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Friday 4 November 2022

Community Square

Warrington- Runcorn New Town Development Plan isn't the most obvious of names for a musical endeavour but it's the name Gordon Chapman- Fox has chosen. The latest album- Districts, Roads, Open Space- is a six track beauty, starting out with a long, ambient piece called Golden Square and then moving through tracks titled Community Square, Old Hall, Locking Stumps,  The Key To A New Home Of Your Own and Buzby's Lullaby. 

Community Square is gorgeous, a slow pulse, clicking percussion and and long synth chords joined by layers of synth/ keyboard melodies.  

Old Hall (edit version below) is even slower, the crawl of an ancient drum machine matched by some glacial chords and acres of space. 

The Key To A New Home Of Your Own has Kraftwerk influences to the fore, if Kraftwerk had come from the banks of the Mersey in between the north west's two major cities rather than Dusseldorf, the autobahn re- routed to the M56. Buzby's Lullaby is the sound of an 80s telephone distorted through filters, the melodies twisting and shifting. 

Warrington- Runcorn New Town Development Plan are on the always excellent Castles In Space label. There are echoes of the Ghost Box and Pye Corner Audio sound/ aesthetic all over Districts, Roads, Open Spaces (and previous albums People And Industry and Interim Report, March 1979). In fact there are ghosts all over the tracks and the albums too, ghosts of the future past, the New Towns project of the 1960s and its promise and ghosts of the people who planned and built them. Runcorn and Warrington are just up the road from me, halfway between Manchester and Liverpool. Runcorn dates back to early Medieval times and was massively extended under the New Towns plan in 1963 as part of the slum clearance project to reduce overcrowding in Liverpool. The New Town area was extensive and modern- unique, progressive concrete houses and estates, a new town centre, separate designated walkways for pedestrians, busways, green space and industrial units in their own separate area. The Southgate Estate was a radical, modernist housing project with apartments, raised walkways (the famous streets in the sky), houses and green areas. It was beset with problems- social, technical and aesthetic, some of which seemed to be due to the problem that humans don't always want to live the way architects like to think they should- and was demolished in 1990. There are the ghosts of all that in the tracks on the album. 

In the 1980s Runcorn was famous for a long running series of adverts for Warrington and Runcorn New Town Development Corporation, an attempt to drum up trade and convince businesses to move to the town, 'the nation's most central location'. The face of the adverts was Eileen Bilton, semi- legendary for some time and available to speak to on Warrington 39591. 

Warrington- Runcorn New Town Development Plan's Districts, Roads, Open Spaces is available at Bandcamp along with the rest of the back catalogue.  


Jake Sniper said...

Call Eileen Bilton on... etched into my brain and many others who grew up in the North of England.

Swiss Adam said...

It's funny, the things that stick.