Daniel Land and The Modern Painters
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Daniel Land and The Modern Painters

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"No 397: Daniel Land & the Modern Painters"

No 397: Daniel Land & the Modern Painters

These Manc lads make music that is slow and stately, soporific and somnolent, like a sonic cathedral moving majestically through the icy fjörds of the frozen north, or something

Hometown: Manchester.

The lineup: Daniel Land (vocals, guitar), Graeme Meikle (guitar), Oisin Scarlett (guitar), Andrew Galpin (bass), Marcus Mayes (drums), Jason Magee (percussion).

The background: Barely 24 hours after announcing that this column was Going Metal following yesterday's excellent To the Bones hard rock band, we've found something we like almost as much, also from Manchester, but from the opposite end of the musical spectrum. Daniel Land & the Modern Painters make music that is slow and stately, soporific and somnolent, like a sonic cathedral moving majestically through the icy fjörds of the frozen north, or something. Yes, folks, we're in shoegazing territory, with a six-piece band signed to Sonic Cathedral, the label that celebrates itself and the early-90s era of effects pedals and gorgeously gauzy noise. If you used to genuflect before those groups that emerged in the slipstream of My Bloody Valentine like Slowdive and Chapterhouse, if you still keep a keen eye on developments in the area of echoey reverb-drenched experimental rock and artists such as Fennesz and Ulrich Schnauss - the latter, incidentally, recently reworked several DL&TMP tracks - then you might feel like immersing yourself in this hazy, shimmering sound.

Daniel Land is gay. This may or may not be relevant. He frequents the clubs and bars of Manchester's notorious Canal Street but don't expect hi-NRG sex-disco from this character. Like Neil Halstead, who left Slowdive to form the country-rock outfit Mojave 3 and whom DL&TMP are currently supporting on tour, he does, however, acknowledge the connection and join the dots between Cocteau Twins and country music, and you can imagine his songs being stripped down to become minimal, fuss-free, heartfelt laments. He's even written a country song, "a musically simple but emotionally complex song about my boyfriend" which he describes as "probably the only country song written specifically about gay sex". He loves three-minute pop and endless, abstract noise. "There's a real softie in me that just wants to write the perfect pop song," he says, "but it keeps coming out blurry and vague."

Born in Devon but a student in Manchester, Land is a sensitive soul and, shall we say, not your typical Manc lad. His songs name-check the painter Chagall and the proto-feminist writer Virginia Woolf, and he cites as influences "rainy Saturday mornings, Scott Walker, the paintings of Mark Rothko, driving around Exmoor with my father, the novels of Milan Kundera and Edmund White, Jane Siberry, winter walks on deserted beaches, comfortable silences and glamorous one-night-stands". Although it's never going to win any awards on The X Factor, his voice is a subtly powerful instrument, an androgynous device of no fixed sex that merges with the four-guitar wall of noise only to occasionally soar across the ecclesiastically solemn soundscapes like the spawn of Liz Fraser and Antony Hegarty in space. This is the sort of thing Daniel Land & the Modern Painters make you write. They should feel deeply ashamed.

The buzz: "A magnificent, magical and monolithic slice of shoegaze beauty. Sounds like Slowdive reimagined by Phil Spector."

The truth: Slowdive were, we can now admit, the best of the post-MBV shoegazers, and if you like the idea of their songs like Morningrise and She Calls being sung by a choirboy, then you'll love this lot.

Most likely to: Float across a field of alabaster with your first heart-throb under your cloak.

Least likely to: Go slowly walking down the hall, faster than a cannonball.

What to buy: Within the Boundaries b/w Benjamin's Room is released by Sonic Cathedral on October 27.

File next to: Slowdive, Ride, Chapterhouse, Boo Radleys.

