About Rob Gould Plays Pawn Hearts

1. Lemmings (including Cog) (Hammill) 13.03
Rob Gould - keyboards, effects and backing vocal
Luiz 'Lad' Garcia - lead vocals and guitars
Fernando Alge - guitars
Gabriel Costa - bass guitar
Ricardo 'Pizza' Martinelli - drums

2.Man Erg (Hammill) 10.24
Rob Gould - keyboards, bass pedals, effects
Pete Carlyle - lead vocals
Sam Buckley - drums

3.A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers (Banton, Evans, Hammill, Jackson) 26.29
Rob Gould - keyboards, bass guitar, effects, percussions
Cary Grace - lead vocals, wiard modular, effects
Luiz Garcia - guitars, talkbox
Chris 'Joe' Beard - additional acoustic guitar

produced by Rob Gould, with Luiz Garcia, Pete Carlyle and Cary Grace
mastered by Luiz Garcia

Release date / time now confirmed! 8 / 8 / 21 at 8am

download and streaming services - Spotify, I-Tunes, Amazon, Youtube Music, Deezer etc

Killers, Angels, Refugees
I first became aware of the music of Peter Hammill and Van Der Graaf Generator shortly after moving to London in 1989. Purely by chance while looking through the 'H' section in a local Your Price store (perhaps trying to find obscure George Harrison albums), I stumbled across the Peter Hammill records 'Fools Mate' and 'Sitting Targets'.. and just took a gamble on the basis of the artwork (and seeing Robert Fripp's name on the credits of Fools Mate). I was immediately hooked! I then searched for more PH and related music and quickly became a fan of not only his solo work, but Van Der Graaf Generator too. One of the first (which was at the time their last) vinyl VDGG albums that I purchased was the 'Vandergraaf' live album Vital, which I wore out in super-quick time. I was struck by its energy, its rawness and by the perculiarity of such a heavy album with very little guitar, but heavy piano, sax, cello, violin, drums, bass.. and THE VOICE!.. I was particularly enamoured with the abridged / stripped down version of A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers, with that 2 chord piano intro of the skeletal version.

There is no escape, except to go forward
Skip forward almost 30 years.. After submitting a few cover version songs to Fruits de Mer Records (that have been released on various compilation albums in recent times), I thought I'd like to do something a little more expansive and try and re-imagine an epic number from one of my favourite bands.. And that little phrase from the 'Vital Lighthouse' version was something I'd 'rested on' many times over the years, seemed a great place to start.. however... listening purely as a fan of the music, and picking out the bones of what is actual going on musically re VDGG are two very different things.. a lot of what-the-hell-is-that-chord, or what-the-hell-is-that-time-signature–head scratching ensued! Once I'd got the bare bones down as a demo (piano / rough guide vox) I knew that I would need help to realise this as anything decent, so I approached Cary Grace, whose music I had heard on other Fruits de Mer compilations, and who's fabulous vocal tone and obvious musicality I imagined would be a great fit for 'Lighthouse'. I was so thrilled that she agreed to 'have a go' and was totally blown away when Cary submitted the first lines “ Still waiting For my Savour' etc.. “Oh.(I thought). this is going to be something else”. So I upped my game and recorded more keys, some electronic drum patterns (did I mention the head scratching?) bass lines, effects etc.. Over the next few months of some very late night, remote (Cary recording her parts in Somerset, and me up in Derbyshire) sessions, we had the 9 part epic (recorded in 3 sections of 3 parts) pretty much down.

The clot thickens
With 'Lighthouse' close to completion, I imagined going the extra yard and maybe trying 'Man Erg' (am I crazy?). I spent many hours de-cyphering the song (as close as I could get at any rate).. and submitted a 'skeleton of songs' / piano-only version to my friend , and fellow Van Der Graaf appreciator Pete Carlyle. Pete, like Cary, I have never physically met, but I got to know Pete through a mutual best friend Clive Leighton on social media., sharing links to various shared music loves such as Zappa, Van Der Graaf, Gabriel, Beatles, Bowie, Syd Barrett etc.. and the odd song or two of our own that we'd send back and forwards over the internet.. I knew Pete had a great voice, and that 'he'd get what I was trying to achieve' with Man Erg.. and I was stunned when he sent me back a wonderful 'produced' vocal recording. So with that in the can , I was able to again expand the stripped-down version into a more full recording. This I did with the help of my friend and drummer Sam Buckley who (during a recording session for Chris Joe Beard's 'Balloons On A String' album which I was producing,) I 'threw Man Erg at', and we amazingly recorded it in just a couple of live takes at Sam's house.

It is really far too late now to stop us
Lemmings! to complete the trilogy... For this song, I asked my long-time great friend Luiz Garcia to help out with the tricky (to say the least) vocal and guitars. I have known Luiz since 2005, during which time we had shared some amazing musical and life-changing adventures together in 'Ashtar'. Luiz suggested enlisting the talents of the members of his current band 'Dr Fantastico'. In fact Gabriel Costa had played bass on 'Man Erg with David Jackson at a gig in Brazil in 2013. So Luiz booked studio time in Sao Paulo and recorded fabulous parts from Ricardo 'Pizza' Martinelli (drums), Gabriel, and fellow guitarist Fernando Alge, that gave the track real edge and fresh dynamism. We had hoped to get the guys in on Man Erg too, but sadly Covid hit, and prevented any more gatherings to record over in Brazil.. but with more guitar from Luiz for 'Lighthouse' and a cameo acoustic guitar part from the one and only Mr Chris 'Joe' Beard', we were able to get all parts recorded. Over the next 12 or so months, during and in-between other solo projects, Sector NINE albums and finishing Chris Joe Beards BOAS, I was able to mix and pre-master the 3 epic pieces, with Luiz completing the final master in May of 2021.

I prophecy disaster
In the two to three years that the album took to complete, life for us all has been tumultuous. Amongst the ruins of the Covid 19 pandemic, there have been births, deaths, marriages, and all manner of struggles and life-changes that have effected all of us, in what seems to be a very short period in time. The lyrics to Pawn Hearts seem to have a relevance and pertinence to what's been going on in our world of late. Recording 'Plays Pawn Hearts', has NOT been easy, frustrating and just plain difficult (almost seemingly impossible) at times.. but..,

Begin to feel very glad now
..doing justice to Van Der Graaf Generator's 1971 masterpiece shouldnt be (and was never going to be) easy in my view. I am very grateful to have the opportunity to be able to make this recording, make some amazing new friends and deepen existing friendships during the process of making this record. So, finally, after the long haul, we have a completed work. One which I, personally, am very proud of. I would like to take this opportunity to thank once again my amazing fellow music makers, Luiz, Pete, Cary, 'Pizza', Joe, Sam, Gabriel and Fernando..I could NOT have done it without them! .. and of course my heart-felt thanks to Messers Hammill, Evans, Banton and Jackson for their incredible, life-affirming music!

Rob Gould - July 2021

more info soon

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