I LIKE TRAINS return. Their first hometown show in three and a half years will showcase material from a forthcoming new album. Details of the new album are on a strictly need to know basis. There are clues if you know where to look. Which data to scrape. Whose palms to grease.
Their previous studio album The Shallows, looked at our personal relationship with technology and how it shapes the way we think and retain knowledge. In the eight years since its release, those technological themes have taken an even more sinister turn. The truth is no longer concerned with the facts.
Live visuals will be provided by previous co-conspirator Michael Connolly - a Leeds born artist and designer. This new artwork promises to be a dynamic exploration of the new tech/cultural hegemony in which we are now all involuntary bit players.
NYX co-headline the evening as they bring their live show to Leeds for the first time. A collaborative drone choir with otherworldly electric chorus, re-embodying live electronics and extended vocal techniques. The visceral arrangements and original compositions by choir leader Sian O’Gorman, NYX looks to reshape the role of the traditional female choir, testing the limits of organic and synthetic modulation to explore the entire spectrum of collective female voice as an instrument. Alongside solo projects, NYX is a collaborative force, recently developing special projects with multidisciplinary artists such as Gazelle Twin, Christina Vantzou, Dan Tobin Smith, Hatis Noit, Iona Fortune and Alicia Jane Turner with Dead Light under the creative direction of Sian O’Gorman, Philippa Neels and Joshua Thomas.
I Like Trains
Over 10 years on from their beginnings, through their re-telling of some of western history’s most idiosyncratically bleak tales of human interest, to their realisation of humanity lying prostrate at the hands of environmental and technological factors far greater than us, I LIKE TRAINS have been transfixed by the art of survival.
A group who stood apart from the crowd even as their adopted home of Leeds enjoyed its hype boom and bust years during the mid-noughties. Under the microscope of the wider media during its ‘New Yorkshire’ era, they have never really been fashionable: too surly, too bleak, too stubborn to follow the pre-meditated narrative placed on them by their critics and peers. They have not cared for escapism even as they voyage through an age of it; their albums have confronted head-on fears that most people choose to switch off, turn over and click away from, prolonging and intensifying reality’s inevitable impact.
The band released their debut single 'Before The Curtains Close' on the Leeds label Dance To The Radio in 2005. The murder ballad soon sold all 500 copies and was followed by their second single 'A Rook House For Bobby'. The dramatic tale depicting the life of Bobby Fischer, the troubled chess grandmaster sold all 500 copies in its first week and earned them recognition on the radio and in the press in the UK. Their third single was released in 2006 on Fierce Panda and sold all 1000 copies in its first week. 'Terra Nova' was the story of Captain Scott's doomed 1912 Antarctic expedition set to a sensational orchestra of guitars as grand as the landscape it describes. The band's zero-budget animated homemade video re-enacting the last days of Scott and his team has become as popular as the song and received regular plays on MTV2 and even features in an exhibition at the Fram Antarctic Museum in Oslo. The summer of 2006 saw the release of the mini-album PROGRESS, REFORM on Fierce Panda, which was a catalogue of their recordings to date and was full of the band's unique, beautiful sounds and rousing songs, brimming with exceptional characters and historical events. The songs covered Captain Scott, Hjalmar Johansson, a rejected candidate for the Norwegian Antarctic team; Bobby Fischer, the troubled chess Grandmaster and a reprise to Bobby's political status; Dr. Beeching, who closed many of the nation's railways, and other tales of damned or murderous events.
I LIKE TRAINS’ first full length record, Elegies to Lessons Learnt, came in October 2007,
released on legendary independent label Beggars Banquet. This took the band’s historical
obsession to its logical conclusion, an ambitious record illustrating how history repeats
itself and how the human race fails to learn from its mistakes. It was accompanied by a
series of singles which showed that there is always more than one side to every story.
Each b-side took up the same story from an alternative perspective.
Following the folding of the Beggars Banquet label, I LIKE TRAINS released an instrumental
piece entitled The Christmas Tree Ship EP at the end of 2008 on yet another influential
independent label Fantastic Plastic.
Released in October 2010 the album He Who Saw the Deep was the first release on the
band’s own ILR label. Having successfully secured funding from a loyal fan base via the
Pledge Music website, the record marked a new chapter for I LIKE TRAINS. There was a
streamlining of their signature dark atmospheric sound. There was light and shade, hope
and devastation. Where once, the band had looked to the past for its inspiration, He Who
Saw the Deep had its eyes firmly on the future.
Their third full-length album The Shallows followed in 2012, it explores our increasingly complex relationships with technology. Set to a dark motorik pulse and haunted by machines, it deals with themes of information overload, charts a history of how our tools have shaped us, and asks how our recent reliance on digital technology to obtain information has changed the way we think and retain knowledge.
I LIKE TRAINS’ first new music in four years arrived in the form of a breathtaking soundtrack album for A Divorce Before Marriage, the feature length documentary that centres on the lives of the band over a similar time frame. The soundtrack is largely an exercise in restraint. Skeletal piano melodies and unsettling atmospherics are the predominant mode, echoing the slate grey Yorkshire skies, which play a prominent role in the film. Much of the score was recorded in single takes with very few overdubs. Working on instinct, there is an aching intimacy to proceedings. The creaking of piano hammers, the shuffling of feet and the sound of a band living on their wits are all very much in evidence. When I LIKE TRAINS do let loose with the sonic arsenal on which they made their name over a decade ago, the results are all the more devastating.
Each release has seen the band's reputation as a formidable live act grow. They have
toured extensively in the UK, Europe, Russia and the USA and supported the likes of Sisters of Mercy, British Sea Power and Editors.
NYX is a collaborative drone choir and otherworldly electric chorus, re-embodying live electronics and extended vocal techniques. With visceral arrangements and original compositions by choir leader Sian O’Gorman, NYX looks to reshape the role of the traditional female choir, testing the limits of organic and synthetic modulation to explore the entire spectrum of collective female voice as an instrument. Alongside solo projects, NYX is a collaborative force, recently developing special projects with multidisciplinary artists such as Gazelle Twin, Christina Vantzou, Dan Tobin Smith, Hatis Noit, Iona Fortune and Alicia Jane Turner with Dead Light under the creative direction of Sian O’Gorman, Philippa Neels and Joshua Thomas.
NYX’s approach to post-digital performance and composition is influenced Meredith Monk’s extended vocal technique, Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares’ charged harmonics, the electronic and acoustic body manipulations of Holly Herndon, the viscerality of Sunn 0)))’s ecstatic noise experiences and participatory community music projects like Peter Broderick’s The Beacon Sound Choir. Alongside performances, the collective continues to research health and social benefits of sonic immersion in relation to ethnomusicology, sound therapy, collaboration, feminism and new digital technologies.
‘I’ll always find space for this kind of beautiful sound’ - Mary Anne Hobbs, BBC 6 Music
“A lament for humanism. This is the future of spiritual music” - If Only
“NYX are incredibly skilled technicians, merging visceral, scratching vocals with live electronic manipulation as they stand at their mixing desks. The layers of powerful, stinging voices, the costumes, the choreography and the strobe lights: the show has total command over its audience.” - The Quietus
14+ years, with under 16s have to be accompanied by an adult