Multi-instrumentalist Pablo Clements and James Griffith have been members of the trip-hop outfit UNKLE since 2007. Whilst UNKLE co-founder James Lavelle put the project on temporary hold, Clements and Griffith 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. Tragically, however, the album wasn’t fully completed before Clark’s untimely death in February, he was aged just 46 (read more about Gavin in my blog feature here). Clark was a close and long-term friend of film director Shane Meadows who went on to describe Gavin Clark’s music as being a ‘huge motivation for him, turning his work into something resembling art.’
The pair first met at Alton Towers where they worked together and continued to work with each other even when Meadows began directing his own 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 Toydrum 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.
Today, after a long and eagerly anticipated wait, Toydrum’s ‘Evangelist’ has finally been released featuring, amongst its 11 tracks, the mighty ‘God Song’ and today’s song of the day, ‘Whirlwind of Rubbish’ (both heard on This Is England ’90).. I can’t wait to hear it!
Excitedly I shall finish this post and head off into town to purchase my copy, savouring the opportunity to hear Gavin Clark once more, whilst fully appreciating the efforts spent to put this album out in the first place. It is so tragic to have lost Gavin Clark, but also comforting to think that he was writing music and creating right up until the end, I shall certainly never forget this understated artist.
Evangelist was released today and is available from: Amazon – http://hyperurl.co/n12p2n and iTunes – http://hyperurl.co/jgpatm.
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