Notes on a Smiling Leaf by E.L. Heath

We asked all our artists to produce some words on their current thoughts and musical projects in November 2017. Here are the results from E.L. Heath, discussing feelings and themes around his upcoming release ‘Smiling Leaf’. To be released on CD & digital formats on Friday 25th May.

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Today is one of those curious days, one which never fully woke – the hills enveloped in mist. It is not the norm here, I am often afforded wide views of the flood plain and hills marking the edges of the valley. Welsh cwms often provide such scope whilst each remains unique to the other, this is a rural scene punctuated by industry and traversed only by a handful of roads and a multitude of lanes. If you wish to travel to a neighbouring valley you have two choices – over or around.

On this viewless day, I am concerning myself with a handful of old songs for release, many based on themes I find myself now concerned with in everyday life. The more my work required travel to the bustling metropolis with identikit stations and meetings in glass-walled conference rooms, the greater my desire not just to explore and engage with the countryside around my home, but also to learn greater self-sufficiency and a less wasteful way of living. Our mass consumer culture was a trigger for this, something I found oppressive and disorientating. Music slipped from focus at the time such endeavours took their toll. Preparing the soil in a bed, harvesting a crop or gathering wood for the fire took the place of songwriting. When seeking balance, one is never equal to the other and routines shift.

I found myself listening to these songs with trepidation – their themes were wrapped in a more bucolic view of the life I was living, when they were ideals rather than cold reality. Initial attempts felt clumsy as if what was there was there for a reason. Any addition to or edit of felt like trespass, even if what was there was not, to my ears, good enough. But musically and lyrically my mindset had not changed over the years – in many ways, I had reinforced my interests in local mythology, traditions and the harsh escapism of life far from twinkling towns. The weather, as ever, plays much on my moods these days – Machen wrote about what was underneath Welsh fields as if a violent storm could tear the modern fabric away and expose the old ways buried underneath. My house is often battered by gales. On my walks in the woods above, I regularly find a newly fallen tree blocking my path. This is an angry world, social media exposes our division and spite. Old ways are lost to the allure of new technology which in turn are thrown away, obsolete only a few years later. When attempting to write this I found my two-year-old device was unable to operate the most recent version of a word processing application.

When revisiting old themes and old songs it is haunting to see how ideas not yet fully formed can be so affecting years on. Many of them are concerned with old ways, the land, the woods and what was there before. Whilst we can never truly evade what the present throws at us, we can appreciate and attempt to understand why such things exist around us, beneath our feet and above our heads when far from seas of concrete and glass.

On Process: Corpsing // Field Harmonics // February 2018

In November last year we compiled a zine for the Indie Label Market, here’s a piece written by Rob Glover about his forthcoming release on Wayside & Woodland.

‘Corpsing’ is out on 23rd Feb, 2018 on Cassette + digital. A decontruction of the pop sensibilities from 2016’s ‘Corners’, a reimaginging revealing beauty from decay.

