Grounds, Justin : Love Is Strong As Death
Justin Grounds is a quirky Englishman who wears old suits. He learned a lot of instruments when he was a kid. At college he studied electro-acoustic composition in an old studio where he stayed up all night making tape loops that went all the way around the room. He likes the Eastern European minimalism of composers like Arvo Part. Last year he toured all around the world after releasing the 'Francesco' record, he started to experiment a lot on stage, layering his violin and making unusual beats on his guitar. He also started to read the mystical poems of Lee-Young Li and Rumi, lulling himself to sleep on endless flights. Then he got home from tour and started using his laptop as if he were back in his old studio with the endless reams of tape. Feeling bored of the torrent of roots guitar albums he was hearing in Australia, he packed it away and got on the piano in the mornings. He started to record the sound of slightly wet fingers tracing the rim of a wineglass, fed into an analogue granular synthesizer the results began to lead him into a new direction of creating tonal poems. In the midst of this deconstructing (or maybe reconstructing) of the folksong, a new mystical kind of lyricism began to flower, leaving behind the slightly self-indulgent personal narratives of the past. Where Francesco was born out of a physical journey, the new music began to take it's own inner journey, a journey into the depths of the spirit. Songs like 'The Earth is a Woman' and 'Oceans and Stones' began to sing connections into the existential struggle for being. Then there are the bleak spaces such as 'Riverwater' and 'Reaching into Darkness', full of strange tape loop beats and snapshots of the abuses of the spirit, the margins on the edges of life, the ravaging of humans and nature. Most powerful perhaps though, are the quiet pieces, such as the gently growing opener 'Valentine', the lushly ethereal 'Blossom Place' or 'Birdwings', with all it's European romanticism and darkness. Within this search for a new lyricism, Justin remembered getting on stage at his packed out Borderline show in London months earlier, opening the show with a dark and sparse new song, 'Love is Strong as Death', and finding the crowd strangely mystified by the lyrics....'Nighttime comes with the morning and you see me walking away into blue...' This strange dark hymn to love and death, with it's haunting pleas to 'Dive down deep into deep dark water' seemed to embody all the that record contained, and so one night after a few whiskeys, out came the old guitar and in front of 3 vintage microphones Grounds poured out the song. Containing colourful and experimental orchestration, and darkly mystical lyricism this is a record which was not written with any of the snares of the 'music industry' in mind. From the opening sounds of the prelude we are ushered into a world a million miles from any radio or magazine, a world where love and death are tangible realities, where water is deep and dark, and where the soul lives through the melody.