Track by Track analysis of… Nothing Ever Stays The Same by The Fisherman and His Soul (as written by Sebastian Voss)
Thanks so much to Münster’s (Germany) Seb Voss for agreeing to compile a Track by Track analysis of what makes his latest brilliant, Nothing Ever Stays The Same, album tick.
We hope you enjoy his comprehensive analysis below:
The Fisherman and his Soul – Nothing Ever Stays the Same (A forward by Sebastian Voss (above))
In the first place, The Fisherman and his Soul seemed to be a colorful hotchpotch and a continuation of my first bedroom recording project Grindcore Poppies, that I pursued long ago.
The results have always been meandering between surprisingly fresh and satisfying gems and erratic efforts. At all times, my musical output always illustrates a continuous process of searching for identity, from the dismay of an adolescent being 17, to a midlife-crisis 30 years later: A continuous struggle with the question of how to deal with realness of an outside life and the effort of constantly re-defining own ideals and mindsets
You have to imagine an insecure, lanky beanpole converting his emotional highs and lows into a more or less psychedelic mix of optimistic jangle, ironic absurdity and earnest and maybe even a bit pretentious self reflection.
Malicious gossip may tell you that I’m recording my most coherent songs together with Estella Rosa – and I think that’s absolutely right. I’m really enjoying the gloss of the aesthetic we release with our band, Nah… with all the elaborate details that we have to deal with after the tunes are landing on the desk of my strict picky bandmate, waiting for being endorsed by her.
In comparison, The Fisherman and his Soul represents my chaotic side. After winching my old friend and bandmate André Bosse, who was my musical counterpart in our time of coming of age, on board again as a lyricist (back then we were two country bumpkins wussy-ing around the promises of our university town Münster), this new album Nothing Ever Stays The Same became the total opposite of my first idea of releasing another compilation of left-overs.
I guess there is a hint of a clear line coursing through these songs, as diverse as they might appear at first sight: I think each song has something to do with opposites, tensions and changes… and how to be able to embrace them. The presence of a secure place called “Home” might help exploring those constant challenges and integrating the ambiguities of a complicated post-modern world with childlike curiosity and a geriatric’s wisdom (or the other way around). So let’s play!
My track by track thoughts, comments and ruminations on each track are below…thanks for your interest, regards Seb.
1 – Crumble
I liked the idea of getting the album started with the word ‘Goodbye’. The lyrics are spoken by Fiona, who is the life partner of my best childhood friend Hilmar from Hamburg and one of the loveliest human beings in the world.
The words come from André, dealing with nothing less than the ephemeral nature of life. The music emerges slowly over a hypnotic guitar motif and it develops a ‘krauty’ sphere to an energetic guitar climax. I loved the same effect at the beginning of the album Seamonsters by The Wedding Present, when suddenly the head seems to explode. But more on this later!
2 – Dimmish Grey SkY
“Dimmish…“ is a song about interconnecting opposites. After recording the jangly guitar chords, I played around with some different rhythms and I thought that the “Love is in the Air“ like bass-hopping could be a good match.
The expectation of oxytocin and endorphin associated with John Paul Youngs disco hit gets thwarted by André’s lyrics over the comforts and grey zones of a long-term relationship.
Musically I tried to mix the sound of a sixties stereo production with an 80s house music beat, created by two different types of a Roland 808 drum computer layered next to each other. The mood is filled up with drones and a cacophony of self produced, weird saxophone sounds before the song ends melodramatically with cathedral bells.
3 – Mean But Less Permanent
André and I had a short-lived Garagerock/ Powerpop project called The Delicious back then. “Mean But Less Permanent“ picks up the punk side of Mod. It was fun wallowing again into raw guitar sounds and a joyous interleaving of divergent jangle guitar layers as a basis of a men’s choir singing and swirling.
The lyrics give rise to a joyous small town scenario of Britain the 60s, fading into a constant rage over the difficulties of taking individual decisions in a more and more overcomplex world.
4 – The Dean
Estella (Rosa) and I wanted to use this song for our band, Nah, actually, but it failed at my bandmates critical ear, at the very last moment.
My idea was to create a psychedelic retro vibe and André, who is fascinated by “Sprechgesang“ (check out Austrian “liedermacher” Ludwig Hirsch for example), came up with the idea of creating a little kitchen sink drama around it.
Needless to say we needed an English native speaker and I had the idea of asking Chris Free from Cambridge’s mod legends The Sound of Pop Art, who I became associated with via both being contributors on a compilation made for Estella’s blog/ label Fadeawayradiate.
Chris said that he liked the song but that he’d rather like to contribute some fuzzy guitar and voice, and of course this was more than okay for me. Luckily Fiona said ‘Yes!’ again and gave the song its face and soul with her distinguished reader’s voice. The song deals about a couple doing something odd. What he’s up to, what she’s up to? Well, I guess, you have to ask “The Dean”…
5 – Reckenfeld
Reckenfeld is the name of the village I moved to when I was nine years old together with my family.