Links: www.myspace.com/danielland - guardian.co.uk

"Drowned in Sound Review"

Daniel Land & The Modern Painters - Love Songs For The Chemical Generation (Saint Cecilia Records)

Having raved about the excellent Daniel Land & The Modern Painters since first seeing him open for School Of Seven Bells at a Sonic Cathedral night last year, SVM has followed his progress with great intent. Thankfully, his latest offering, debut long player Love Songs For The Chemical Generation does anything but disappoint. Capturing both the plaintive side of Land's songwriting ('Benjamin's Room', 'Love Lies Bleeding') with a dazzling array of atmospheric, mesmerising excursions ('Codeine', 'Glitterball'), Love Songs... is a pulsating record that serves up a whole range of twists and turns with every subsequent listen. (MySpace) - Drowned in Sound

"Album Review"

Daniel Land & The Modern Painter’s debut album has been in my possession for a few weeks now and it’s probably taken me that long to stop – or at least take a short break – from playing it. Having been weaned on a diet of early days Fast Forward, Rough Trade, Beggars Banquet and 4AD records, I’d had some first hand experience, amongst many genre defining sounds, of hearing the very first Cocteaus album on John Peel – a record he played in a complete session on its release. It was composed upon a primitive combination of electronic drum beats, but it was the swirling flow of guitars and Liz Frazer’s dreamy voice that created the sensation that followed. That’s not to say that Land and Co sound like the Cocteaus. They do and they don’t and are of course something altogether different. But, it’s fair to make the references in terms of attitude , feeling and atmosphere, together with the fact that it’s just so easy to feed off the same kind of impressions that came drifting out of the radio way back in 1982.

Daniel Land & The Modern Painter’s have frequently been given a variety of media assessments containing the word “gaze”, but the vivid truth is that their music mines a movement that pre-dates all of that. The album at hand therefore, is reported to have taken two years to assemble, although a large chunk of it has already found its way out into the wider world, via a number of Sonic Cathedral and independent releases. “Codeine” is as mesmeric and haunting as ever and still contains a superbly unintentional hidden musical reference to “Wicked Game”. “Glitterball” is the band’s stadium moment, fuelled by a steady, almost pedestrian beat as Daniel Land melts his vocals into the glacial peaks of guitar effects and his band's standard issue ebow.

“Run Silent , Run Deep” is maybe my favourite track, a canvas of hung notes and the nearest we get to a more identifiable pop song. “Love Lies Bleeding” has the performances credited entirely to Daniel Land and it’s his most complete moment, again touching on moments of accessibility and quite beautiful melodies. The album continues to develop with the inclusion of slide guitar and by the time the closing track “Lighting Out For The Territories” reaches its peak, the music seems to be literally touching the edge of something approaching heaven, via the continuing and dazzling application of sonic textures and well defined hooks. Daniel Land & The Modern Painters are in themselves, a new movement, observing the detail that others have missed and creating a modern menu of music and poetry from a source that seems to have been long forgotten.

MMMM ½ - Manchester Music Online

"High Voltage Album Review"

Daniel Land and The Modern Painters - Love Songs For The Chemical Generation

(Saint Cecilia Records)

Daniel Land & The Modern Painters deliver their debut album ‘Love Songs For The Chemical Generation’ straight from South Manchester – this debut took two years to record and pulls together ambient, country, shoegaze and indie influences to create a delicate sound, mature and charming.

Land personally describes their aim: ‘after night clubbing, when you were back at someone’s house, there’d come a point where you had to make the transition from dance music to something more chilled. We always wanted to be the record that people put on at that point.’

Daniel Land (vocals, guitar), Graeme Meikle (guitars), Oisin Scarlett (guitars), Andrew Galpin (bass) and Jason Magee (drums) present a sound with stark references to Slowdive and early 90s shoegaze and subtle hints of country earnestness with pedal steel guitar playing within ambient soundscapes in track 'Lighting Out For The Territories'.

Land’s delicate lyrics lend themselves to the wonderful melancholy of this introspective music and his feminine tones transform songs such as ‘Codeine’ into soaring lullabies. Resonant of lyrics and tone from Thom Yorke, you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Land likes a good 3-minute pop song. Standout tracks include ‘Within The Boundaries’ and ‘Benjamin’s Room’, for beautiful reverb-full shimmering echo. Wonderful.