Corpsing by Rob Glover (Field Harmonics)
4.05pm…20th​ ​November​ ​2017. I​ ​made​ ​the​ ​decision​ ​to​ ​leave​ ​the​ ​house​ ​some​ ​30​ ​minutes​ ​ago,​ ​as​ ​I’m​ ​still​ ​rushing​ ​to​ ​get​ ​mix​ ​downs finished​ ​and​ ​exported​ ​before​ ​the​ ​light​ ​fades​ ​any​ ​further​ ​and​ ​darkness​ ​fully​ ​envelops​ ​the​ ​footpaths​ ​near​ ​my house.​ ​After​ ​a​ ​rain-filled​ ​afternoon,​ ​the​ ​heavy​ ​clouds​ ​have​ ​lifted,​ ​adding​ ​urgency​ ​to​ ​my​ ​escape​ ​into​ ​the half-light​ ​of​ ​the​ ​evening.​ ​I​ ​hastily​ ​grab​ ​my​ ​headphones,​ ​notebook​ ​and​ ​coat​ ​-​ ​and​ ​close​ ​the​ ​door​ ​behind me.​ ​The​ ​street​ ​lights​ ​have​ ​yet​ ​to​ ​flood​ ​the​ ​pavements​ ​with​ ​their​ ​dim​ ​orange​ ​glow​ ​and​ ​within​ ​a​ ​few​ ​minutes I​ ​approach​ ​the​ ​rain-soaked​ ​towpath​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Staffs​ ​and​ ​Worcester​ ​canal.​ ​The​ ​traffic​ ​noise​ ​fades​ ​behind​ ​me as​ ​I​ ​make​ ​my​ ​way​ ​cautiously​ ​down​ ​the​ ​path,​ ​the​ ​last​ ​of​ ​the​ ​year’s​ ​leaves​ ​clinging​ ​to​ ​the​ ​silhouetted branches,​ ​and​ ​my​ ​route​ ​ahead​ ​illuminated​ ​by​ ​the​ ​puddles​ ​reflecting​ ​the​ ​steely​ ​sky​ ​above.​ ​A​ ​short​ ​time later​ ​I​ ​emerge​ ​from​ ​the​ ​towpath​ ​and​ ​bear​ ​left​ ​at​ ​the​ ​junction​ ​towards​ ​my​ ​destination​ ​–​ ​The​ ​Swan​ ​Inn.​ ​I push​ ​open​ ​the​ ​door​ ​to​ ​the​ ​snug,​ ​and​ ​immediately​ ​spot​ ​an​ ​empty​ ​table​ ​in​ ​the​ ​corner​ ​to​ ​bunker​ ​down​ ​in. The​ ​open​ ​fire​ ​is​ ​crackling​ ​away,​ ​but​ ​the​ ​room​ ​is​ ​otherwise​ ​quiet,​ ​save​ ​for​ ​a​ ​few​ ​elderly​ ​gentlemen​ ​nursing locally​ ​brewed​ ​ales​ ​and​ ​poring​ ​over​ ​the​ ​day’s​ ​newspapers​ ​in​ ​silence.​ ​I​ ​purchase​ ​a​ ​pint​ ​of​ ​Banks’s​ ​Bitter and​ ​settle​ ​down​ ​into​ ​my​ ​spot,​ ​taking​ ​a​ ​few​ ​minutes​ ​to​ ​acclimatise​ ​to​ ​my​ ​surroundings.

The​ ​main​ ​cause​ ​for​ ​leaving​ ​the​ ​house​ ​and​ ​reaching​ ​this​ ​quiet​ ​corner​ ​was​ ​to​ ​listen​ ​to​ ​and​ ​reflect​ ​upon​ ​my recently​ ​completed​ ​Field​ ​Harmonics​ ​record​ ​’Corpsing’,​ ​away​ ​from​ ​the​ ​glare​ ​of​ ​a​ ​computer​ ​screen.​ ​The roots​ ​of​ ​this​ ​release​ ​can​ ​be​ ​traced​ ​back​ ​to​ ​the​ ​start​ ​of​ ​2016​ ​when​ ​my​ ​then​ ​co-collaborator​ ​Bryony​ ​and​ ​I started​ ​to​ ​develop​ ​ideas​ ​for​ ​our​ ​next​ ​album,​ ​following​ ​the​ ​completion​ ​of​ ​the​ ​’Corners’​ ​LP​ ​at​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​the previous​ ​year.​ ​The​ ​new​ ​songs​ ​were​ ​coming​ ​together​ ​quickly,​ ​with​ ​an​ ​even​ ​bolder​ ​pop​ ​sensibility​ ​than​ ​we had​ ​touched​ ​upon​ ​before.​ ​As​ ​spring​ ​gave​ ​way​ ​to​ ​summer,​ ​we​ ​had​ ​nearly​ ​an​ ​album’s​ ​worth​ ​of​ ​material that​ ​we​ ​were​ ​working​ ​on​ ​-​ ​layering,​ ​reconfiguring​ ​and​ ​remixing​ ​as​ ​we​ ​went.​ ​But​ ​by​ ​June​ ​something​ ​had started​ ​to​ ​shift​ ​in​ ​my​ ​head.​ ​Then​ ​Brexit​ ​happened.​ ​Looking​ ​back,​ ​this​ ​is​ ​the​ ​point​ ​where​ ​things​ ​really changed​ ​for​ ​me.​ ​Within​ ​a​ ​few​ ​weeks​ ​I​ ​realised​ ​that​ ​I​ ​no​ ​longer​ ​wished​ ​to​ ​work​ ​on​ ​this​ ​material​ ​for numerous​ ​reasons​ ​and​ ​felt​ ​compelled​ ​to​ ​return​ ​to​ ​something​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​closer​ ​and​ ​truer​ ​to​ ​my​ ​heart,​ ​and escape​ ​the​ ​4/4​ ​pop-orientated​ ​corner​ ​I’d​ ​backed​ ​myself​ ​into.​ ​We​ ​played​ ​our​ ​final​ ​gig​ ​as​ ​a​ ​band​ ​towards the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​2016​ ​and​ ​that​ ​was​ ​it.​ ​I​ ​didn’t​ ​even​ ​look​ ​at​ ​any​ ​of​ ​those​ ​projects​ ​for​ ​another​ ​8​ ​months.​ ​Whilst​ ​I certainly​ ​wasn’t​ ​inactive​ ​during​ ​this​ ​period,​ ​the​ ​idea​ ​of​ ​working​ ​on​ ​something​ ​pop-driven​ ​had​ ​left​ ​me fatigued​ ​and​ ​uninspired.​ ​Returning​ ​to​ ​this​ ​material​ ​was​ ​out​ ​of​ ​the​ ​question.​ ​Nearly​ ​a​ ​year’s​ ​work​ ​- shelved.

