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Land Observations - Interview

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 14 / 11 / 2014

Land Observations - Interview


Anthony Strutt chats to former Appliance guitarist James Brooks about his latest project, instrumental solo act Land Observations, and its second album, 'The Grand Tour'

Land Observations is the new project from former Appliance man, James Brooks, whom has now delivered two albums on Mute Records, 2012's 'Roman Roads IV-XI' and its follow-up album, 2014's 'The Grand Tour'. Both albums are guitar travelogues based on the theme of travelling and come accompanied with pencil drawing artwork that has influenced the recorded work. The music, which is instrumental tone, is the ultimate in chill out and trippy music. Pennyblackmusic spoke to James about his new record. PB: Land Observations is your new project and follows on from Appliance. Why did that band finish when it did, and are you still all friends? Are the other guys still involved with music? JB: Well, Appliance just seemed to come to its logical conclusion after releasing four albums and numerous Peel sessions. Our last live show was in Montreux, Switzerland and after that we all went, "Okay, that's probably it...let's bow out for now." So, I went off to university to study some more, and the others took up various jobs and opportunities. It's all some time ago now...but, yes, we still communicate, but we're all spread across the country so I unfortunately haven't seen them for awhile. PB: Land Observations is a solo project. Why did you decide to go with a title rather than use your own name, James Brooks? JB: I was very keen to have a suggestive identity through the title of the project, rather than just my given name...I felt it was more vibrant and encouraged an understanding of what I was attempting to explore before people even heard a note. I imagine that probably stems from the visual art side of things. PB: You are now an artist. Is it this which inspires the guitar work you do? Does the music inspire the artworks? JB: I like the way they both can talk to each other and influence my decisions...For example, how repetitive rhythms of drawn shapes can reference approaches to guitar playing, or how perhaps guitar melody lines conjure up particular geometric drawings or paintings. I've actually just been invited today to take part in a group exhibition looking at the relationship of music making and visual graphic scores and notation. From a certain angle, I guess this is the foundation of one element of what I'm trying to explore with Land Observations. PB: Both albums are ambient guitar works based on travelling. Has the travel bug been your main inspiration? JB: Of course, I do like travelling and seeing things and places, but the records so far are actually based on imaginary journeys and routes. I like the way they hopefully allow the listener to conjure up places through memories and personal references. I didn't want them to be too literal concerning places I'd directly visited, because I'm interested in perhaps suggesting the enigma of history. PB: Appliance toured a lot whereas with Land Observations you have only done limited live work. Do you feel that you have done all that in the past and you don't want to repeat yourself? JB: No not at all, I like playing live and touring. Actually live shows are currently getting booked up for the near future. I guess I'm just slightly selective because I realise Land Observations works in particular environments and situations. PB: The two albums have been released on Mute, but you released 7 inch singles on Enraptured Records. Is that because both have been loyal too you as an artist? JB: Yes, both labels are part of my history and have been supportive to my music. Enraptured Records are a small label and have been ideal for a 7" release to start each project rolling, before doing a larger release on Mute. PB: Do you plan to keep doing your artwork just in pencil and ink, or do you plan on doing camera work? JB: To date the artwork for the records has been pencil, as I've been interested in the directness of drawing and mark-making in relation to playing an instrument. But yes, I do use other ways to make art - my work as an artist with various galleries is actually quite varied. Concerning photography, at the moment I tend to put my photographs related to the project on Land Observation's social media. I love photography, but I do feel there is transience to digital photography because of social media - we look, digest and then move on to the next. PB: Do you write while travelling or when you return home? JB: The new album was written in London and then recorded in Bavaria. There have, however, been times when I've written something in a hotel room - sketches and ideas that lead to something more substantial, or unfortunately never see the light of day and go any further. PB: And lastly future plans? JB: Well, I'm already starting to think about the new record... which is always an exciting time of what and where to focus next! And my visual artwork is currently in a touring exhibition called 'Wish You Were Here' - a group show of artists working with postcards. The show is currently in The Atkinson, Southport. http://www.theatkinson.co.uk/events/wish-you-were-here/ PB: Thank you.

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Land Observations - Interview

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