- High Voltage

"Incendiary Interview"

Incendiary interview Daniel Land And The Modern Painters

Incendiary interview Daniel Land And The Modern Painters

The second week of January 2008, the post-Christmas gig slump where live music is so thin on the ground I'll go and watch anything. Random unsigned night in the Roadhouse, I'm down to see a band called Daniel Land And The Modern Painters because they sent me a Myspace friend request and when I checked their page out Ulrich Schnauss and Sonic Cathedral were in their top friends. I haven't actually listened to the tunes there; I'd rather just go and see if they're any good. The verdict? "Three guitars build up sheets of shimmering euphoria which could easily have escaped from the first Slowdive album laced with the fluid tones of early Doves; Daniel's sleepy-eyed singing drifting around in the middle distance. They don't do many songs; they don't have to - every one is a thing of beauty. If you failed to notice the dream pop revival gathering pace throughout 2007, 2008 should see it becoming unavoidable, and this rather fantastic band deserve to be right up there."

Fast forward just eight months, and I'm in Manchester's Tiger Lounge with Daniel and guitarist Oisín Scarlett. Three days earlier they had a full page feature in the Manchester Evening News, in the coming week they're off on a Sonic Cathedral managed tour including prestigious support slots for ex-Slowdive and Mojave 3 man Neil Halstead in churches in London and Salford, after which they release their debut seven inch on the acclaimed shoegaze label, mixed by none other than Ulrich Schnauss himself. Been quite a year then, hasn't it?

DL: It's been a hell of a year! I don't think we ever imagined, a year ago when we were still effectively rehearsing in a bedroom, that we'd be playing with some of our heroes. It takes you by surprise really; things seem to be moving along at quite a slow pace and then one day you wake up and go fucks sake, I'm playing with a guy who I've been madly in love with his music for ten years...

OS: That's it really, we would have been going to these gigs... in December or January we went to see Neil Halstead and little did we know...

DL: By the summer of 2007 I'd pretty much given up on shoegaze music, I had no idea that there was this big scene for it starting in America and then slowly moving over the Atlantic; it didn't really become clear to me until I went to the Big Chill last summer quite how big the scene had gotten. What really crystallised it for me was seeing Ulrich Schnauss do a DJ set and he played 15 or 20 of the best shoegaze records I'd never ever heard in my life, and I struck up a sort of email relationship with him, asking him what the hell was this music you played, and he pointed me in the direction of these bands and said to me some very kind words about some shitty demos we had on the Myspace and I thought I really had to do something to do justice to this praise.

A few months later we'd released our first EP and Nat (Cramp, impressively bearded Sonic Cathedral mainman) was putting together the tour with Airiel and Ulrich, and Ulrich very kindly recommended us for the Manchester gig; Nat was impressed and suddenly we were working with them! It felt right, we got on well as people, that's all there is to it really.

OS: An important point is this would never have happened without the internet - having that kind of access to someone like Ulrich Schnauss just via email, whereas before you'd have to go to one of his gigs and track him down afterwards, the ease with which you have access to these kind of people is crazy!

DL: I think the other thing is as well that worldwide we're better known as recording artists than we could ever have been if we didn't have the internet. We get these random sale receipts through saying we've sold two CDs to someone in Paraguay; it wouldn't have happened ten years ago - even five years ago, before Myspace...

IN: So now you've got the single mixed by Ulrich Schnauss and Mark Peters from Engineers, is that something that's been done electronically too?

DL: Yeah, we basically sent the multitracks down on a CD, Mark and Ulrich did their thing and sent it back...

OS: There were no intensive two week sessions in a studio or anything, we recorded it at our leisure and sent them off and that's it, we got the email back two weeks later with the songs attached - "ding!" in your inbox

DL (in computer voice): You have... one... new remix!

IN: Do you ever just take a step back and thing hang on a minute, that's mad!

