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Sunday, 22 March 2009

Written in granite: The Shipping Forecast


The first copies of Tomorrow morning, 3 a.m. b/w Workhouse were sent out to those hardy souls who'd decided to brave the elements and explore unmapped terrain on Thursday, with more joining the expedition on Friday and Saturday. We've been told that Occultation expect to ship all remaining advance orders either tomorrow (Monday 23/3/09) or else no later than Tuesday but that the vast majority are already in the post, winging their way across the world... We've already had a few e-mails from some of these adventurers and we're pleased to report that they are finding the journey to be full of strange new beauties although occasionally with surprises in store.

Getting the first copies of your own record is always strange... Will it look and feel the way you imagined it? Most importantly will it SOUND right? To be honest, until now I've never had much truck with the whole concept of vinyl sounding so much better than CDs, I could certainly see that as an overall sensory experience it was vastly superior, of course, this was one of the reasons we were so glad to be given the opportunity to work in the 10" format. But would it actually sound better? Well... yes it does. Honestly, it sounds so much better I can't believe it. This is particularly true of Tomorrow morning, 3 a.m. where so many more of the layers that were added to the sound come through, the bottom end of the recording is so much fuller... That's not to say it doesn't sound great in digital form because it does, but on vinyl it just sounds... the way it was intended to sound. And of course when you factor in the sensation of holding a 10" square sleeve, taking the record out, watching the Occultation moons spin round and round on the turntable as you plonk the stylus down and wait for a few moments before it starts... Why on earth did we ever allow this to be taken away from us?

Anyway, as an artefact Occultation have done us proud, this really is very beautiful indeed. The outer sleeve is printed on high-quality card and features a detail from one of Ged Quinn's extraordinary paintings, reproduced by kind permission of the artist, the back offers a few clues... Then inside you'll find a beautifully printed full-colour glossy lyric sheet and the record itself, the label on one side reproduces the detail from the front cover again and the other features the soon-to-be-iconic Occultation moons, which are mesmerising as they spin round and round on a turntable.

Occultation have been sending all initial copies out First Class, even though I know they only charged people standard postage and they've also been using extra protective packaging because it'd be tragic were anything to damage these beautiful items. No expense has been spared at any point during the process of recording, mixing, mastering, designing and manufacturing of these records and we're incredibly proud of them.

In other news, The Granite Shore now have a MySpace page; I still find the whole concept of "friendship" at such locations somewhat baffling... But then I suppose the whole business of friendship in the real world is no less fraught with mystery. Having said that most of my friends in the real world are at least... well... alive. In the virtual world of MySpace our admiration for the likes of Mickey Newbury and Jacques Prévert has but increased... These are people with whom the ties of friendship cannot be severed, nay, not even by death.

Anyway, I'll be making an effort to resume more regular entries on this page over the next few weeks. Naturally the imminent release of the single has taken up a lot of time and attention recently, but now that it is upon us it's time to start thinking about the next thing. Occultation's third release will be another single by The Wild Swans, most likely on 7" vinyl, but then we've been talking about doing another Granite Shore record a month or two after that, so that could well be early summer and current thinking is that it might perhaps be a three or four-track EP, perhaps on 12"...

More to follow. Thanks to everyone who's already ordered the single and has written to us or to Occultation with such kind words. A lot of hard work has gone into this so it's really extremely gratifying to know that it's appreciated.

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