Awesome music from the archives – The Blue Nile ’s ‘A Walk Across the Rooftops’
Cities have their own sound and there’s a kind of music in all of them. It just takes the resident musicians to put their instruments to good use extracting the magic and turning it into tunes.
Early 1980s Glasgow must have struck the ears of Paul Buchanan, PJ Moore and Robert Bell acutely. From the intricate architecture of their music you get the impression they were keen absorbers of their surroundings. The sprawling industrial seaport was forcibly asleep at the time, silenced by unemployment and recession. The colour had drained away and all horizons were grey.
These experiments in sound which yielded dazzling light were conducted in splendid isolation under Glasgow’s skin and the cover of darkness. This sound formed in a vacuum was of a very special kind.
They spent three years fine-tuning the songs and sculpting the electronic instrumentation. What resulted was a masterpiece.
It’s a deeply seductive map. The labyrinthine web of sounds is devoid of dead ends. Everything leads somewhere.
This rich sonic tapestry of shimmering magnificence is studded with a romantic lyricism.The clarity of the sound and vision is striking. We stroll the rain-sodden streets in their footsteps. We squint and blink in the Glaswegian half-light.
That they should achieve this with their debut offering is staggering but it was no accident. Their conquering of the technology allowed them to fashion a signature sound with a deeply personal touch.
A consistency of texture and tone envelopes the record. Its sparse beauty captures the essence of something ineluctable. The quiver in Buchanan’s voice ebbs and flows. It’s equal parts light and shade. Joy and pain are laid bare.