DL: Oh totally, yeah. It's just so liberating in so many ways. A lot of the true ways that technology has liberated us as musicians or artists or whatever still have to be discovered as well. One of the things Oisín and I have talked a lot about is setting up a label for our kind of stuff, for a few bands in our sort of area, one of the things we'd like to do is something like the 4AD This Mortal Coil project, where all the different artists on the label contribute in a kind of collective way. Now in times past, say 20 years ago, that would have had to have been done by people going into a studio together. Now we can work with these people all around the world, with people we love and admire, but we'll probably never even meet them in person...

IN: So backtracking a bit, it says in your biography that you originally all bonded through the clubbing and dance music scene - it's a bit of a journey to where you are now...

DL: That's partly true; I don't think we were all necessarily dance music fans; we were all originally indie music fans but the connection's with myself more than anyone else, really, just going to clubs and taking Ecstasy and feeling the intensity of emotion in the room, especially in places like Gatecrasher which almost becomes like a church, I really felt I ought to try and do some kind of emotional guitar music that at least entertains the notion of connecting with people in this way. And so it's kind of grown into an idea; my motto for the lyrics I write has always had this theme of love songs for the chemical generation.

OS: We really want that thing where we interact with an audience, but not in a really obvious all-clap-along U2 kind of way. We want people to really get into it and feel something from the music but without having to be coaxed into it.

DL: It's something other people seem to pick up on probably more than us, though...

IN: A lot of bands in the modern shoegaze sort of area, people like Ulrich Schnauss and Maps, are very much coming from the dual direction.

DL: That's an interesting point really, I've never really thought about it but its true - one of the reasons I don't go to dance clubs any more is there's a sparsity of music there that really connects with me any more, that's all being done by people like Ulrich now.

OS: There are definitely areas of electronic music that have far more in common with shoegaze than commercial dance music; the more ambient side of dance music plays on the level we were talking about there, where people become totally immersed in it rather than listening out for lyrics like you would with, say, a Bob Dylan record, it's the complete opposite of that.

IN: So the shoegaze thing then - you're too young to have been out going to gigs in 90, 91 and the music spent most of the intervening period being buried underground as deeply unfashionable - how did you get into it?

DL: For me, when I first started making music I was doing keyboard things in the style of Brian Eno and then probably in the late 90s a friend of mine said "I was just given this CD by the Cocteau Twins for Christmas, you'll probably like this..." I was so out of touch with indie music I thought it was a normal guitar record, I used to put it on at parties and try and get people excited by it but they were all listening to Black Grape or the Manics and stuff and it made them want to fall asleep - it took me a while to understand what's so unique about it and by that point people were saying "you should check out early Verve" and I was like expecting to hear Urban Hymns so I didn't even bother... it probably wasn't until comparatively late like 2001, 2002 someone played me Slowdive, whom I'd heard of through Mojave 3, I'd always liked Mojave 3.

And then other bands like Chapterhouse and Ride and stuff, just as it was starting to get fashionable again I suppose through the Lost In Translation soundtrack. I came to it almost completely out of ignorance and I know most of the modern shoegaze stuff better than the old really.

OS: I was into Britpop, I was that age, and back in Dublin if you liked anything other than Blur and Oasis that was considered bizarre. I'd just started playing guitar and got a chorus pedal, and a friend's brother completely out of the blue said "oh you'll like this" and gave me a tape with Blue Lines by Massive Attack on one side and I was like yeah, it's OK, and then I flipped it over and there was Loveless by My Bloody Valentine on the other side and I was just "what the FUCK is this?" - it's my favourite start to an album ever, those four drumbeats and then everything just goes whooooaaaah, you know?

DL: You're going "What's wrong with the tape, surely it shouldn't sound like this?!" Apparently isn't it the most widely returned album in history, cos in 91 when it was made people largely still bought things on vinyl

OS: There are probably people been playing that thing at the wrong speed for years...

IN: So you're based here in Manchester, even though most of you aren't from here originally, and yet you're playing a style of music which is totally different to pretty much anything that's going on here... it's almost wilfully perverse, isn't it? What brought you here?

