As Stewart Lee points out in his notes for this long overdue reissue, the 80’s were different times. You had to live through them to “convey to the contemporary consumer the sheer unknowable mysteriousness of recently distant popular culture in the pre-internet age… Arthur Lee’s name was just a cryptic lyric in a Lloyd Cole single, Bert Jansch was ignored once a month in the back room of my local, and the idea that Nick Drake would one day soundtrack a Volkswagen Cabrio advert was absurd.” You could describe the Palace of Light by simply mentioning those names, or others like Scott Walker, the Go-Betweens and Cyrus Faryar.
The album got some great reviews, but though the band played a bunch of live shows in London and did some more recordings no more music would be released as the Palace of Light. With the addition of new drummer Tom Anthony (replacing Charlie Llewellin), Geoff Smith, Matt Gale and Mark Brend quietly morphed into Mabel Joy. In 1993 they released an album on Bam Caruso, the marvelous “Wish I Was” – also reissued by Hanky Panky Records – and disappeared shortly afterwards. Matt and Mark went on to record two fine albums as Fariña in the late 90’s and early 00’s. Charlie joined the Austin alt country combo the Gourds and recently played with a reformed Maximum Joy. These days Matt composes classical music, while Geoff is working on new material. But Mark has been the most prolific. In recent years his sonic explorations as Ghostwriter have gained him much critical acclaim, and he is also a noted music writer, having authored four books so far.
It’s now the 30th anniversary of the original release of “Beginning Here And Travelling Outward” and along with the remastered album, this Expanded Edition includes one rare B-side from the “City Of Gold” 12”; a bunch of previously unreleased studio recordings and demos recorded between 1987 and 1989; six live tracks recorded for a shelved mini-album on Bam Caruso (covers of Nick Drake, Tom Rush, Mickey Newbury, Tim Hardin…); the rare 1991 Catherine/Books single, privately pressed by the group and credited to Mabel Joy (reissued by Spring Records in 2011); and a brand new recording made last year by the original line-up. Release date – 30th July 2017.
Available to order from Hanky Panky Records
Chaffinch recording artist launches debut novel – M R Brend
M R Brend has launched his debut novel Undercliff via crowdfunding publisher Unbound. It’s a supernatural thriller set in the 1970s – and there’ll be some specially composed music with it.
As Mark Brend he has written five non-fiction books and contributed to many more. His most recent book, The Sound of Tomorrow (Bloomsbury), which explores early commercial electronic music, was published in 2012. He also works as a communications consultant in the charity sector, and occasionally as a music journalist. As a songwriter/composer/recording artist Mark has released six albums under various artist names. He currently records as Ghostwriter.
GHOSTWRITER – Mistaken For A Literary Man
A new Ghostwriter compilation is now available as a download only.
Mistaken For A Literary Man pairs the four songs from the 2013 Chaffinch EP, Dimensions, with four previously unreleased songs from 2009-2014.
Featuring Tim Conway, Matt Gale, Jim Jupp and Adrian Ramsey.
GHOSTWRITER – Morrow. New album. December 2014.
Ghostwriter releases a new album with Michael Paine in December 2014. The album is titled Morrow and is being released by Time Released Sound.
Michael Paine is a writer and musician, based in the West Country. He was the main songwriter for The Becketts, an early 90’s indie band that recorded two albums and a handful of singles for Bad Girl and Virgin records.
Ghostwriter (Mark Brend) and Michael met in a bookshop in the shadow of Exeter cathedral. Their album, Morrow, references the mid-20th century British Writer Phyllis Paul, and shares with her novels an interest in the ambiguous territory between natural and supernatural. Deploying piano, electric and acoustic guitar, flute, percussion, glockenspiel and organ with musique concrète textures and found sounds, Mark and Michael create a cryptic English pastoral noir, drawing variously on folk, evangelical hymns, jazz, Debussy and Maurice Deebank.
Morrow comes in both standard digipak and special editions. The special edition of just 80 copies will come as a hand distressed hardcover booklet, collaged with vintage photos, 1930s wallpaper samples, a mounted, hand stamped jigsaw puzzle, and a typewriter addressed, stamped CD envelope – all in a handworked, 7” square translucent envelope. Shop here.
Time Released Sound
Norman Records – Top 10 Singles/EPs of 2013. Ghostwriter – Dimensions.
Ghostwriter’s Dimensions release has appeared in Norman Records’ Top 10 end-of-year list for 2013. To see the full list visit Norman Records.
Mabel Joy – Wish I Was. Album re-released.
Mabel Joy’s cult classic album Wish I Was sees a welcome return via Spanish label Hanky Panky. Originally released in 1993, the band featured Geoff Smith, Matt Gale, Tom Anthony and Mark Brend (Ghostwriter) who subsequently went onto form Farina. Shindig! says of the band ‘in a world where The Fleet Foxes and The Leisure Society have sizeable cult followings, maybe their time has come’. For more information visit Hanky Panky.
Ghostwriter Interview – Alien Jams, NTS Radio
Back in March, Mark Brend/Ghostwriter was interviewed by Chloe Frieda during her Alien Jams show on NTS Radio. The full show can be streamed or downloaded here.
Ghostwriter – The Continuing Adventures Of The Strange Sound Association
Ghostwriter’s (Mark Brend) The Continuing Adventures Of The Strange Sound Association has finally been made available via digital download. This was initially released on CD by Second Language in 2010 and was limited to 200 copies. It sold-out within a few weeks.
Partially based upon archive voice recordings, fragmentary texts and ‘imagined works’ by literary figures eminent (Arthur Conan Doyle, John Steinbeck), cult (Colin Wilson, John Cowper Powys) and arcane (Arthur Machen, Ivor Gurney), The Continuing Adventures… weaves ethereal atmosphere, wistful song and playful soundscape from a battery of instruments and sound sources, including dulcitone, persephone, harpsichord, autoharp, toy piano, modular synthesizer, recorder, banjo, accordion, bass, drums, sampler, miscellaneous voices and something called the brendonium.
Divided into three distinct ‘Chapters’: Music For Men Of Letters, Music For Imagined Technologies and Music For Flotsam and Jetsam, these mysteriously beguiling compositions run the gamut from frisky, jazz-flavoured vignettes to garden shed electronica and contemplative sound collages via Wicker Man folk and bygone soundtrack esoterica. Beyond easy categorisation, this is music informed as much by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and the British Sound Archive as it is various currents in leftfield pop, electronica, folk and plunderphonics.
Brend is assisted in his endeavours by a number of additional musicians and collaborators, including multi-instrumentalists Tim Conway and Matt Gale (Farina), singer Suzy Mangion (Piano Magic, George) and analogue synth collector Darren Hayman (Hefner), among several others. Ghostwriter’s debut album is very much a product of Brend’s own unique imagination and compositional vision, however.
Buy the album here.
There are also a couple of previously unreleased tracks from the sessions available for free at Soundcloud.
Ghostwriter – Dimensions EP. Review in The Wire.
‘The solo project of Devon’s Mark Brend, Ghostwriter has an archaic/modern blend of elements that reminds me a bit of Paul Roland’s long-ago Gothic (not Goth) projects. The EP is composed of a single track, broken into halves, documenting an imagined walk around London in the 1930’s. Sparse keyboards and guitar, sound effects and theremin plus heavy atmosphere make for an odd, cinematic whole’. Byron Coley, The Wire.