Although recorded around the same time as Gruff’s last LP (2014’s hugely acclaimed American Interior), Set Fire To The Stars paints a very different picture to that of the Welsh explorer John Evans. Equal parts cocktail jazz, hazy Americana and Atomic Age bop, it’s a love letter to New York in all its hopeful, post war glory – a gorgeous diversion of a record to add to Gruff’s increasingly brilliant solo catalogue.
Gruff on Set Fire To The Stars:
“This is an album of music written for a film directed by Andy Goddard concerning the poet Dylan Thomas’s first week in the USA in 1950 and his uneven friendship with fellow poet - and agent of sorts - John Malcolm Brinnin. As the film is shot in black and white and set in the Jazz age, I decided not to use any instruments unavailable in that era. I also keep the recordings as live takes. Beyond that - I didn’t try and ape the style of that era in particular apart from the song Atom Bomb which on screen, plays on a jukebox in a cafe and needed to be true to the year sonically and lyrically in some way.
“Playing the guitar, I formed a short lived Agro-Jazz quartet (you got a problem with that?) called Video Loss with Chris Walmsley on drums, Jim Barr on double bass and Osian Gwynedd on piano. I wrote a bunch of songs and instrumentals. Some other bits were improvised to picture by Osian Gwynedd and myself. Chop Shop features Video Loss on max Moon-Ra improvisational setting. Gruff ab Arwel arranged all the strings and Gavin Fitzjohn played and scored the brass. It was recorded and mixed at Toybox, Bristol by the incredible Ali Chant - apart from the strings which were recorded at Metropolis, London.”
1 John Malcolm Brinnin
2 Set Fire to the Stars
3 After Hours/Panic
4 Tremble (Down)
5 Tremble to the Light
6 Tremble (Up)
7 After Hours/Tension
8 Log Cabin 1
9 Log Cabin 2
10 Log Cabin 3
11 John Adoring At Yale
12 Set Fire to the Strings
13 After Hours/Tender
14 John & The Poem
15 B Chop Shop
16 Atom Bomb
17 After Hours/Contentment
18 Ticking Clock
19 Military Madness
20 Caitlin’s Theme
21 Tremble (Joy)
22 Dylan’s Demons
23 It Was Hot That Summer
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