Sound & Vision with Owen Ashworth aka Advance Base

Owen Ashworth, aka Advance Base, released the wondrous Animal Companionship LP last year – which made the top ten in Gold Flake Paint’s end of year list. Ahead of his upcoming UK tour in July (dates are at the bottom of the page), he’s releasing a remastered version of his EP of Magnetic Fields covers, Tomorrow’s Home Today.

Ahead of the tour and the EP release, we caught up with Owen to find out what makes him tick. Here are his Sound & Vision picks:

Three favourite albums:

I run a label called Orindal Records, & I can honestly say that I’ve had the honour of releasing some of the best music I’ve ever heard. I would encourage anyone reading this to check out the Orindal catalog for examples of my favourite contemporary music, & I’ll focus this list on older faves:

1. Otis Redding- The Dock of the Bay

I inherited this one from my parent’s collection, & although I’ve purchased it on other formats since, I still frequently return to the copy that my dad wrote his name on probably fifty years ago. (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay is just a perfect song, & will always remind me of my parents’ old living room in the San Francisco suburbs. Otis Redding is my favourite singer ever, & his voice combined with the MG’s superb musicianship & Stax’s understated production style continue to define the way I want music to feel. My music may not sound anything like this, but I’m forever trying to recreate the emotion of these recordings. Every song on this album hurts. I don’t know how else to describe it.

2. Ruth White- Flowers of Evil
Flowers of Evil is a late 60’s synthesizer album based on the poems of Charles Baudelaire. It’s the most sinister-sounding music I’ve ever encountered, & it remains a big influence on my own music. I first heard it while browsing the VHS in a video rental shop in San Francisco in the late 90s. I was alone in there with the goth behind the counter & her cassette boombox. After a few minutes of feeling extremely creeped out, I asked her what she was listening to & she she sighed & said Fleurs du Mal & abruptly shut off the tape. I spent the next decade scouring record stores, trying to find anything called Fleurs du Mal before I happened to find low resolution MP3 rips of this album on an experimental music blog. The record has since been reissued, but not before I paid way too much for an original pressing on eBay. I play it every Halloween & my kids think it’s hilarious. I still wonder if the goth lady at the record store knew the actual name of the album & was just being difficult, or if another goth friend had made her the tape & only written the French title on the label.

3. Thelonious Monk- Brilliant Corners
I recently read Robin D.G. Kelley’s biography of Thelonious Monk – Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original & I was very moved by Monk’s story. Monk struggled financially for most of his life, & was frustrated by his underdog status. He also loved hats & was challenged by issues with his mental health. I found there was a lot that I could relate to. I spent a lot of time with Monk’s music during & after my time with the biography, & I continue to find it to be both challenging & delightful. Brilliant Corners is the album that I’ve returned to the most. Pannonica, in particular, is a wonder. I love the celeste melodies that Monk plays with his right hand while he plays the chords on piano with his left. There’s a slightly awkward tape edit near the end that I always listen for. It thrills me.

One favourite book:

Alone by Richard E. Byrd
Alone is a memoir about the five months that Byrd spend alone in an Antarctic meteorological station in 1934. There was a carbon monoxide leak from the stove in the tiny, subterranean station, & as a result of the toxic fumes, Byrd suffered hallucinations & nausea. The stove was Byrd’s only source of heat, & it was winter, so he was basically fucked. Byrd’s only connection to his expedition’s base camp was a radio transmitter, but he was determined not to let his contacts know that he was in trouble, because he was afraid that a rescue mission would be too dangerous. As his illness progressed, his radio transmissions became stranger & stranger, & eventually he was rescued. Alone is very candid about Byrd’s fears of death & isolation, & the spiritual epiphanies he experienced during his hallucinations. I’ve never read anything else like it. Advance Base is named after the meteorological station.

One favourite film:

The Shining – directed by Stanley Kubrick
If I’m being honest, this is the movie I’ve spent the most time watching over the course of my 42 years. Luckily, my wife loves it too. Before we had kids, we probably watched it at least once a month. I admit I am just very attracted to desolate winter environments, but everything about this screwy movie compels me. The Shining is a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle with several pieces missing, & I’m forever taking it apart & trying to put it back together again. I have the audio track of the entire movie on an iPod & I sometimes listen to it on long tour drives.

A song that’s important to me:

Jill of All Trades by Maggie & Terre Roche
This is the final song on Seductive Reasoning, the sole album that Maggie & Terre recorded before starting The Roches with their sister Suzzy. Jill of All Trades is just Maggie alone at the piano, with some nice strings that come in halfway through. It’s a gorgeous & incredible performance. The lyrics are loaded with vivid & normal-feeling images of 1970’s American life, & the heaviest & most real sadness runs right through all of it. The final line is just a killer. Now that’s how you end an album. Jesus Christ.

Advance Base are on tour in the UK – see below for dates:

July 18 Newcastle, UK @ Think Tank? Underground
July 19 Edinburgh, UK @ Sneaky Pete’s
July 20 Doune, UK @ Doune the Rabbit Hole Festival
July 21 Stafford, UK @ Redrum
July 22 London, UK @ Redon
July 23 Brighton, UK @ Prince Albert (w/ Robert Stillman)
July 24 Margate, UK @ Elsewhere (w/ Robert Stillman)
July 25 Hastings, UK @ Blackmarket VIP
July 26 Cornwall, UK @ Port Eliot Festival
July 27 Topcliffe, UK @ Deer Shed Festival
July 28 Derby, UK @ Indietracks Festival

July 29 Wakefield, UK @ Chantry Chapel

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