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

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Martin Francis Trollope’s new/old album Found Memories offers a faithful rendition of the lo-fi bedroom pop aesthetic, replete with love-sick lyrics and Casio keyboard sounds. Anyone who is familiar with Martin Francis Trollope’s expertise in music production, under the Harbourmaster production label, might be surprised by the determined ‘bedroom’ aspect to the sound. Adding post-production glitz and glamour to countless acts has become Harbourmaster’s stock in trade. However, his own album takes a more introspective, stripped-back approach. Toy pianos fuzz warmly in the mix, warbling melodic lines and drum machine sounds tick through the ambience. It sounds, as the title alludes, ‘found’; the feeling of a lost cassette dusted off and thrown in to a Walkman is blissfully and expertly captured in every one of the album’s songs.

This is more than just aesthetic affectation. The lo-fidelity sound reflects the journey the songs have taken. Firstly, the songs themselves were literally ‘found memories’, existing as decade-old demos on a friend’s hard drive. The decision to replicate the sound of first forays into recording gives the songs their sonic authenticity, as Martin explains: “I thought back to when I was really excited about making music, and it was when I had really cheap keyboards that you couldn’t do anything with, but they sounded great and you felt excited.” Accompanying lovelorn lyrics that still carry a sentiment, delivered in Martin’s soft, unassuming voice which is the stand-out sound on the album, the songs feel complete.

I thought back to when I was really excited about making music, and it was when I had really cheap keyboards that you couldn’t do anything with, but they sounded great and you felt excited

But lo-fidelity, in this case, does not mean low precision. It takes more skill, sometimes, to cut away this production, to rely on the raw sound of the songs. The ‘bedroom’ Found Memories was made in is substantially better than many of the genre. There is complexity, deftness of touch and well-honed magic in the fluttering grain of these tracks. The fluff, the warp and weft of the toy instrument sounds stop just short of interfering with the quality of the track, the vocals introvert and laconic stop short of being self-effacing. Especially given the production techniques at Martin’s disposal, it would be tempting, perhaps, to have thrown the sonic kitchen sink at these songs. And they could support the weight of this audio tinsel. They are beautifully crafted. But the decision to present them in this bedroom pop soundscape shows a confidence in the material and a confidence in presenting them as they were always meant to sound.

In short, Harbourmaster has worked another piece of his familiar sonic magic, turning the bedroom into the professional studio, turning years-old demos into a suite of beautifully realised, sincere songs, and turning found memories into a relevant and contemporary album that will certainly take some beating as album of the year already.

Martin Francis Trollope releases Found Memories on 1st March. He’ll debut the album on Thursday 29th February at Sea Change cafe in South Shields, with all money going to the venue.

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