Then​ ​as​ ​spring​ ​rolled​ ​round,​ ​I​ ​lost​ ​someone​ ​very​ ​close​ ​to​ ​me.​ ​Around​ ​this​ ​time​ ​the​ ​seed​ ​of​ ​an​ ​idea​ ​started to​ ​quietly​ ​take​ ​root​ ​in​ ​my​ ​head.​ ​Could​ ​I​ ​re-explore​ ​this​ ​material​ ​in​ ​a​ ​wholly​ ​different​ ​way?​ ​Strip​ ​away​ ​the countless​ ​layers​ ​and​ ​rhythms​ ​to​ ​reveal​ ​the​ ​beauty​ ​of​ ​a​ ​vocal,​ ​synth​ ​line​ ​or​ ​texture​ ​-​ ​otherwise​ ​buried beneath​ ​the​ ​multi-layered​ ​production?​ ​Reconfigure​ ​these​ ​sounds​ ​through​ ​spatial,​ ​granular​ ​and distortion-based​ ​processing​ ​and​ ​eschew​ ​any​ ​locked​ ​BPM​ ​or​ ​gridded​ ​structure?​ ​Produce​ ​something​ ​more abstracted,​ ​fluid​ ​and​ ​immediate?​ ​Process​ ​the​ ​vocals​ ​and​ ​synth​ ​melodies​ ​to​ ​become​ ​distant,​ ​ghostified versions​ ​of​ ​their​ ​former​ ​selves​ ​–​ ​the​ ​suggestion​ ​of​ ​a​ ​pop​ ​song​ ​set​ ​against​ ​more​ ​saturated​ ​and​ ​immersive soundscapes?​ ​Even​ ​looking​ ​at​ ​these​ ​projects​ ​still​ ​filled​ ​me​ ​with​ ​trepidation,​ ​but​ ​in​ ​July​ ​I​ ​had​ ​a​ ​gap​ ​in​ ​my work​ ​schedule​ ​and​ ​put​ ​aside​ ​a​ ​few​ ​days​ ​to​ ​see​ ​what​ ​I​ ​could​ ​gather​ ​from​ ​these​ ​initial​ ​ideas.​ ​My​ ​process was​ ​clear​ ​–​ ​don’t​ ​listen​ ​to​ ​the​ ​last​ ​full​ ​mix​ ​of​ ​the​ ​material,​ ​resolutely​ ​strip​ ​away​ ​any​ ​extraneous​ ​elements​ ​- then​ ​reconfigure,​ ​finding​ ​new​ ​forms​ ​and​ ​structures.​ ​Working​ ​quickly​ ​over​ ​the​ ​next​ ​few​ ​weeks,​ ​often​ ​late into​ ​the​ ​night,​ ​I​ ​found​ ​myself​ ​with​ ​11​ ​tracks​ ​that​ ​summed​ ​up​ ​what​ ​I’d​ ​set​ ​out​ ​to​ ​achieve.​ ​It​ ​was rejuvenating,​ ​liberating,​ ​exciting.​ ​The​ ​immediacy​ ​was​ ​important,​ ​set​ ​against​ ​previous​ ​months​ ​of​ ​labouring over​ ​vocal,​ ​hi-hat​ ​and​ ​snare​ ​sounds.​ ​​ ​I​ ​quickly​ ​drew​ ​a​ ​line​ ​under​ ​the​ ​project,​ ​sent​ ​the​ ​tracks​ ​to​ ​close friends,​ ​and​ ​was​ ​met​ ​with​ ​immediate,​ ​pleasing​ ​responses.​ ​Until​ ​this​ ​point,​ ​only​ ​my​ ​partner​ ​had​ ​any​ ​idea​ ​of what​ ​I​ ​was​ ​doing​ ​with​ ​this​ ​material​ ​as​ ​it​ ​had​ ​been​ ​a​ ​private,​ ​personal​ ​exercise​ ​in​ ​escape​ ​from​ ​the self-imposed​ ​confines​ ​of​ ​working​ ​on​ ​material​ ​within​ ​a​ ​premeditated​ ​structure.

