Truffle Shuffle #2: Listing Ships

Here we are again for the second installment of “Truffle Shuffle” and this time it’s the turn of Oxford instrumental post-rock sailors Listing Ships. Unfamilar with the format? Well, we met up with Stuart Fowkes on a busy (and noisy) night at The Wheatsheaf and pulled out his iPod, pressed “Shuffle All Songs” and discussed the first six bands to come up in order. We were hoping for some dodgy metal or miserable singer-songwriters, buy luckily for Stuart (and the musical integrity of Listing Ships!) his iPod chucked up some inspired choices. Beginning with:

1. Boards Of Canada – ‘A Is To B As B Is To C’

“The first thing which springs to mind concerning BOC is the way that they put things together, the way they manage to make electronica sound so warm due to the fact that they use so much analogue, tape to tape kit. By and large electronic music is so much harder and colder than it used to be. This album is perfect album for a long commute, it’s like being back in your mother’s womb, and this warm sound cocoons you as you wander around. They have remained so elusive as a band, even in the age of the internet, when we tried to book them for Audioscope and every band had a website or a myspace but we had to write these guys a letter.”

2. Ennio Morricone – ‘Inseguimento e Fuga’

“Ennio is an Italian soundtrack artist who has scored films such as The Good The Bad And The Ugly, he’s had a big influence on Listing Ships insofar that his music is all about creating an atmosphere. These kinds of composers are able to create vivid moods and stories through music alone and that’s what we really aim to do as a band when we write songs. Using musical sections to aid a specific narrative, whether that is about mermaids or the sinking of a battleship, is something we strive to accomplish.”

3. Tortoise – ‘Spiderwebbed’

“Tortoise are a mainstay who I have been listening to for years. They did go through a period of being incredibly boring, when I saw them at ATP their live show was basically like listening to the CD, you had this kind of situation where John McEntire was like the James Brown of post-rock where if anyone in the band made a mistake onstage, even if the audience couldn’t hear it, he would be glaring at the guilty member. But in 2009 they released an album called Beacons Of Ancestorship which really pushed the band and just goes to prove what a phenomenally talented bunch of musicians they truly are. And this early stuff is genre defining.”

(Ed. – There isn’t a video of this particular song, so we have embedded this one taken from the same album)

4. Electrelane – ‘This Deed’

“We put them on Audioscope in 2003 after approaching them after a gig in Reading, around about 2005-6 they started getting quite big and headlining some fairly large venues, but they have split up now and all four members live in various different continents. Musically speaking, they managed to pull off being a keyboard heavy instrumental band, relying on vintage synths to create a spacious yet dynamic sound. Really love their first album. Later on in their career they brought in more vocals and more standardised song structures.”

5. Pelican – ‘Nightendday’

“In my teenage years I was really into Metal, but as I got older to started to find a lot of the vocals in the genre fairly risible. I would listen to a song and it would start brilliantly with big distorted guitar chords, but then the vocals would kick in and it would either be a load of adolescent shouting or tuneless whining. Pelican managed to skirt around those issues by purely being an instrumental metal band, with quite prog like post-rock tendencies.”

6. Ivory Springer – ‘Time Travel For Beginners’

“Ivory Springer are the nautically themed Shellac from Bristol. They were an absolutely fucking brilliant band who I brought to Oxford four or five times under Oxfordbands.com and Audioscope. They were part of this really inclusive music community called Choke, loads of good venues and promoters. Some music scenes are quite self-congratulatory and sit within themselves, but these guys were reaching out up and down the country trying to help out the particular music scenes in other cities. Precisely the way a local scene should act. The criticism you could level at them is that they sound just like Shellac, but the songs were so good and they were so fucking tight live. The gimmick of being nautically themed was the same for them as it is for us; it’s just an idea that ties the material together. They are one of those great lost bands, where a small amount of people knew about them and at the right place, at the right time and under the right circumstances they could have done quite well for themselves, but they released one album, did some great live shows and disappeared.”

(Ed. – couldn’t find anything by this band to embed, so a big congratulations to Stu for ruining this interview format with his terrific taste in music. Why couldn’t you just like Coldplay like everbody else!?!)

Listing Ships released their most recent album, The 100 Gun Ship, towards the end of 2011 and you can listen to it here via Bandcamp.