Why I Love: Victories At Sea on Talk Talk

Victories At Sea released their second album earlier in 2020. Everybody’s Lost and All I Want Is to Leave was released on 24th February and was recorded on the shores of Loch Fyne and mixed in their native Birmingham. The album refines and redefines the sound of Victories at Sea.

Here, we welcome Steve Edgehill from Victories At Sea as he discusses the music of the peerless Talk Talk.

Mark Hollis, Talk Talk star, dies at 64 - BBC News
Talk Talk

The number of bands I fell in love with as a teenager is countless. I’ll always love the records shared with friends in those years, where every little thing is just that bit more meaningful, every emotion feels brand new. Sonic Youth, Mogwai, Joy Division, My Bloody Valentine, they’ve all stuck with me like old friends, but when I find an artist I connect with now, I want to hold on to them in a way that feels so different to those teenage years.

Talk Talk are one of those artists. I was always aware of them. There was the big pop hits of “It’s My Life” and “Such a Shame”, but Spirit of Eden was the first album of theirs I heard after a friend recommended it to me.

It was the day after a particularly tough birthday, feeling hungover, probably still drunk to be honest. At that moment in time that album meant everything to me, it all came together. The first nine minutes of the opening song “The Rainbow” just drew me in, a slow jam with the first vocal not appearing until after three and a half minutes, “oh yeah, the world’s turned upside down”. It’s like nothing else: jazz, prog – they pretty much invented post-rock – but something entirely its own.

The lyrics are heartbreaking, and they touched a nerve that morning. They are like two different bands I guess – early 80s synth pop, and the more experimental, progressive band that was brave enough to eventually make the records they wanted to make, pushing boundaries and taking risks – that really spoke to me. That trilogy of records, Colour of Spring, Spirit of Eden and their final release Laughing Stock are incredible.

The depth and simplicity, the beauty and the sense of space Talk Talk can create is a major influence. Finding ourselves in a remote cottage in Scotland writing “Everybody’s Lost…”, the chance to stand still, to feel the silence and calmness of the mountains and the water brought Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock to the studio at times. It was like I had stepped inside the soundscape they had created.

The three records in this trilogy are sometimes where I go for inspiration when writing songs – even though we don’t really sound like them! Using sound where you’d expect silence, and silence where you’d expect sound; using a single loop to create a hypnotic, meditative mood; using chords that were never meant to be there; using silence to allow you to catch your breath, or to take you somewhere else.

“I Believe in You”, a song about singer Mark Hollis’s brother’s struggles with addiction, is on the surface so sad, with its hushed motorik drum beat and sparse guitar sound, yet by three minutes is lifted out of that sadness just by the introduction of a simple organ line.

In “Inheritance”, almost like a letter to himself, Hollis addresses pressure to conform to what was expected of them as a band, yet the ‘chorus’ is surprisingly ‘pop’ like. (Progressive pop maybe?) The 3/4 time signature “New Grass” from Laughing Stock is for me just one of the best things – I’ll always get lost somewhere in those nine minutes. The drum loop stays the same, but I’ll always hear something I’ve not heard before. It’s a fascinating piece of music. Nearly every song on those three albums takes me to places musically I’m just not expecting: there’s so much expression and intensity that always leaves you on the edge, the compositions are astounding, and it’s incredibly exciting that for records that are over thirty years old they sound so fresh, and still relevant.

For a band I adore so much I’m sad I never got to see them live, and never will. But Hollis never intended those albums to be toured, recreating songs that were born from spontaneity was never his plan, I mean, he probably wouldn’t have known how to. Listening to these records, I’m not sure what a live performance would have added anyway – they’re pretty much perfect as they are.

Many thanks to Victories At Sea and to Steve Edgehill for this wonderful piece on Talk Talk.

Check out the single Follow You from Victories At Sea below. The band have also been releasing lockdown video versions of their songs over the last few months.

Victories At Sea: Official Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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