Dan Michaelson and The Coastguards have released their new album Memory throughThe State 51 Conspiracy this May. Written and produced by Dan Michaelson and mixed byAsh Workman (Metronomy, Christine and the Queens), the album was recorded at The Premises, London and will be available on CD, vinyl and as a download. Memory is the follow up to 2014’s much-celebrated Distance and the final instalment in an album trilogy that commenced with Blindspot in 2013. Michaelson recently scored the music for BAFTA-winning BBC series Detectorists, starring Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones.
As the album title suggests, ‘memory’ is one of the key themes explored on the record. Michaelson, who admits he has ‘almost zero memory’, ponders the impact and consequence of our ability, or inability, to remember and how our recollections are often warped and reinterpreted. ‘There’s very little I could say with any authority about my past,’ he says. ‘Memory’s role in retelling a fact and slowly shaping it into a fiction without my consent, keeps rewriting my history. Songs are a way of freezing a moment recollected before it moves on without me.’
From the sparse, minimal Blindspot (2013) to the relatively more replete Distance (2014) and concluding with Memory, the trilogy retains a type of ‘epic minimalism’ Michaelson was trying to achieve musically. ‘I went looking for a way to carry what I’d written. Memory is the end point of this particular story. In my small world, Blindspot is the script, Distance is the play, and Memory is the widescreen movie.’
Thematically, there’s also a common thread running through the trilogy; from ‘lost love’ through ‘acceptance’ and finally ‘reflection’. ‘I’ve recorded moments that were once raw, important or significant but now have layers and layers of memory overlapping and are unrealistic. I want to keep trying to pin down a moment before it’s lost.’
Dan Michaelson and the Coastguards are Dan Michaelson (vocals, guitar, piano), Henry Spenner (drums), Laurie Earle (guitar, piano) and Horse (guitar). Joining them on Memory are Romeo Stodart of The Magic Numbers (bass), Ali Friend (double bass), Gabriel Stebbing (cello), Johnny Flynn (violin and flugelhorn), Jin Theriault (baritone sax), Yusuf Narcin (trombone) and Christo Squire (alto sax).
‘A magnificently melodic masterpiece from London’s answer to Leonard Cohen’ – NME