Its​ ​5.45pm​ ​and​ ​night​ ​has​ ​fully​ ​veiled​ ​the​ ​day.​ ​​ ​I​ ​must​ ​leave​ ​this​ ​cosy​ ​corner​ ​and​ ​once​ ​again​ ​hit​ ​the towpath.​ ​I​ ​know​ ​the​ ​contours​ ​and​ ​bends​ ​of​ ​this​ ​stretch​ ​well​ ​so​ ​with​ ​a​ ​quiet​ ​unease​ ​I​ ​leave​ ​the​ ​road​ ​and am​ ​plunged​ ​into​ ​near​ ​darkness​ ​at​ ​the​ ​water’s​ ​edge.​ ​As​ ​my​ ​eyes​ ​adjust​ ​to​ ​the​ ​crepuscular​ ​environment​ ​of the​ ​Midlands​ ​canal​ ​network,​ ​I’m​ ​glad​ ​that​ ​I​ ​took​ ​the​ ​autumnal​ ​waterway​ ​in​ ​favour​ ​of​ ​the​ ​less​ ​appealing rush-hour​ ​clogged​ ​main​ ​roads.​ ​In​ ​doing​ ​so,​ ​I’m​ ​reminded​ ​that​ ​sometimes​ ​it​ ​can​ ​be​ ​far​ ​more​ ​rewarding​ ​to step​ ​outside​ ​of​ ​your​ ​comfort​ ​zone​ ​rather​ ​than​ ​taking​ ​more​ ​predetermined​ ​routes​ ​-​ ​in​ ​order​ ​to​ ​reconnect with​ ​a​ ​place​ ​you​ ​hold​ ​dear.

Bedrooms, Fields & Houses // A Compilation

We have carefully curated a compilation of unheard and unreleased material featuring label favourites; epic45, My Autumn Empire, Field Harmonics, EL Heath and Component#4 and joining the label for a release or two in the coming year; The Arm (a midlands noise trio active in the early 00s), Oliver Cherer (Dollboy), They Go Boom!! (90s indie-popsters) and Mark Van Hoen (Seefeel founder member & Locust).

All artists on featured on this compilation created the music from the comfort of their own homes, with as much emphasis on experimentation as there is on having the ‘right’ equipment; making do with what is in front of them and crafting unique sounds. It’s about carving beauty from limitation and experience, then sonically painting scenes from memory with hopefully resonating results.

‘A Wayside and Woodland Compilation: Bedrooms, Fields & Houses’ will be available for free with purchases of new releases.

Coming Soon // Oliver Cherer // The Myth of Violet Meek

It’s time we get up to speed with Oliver Cherer, whose next release ‘The Myth Of Violet Meek’ will be out on W&W late September.

Hopefully you would have heard of Cherer before, if not by his actual name then by his band Dollboy, or maybe even the 90s big beat outfit Cooler of which he was a member. He plays live; a continuous tourer with more monikers and projects than the number of leaves on a tree and most recently performed songs from this new album at Leigh Folk Festival alongside many other folkish greats.

