Aereogramme Spawns The Unwinding Hours
Their debut self-titled album is an intensely rewarding experience with the literate flair of the song-writing effortlessly matched by Craig and Iain's musical ambition & creative scope. Avid cineastes, The Unwinding Hours acknowledge the influence of film on their work by taking their name from a reference buried deep within Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining".
The Unwinding Hours started out as a means for Craig to record some of his songs with the help of Iain after the demise of Aereogramme, but with no plans for a commercial release or to play them live. As Iain grew more excited about the material, The Unwinding Hours became a collaborative project, with a very different character to the material they recorded as part of Aereogramme. The album was written and recorded throughout 2008 and 2009, in Iain's own Alucard Studios on the south side of Glasgow (only the drums were recorded elsewhere, by Paul Savage in Chemikal Underground's Chem19).
The recording of the album was a leisurely process as Iain was busy with other projects throughout the year so, out of necessity, they only worked on the songs for a few hours a week or fortnight. As Iain says, "There were no expectations or deadlines, so it felt like a really enjoyable and relaxed way of trying out new ideas and seeing if they stuck."
The album opens with the gorgeous slow-burn of Knut: the longest track on the album at just under six minutes, it's an elegant exercise in layered sounds and propulsive dynamics. Iain explains that "It was only during the final stages of the mix that we decided to try out vocals on the track and that's when it totally came to life for me and also tied the song in effectively with the rest of the album. I love this one now and I think it's a nice way to start the record." There Are Worse Things Than Being Alone juxtaposes sweet sounding elements like the acoustic guitar and strings with some very unsettling noise elements. The opening suggestion that "something's wrong..." develops gradually until, by the end of the song and the "Let me out of here, my love..." line, the sweetness is completely engulfed by wave after wave of noise, the creeping claustrophobia of a failing relationship.
So we touch on the subject matter that forms the beating heart of the album, something Craig is happy to clarify: "The main themes throughout the record are of relationships: some ending, some starting, some going well, some going very, very badly. Traces attempts to capture that powerful, almost drunken, sensation you feel when a relationship is in its infancy; Child deals with the bitter end of another." There is an argument that wreckage (emotional or otherwise) recurs heavily throughout the course of the album: Annie Jane is named after a real shipwreck while the closing track, The Final Hour, emerged from its own period of prolonged upheaval. Initially recorded in a friend's Boston studio during Aereogramme's last tour of the US, The Final Hour demo was conceived with the rain hammering down on a dispiriting, traumatic tour and, as Iain points out, "The original demo definitely reflected that. So much so that I don't think Craig even wanted to listen to the song again let alone put it on the album, but I kept insisting it was a belter and that we should work on it. The refrain that Craig sings in the latter half of the song "I saw you..." is one of my favourite things he has written and I wanted the music to be devastatingly loud and slow."
Delighted with the end product of their recording sessions, Craig and Iain are already talking about starting work on songs for a second album although there's no prospect of altering the leisurely process of evolution that's been so successful for them on their debut. With such a critically acclaimed body of work already behind them with Aereogramme, The Unwinding Hours look set to expand and develop that legacy if their stunning ten track debut is anything to go by.