‘Every Preston Guild’ is the award-winning album by Manchester band RSL, originally released 20 years ago, a vinyl-only project. They are about to release the album again this time on a new format, as it has never seen the light of day digitally. They are also about to play at the UK’s ‘We Out Here festival’ , invited by one of the album’s original supporters – Mr Gilles Peterson. The full-length collection marries a myriad of influences and styles, here we ask the original band members to give us some further insight into the stunning tracks.
Every Preston Guild (Part 1).
The intro to Part 1 is my (Joe) favourite part of the whole album. For me it captures the essence of RSL. The fanfares that punctuate the intro are so regal and reflect the historical meaning of The Preston Guild. Its part of our northern heritage. The Brass, string, woodwind, and percussion arrangements are such a big part of what defines our sound. We’d like to think that Part 1 marries our Englishness with our Spanish and Latin influences.
The Mast (Love will be strong).
The Mast evokes an ancient Moor dwelling people that may have lived in the Pennine Hills of Lancashire, the Mast being a beacon that they decide to build on top of the highest hill to invite other, yet unknown, people, villagers or communities whose curiosity would bring them to investigate. When all the people come together they would create a force of energy that is stronger than the sum of its parts and ‘the love will be strong’ and it was. They realised that they could live in harmony with each other and with the earth to live a life far more enriched than it would be if they all lived alone. Inspired by Stevie Wonders ‘Saturn’.
This is RSL ‘field recording’ at its best! So the start of the track opens with a recording from Martin’s trip to Parga, Greece. It was recorded using a portable DAT recorder with headphones plugged into the MIC socket, sat in a cafe, recording the old boys propping up the bar, a mosquito buzzing around and the chorus of crickets in the background.
Cut to Summerseat, where our studio was built in an old log shed and a thunderstorm is brewing, we recorded the storm out of the window and married the two into a dramatic back drop. Then, the strings emulate the fly and counjours an image from the fly’s point of view, as if its hearing and seeing everything.
This was the B side to the Wesley Music 12”. It started with the flute sample and incorporates a recording of Ravels Bolero, some lovely Flamenco tremolo and rasgueado guitar work from me (Joe) and some complex sampling and programming from Martin. We took all our recordings to both Band on the Wall and the infamous night club – The Music Box in Manchester, when they were closed, to test out our mixes on their systems. This was a tough one to get right because there’s so much going on and the double bass was so ‘woolly’.
Cae La Luvia.
The only track on the album sung in Spanish, gorgeous Spanish vocalist Susana Montero wrote and performed this track. She toured live with us and the amazing Julie Gordon in the early days. This represents one of those magical moments in the studio when you record someone’s performance and when you listen back to it you sit back in your chair and in silence with your eyes closed and think wow! That’s special.
Inside Looking Out.
This began with a scan photo of my (Joe) first born child. We had it on the wall in the studio and one day it looked like the image of the baby was lying on it’s (we didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl till she came out!) front looking straight out at you. So she was ‘inside, looking out’
The vocal went on to to describe a journey by a young boy on a voyage of discovery, inspired by The Alchemist, a life changing book by Paulo Coelho. It also represents all our hopes and dreams for our children and that as parents we hope their journey through life is enriched by all of their experiences and that they are happy and most importantly enlightened.
Again, utilising the field recordings from Parga, we wanted to recreate a small band or trio as if they were playing in the bar that night, originally the music was from a track we’d previously recorded and shelved called ‘Cartoon Mexican Hoss Thief’. As a track it didn’t really stand up but as part of the ditty, we think this really worked
What can we say. The record that broke us thanks to Mr Scruff, great friend and supporter of the band, we were managed in part by Scruffs manager alongside old friend and Successful Manchester DJ & promoter Tim Giles, they got the track to scruff who played it out all the time, even twice in one night on one occasion.
Scruff played it to Gilles Peterson who played in all the time on Radio 1, out and about at festivals and clubs and apparently at Miami Music Festival 2003 in front of 20,000 people, singing that vocal hook right back at him, amazing! At new year 2003 he called us up live on his radio 1 show to tell us that it had been voted track of the year by his listeners. Unbelievable.
This represents the stranger side of RSL, we loved experimental, mind expanding experiences and The Plunge was a musical manifestation of some harrowing and haunting imaginations. The main melody comes from an old Hammond Organ we had, it wasn’t one of the classic tone wheel organs but an odd 1980’s incarnation, not a great sounding organ but it had this repeater piano sound which you could speed up and slow down with a dial on the front. It started with that and we just build it from there. The Plunge is the name of one of our ‘happy places’ not far from the studio, off the beaten track, though some woodlands and up a series of waterfalls to some plunge pools. It was an amazing get back to nature place for us to decompress and refuel.
The Magic Of Spain.
This is the oldest track on the album, it was written way before RSL became what it became and started life as a piece of background music we wrote for a TV show we occasionally were commissioned to compose for, back when it was just Martin and I (Joe) writing ambient house and breakbeat tracks. Its been through so many incarnations and it was only when we were combing of material to compile the album that we put it to the live band to arrange and record as the full 9 piece. This transformed it from an old forgotten ditty into a full on Latin track.
My final conclusion.
What a journey! “Every Preston Guild” is more than just an album – it’s an experience, a mosaic of memories, and a testament to the band’s unparalleled artistry. As RSL preps for their upcoming festival gig, we can’t help but feel the anticipation and excitement. If you’ve yet to immerse yourself in this musical odyssey, now is your chance. Catch RSL live and relive the magic! A heartfelt thank you to RSL for sharing their passion and stories. Until next time, keep the music playing.
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