Apart from having to integrate in a completely new environment, Reckenfeld has some “special issues“ as a former munitions warehouse, where after World War I instead of weapons mining, invalids from Ruhrgebiet area were settled with their extended families.
It’s a rough place in the midst of the otherwise very much tranquil and catholic conservative Münsterland, where the inhabitants developed patronizing attitudes against the people of ‘Klein Texas’. André, who came from the town Emsdetten nearby, can tell a lot of stories about the very special image auf Reckenfeld.
Being a teenage kid I used to incur long bike rides to the nearest towns to get to cool places and record stores. In Greven where I went to school there was a ‘buy and sell’ store who sold second hand records. In 1989 when I was 15 I had some pocket money in my bag and found the album ‘Secrets of the Beehive’ by David Sylvian in the shop’s spare parts box. I fell in love with the record because of the mysterious cover.
On the same day I also bought a used black electric guitar, a strat imitation with a contorted neck and without any proper frets at all. I still remember the mood, listening to David Sylvians’ voice on a Sunday morning and doing some electric guitar exercises in my youth room after having strummed the acoustic guitar during the youth-service of the protestant congregation.
It was obvious to ask the wonderful crooner Paul Darrah and my bandmate Estella Rosa if they wanted to sing this song. Together with ‘Harenberg“, this song was part of my double A-side single “Home”, released as a lathe cut 7’’ via Entes Anomicos last year.
6 – Perfect Bathrooms
Some years ago I wrote the instrumental version of “Perfect Bathrooms” and made an appeal on Facebook for friends to write some lyrics for it (the only specification was the name of the title).
Luckily there were two reactions, one by André and one by Hannah, a music friend who’d just moved to England. On the album there’s a re-recorded version of André’s interpretation, inspired by Blixa Bargeld from Einstürzende Neubauten who once told him that he’s making a photograph of every hotel bathroom he’s visiting. And (spoiler- alarm!!!):
You’ll find Hannah’s rendition on a remix version called “Nothing (Never) Ever Be the Same“ coming up in a couple of weeks on the remix album “Nothing Never (Ever) Stays The Same“. The melancholic New Order-ish disco mood of “Bathrooms“ will even be increased by Heiko Schneider’s (TheCatherines) rework. So stay tuned!
7 – Dalliance
In 1991 I was finally able to receive MTV, and 120 Minutes with Paul King, was an experience of epiphany. A very special blow to the head was the premiere of “Dalliance“ by The Wedding Present.
Due to the simultaneous existence of David Gedges’ inconspicuousness cool and Steve Albini’s violent guitar outburst, my own identity issues were soothed and haywired at the same time.
Seeing them live with their knitted pullovers in the Odeon in Münster was an unforgettable concert experience and an initial impulse regarding my musical development. German pop zine SPEX, though, wrote something about the rising importance of electronic dance music while the Madchester movement reached its climax.
The question was ‘Is guitar music dead?’ and The Fall and The Wedding Present were named as the last proud representatives of a dying breed. I’d asked myself at this time: ‘When will David Gedge jump on the bandwagon?’, while The Charlatans, “Some Friendly” was rotating on my record player.
Thirty years later I dared to build up an experimental setup like ‘How would this song have sounded if he did…?’ … and maybe the result could sound like this.
8 – Fine Thanks
André and I started making music together in 1992. Our first proper band was called funnybone. ‘Fine Thanks’ was one of our little ‘hits’ back then and I was heavily influenced by slacker bands like Pavement, Sebadoh and Guided By Voices when I wrote it.
The song is a bit weird, and the lyrics came as a bit of a gibberish flow, associating from turning circles over rotating records and ruminating thoughts and constantly changing moods. I’ve re-recorded another version together with my friend Sebastian Haass with Grindcore Poppies some years later, but I thanks to this new version I think that this song aged very well.
9 – Harenberg
The other song of the ‘Home’ double A- side single is about the small village I grew up when I was a little child. My facebook friend (and new Subjangle labelmate) Kev Robertson from Aberdeen who’s singing on this track already contributed with vocals for the opening track ‘Theme from Lakatos’ from my album ‘Lakatos“ in 2019 and he did it, quite contra-intuitively, by detouring far from his normal mellow west coast style, to a post-punkish voice (a la 1983), which I really liked. ‘Harenberg’ is about bitter sweet memories and early childhood associations.
10 – Goodbye
The first song of the album begins with ‘Goodbye’ and so does the last song of the album.
Together with a bunch of music nerd friends we did a little quiz some months ago, numerating as many songs that were recorded backwards as possible. In the end I had the idea to record my own backwards thingy. Fisherman… listeners may already have realized that ‘Goodbye’ begins similar to the last track “Holy Lights“ from my album „Lakatos“.
However, instead of turning it on the right side again I decided to leave the backwards version like it was and span some additional instruments, drum samples and mellow vocals around the harmonie. The result sounds a bit like a tiny little pentatonic min’yō melody. ‘Goodbye, Farewell, go home again with Ultra sound!’
Thanks so much for reading my thoughts on these tracks. Your interest is genuinely appreciated (Cheers, Seb)