I don’t know what it’s like where you are but here in Glasgow the sun if bright and high. Big chunks of the stuff streaming through the window at Night School HQ, illuminating small particles of dust and life swimming about in the blissed-out drone that bathes the air, courtesy of @erasersduo and their album Constant Connection. I’d first been talking to Erasers a couple of years ago as they toured the UK and Europe and when they sent me this, their third album, it was an instant fit. The pulsing synth chords, warm as 6am in the desert’s new day, the restrained, searching guitar and the frequency ecstasy achieved by Rebecca Orchard’s vocal interacting with the music, it’s a balm, a spirit-lifter. Constant Connection is out today on Forest Green Vinyl, Black Vinyl and Digital. There are relevant links in the bio but head to Fire Talk in the states, or the band in Australia. EU tour dates soon.
We’re so excited to welcome Perth, Western Australian duo ERASERS to the Night School fold.
Constant Connection is out on Night School in Europe and Fire Talk in North America.
On their third album Constant Connection, West Australian-based Erasers create hypnotic compositions of synth, guitar and voice, evoking the vast expanse of their native landscape and the shrouded emotions behind the senses. Comprising of vocalist, synth player Rebecca Orchard and Rupert Thomas on guitar and synths, Erasers have developed their earthly kosmische music into an open language based on drone, variation in repetition and minimal song stuctures. Based in Perth, regarded one of the most isolated cities in the world, Orchard and Thomas’s music has brewed in the city’s vibrant DIY/Outsider community and evolved into a meditation on landscape, power, the shadow-world of human emotions and stream of consciousness. Constant Connection, with its waves of sound and chant-like vocals evokes a trance that suggests an infinity just beyond the senses.
At the heart of each Erasers composition is the interplay between the instrumentation, played with stoic restraint and recorded directly with minimal effects and the transcendental states induced in the listener. It’s a magic that is performed in plain sight and all the more powerful for it. The recognisable vibrato of Fender Rhodes keyboards and simple drum machine loops, the subtle strands of analog synth melodies that snake in and out of the ear, above all the towering encantations of Rebecca Orchard’s undeniably Australian-accented hymns; all of this is presented with minimal ostentation and yet it instantly engenders a dream state, hints at an infinity beyond the material.
Shades of John Cale’s 70s work with Nico, early 70s German synthesists Kluster and even fellow Australians Fabulous Diamonds can be seen as stylistic touchstones for Constant Connection. Where Nico hinted at the macabre and gothic, Rebecca Orchard’s similarly gliding vocal is more zoned in to a kind of oceanic openness, with words becoming chants and spells that suggested themselves to the singer during recording sessions. It’s this hidden hand of improvisatory, automatic writing that lends a sense of expanse to the music. On opener I Understand, while the lyrics might hint at discontent the emotional spectrum it opens up is far more rich and complex, as layered as the waves of droning chords that are the bedrock of each Erasers track. The title track talks of flow, continuum and balance, the protagonist in the song seemingly weightless, gently pulled through a walking reality that borders on dream. In Erasers’ world, it seems, the borders between reality and dream, consciousness and sub-consciousness are blurred and eroded.
On Constant Connection, Erasers’ music might be deeply evocative of landscape but it’s never clear which one. The vast, open terrain that surrounds Perth is dusty, burned by the sun into desert and Constant Connection feels like the product of the heat and relative isolation, the altered states these elements can create. But it’s these altered states of mind that appear to be the real landscape described by Erasers. It’s a landscape that’s hazy, in-and-out of focus, with emotional undertows pushing and pulling you into a weightlessness. On album closer Easy To See the band dispense with percussion all together, field recordings of the water at the edge of their native city ushering in two duetting synths. Orchard’s vocal undulates with the flow, viewing both the geographical and psychological landscape from the perspective of a consciousness not bound by bodies and from a timescale measured in millennia. The album ends as it begins, with field recordings of the real world that the music seeps out from, temporarily, before regressing back into the other realm it feels like it belongs to.
Between these two recorded hints of reality, Erasers manifest a deeply sensual dreamscape that constantly feels like it’s dissolving at its seams. A desert psychedelia emanating from a real world that might not be that real in the first place.
On “Pompeii,” Molly Nilsson delivers Extreme’s epic, heartbreaking moment. Written and recorded during lockdown, Pompeii symbolises the yearning lovers feel to live forever in a perfect moment in time in the face of impending doom. The desire to be frozen in an embrace, but to also escape it. “I’d say I love you but then I catch my breath, because whatever I love I always love it to death…” the lyrics of Pompeii are heavy with a transcendent sadness, an aching poetry that cuts to the truth like the best Leonard Cohen lines. Sung by Molly Nilsson, however, they’re laced with an uplifting love lit by the dying embers of a romance.
Pompeii was shot at the Olympia stadium in Berlin, November 2021.
In 2021, Night School turned 10 years old. Back in 2020 I had grand plans to celebrate still being here, to ten years working with amazing people, incredible experiences, surpassing expectations and generally surviving. We planned a compilation of unreleased music from some of my favourite artists and collaborators. The past 18 months or so had different ideas and now, 10 years and a few months on from LSSN001, we’re all still here and that’s all the celebration we really need.
