joe's electric piano part blew my mind.

8. Blood on their Hands

Blake – vocals, electric guitars

Joe Brown – bass

Hugh Lyford – drums

This is about the Grenfell disaster, specifically, but also applies to any number of injustices committed by the State over the years.

9. I’ve Got a Secret

Blake – vocals, electric guitars, harmonica, tambourine

Joe Brown – bass

Hugh Lyford – drums

I ended up writing this early-Beatles pastiche one day, which has surprisingly complicated chords in the bridge sections. It ended up taking me and the producer over an hour to work out what they actually were. The video for it (above) was shot last Saturday on the hottest day of the year. The wigs weren’t helpful! If you watch closely you’ll see that me and Paul have no idea what the chords are to the bridges; I couldn’t remember them!

10. Snowfall on Nazareth

Blake – acoustic guitar, mandolin

Richard Kilbey – Memotron

I asked Richard to contribute a Mellotron part over this simple melody I had written and he ended up composing a beautiful counter-melody.

11. Sunshine Celebration

Blake – vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, programming

I wrote this in January 2021 when I was thoroughly sick of the weather and the lockdown and wanted to imagine good times in the sun again.

12. Revelation Blues

Blake – vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, programming

Just a little riff I had that was fun to play and which developed into a bluesy devotional.

13. Let Yourself In

Blake – vocals, acoustic guitar

Joe Brown – bass, 12 string acoustic guitar, vocals

Hugh Lyford – drums

There’s a bit of a Danny Kirwan influence on this one. My friend Joe Brown helped me write the middle eight.

14. No One Here Gets Out Alive

Blake – vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, programming

I wrote this song after reading a biography of Elliott Smith, ‘Torment Saint’, which deeply affected me.

15. Whenever You Call My Name

Blake – vocals, acoustic guitar

I recorded this on my phone originally and decided not to redo it in case I lost something.

Tracks 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13 recorded and mixed at Radar Sound, London. Produced by Fuzz. Tracks 2, 11, 12, 14, 15 recorded at home and produced by Blake. Track 4 was recorded and mixed in London and at home.

All songs written by Julian Pugsley except ‘Snowfall on Nazareth' by Julian Pugsley and Richard Kilbey and ‘Let Yourself In’ by Julian Pugsley and Joe Brown. Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved.

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