Published on December 1st, 2022 | by Loreana Rushe0
Track by Track: Moving Statues
With the release of their debut album, You Look Like You’ve Seen A Ghost, Galway natives Brian Kelly (So Cow) and Keith Wallace (Loner Deluxe) aka Moving Statues provide a track-by-track breakdown of the process behind each song.
Brian: It begins. The bass in the chorus is what I think New Order sound like, but I don’t know much New Order beyond Blue Monday and the video where there’s two fellas sitting in bins giving each other slaps. Maybe that’s the way to go, being influenced by something you’re not massively familiar with, and going wide enough of the mark to create something new. After 18 or so years of recording, this song was the realization I could just loop a drumbeat and didn’t have to destroy myself playing drums right through.
Keith: A good way to kick off the album. A very hooky song, the kind that Brian can conjure effortlessly. I’d recently gotten fuzz and phaser fx pedals so I started using them halfway through the song. Is that Pat Kenny’s voice warning about the evils of Rock Music? Could be!
SAD DOG IN THE RAIN
Brian: This is a Keith one, with a bit of synth stuff by myself, or at least I think so. It’s the song for me that sounds most like Keith’s Loner Deluxe stuff. We sent each other 7 songs each at the start of this, sometimes very bare bones, and sometimes mostly done. Had to fight the urge to just lob a distorted guitar solo on everything, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Keith: Lockdown lyrics written by myself and Cecilia – all just pen pictures of what was going on during the recording of a lot of the album – old nightclubs being torn down, cabin fever and seeing a sad dog lost in a rain shower. It’s a catchy number despite its lyrical downcastness! Brian plays these great exotic-sounding synth lines that really lift the song above its murky groove.
Keith: Track 3, the traditional point where an album takes a breather – though the song does build up quite a head of steam by the end of it. I think I played “slide guitar” for the first time in my life in the middle section of the song using a jam jar lid, and my new/old chorus pedal came in handy at the end of the song. Brian’s melancholic yet upbeat keyboard riffs (how does he do that?) really remind me of some melodies from old Cane141 records.
Brian: A sweet ‘up’ instrumental. Most of these are instrumentals, right? There’s always the feeling that, much like the aforementioned distorted guitar solos, a song needs a set of words on it, hence very few So Cow instrumentals – too busy singing about rural bus services or whatever. But it’s been nice with this project not to have that pressure most of the time.
SQUARE CASTLE SMOKE
Brian: I sent a whatsapp message to my friend Barry asking if this sounded like a Blur b-side. He replied that it didn’t, and he’s a big Blur fan. He might have been sparing my feelings though. There was a website 12 or so years ago that just had audio samples of all these classic drum machines, so I recorded everything from it and chopped it all up. It took ages, and I think this is the only instance I’ve used one of the drumbeats. I couldn’t tell you what drum machine it’s from, and you most likely couldn’t care less. It’s always a bit of a red flag when musicians talk about recording ‘soundtracks for movies that don’t exist’ etc. But I’d like to think this is the soundtrack to a 1970s ITV comedy-drama that never existed. Richard Beckinsale as a milkman.
Keith: This song sounds both modern and ancient to me – the drum machine and whooshing electronics making it a 21st-century production but the melodies that Brian came up with seem to call from another century – Ancient Melodies of the Future.
Keith: This is based on a few twisted samples of harp notes that I first messed around with in 2003 when I first got some cracked audio software (which Brian probably sent to me back then when he was living in Korea!), and features the first drum machine I ever had access to. Brian wove all sorts of spooky yet epic guitar atmospherics around the minimalist shuddering and juddering rhythm of the song.
Brian: One of Keith’s ideas, I really liked it and still do. I think this was the first one he sent that I starting messing about with. Recorded the overdubs whenever there was a 20 minute gap in the work/parenting/sleep schedule. I feel like there’s a Mogwai track with the same chord progression, and I’m hoping my lack of certainty is enough to dissuade their lawyers, should it be the case. We’ve played one show so far, and this was a nice opener.
Keith: Papa M meets Popul Vuh. What’s not to love! I improvised an ethereal keyboard segment around Brian’s intricate call-and-response patchwork of acoustic guitar loveliness. A nice way to end Side A of the tape.
Brian: A bunch of looped guitar phrases of varying lengths – I was hoping it would all line up nicely, but it was all left to chance. One of those pieces of music that needs a nice ominous unchanging synth note, provided by Keith. And yes, both me and Keith are fans of Papa M’s Live From A Shark Cage album, why do you ask?
