As most of you know, Aviator are the band led by Peter Wilkinson (Bass player for Shack, Cast and Echo and the Bunnymen). This is a long running project since 2002 and the Huxley pig album. I think I first got interested with the Huxley pig 2 album that followed. The band have always sought a certain sound, echoing Pete’s experience in the other three bands, and I love the way this album has been produced. They’ve used vintage analogue equipment and synths and producer Paul Hemmings (who has worked with the La’s and Lightning Seeds) has captured an album which the band say was designed to be spontaneous, in one or two takes. Former band mate Keith O’Neill from Cast is also involved, alongside Nick Graff. Some of you will know of my love of Shack and Waterpistol from my post last week.
The album has different shades of sound, there are darker sounds and abrasive guitar, alongside distant reverbed vocals. Lovers of the classic Shack influenced sound of acoustic, echo and 60s percussion will be drawn in by ‘Scarecrow’, the track that opens and closes the album, a plaintive tune with what sounds like a melodica (an instrument I love from the work of Augustus Pablo). The harmonies are there in great form on ‘All around you (Omni)’. K Tripper has an acoustic opening and then drives into a great drum rhythm and chorus.
The single ‘All you haters’ is definitely a standout with another great set of boombing drums and chorus, plus a distorted solo that meanders beautifully over the vocals at the finish before finally going into pulsing analogue snyth. Seems like the lyrics are pushing back at the times we’re living in.
The darker tracks were a highlight for me and I’d love to hear the band go further in this direction and will be great to hear how they sound live. There are great muddy, fuzzy guitar solos, with a hint of Neil Young in places. Whilst tunes and harmonies are all there it’s dark and abrasive on tracks like AV8TOR. This is probably my favourite track – electronic pulsed drums, over echoed vocals and discordant guitar. I’m in Spaceman3, Sonic Boom, Jesus and Mary Chain heaven. I’ll stop here in case I veer into sonic cathedrals of sound territory…
I can also hear the Velvets on other tracks. Other standout for me is ‘Here comes the gun’ – love the drony guitar solo that runs over the top and the vocals feel quite Lennon Plastic Ono band in places, alongside a great ‘na, na, na’ chorus. If you have one track rolling round your brain for the next week it’ll be this one.
Lastly, penultimate track ‘Catching the blues’ – with the refrain ‘I caught them from you’ has great a Gilmouresque early Floyd solo.
All in all a storming album and can’t wait to see it live at some point. Dark, edgy, echoey and psyechedlic – essential lockdown listening for those long evenings and lifting to a brighter morning.
And who is Tempest Brown?
Thanks to Nick from the band for giving me an early listen. Sadly, the red vinyl and CD are already sold out but the album comes to Spotify on 22 June. You can also get a preview of ‘All around you’ on YouTube. There are still some prints of the Mick Badger artwork on the Aviator site. Also remember the other albums are available on Spotify in the meantime.
2) The Wrong Turn
3) All Around You ( Omni )
4) K Tripper
5) All You Haters
7) The Ballad of Tempest Brown
8) Here Comes the Gun
9) Catching the Blues
10) Scarecrow ( Reprise )