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Sunday, 8 March 2009

Written in granite: We Have Lift-Off

First of all I must apologise for the long silence. However there is a very good reason for this...

Occultation Recordings are now taking advance orders for the first Granite Shore single, Tomorrow morning, 3 a.m. b/w Workhouse which is the second of the label's first two releases, released simultaneously with the first new single in twenty years by Liverpool legends The Wild Swans. Both singles are available individually for £8+P&P but that for a limited period they're available to order together for just £12+P&P (and P&P is charged only on the first item in this case). Both are being released on individually-numbered limited edition 10" vinyl although there will also be a full digital download release in a few weeks' time. Initial copies of the Wild Swans single ordered direct from the label will also be signed. I've always adored the 10" format and I've also wondered why more people don't put them out... Well, now I know: it's because, being a non-standard format which requires resetting of all sorts of machines at the pressing plant, a 10" single is actually significantly more expensive to manufacture than an LP. If you then decide to put your 10" single in deluxe packaging, with full-colour outer and inner sleeves, featuring the work of Britain's foremost painters (and if you do that you do need to use the highest quality printing techniques) then all of a sudden you find yourself with one hell of a bill. To the labels everlasting credit there has not been a murmur of "er... couldn't we cut a few corners here?" and everything has been done to try and fulfil our vision. At least, that's been the Granite Shore's experience and from what The Wild Swans' Paul Simpson has been saying in interviews it sounds as though their experience has been much the same. This is going to be a truly great label and The Granite Shore are very proud to be a part of it.

The sleeves of both 10" singles feature works by Ged Quinn, the original Wild Swans keyboard player who also appears on their new single, English Electric Lightning b/w The Coldest Winter For A Hundred Years. His portrait of a cat as Saint Sebastian which graces the Wild Swans sleeve is already attracting considerable attention. The detail which appears on the front of our single is taken from a 2007 painting of Mr Quinn's entitled The Lone Ranger.

Reports from Occultation suggest that both singles have been selling very quickly and that these limited editions are unlikely to be available for very long. A few reviews have already begun to circulate on the Internet, most notably this piece by Alistair Fitchett on his excellent Unpopular blog.

We've been told that the vinyl should be delivered to the label from the pressing plant over the next week or two and then all advance orders will be despatched as soon as possible. In the meantime, if you do place an advance order you'll be sent complementary high-quality (320kbps) MP3s of the tracks to be listening to while you wait. These MP3s do sound pretty damned good, but we were amazed at just how much better the vinyl sounds when the test pressings arrived a few weeks ago. There's so much more bottom end and so much more of the detail comes through. This is particularly noticeable on Tomorrow morning, 3 a.m. because we did spend a lot of time adding all sorts of little things to it. It's a song which is written on at least two levels and so it seemed appropriate for it to have various levels musically as well.

So what's next for The Granite Shore? Well, obviously a lot will depend on what happens with this first single. Occultation are planning for their third release to be another Wild Swans single – as I'm a huge fan myself this is great news; you wait 20 years for a Wild Swans single and then two come along at once. Then the fourth release, perhaps around the summer, will be another Granite Shore record, perhaps an EP this time and then we'll be working on the first album throughout the year.

The Granite Shore website has had something of an overhaul over the last couple of weeks and this will continue, time permitting. I hope that I'll also now perhaps have a little time to devote to Written In Granite again, I have neglected it rather badly since November, but then, as I say, the single took up a lot of time and energy and there are also plenty of other things in the pipeline.

More to follow soon...





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