OS: We've been doing this for about five years now, and I think if we'd started with a full band five years ago none of this would have happened, like you said shoegaze was off the radar totally.

DL: Manchester's an accidental forum for us really in that none of us are from here, we came here for university most of us; Graeme (Meikle, more guitars) is from Edinburgh, Oisín's from Dublin, I'm from Devon, but in a wider sense what drew us all to Manchester in our own ways was a perceived openness about the music scene that you wouldn't find so much elsewhere, apart from London but things are probably spread out a bit too much there.

Manchester had good universities, a good music scene, but it was also small enough for people like us who apart from Oisín are all from the sticks. And I think we all like The Stone Roses, Primal Scream whom I know aren't really from Manchester but there's a big Manchester thing there...

OS: The musical heritage was a big draw for me, I remember leaving home and someone said - tongue in cheek - "oh, you're going off to Manchester to live the indie dream" and it's happening right now which is bizarre... yeah, I remember the very first time I was in Manchester on the way to an open day at Salford uni, going past the Hacienda and seeing it had closed, cos I never realised, I was devastated, you know? Manchester when you're not from here has that kind of mythical indie music status.

DL: Punk was effectively born in the UK here, Factory Records was here, all these things have a DIY ethic, about putting things out yourself and making things work with tiny tiny budgets, and in spite of all the attention we're getting that is the way we do things and how we want to do things forever. So even though we don't really fit in with the Oasis crowd, in a spiritual way it's a very good fit.

IN: You do your recording basically in your house, is that a nice way of working?

DL: I think we prize above everything else being able to record when we're in the mood, that's something that doesn't happen when you're spending £400 a day in a studio.

OS: I don't know what we'd do if we went to a studio and were told "you've got one week to make this record", though I'm sure we'll do it at some point just to experience it.

DL: It's a nice setting, we've got a nice house, some reasonable equipment, and it does mean that the spirit of the thing is intact because we get to do things when we're really inspired. Sometimes we'll make a whole song in a day; sometimes a song won't be finished for the best part of nine months.

IN: And the neighbours are all right about it too, clearly, as you chose to launch your last EP in your local pub...

DL: There are big thick old cottage walls, and the other side of that house there's a pub with the biggest crowd of wreckheads you could imagine!


OS: I do think it's bizarre sometimes there are people over at the graveyard over the road visiting their relatives and they'll hear this ethereal music... a cathedral of noise...

IN: Which brings us back to Sonic Cathedral, which was after all named after the sort of flowery words people tend to use writing about this kind of music... what's the most bizarre description you've read about yourselves?

DL: The first review we had was some guy who'd randomly picked up on our Myspace and left a message on a shoegaze forum that said "they sound like Resplandor trying to sound like Mallory" - neither of which we'd ever heard of, and now I have heard them I can't really see it at all.

OS: It was just really surreal, you know, two bands we've never heard of... may as well have been "it's like Fartathon trying to do a cover of a... Green Injection number" (laughs)

IN: So you're out on the Sonic Cathedral tour with Neil Halstead, someone who came from a shoegaze background but has moved quite a long way from there, how do you feel about going on playing shoegaze music to his modern day crowd?

DL: I think the fans will be open minded, old fans that have followed Neil aren't going to throw away all their Slowdive albums just because he's making folk music now - if it had been any other promoter I don't think we would have done it.

The whole point of Sonic Cathedral is that although it comes from a shoegaze background it does try to cultivate an open music policy; you don't just hear shoegaze, you hear its inspirations and the things it turned into - you look at some of the records that have come out on the label, things like Miranda Lee Richards, you couldn't call that shoegaze at all. But one of the reasons we're looking forward to this tour is it's give us an excuse to start playing some of the other songs from our catalogue that aren't really shoegazey at all.

OS: Some bands are rock or indie and will throw in a kind of ambient, shoegaze number; we're the opposite, we'll throw in something a bit more standard.

DL: And if anything it'll take some of the heat off Neil, he won't have to ignore quite so many requests to play "Dagger" or "Catch the Breeze" - we'll keep the shoegaze people happy and then he can play his set in peace.

