A lot has happened since the Shoegaze heyday in the 1990s, but more and more, this year is proving to be one of the Shoegaze revival, with bands like Ride, Slowdive, Swervedriver, Medicine reforming and at least the first three embarking on massive tours. While the members of Ride, one of the foremost bands of that era, had gone their separate ways and become involved in different projects (Beady Eye and Oasis come to mind), there is no doubt that millions of music enthusiasts awaited this day of their reunion. In parallel with that development, Ride frontman Mark Gardener has been involved with Pure Phase Ensemble as a rewarding side project. Headlining SpaceFest and debuting their album this Saturday, August 8 at Poland’s largest rock festival OFFfest, we are pleased to now introduce you to this fine music, along with a radio edit created especially for this project by Canadian-Ukrainian duo Ummagma.
“Live At Spacefest” is the new live album featuring Shoegaze legend Mark Gardener. This is a not really a concert so much as a musical landscape laid out in lineal time. I would have loved to be at this show, which was held in Gdansk, Poland. You can close your eyes and make this concert a soundtrack to your dreams with it’s combination of musical diversity and flowing rhythms and soaring sonic melodies. A masterpiece in front of a live audience.
About Pure Phase Ensemble:
Pure Phase Ensemble is an international music collective, created especially for the SpaceFest festival in Gdansk, which takes place annually in December and is organised by the Nasiono Association. The city of Gdansk plays host to this blossoming music festival each year in the first week of December, at which time numerous select musicians from Poland and abroad gather to take part in a special workshop series. They collectively compose a concert’s worth of music, which they then present live to the festival-goers. Each year, this unique performance is recorded live and subsequently released as an LP.
The programm for each workshop is jointly curated by Ray Dickaty, a British saxophonist improviser and former member of Spiritualized (1997-2002), and Karol Schwarz (KSAS), who also manages Nasiono Records. Along with these two key figures, every festival involves a new musical director – a legendary, internationally recognised musician, who is invited to co-curate the workshop.
During the latest SpaceFest, Mark Gardener, the frontman of celebrated shoegaze pioneers RIDE who also recently released an LP with Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins), occupied this seat of honour. Past participants include Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab), Chris Olley (Six By Seven), Steve Hewitt (ex Placebo), and Jaime Harding (Marion).
“For me, this it interesting – it’s perfect because it reminds me in some ways of how some of the early Ride songs came together… I didn’t come in with a script, nor does Ray. There is no pre-work on this. It was just completely spontaneous,” explains Mark Gardener. “Sometimes music like that is good before things get thought about too much and worked on too much. That can kill the energy sometimes. Of course some things have got to be worked and developed, but in this scenario, with such little time and to get an interesting set together, I think it’s been good to keep it fresh and not over-worked.”
“The way we’ve arranged the music – for me, it starts off in a certain mood and goes through a tremendous amount of emotions and then returns to the familiar mood we started with at the beginning. It’s a perfect circle of music,” says Ray Dickaty.
Demonstrating just what an international effort this has become, Canadian-Ukrainian dreampop duo Ummagma has also created an exclusive radio edit for one of the LP’s lead tracks Happy Dancing Woman.
Pure Phase Ensemble 4 ‘Live at SpaceFest!’ is currently available on Bandcamp, iTunes and Spotify and the CD is also available on the Nasiono Records website. The official release event took place at Poland’s major OFF Festival on Saturday, August 8 in parallel with concerts by headliners RIDE and Pure Phase Ensemble 4 participant Wilga.
All songs composed by Pure Phase Ensemble 4
Lyrics: *Mark Gardener **Karol Schwarz ***Michal Pydo
Mark Gardener (Musical Director, Ride) – voice, guitar
Ray Dickaty (Musical Director) – saxophone, flute, korg monotribe
Jacek Rezner (Wilga) – drums
Kamil Hordyniec (Wilga) – bass
Michal Pydo (Hatifnats) – voice, guitar
Michal ‘Kostek’ Stolc (Cisza nocna) – synths, backing vocals
Karol Schwarz (KSAS) – guitar, voice, Korg monotribe, phase
Recorded by Tomek Wojakowski at Klub Zak, Gdansk
Mix, production, mastering: Karol Schwarz
Project supervision: Anna Szynwelska
Photos: Pawel Jozwiak
Artwork: Krzysztof Wronski