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

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If there is a theme here, it is perhaps not death but the parameters of death and what death means more prosaically as an inevitability of the passage of time. Comprising field recordings and samples layered over ambient undertones with a soft focus on textural aesthetics (albeit with the ability to switch almost forensically from trip-hop to lounge and soul and back again) if MWB’s debut album, A Place Both Wonderful And Strange, feels like a journey that’s because it is. Released this month on double vinyl via Butterfly Effect, it is the label’s first double album release.

It is an album carefully poised on two tracks written after the death of MWB (aka JK Sands)’s father that intentionally blur the metaphysical landscape of this experience and immediately start to shape the whole album. The second explores a world beyond the thresholds of the first as it dips into another dimension and perhaps beyond death itself. A complex tapestry of ideas that tethers the album in a studied sadness, if not quite full-blown grief. “I was dealing with the fact [my father’s] battle with cancer was going to end sooner than expected and Shepatone Of Despair was me coming home and locking myself in my studio. All the sounds and vocal noises represent how I was feeling,” JK explained. “I used to say to him when he was dying that it was all a dream. He was a successful and strong man and all of a sudden that guy had disappeared. When the sample in the track says ‘listen to the sound’, that was me in his hospice room with all the sounds and the machines. The sounds of death. I tried to portray that he was going to a better place, ‘Death is not the end, it’s just a change’.”

The studio is my main influence. Sound design and sound manipulation. I’m not your typical musician

It’s a knowingly filmic way of turning personal trauma into something creative and one that informs the general mood of the record. “The album was finished last March but the pandemic has given me more time to do some video representations. I’ve made the record as a continuous piece of music so the tracks interweave with each other. It probably is a concept album. There was a lot of thought about how the tracks flow into each other so I decided to do thirteen videos for thirteen tracks. The filmmakers I worked with got where I was coming from and I think Shepatone… captures that mood really well with its Twin Peaks intonation. David Lynch is one of my biggest influences in music and film because he crosses the board a bit for me and the album title is a direct reference from Twin Peaks.”

Pressed on the myriad of musical influences that are also apparent, he says: “The studio is my main influence. Sound design and sound manipulation. I’m not your typical musician. Boards of Canada are a big influence as well as Brian Wilson for their way of modular production, by doing things a bit at a time and then putting it all together as one. It’s hard to give influences. I’m an avid music collector (I’ve got about 8,000 records) so I don’t want to miss anyone out. Electronic ambient covers such an array!”

MWB releases A Place Both Wonderful And Strange via Butterfly Effect Records on 1st May

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