With new album The Dear One out today, Getintothis‘ Peter Guy chats to Paul Fleming of Baltic Fleet about his sonic adventures, nineteenth century diaries and Tangerine Dream.
The wilderness. It kinda suits Baltic Fleet. They’ve never really belonged to anyone, anywhere or connected with a particular strand of scene or hype.
It suits them, and makes them all the more an intriguing proposition – isolationalists ploughing lone furrows, digging and unearthing dark, weighty magical musical precious metals. Yet, three years ago – the unlikely happened – they went from bedroom project born out of Widnes and the live Liverpool circuit to being thrust into the spotlight at Meltdown Festival playing at Yoko Ono‘s behest during her 80th birthday celebrations at London’s Southbank Centre. National radio spotlight, festivals and print press features followed. Superlative live happenings at the cream of the North West’s festivals also unfolded. It was all a little wild – and a little away from the safe haven of the wilderness.
But then came the wilderness once again. Transitioning from the industrial backdrop of 2012’s Towers, The Dear One’s psychedelic tinged electronic soundscape takes its cues from the Pennine hinterlands, inspired by the 19th century diaries of James Darlington, drawing upon influences including New Order, Talking Heads and Boards of Canada. It carries more weighty textures than it’s predecessor yet remains hugely melodic and is imbued with giant swathes of meaty electronica motifs and riffs. It is, it’s fair to say, a beast.
Largely recorded in Paul Fleming’s home studio in Lancashire and using a dizzying array of vintage analogue and digital synths, drum machines and effects, Baltic Fleet’s new material revels in electronica and ambience but also reflects a new, heavier evolution of their live sound.
PF: In these diaries the author referred to his wife as ‘The Dear One’ throughout, for years. He wrote mainly about her and he diarised how he’d built a church, school, houses and he’d done it all for her.
She fell ill at the end of the diaries and he called her by her name on the final page and then stopped writing. I was intrigued. A lot of the titles came from characters and places in the diaries, like Elizabeth Glue and Swallow Falls. The diaries were low on detail in parts so I took these characters and places and opened them up in my own imagination.
I also lost my mum to a short battle with cancer as I was nearing the end of the record, it was tough for a while. When I came back to it I added more tracks including La Cygne, which was pretty much a live take and my most honest piece to date, very brittle and raw, my own electronic Nebraska. I started opening up some of the intros and outros to tracks, adding ambient passages reflecting my own emotions.
Getintothis: You really developed your live sound on each occasion we saw you; any new tricks planned plus any dates?
PF: Yes, we’ll be playing a few cities around release and maybe some festivals in 2017. We go into rehearsals soon and I have some ideas of how to progress the live sound.
Getintothis: Like many artists associated with the Liverpool scene, you’re more of an outsider and very much your own distinct artist; from the outside, how are we doing, what do you like and what do you think we as a city could improve upon? And in your travels, what’s impressed you in cultural terms?
PF: I follow the award each year and I’m proud to have been a part of it. There’s too many artists for me to list here that I like and respect that have been nominated.
The Award made a big difference to Baltic Fleet and we were able to push the record even further as a result and it raised the profile hugely. I’m glad to see the Award grow year on year and I love the diversity.
- The Dear One is released on October 28, from Blow Up Records.