Gravenhurst is a vehicle for the music of singer-songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Nick Talbot, who lives in Bristol, England and is signed to Warp Records.
Talbot characterises Gravenhurst as a world created by sound and language, ever-changing and conjured from disparate ingredients. Noticeable is the melodic noise of My Bloody Valentine, the lush vocal harmonies of Simon and Garfunkel, and the influence of a diverse range of guitarists including fingerpickers Bert Jansch and Richard Thompson (Talbot rarely uses a pick). He says that the most important musical event of his life was discovering The Smiths, which encouraged him to attempt song writing. Talbot’s ultimate guitar hero is Johnny Marr, but he remains a Morrissey fan, citing his 1992 solo album “Vauxhall & I” among his favourite records of all time. While the cryptic symbolism enshrouding Talbot’s lyric have their roots in his literary heroes Alan Moore and Ian Sinclair, the fundamental emotional power of his songs was born of a troubled adolescence soundtracked by the Smiths, The Cure and Joy Division.
Later, his discovery of Bristol’s lo-fi collective; Third Eye Foundation, Flying Saucer Attack, Movietone and Crescent, made Bristol his first choice for University study, with his eyes opened to the DIY possibilities of home recording. Puzzling pigeon-holer critics with each successive release (Folk? Acid Folk? Shoegaze? Post-Rock? On Warp Records..?) Talbot has displayed a shark-like inability to remain still, but over the course of five self-produced albums, the consistency is clear. A fragile yet powerful voice, intricate guitar work, unsetling ambience and uniquely haunting lyrics have earned Gravenhurst a devoted and loyal cult following. As a four piece, Gravenhurst has left audiences open-mouthed and partially deafened by the telepathically entwined guitars and ghost train dynamics of ‘Song From Under The Arches’. Solo, Nick has reduced 3,000 festival-goers to complete silence with his bone-chilling rendition of Husker Du’s controversial ‘Diane’.
Gravenhurst’s latest album, The Western Lands, was released on 10 September 2007. May 2008 saw the release of a double A-side single, ‘Nightwatchman’s Blues’/'Farewell, Farewell’..
While Talbot began performing solo, singing and fingerpicking a guitar, since 1999 many other Bristol musicians, friends and hired-hands have propelled Gravenhurst into a powerful live band, touring extensively across Europe, and the USA, both as a headline act and as support to bands including Broadcast, Belle & Sebastian, Explosions In The Sky and Animal Collective. Previous albums were all Talbot’s work, but drummer Dave Collingwood added his signature style to notable tracks on ‘Fires In Distant Buildings’ (especially motorik single ‘The Velvet Cell’) and ‘The Western Lands’. With the drums and sole guitar recorded in one take, ‘Grand Union Canal’ showcases the symbiotic sensitivity that evolved between Talbot and Collingwood through eight or so years of performing and touring. In May 2008 Dave Collingwood decided to leave the rigours of touring behind. Although most of the instruments on all the Gravenhurst albums were played by Talbot, Collingwood began adding his signature style to many tracks from ‘Fires In Distant Buildings’ onwards (especially motorik single ‘The Velvet Cell’) as well as aiding the engineering and production of ‘The Western Lands’. With the drums and sole guitar recorded in a single take, the track ‘Grand Union Canal’ in particular showcases the unspoken, symbiotic sensitivity that evolved between them over many years of touring. Fortunately, Collingwood has not ruled out future recording involvement. According to reliable sources, he simply wants time to conquer all of South America, turn it into a giant cymbal and set up his own country where everyone has to play the drums, forever.
With Talbot himself in need of a change of gear, so it was that the finest Gravenhurst Sonic Group Incarnation thusfar was shelved at the peak of its power, with Alex Wilkins following Robin Allender to concentrate on the excellent Allender Band. There is no sonic document of the Gravenhurst four piece; if you weren’t there, you’ve missed it. Sorry..
Nick Talbot now returns to his sonic-folk roots, playing material from all 5 albums so far, accompanied with guitars and various drone-making electrical devices. The audience is invited to shout requests…