INTERVIEW: Gravenhurst | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Nick Talbot tragically died at the age of 37 on 4th December 2014. Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends.

Bristol multi-instrumentalist, record producer and some-time journalist Nick Talbot has been steadily working away in relative obscurity for ten years on Warp Records. To celebrate Talbot’s ten years as Gravenhurst on Warp, the label are re-releasing two of his early LPs, 2003’s Flashlight Seasons and 2004’s Black Holes In The Sand, alongside a new collection of rarities, Offerings.

For Talbot, the reissues are much more of a recognition of his time at Warp than a cynical way to make money. “Remastering is largely bullshit,” he explains, commenting on why neither Flashlight or Black Holes have been fiddled with. “It’s a nonsense… We felt that the architecture of the record shouldn’t be tinkered with. The last thing you want as a fan is to hear your favourite album with new songs on it or with things messed around with.” It’s understandable that Talbot wouldn’t want to rework albums that were already critically acclaimed (“I’ve been very lucky to get great reviews”) but this also goes a long way to explaining how Offerings came about. A record built around extras and demos that Talbot found in storage archives – many of which he didn’t even realize existed – Offerings is Talbot’s way of saying thanks to his small but solid army of fans who have stuck with him over the years.

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The last thing you want as a fan is to hear your favourite album with new songs on it or with things messed around with

Alongside the reissues, Talbot has penned extensive essays on each of the three albums, explaining their inception and how he came across his demos. “I wrote about 6000 words for Offerings,” he explains, “and then I had a lot to write for Flashlight Seasons and Black Holes! Because some of the songs on Flashlight Seasons were written in 1996 or ‘97, I kind of reflected on that a bit. Then I wanted to redress the balance with Black Holes a bit. Everyone treated it as an EP when really I wanted it to be seen as a mini-album. There was also an essay on Will Shaft’s artwork…” He trails off a little. “I wrote way too much! When I wrote the essay for Offerings it was turning more into an autobiography; the people at Warp had to tell me to stop writing and there was yellow highlighter everywhere asking me to take things out!”

Over the years, have Talbot’s feelings towards his two earlier albums changed at all? “I think they maybe have changed,” he says, after some procrastination. “With Flashlight Seasons I was much younger and I was still trying to find my voice. There were a few songs that were overly sentimental that, looking back, I might not have included now.” With Black Holes, Talbot is almost regretful about his cover of Hüsker Dü’s Diane: “I wasn’t sure if I should have covered it. Grant Hart’s voice really suits that song, he sounds like an actual character and gets across the callousness. The way I sing it, it sounds like me.”

Never one to rest on his laurels, Talbot is already working on new material. “I want to get a new album out next year,” he explains. “I want to bring the electronics to the fore but the old style of electronics, like Kraftwerk or Tangerine Dream.” With two songs already recorded and two more in the pipeline, the coming year could be Gravenhurst’s biggest yet.

Gravenhurst plays The Cluny, Newcastle on Sunday 7th December.

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