In the beginning, Remember Remember was essentially just one musician and his loop pedal.
Glasgow based artist Graeme Ronald sculpted vast, swirling loop abstractions, pieces which seemed to have sparkling, magical qualities.
Growing into a full scale band, Remember Remember delivered their self-titled album through Mogwai's Rock Action imprint back in 2008.
Follow up effort 'The Quickening' continued the band's evolution, with Remember Remember seeming to find renewed muscle, an increased sense of depth.
Live shows demonstrated this increasing maturing, while remix project 'The Mixening' - see what they did there? - was an unexpected joy.
Retreating to their base, Remember Remember began sketching out a potential new album last year. Out next Monday (June 30th) 'Forgetting The Present' is a bewitching return, one which finds the group continuing to playfully toy with standard songwriting tropes.
Nothing is as it seems, with the band layering shoegaze effects over loops which recall the blissful escapism of Chicago house. A genuinely beautiful record, Clash is pleased to be able to stream 'Forgetting The Present' before anyone else - alongside an indepth track by track guide from Graeme Ronald.
Dive in below.
There's some serious algorithmic juju going on in this tune that would probably be very boring to read about in detail. Suffice to say it's going to be very difficult for us to recreate this live. We wanted to lull people into the record with the familiar, Steve Reich-esque soundscape that makes up the opening section, and then suddenly surprise people with a heavier second half. The working title for this tune was 'Steve Sabbath' if that goes any way to explaining our intention.
2. La Mayo
I've always wanted to write a melancholy party tune…something like 'Into the Groove' by Madonna where the lyrics suggest carefree abandon and dancing, but there's an inherent sadness in the music. When I first demo-ed this tune I'd been listening to Grimes a lot and there does in fact exist a rough version of this tune which features me singing gibberish in a pained falsetto. Thankfully the listening public has been spared my Grimes impression and James's sax takes on the rejected vocal lines.
I wanted to try and marry the equal levels of euphoria arrived at via the best house music and free guitar noise jams. Hence once the ostensibly disco track was finished, Joseph and I went in and overlaid a few layers of Sonic Youth / My Bloody Valentine style guitar noise over the top.
In 2013 the band was asked to perform as part of the Glasgow Film Festival, wherein we were commissioned to compose a live score to a film of our choosing. Ultimately, we were refused permission to use the film so it is probably safest that I don't name it here. Although it will never see the light of day as an alternate soundtrack, the process did result in a 30 minute, three song monolith of music that eventually became the basis of this entire record.
For a good year our live show consisted of us performing the three tunes as an uninterrupted trilogy, however when it came to sequence the album we felt the three pieces would work better separated, almost as supporting structures around the album as a whole. 'Magnets' was the finale of the live trilogy, and is the first to appear on the record. Writing these songs specifically for a live environment meant that they had to be considerably more stripped down than our earlier work, which relied a lot on layering and overdubs. I would argue that this song best captures the tension and energy of our live performances, embellished by its own scarcity.
4. The Old Ways
This song has existed in various forms and under various names as far back as when the first Remember Remember album was recorded in 2008. James, Joan (Sweeney, our former violinist) and I jammed it a few times back then. There is also a string quartet version of it from around the time of 'The Quickening' (second album) too that was recorded but never released. If I’m being honest I think there are traces and ghosts of this tune in a few other songs we have recorded over the years.
I think that songs have a life of their own, and recording them captures them at different points in that life. Again, this was recorded mostly live, and was a joy to record. Tony Doogan (producer) got quite involved in the process, making subtle suggestions with each take, until it felt just right. I really wanted to have a bouzouki or a mandolin on this but, owning neither, I tried to get my ukulele to do its best possible impression.
This tune really came from nowhere. A key aspect to the process we undertook when making this record was the fact that Tony encouraged us to take the sessions home to edit and add parts ourselves. Andy, Tommy and I recorded the basic track of piano, drums and bass synth. In honesty I think the three of us thought the tune was, although nice, perhaps a bit throwaway. The process of taking the song home, though, allowed everyone to interpret the tune differently and take it into an unexpected direction.
Joseph and I are huge fans of Tortoise so we set about transporting the tune to Chicago, meanwhile James heard the track a little differently, and treated it as though it were a jazz standard, garnishing it with cascading electric piano arpeggios. The icing on the cake was when Joanne revealed that she knew of a place near the studio where we could hire an old vibraphone, with which she doubled up her glock parts, giving the perfect old jazz record feel. When sequencing the album I came to everyone in the band with a speech prepared explaining why this weird little oddball tune should make it onto the record and it turned out there was no need, we were all already in agreement.
6. Why You Got A Blue Face?
This is the second of the songs that make up the album's hidden trilogy. Musically, it's a continuation of the Middle Eastern and North African themes that we explored a little on The Quickening. Although for all my pretentious that this was a tune in the vein of Alice Coltrane or Mulatu Astatké, the band and Tony knew all along that at its heart this is a big rock song. I had to get James to play the melodica part on this as I nearly passed out after the second or third take. It should perhaps be noted here that this album marks the occasion where the smokers in Remember Remember mostly switched to electronic cigarettes…
7. Purple Phase
…speaking of which, converts to cyber smoking should recognise the sound from which the vapours of this song emerge. We've been playing this live for a couple of years now. A lot of our music can be quite heavy and emotional so it's a fun release to indulge in something light and danceable. Jamaican dancehall rhythms feel genetically engineered to make you move so I've always wanted to incorporate them into a song. We are some of the whitest people you could ever meet, though, so the tropical party is inevitably tempered by some Glaswegian melancholy. My ukulele gets its second outing of the album here.
8. Frozen Frenzy
Our last album ended on a high note, and although we had recorded some more driving, upbeat tunes for this record, we felt that the ending of this record should be more elegiac. The opening piece of the trilogy becomes the final part of the album. Unlike 'Magnets', however, we realised that a straight live recording of this tune wouldn't be the right approach. We get a lot of power and dynamics out of this song live due to the volume that we can play it at.
On record however, we decided to make this song the ultimate late night headphones experience. Using some of the same digital juju employed in 'Blabbermouth' we embellished the live take in microscopic detail, attempting to bring the album full circle.
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Remember Remember are set to release new album 'Forgetting The Present' on June 30th.
Catch the band at the following shows:
27 Liverpool The Kazimier Garden (free entry)
28 London The Lexington
29 Nottingham The Chameleon Arts Cafe