Night School started in London in 2011 with two 7″s by two DIY groups that sounded really different and everything since then has operated on the same, often chaotic but always sincere, modus operandi. The label grew to include releasing LPs by inspired musicians who’d go on to become lifelong friends, then reissuing some of my favourite ever recordings by people like Strawberry Switchblade, The Space Lady and Jackie Leven. The label has often flirted with professionalism, often adopting collective pronouns, alluding to the royal we, offices and other operational machinery when in reality it’s one guy working at night and on weekends after his day job.
All my favourite labels run like this to a lesser or greater extent. Along the way there have been junctions in the road where I could have made decisions that resulted in more financial stability but they never felt right. There’ve been plenty of failings, wobbles, time-stresses, the wonders of human error. But there’s been infinitley more moments of excitement, joy and togetherness. Night School Records has never been about me, I’m just the chief cheerleader, the pushy (or maybe not pushy enough) parent. I’ve sometimes felt uncomfortable being so visible being the sole employee of the label to the extent that writing this and including a photograph is supplying plenty of anxiety.
Just over 10 years ago I decided to sell most of my record collection to make enough money to make 2 runs of 300 7″s for two bands I really believed in. Terror Bird and Golden Grrrls would go off and do other things together or apart but LSSN01 and LSSN02 with their hand stamped or painted labels and amateurishly screenprinted sleeves will always be a source of pride for me. I don’t mind admitting it was a bit of a dark hole that forced me into action, but I’m glad for it now. Ever since then the label has ping ponged between debt and success, noob mistakes to unexpected triumphs and back again. The label has always been and always will be open, open to what’s round the corner, what’s been, open to fail and open to share. I’ve never supported myself financially with the label so I can take risks. I’m sure this is confusing for some followers of the label, maybe it’s thrilling, I don’t know. My personal listening is all over the place and so is Night School. It has always aimed to be evolving and shifting, never settling on one style or type of music. Sure some people will enjoy some of the output, but not all of it. That’s for the beholder to decide and “curate” for themselves. It’s a messy, uncategorisable (I think), slippery thing, this label, but the joy in it is hopefully what comes through.
Running a label in 2021 is, in many ways, harder than it was in 2011 but I’m as excited now as I’ve ever been for what’s next. I’m definitely more sincere now than I was back then (and I was already insufferably sincere ten years ago) so you know I mean it when I say thank you to everyone who’s ever invested their time and money in any of the artists and the releases I’ve had a hand in realising.
Fine Place (Matthew Hord and Frankie Rose) reveal the second song from their upcoming debut album This New Heaven. It’s Your House is a gorgeous, half-dreamed ballad built on beds of arpeggiated analog synths and pads.
Molly Nilsson’s new album Extreme will be released digitally on January 15th, with vinyl and CD versions available from January 28th.
Molly Nilsson returns after a three-year recording hiatus with “Absolute Power”, the first track from her new album, ‘EXTREME’ out 15th January 2022 via Dark Skies Association / Night School Records.
‘EXTREME’ is Nilsson’s tenth album in 13 years of underground cult stardom that has established her as the people’s champion and voice of the heart, it’s an album that both soars with confidence and offers tender consolation. The 15th January is the date of Rosa Luxemberg’s murder – the Polish Marxist economist, anti-war activist, philosopher and revolutionary socialist has been an inspiration to Molly Nilsson and it is the day she is commemorated in Berlin.
Really, really excited to be able to finally share the news: Frankie Rose and Matthew Hord‘s new group Fine Place have signed to Night School and will be releasing their debut album This New Heaven on November 19th, 2021. It’s a superlative, deep dive into synthesized post punk and melting vocal performances from Rose. We’re also really excited to team up with Dinked Edition to offer a beautiful package that features, among other things, an exclusive extra track on a flexi disc and lush design by Glasgow based designer Manuel Fernandez. You can head to the Dinked Edition for links to where to buy this edition. To support actual record stores in these weird times we won’t be selling this edition direct. Support your local record store if you can!
We are so excited to introduce Straight Outta Caledonia, a compilation of songs by the late songwriter Jackie Leven.
I’ve been running Night School for 10 years this year. It’s been a tumultuous, hugely rewarding thing in my life where the positives massively outweigh the negatives. Maybe I’d have less grey hair without it but I’m learning to live with that.
When I’m announcing a new release, something I’ve worked on for a while with the artists it’s a really anxious time. Often the feeling is akin to being on the edge of a cliff face looking into azure water. I’ve been working on Straight Outta Caledonia, a new compilation on Night School’s subsidiary label School Daze of songs by the artist Jackie Leven, for over 3 years. I first heard his song The Sexual Loneliness Of Jesus Christ in 2016 maybe and it had an instant, powerful, healing, transcendent effect. It reminded me of why I do this. Why I like music in the first place. Since then I’ve made it a kind of personal mission to try and show Leven’s music to as many people as possible and the best way I can do this is by making Straight Outta Caledonia.
I was really lucky to have the author Ian Rankin and singer Molly Nilsson on board to write some liner notes about how much Jackie’s music means to them. I wrote a bit too. I’m really, really nervous because I’ll never meet Jackie Leven (he passed away in 2011) and for some reason I’ve got into the situation where I’m releasing the first vinyl release of his in decades. It’s almost a make or break type affair for the label, I’ve put so much energy and everything else into this. I really, really wish that his music reaches some new people and it helps them as much as its helped me. I really feel like this is one of the most important projects I’ve been involved in to date.
I’m going to paste the liner notes I wrote for the release below but in the meantime, I sincerely wish you all the best time possible with the music on this comp, if you decide to dive in. I haven’t been the same since listening to Jackie Leven