Multi-instrumentalist Pablo Clements and James Griffith have been members of the trip-hop outfit UNKLE since 2007. While UNKLE co-founder James Lavelle has since put the project on temporary hold, Clements and Griffith have branched off to create their own experimental electronic group, TOYDRUM.
Earlier this year they began working with the late (and very very great) Gavin Clark, on a concept album called ‘Evangelist’ which was based loosely on Clark’s own life. The late musician, who died earlier this year aged just 46, (whom you can more about in my blog feature here), was also a close and long-term friend of film director Shane Meadows, who claims that Gavin Clark’s music was a huge motivation for him turning his work into ‘something resembling art’.
The pair had worked together ever since Meadows began directing films with Clark having written at least one song for every film his friend had made. Throughout his life Gavin Clark had struggled with anxiety, depression and alcoholism and this factor often impaired his ability to perform and connect. Close friend and author John Niven, who originally signed the songwriter’s first band Sunhouse in the 90’s, when he was still in A&R, had this to say of Clark:
It is a cruel and frequent twist of the universe that it will grant voice, melody and lyricism – the ability to say the bleakest things in the most beautiful manner – to those least equipped to cope with it. The heaviest soul often lies within the thinnest skin and an artist’s life is all anxiety and ambition; the ambition to do right by whatever talent you may have accompanied by the anxiety that you are failing at this. Some of us will be wanting a break from this if we can possibly manage it. Chemically, if need be. These warring impulses were written all over Gavin Clark.
After his death the band swore to complete the record and have spent most of this year finishing ‘Evangelist’, which features Clark’s eldest son as vocalist, Warren Ellis (Grinderman and Bad Seed member and Bad Seed) on viola on ‘I’m In Love Tonight’ and composer Ludovico Einaudi.
First track from this record comes Gavin Clark and Toydrum’s ‘God Song’ (available to download now), which was premiered on This Is England ’90 on 20th September and has a real Nick Cave/Bad Seeds feel to it. With an impending, gathering feel it creates an ominous atmosphere and grasped at my attention the minute it began; it was an added bonus when I discovered who was behind the track – Gavin Clark was certainly a rare and unpolished gem who had only just began scratching at the surface of his treasures before his untimely end, at least we get to hear him one more time on this last release.
‘Evangelist’ is due for release this December via Underscore Collective and can be pre-ordered from here