NEW YEARS EVE ON MIRROR LAKE
Brian: Wallace sings! I’ve known Keith for 20+ years, we met the day after Michael Karoli died I’m pretty sure – and Moving Statues is a natural extension of regularly meeting, going for walks and chatting about music. The song mentions going for cans – I do have a strong memory of sitting in a currach (not ours) in Galway some night in the early to mid-2000s, each drinking a bottle of red wine, most likely arguing about what the best Stereolab album was. This song brings that to mind.
Keith: Perhaps our most indie rock moment, the clean verses give way to fuzzy choruses – a great way to start Side B of the tape. My first Moving Statues lead vocal. Lyrics written variously alone in an attic on New Year’s Eve and in the backseat of a car speeding through the heather and limestone-surrounded lakes of Connemara.
THE WRECK OF THE PT280
Keith: I think the title of this song refers to the Casio keyboard that Brian used to write it – and which possibly has gone to the great keyboard graveyard in the sky at this point. I added a bunch of analogue-delayed sonar ping sounds and some bass heft to this one. This sounds to me like it could be used over the end credits of a big-budget sci-fi film. Hello Hollywood – you know where to find us!
Brian: This song predated the project, it was skulking around in Ableton, not destined to end up anywhere in particular, but it made sense for Keith to have at it, maybe the first thing he sent back to me. Definitely an attempt to wrestle a lot of distortion into a pleasant pretty shape. The PT280 is a keyboard I bought in Korea about 15 years ago, and is sadly on the way out. I dread to think how much it’s going for on eBay at the moment.
MOVING STATUES GO RAVEN
Brian: Another Keith idea, so much slower than anything I would ever normally play in my usual bag-of-Skittles approach to things. A great example of the fun of collaborating on something – getting a really ominous, mood-certain .wav file sent to me and making sure I didn’t make a shite of it by overdubbing some Benny Hill theme tune stuff on top, which I think I avoided doing.
Keith: Some authentic newscast audio of the phenomenon that gave the band it’s name. A dubby excursion that goes all kitchen disco/beachfront rave/NYC guitar scree for its coda.
Keith: A signature Brian Kelly lyrical concern on this one – the passage of time and all that it brings/wreaks. Conversely it’s really fun to play live, a really bouncy tune. It goes kind clubby at the end, gotta keep ’em guessing!
Brian: This song has got a bassline that can be described as bouncy, and in all the things I sent to Keith, this was the one thing I expected certain pushback on. I may have overestimated his disdain for bouncy basslines – it remains on the song. The lyrics were pretty much improvised, and as such automatically settled into talking about time, which is my absolute go-to when I need words for something. That’s what turning 40 and having kids will do to you.
HOLD YOUR HORSES
Brian: I’ve gone this far without mentioning Cecilia Danell, who sings here, and elsewhere. Cecilia has her own band, A Lilac Decline, which you, the reader, should absolutely check out. As I’m writing this out, I’m struggling to be specific about influences – not to hide anything or be coy about it, it feels like there should be quite an obvious influence here, but I can’t name it. The meeting point for me and Keith has always been the likes of the aforementioned Stereolab, MBV, Guided By Voices etc, but it’s probably Queen that ultimately unites us. I only wish I could talk about one of these songs being our ‘Dragon Attack’.
Keith: A little breather before the album closer, a mellow, drum-machine assisted slice of metronomic late afternoon laziness.
Brian: There was no way there wasn’t going to be a heads-down motorik beat thing on this album, and here it is. Keith and Cecilia put vocals on it and lots more besides, improving it greatly in the process. I’m happy to cop to any influences on the album, and it occurred to me well after the fact that the bassline is pretty much from the theme tune to Strike It Lucky, the Michael Barrymore-helmed game show on early 90s ITV, or UTV as it was in DeflectorSystemLand. Not sure what my subconscious will dredge up for future songs – maybe music from Family Fortunes, or Caroline In The City.
Keith: A krautrocky prog-pop epic, total motorik madness and so much fun to play live. Myself and Brian first met in 2001 on the day that Michael Karoli from Can had passed away, so the motorik/kosmische continuum of Can, Neu and Kraftwerk has always been a strong musical bond between us – the Moving Statues album in a way marks a culmination of those two decades of shared musical fandom and exploration. And it’s a total banger of a track.
For more information on Moving Statues click here for their Bandcamp