Photo by Nico Diszel (click image for high res)
• US press: Anton Hochheim at Force Field PR
The Proper Ornaments – the project of James Hoare (Ultimate Painting, Veronica Falls) and Max Oscarnold (Toy) – announce the release of their second album. Foxhole will be released through Slumberland Records (US) and Tough Love Records (EU) on January 20, 2017.
James and Max started out writing Foxhole, the follow up to the bands 2014 released debut album ‘Wooden Head’, in January 2015. On ‘Foxhole’ they’ve sliced away a whole stratum of their sound, removing some distortion and lowering the frequency of plectrum strokes to allow more nuanced, piano-led ideas to emerge. The title isn’t a reference to Television’s jaunty proto-punk record but seems to be more of a dark, protective interior, a head space sketched out on ‘Jeremy’s Song’. While their particularly recognisable production style remains, three things stand out as likely reasons for the shift in mood. By the time they got around to recording again in James’ bedroom in Finsbury Park that Summer, the instability around the recording of ‘Wooden Head’ (and the five years before) had slid into a deep and seething acrimony. Second, they both bought pianos. Third, when the band, with Daniel Nellis and Bobby Syme joining on bass and drums went to record at Tin Room in Hackney in June, the pinch wheel on the 8 track machine was broken and somehow no one noticed. All but one recording, ‘The Frozen Stare,’ was hopelessly warped, so they went and did it all again from scratch back at James’.
“We ended up doing the whole thing there as the atmosphere suited the direction of the foxhole and we were more comfortable working on it in our own time,” says James, “We wanted to move in a slightly different direction from ‘Wooden Head’, away from the distorted guitars and into a more peaceful area.” The mechanical blow out that had wasted weeks of their time and money coincided with a thaw in their friendship, and by the time they were re-recording they were both being treated conspicuously gentler by life. “That’s why the record has a laid back, conversational, not imposing or anxious feel in my opinion,” Max says about their rapprochement, “There’s also the technical limitation of doing it on an 8 track which gives the songs a sparser sound.”
Themes of their previous work have been picked up again and honed. The sense of being overlooked and isolated, inevitable change and drift particularly set in terms of age, predominates. Undercuttin
Proper Ornaments hold the attraction of seeming to not try very hard at all and achieve something outstanding nonetheless. Quite apart from our attachment to laziness and chance which make this seductive, textures of dappled drums, softened-out guitars and vocal harmonies that slide along as effortlessly as this, any evidence of conscious construction spirited away, are in themselves totally ecstatic to listen to.
Current Release (click artwork for high res) –
[Slumberland Records (US) / Tough Love (EU)]
Street Date: January 20, 2017
1. Back Pages 2
2. Cremated (Blown Away)
4. Just a Dream
6. The Frozen Stare
7. Jeremy’s Song
8. When We Were Young
9. Bridge By a Tunnel
10. I Know You Know
11. The Devils