audiobooks discuss the inspirations behind their great new LP ‘Astro Tough’
David Wrench and Evangeline Ling make up one of the more unusual duos of recent memory, audiobooks. He's an in-demand mixing engineer with everyone from Frank Ocean and FKA twigs to Caribou and Manic Street Preachers on his CV; she's an artist and musician. That may not sound that unusual, but nobody else makes music that sounds quite like them, mixing synthpop, prog, dub, techno, spoken word, space rock, and anything else that seems appropriate, with Ling's all-in vocal delivery being the star of the show.
Audiobooks have just released their brilliant second album, Astro Tough, which focuses their unique energy into something just slightly more pop than their also great debut, Now! (in a minute). Read our review here, and listen to the album below.
With so many ideas flying around on this record, we wanted to know a little more about its inspirations. Wrench and Ling obliged, giving us a list of four items each, ranging from Greek prog band Aphrodite's Child and cult group The Shaggs to experimental film, art and literature. They both offer up commentary for each, too, so read their selections below.
AUDIOBOOKS: INFLUENCES BEHIND NEW ALBUM ASTRO TOUGH
Film: Daisies (1966 Věra Chytilová)
I never have time to watch films, but lockdown changed all that. I worked through a huge list of films I wanted to see. I love the energy and excitement in this film. It’s cheeky, funny and clever. I am really drawn to how the director is trying out every new technique and finding a way of making it work in the film. When you watch it you can feel her love of discovering and experimenting. (David)
Film : Stalker (1979 Andrei Tarkovsky)
How did I get through life without seeing this masterpiece before? This film has infiltrated my dreams ever since viewing it. Beautiful to watch. Every frame is sublime. This is truly transformative art. (David)
Music: Aphrodite’s Child - 666 LP
From day 1 this has been the biggest influence on audiobooks. A constant well of inspiration, and something by which everything we do is measured. I still get a thrill whenever I listen to it. There are always surprises tucked away. It’s an album that takes you through so many emotions. An album scattered with moments so good that you punch the air with joy when they happen. The drum fill that leads into the first chorus of The Four Horsemen is the most thrilling couple of seconds ever captured on tape. (David)
Music: Datblygu - Pyst LP
Datblygu were a Welsh duo of David R Edwards (aka Dave Datblygu) and Patricia Morgan. They made music in the Welsh language that truly captured the feeling of growing up and living in Wales. They did so with no sentimentality or nostalgia. David’s lyrics are up there with the greatest lyricists in the world. They are cutting, harsh, funny, playful, profound, moving. But his delivery transcends language barriers in the same way Serge Gainsbourg, Caetano Veloso or Umm Kulthum do. You can feel the meaning through his delivery. I’d given up speaking Welsh because I was disillusioned with what was being promoted as Welsh culture. Then in the late '80s I heard Datblygu and it meant so much to have culture that I could relate to, and I took up speaking Welsh again. There was actually a really vibrant scene in Wales at that point that I had been unaware of. Bands like Fflaps, Ffa Coffi Pawb, Cyrff, Plant Bach Ofnus. This is another touchstone album for audiobooks. It’s endlessly creative, and eclectic. Sadly David R Edwards died this year. He and Patricia created an incredible body of work. (David)
Theatre: Death Of a Salesman - Young Vic 2019
This was one of the most powerful pieces of live theatre I’ve ever seen. Simple staging, but incredible acting. A brilliant re-staging that breathed new life into this play. Wendell Pierce was mesmerising throughout. It was quite something to see such a masterful actor in close proximity. Both he and Sharon D. Clarke had exquisite timing. I think as a musician, watching live theatre, contemporary dance, and ballet etc is massively beneficial. (David)
Painting: "American Gothic" by Grant Wood
I’m drawn to the quiet power of this painting. The composition feels busy, flat and wrong but the saturated colours and boldly placed two figures give it a eerie calm. Simple people often have the most deepest expressions. I’m interested in trying to paint expressions that grip me and compositions that unsettle me. For similar reasons to why I love The Shaggs, this painting inspires me to find a home in painting somewhere beyond the pale.(Evangeline)
Album: The Shaggs - The Philosophy of the World
David introduced me to this band 5 years ago, having listened to this record many times I still return to it today in shock, it’s just so odd, this band really shouldn’t work but it just does. Song titles like ‘Who are Parents?’ really blow my mind ..I mean what a question! I like how the singers don’t seem very engaged with what they’re singing or with each other - they make you feel like you’re wearing cotton tights on a sunny day. I wouldn’t have felt inspired to write "Blue Tits" if it wasn’t for this wrong and unsettlingly powerful record! (Evangeline)
Book: Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (since it’s mentioned in "Trouble In Business Class")
I was always so captivated by Bill Sykes as a kid, I found it so amusing, ‘nobody mentions my name,’ I was so terrified of him, I didn’t understand why but I took a lot of pleasure from the sound of his name being so fitting. I found it so funny, someone being so intimidating and frightening by just addressing their name. Anyway, quoting Dickens in a song feels like a cringeworthy thing to do, but since It’s been stuck in my head for so many years it’s no surprise I started quote him when jamming with David, David thought it worked- I trusted him and now feel settled with the lyrics on "Trouble In Business Class." (Evangeline)