Background: we built this humble shed-like recording studio with our own hands back around the turn of the millennium (my band with brother Joe then being called Whispering Bob, later Goldrush). The first band through the unfinished door, as we may have previously mentioned, was Mike Gale's dreamy low-fi melodic former entourage Black Nielson, huddled round a one-bar heater in the depths of a colder winter than this one. Back in those days, the main thing was always the ambience. Couldn't put your finger on exactly what that was, but we always made sure we had ambience technicians to hand, just to be safe.
Mike and I have recently tagged the place Great Western Studios, as you invariably have to wait for several trains to pass the nearby level crossing before you can enter the vicinity (it has also been known as Truck Studios; it rests near the site of the famous music festival of the same name). Soon enough we had all moved on to plusher and more expensive, expansive and far-flung surrounds to cut our tracks; America, Abbey Road, even Belgium.
The studio waited, haggard, bare of almost all equipment, knowing its time would come. One day our dear friend Noel re-dressed it in fetching check carpet and gradually some more microphones and amps re-accumulated; a mouse took up residence somewhere in the ceiling. The studio waited proudly for us all to rediscover its new improved merits.
This summer and winter, more than 10 years after, we have all returned, trusting our songs once more to the studio's isolated star-spangled ambience. And cradled in this warm carpeted embrace, Co-Pilgrim made their faithful way back, with producer/musician Joe drenching some of Mike's best ever songs (and they are always good) in reverb, harmony and lap-steel, and producing a glorious, exhilarating torrent of sound in which your ears may surf freely. The mouse, up there in the ceiling cavity, tapped its little feet along to the stompers and laid on its back gazing at stars for the rest.
For the return of the Pilgrim, Mike and producer-multi-instrumentalist-harmoniser Joe have been augmented by drummer Ben and the angelic voice and glamorous presence of Claire, Joe's wife. Yes, I even pitched on some flute. It has been a heart-breaking year for Mike, with the passing of his dear Dad, with whom he shared a great closeness and who was a great supporter of his music and Co-Pilgrim in general. We know he'd be proud of this record, which acknowledges sadness and loneliness, but uses them as a basis for some of the most glorious and, yes, happy music you will ever hear. So listen to it, and make your friends listen to it. Make everyone listen to it! Let's hear it for misery….