OS: I don't think we'll dare do a Slowdive cover though. We have done one or two in the past but I don't think we'd have the guts to do that...

IN: So no temptation to get him very, very drunk and try and coax one last Catch The Breeze out of him then?

DL: I heard he sold all his pedals, so if the pedals are there who's to say?

In the end, of course, it doesn't happen. It doesn't need to. Daniel Land And The Modern Painters go down a storm with Neil Halstead's crowd and vice versa, everyone gets quite drunk and goes home smiling. The band's Sonic Cathedral single Within The Boundaries / Benjamin's Room (mixed by Ulrich Schnuass and Mark Peters) is available from Monday 27th October from good indie shops in the UK and by mail order at


http://www.myspace.com/danielland - Incendiary

"Album Review"

Daniel Land and the modern painters - Love songs for the chemical generation

Label: Saint Cecilia Records

Website: www.myspace.com/danielland

12 Tracks - Length 1 hr 11 mins 0 seconds

Intro - Proving shoegaze is definitely no longer a dirty word Daniel Land has assembled a band from here, there and everywhere and emerged from their Manchester studio with modern shoegaze for a new generation. The Music - 'Within the boundaries' with it's vague beautiful title sets the musical standard, a gorgeous soundscape, sounding akin to early luscious Slowdive at their most floaty and it seamlessly blends into 'Codeine'. From early on it's obvious that this is a fine album, one thing it flows perfectly, not merely a collection of 12 sounds but using the old fashioned ideal of making an album, one piece of music and this in the day of 'pick a track' on the likes of Itunes is a rare artform. 'Codeine' itself is another slice of idealised dreampop, Lands' vocals soar and fly without ever really been fully understandable which is possibly the point, mysterious and with endless personal meanings, you could never tell Slowdive's neither! 'Benjamin's Room' gets a spring into its step, bit like Piece's Spiritualised, which in our book is never a bad thing at all. 'Locust' slips back near Slowdive territory but Land easily avoids merely been a pastiche of those 90's bands and adds their own stamp and style to each and every song. Take 'Run Silent, run deep' Land's vocals add another dimension to swirling guitars. 'Love lies bleeding' showcases the atmosphere that Land and co can generate with dreamy guitars whilst 'The magic in my head' manages to drift round for six minutes without feeling the need to speed anywhere. Detractors of the shoegaze / dreampop 'genre' always argue this to be a fundamental flaw, not a jot! It shimmers up into 'Good speed, good fun' which has more urgency without ever feeling rushed, a more traditional song but still with sweeping guitars. 'Lighting out for the territories' brings the curtain down, not only have Daniel Land and the modern Painters gone for quantity (this is well over 70 minutes of music) but quality as well, it's a lengthy old album but never, ever outstays it's welcome. They go for the big ending too with guitars aplenty, 'Love songs for the chemical generation' wrapped in some style.Highlights and Lowlights - 'Love songs for the chemical generation' is one of the finest album titles of the year and the music lives up to that billing. Don't try to pick out favourites, listen to this album as a whole and savour. Verdict - One of the finest dreampop albums made in the last 18 years, it's an odyssey through the beautiful world of music. You won't find another album this year that glides and soars like 'Love songs for the chemical generation'. Stunning. File Under beautiful songs for the chemical generation. - Shadders Online


Voss EP
Imagining October EP
Love Songs for the Chemical Generation LP



The landscape of Devon, rainy Saturday mornings, the paintings of Katy Barrell, the films of Derek Jarman, the novels of Anthony Burgess, the ethos of Bella Union, the paintings of Mark Rothko and Agnes Martin, the novels of Milan Kundera and Edmund White, the theories of Morse Peckham and Gregory Bateson; Scott Walker, Cocteau Twins, Galaxie 500, Daniel Patrick Quinn, Sway, anything involving Neil Halstead, Sonic Boom, or Brian Eno; the Manchester Canal Street scene circa 2001-2002, winter walks on deserted beaches, glamorous one night stands, comfortable silences.