Here’s a taster of something new… An excerpt from ‘Unspoken’

This will be his second release assuming his own name, and for fans of the Second Language label; congrats, you got to hear the first, but we are chuffed he wants to release this second blinding album with us.

The Myth of Violet Meek, is a beautiful and darkly witted album. Sparked by memories of teenage life in the old haunting grounds The Forest of Dean (where Cherer lived during his teens). We are invited into young Violet’s world and taken on a journey of ‘sex, death and chauvinism’, which is as much a reflection on society today despite the setting of this album feeling somewhat gorgeously anachronistic. 

 

My Autumn Empire // ‘The Visitation’ Released

Last week marked the release of the new album from My Autumn Empire, The Visitation. Available in CD and digital form, please follow the links below to purchase!

Thanks to those of you who already had it pre-ordered and thanks to those who are yet to purchase but intend to, your support is gratefully received.

If you’d like to book My Autumn Empire to play a show, please get in touch via info@myautumnempire.co.uk

Physical (UK & Europe) :

Wayside and Woodland

Norman Records

Amazon

Physical (Worldwide) :

Inpartmaint (Japan)

Darla (US)

Digital:

Bandcamp

Amazon

iTunes

Spotify

My Autumn Empire // Blue Coat single and video // Out Now

Blue Coat, the first single from the new My Autumn Empire album The Visitation is now available to purchase from the Wayside & Woodland Bandcamp page. For your money you get four beautiful remixes from Seamajesty, E L Heath, Charles Vaughan and Field Harmonics, each putting their own unique spin on the original song. As if that wasn’t enough, you also get a copy of the video for Blue Coat, directed by Benjamin Holton and Mark Cartwright.

It will also be available digitally from iTunes, Amazon etc. within the coming week.

The music video for the single premieres over on God Is In The TV today, alongside an interview with Benjamin.

My Autumn Empire // New Album // Pre-Order

Its with great excitement that we can finally reveal details of the forthcoming My Autumn Empire album, ‘The Visitation’, which is the latest solo album from Ben Holton of epic45.

The Visitation - Cover

‘The Visitation’ takes its name from an early 80’s Doctor Who story in which an alien crash lands on Earth and was part of the inspiration for the album, but Holton expands on the concept with humour and draws a comparison to real life events that affected him at the time.

“It’s also homage to the 70s/80s sci-fi I was watching at the time with all the stagey acting, strange atmospheres and Radiophonic synthesizer sounds that come with them, sounds that have definitely had an impact on the music. Also to the outlandish concepts that drove a lot of the ELO albums I was listening to, in particular the 1981 album ‘Time’ about a man who gets stranded in the future and attempts to have a love affair with a robot.”

However, with tracks such as ‘Andrew’, ‘Where’s Everybody Gone?’ and ‘It’s Around’ the focus shifts to how we can alienate ourselves from social interaction and engagement in the outside world by immersing ourselves in media and fantasy.

“Musically, ‘The Visitation’ hits such diverse reference points as ELO, 10cc, Sparklehorse and The Wedding Present. I also think there’s an influence of some of the American ‘indie’ music I enjoyed in the latter half of the 90s, things like Grandaddy, Pavement and Sparklehorse.”

1. When You Crash Landed
2. Blue Coat
3. Where Has Everybody Gone?
4. Summer Sound
5. Afternoon Transmission
6. It’s Around
7. Andrew
8. The People I Love
9. The Visitation
10. All In My Head

We are now taking pre-orders for both the standard CD edition (which comes in a card gatefold sleeve with fold out lyric sheet) as well as the collectors set, which includes :

– The Visitation CD.
– Bonus Disc (Re-interpretations of songs from all 3 MAE albums.)
– Original Artwork Print (Signed by Ben Holton.)
– Download code (Out Takes & Demo Versions.)
– ‘The Visitation’ Download Code.
– Wayside and Woodland Postcard.

PRE-ORDER* STANDARD CD FOR £8

PRE-ORDER* COLLECTORS SET FOR £15

*ships on 16/04/14

Finally, we have a short album teaser video : enjoy!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5dQSZ4gxtg]