Grasscut – Catholic Architecture / Beacon
Grasscut, the duo of Andrew Phillips and Marcus O’Dair, return with a new AA single, Catholic Architecture / Beacon, on Lo Recordings. Catholic Architecture sees the band cover, and pay tribute to, the revered English musician Robert Wyatt, whilst Beacon’s plaintive mix of live strings and electronic sounds acts as a bridge between Unearth, Grasscut’s second album, and Everyone Was A Bird, scheduled for release in 2015.
Robert Wyatt has long been a significant influence on Grasscut, Andrew a fan since the 1980s, while Marcus has just written his official biography, Different Every Time, published by Serpent’s Tail this October. Indeed Catholic Architecture is the second time Grasscut and Wyatt’s paths have crossed, in 2012 they collaborated on the track Richardson Road with Wyatt contributing cornet, piano and vocals. Wyatt subsequently picked Richardson Road as one of his favourite guest appearances and the song features on the Different Every Time compilation released by Domino Records this autumn to accompany the biography.
“His clarity, both vocal and instrumental, struck me when I was 16 and have stayed with me all my working life as a kind of touchstone. Working with him has been such a highlight; what he brought to the song completely transformed it. You realise, watching him and listening, that it’s a life brought to bear in music.” – Andrew Phillips
For this new version of Catholic Architecture Grasscut have taken their cue from the sound of Robert’s 1982 Rough Trade compilation, Nothing Can Stop Us. The song itself, meanwhile, comes from Robert’s 1991 album Dondestan. The highly evocative lyrics, by Robert’s wife Alfreda Benge, describe empty homes in an off-season holiday resort near Barcelona, and Grasscut’s interpretation, with its sparse elegiac piano and muted brass, expertly captures that scene.
The second song on the single, Beacon, was inspired by a 12-mile walk from the English Channel to the top of Firle Beacon on the South Downs, on the occasion of the Summer Solstice. It’s about leaving the place you live and, when looking down on it from a height, finding it unfamiliar. Throughout the track’s four and a half minutes its sound transforms from electronic to live strings and drums, prefiguring the sound of the band’s new album.