“He’s still my favourite songwriter”, that’s how Owen Ashworth of Advance Base signed off his charming essay for The Line Of Best Fit, where he shared his love of Stephen Merritt and The Magnetic Fields with the world; for those who’ve followed Advance Base’s music closely, that will come as no surprise. A few years back, Owen released a cassette featuring his versions of tracks from The House Of Tomorrow, The Magnetic Fields’ 1992 EP, re-titled as Tomorrow’s Home Today. To celebrate his upcoming UK tour, Owen has re-mastered and re-packaged the tracks into a CD version, available exclusive at those shows, and today we’re sharing a first listen to these new versions.
Owen’s route to making music as Advanced Base began with an ending; after struggling with hearing problems, his acclaimed electro-project, Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, came to a premature end in 2010. Not willing, or able, to stop making music, Owen retreated to his home and started making quieter, but no less compelling, music under his new moniker. Four albums have followed, culminating in last year’s unusual and brilliant tribute to dogs, Animal Companionship.
Across, Tomorrow’s Home Today, Owen is unafraid to put an Advance Base spin onto The Magnetic Fields tracks, while clearly remaining enamoured with his source material. The looping-nature of the originals, achieved through both musical and lyrical repetition, remains key to the appeal, yet Advance Base seem to pluck other elements out to highlight. Take Technical (You’re So), while The Magnetic Fields built it around a searing Velvet Underground-like guitar line and staccato patter of drums, Advance Base find a meandering keyboard-melody and bring the vocals into the foreground. Elsewhere, Love Goes Home To Paris, originally all twanging banjo and Smith’s-like cooed vocals, is in Owen’s hands all together more downbeat, taking the inherent sadness of the track and running with it. If Stephen Merritt seemed to be cutting lose from an overbearing partner, Advance Base are wallowing in it; it’s like The Magnetic Fields were rushing off to a party now that love’s headed off to France, and Owen is left waiting at home, still wondering if it might come back.
The difference in musical approach between these two musical mavericks is fascinating to watch unfurl, while the two on the surface seem to share an approach to making music, on the tape the subtle differences add up to something intriguingly contrasting. Perhaps the pair are like the two protagonists of the closing track, Either You Don’t Love Me or I Don’t Love You, two seemingly well matched souls who just can’t quite ever fall on the same emotion; “every time you feel wonderful, baby, I feel bad”. Thankfully unlike those anything but star-crossed lovers, here the differences are what make this project work, two voices from the same cloth each leaving their own indelible mark on this record, and making it all the more wonderful in the process.
Tomorrow’s Home Today is out September 13th (or as tour only exclusives). Click HERE for more information on Advance Base.
July 18 Newcastle, UK @ Think Tank? Underground
July 19 Edinburgh, UK @ Sneaky Pete’s
July 20 Doune, UK @ Doune the Rabbit Hole Festival
July 21 Stafford, UK @ Redrum
July 22 London, UK @ Redon
July 23 Brighton, UK @ Prince Albert (w/ Robert Stillman)
July 24 Margate, UK @ Elsewhere (w/ Robert Stillman)
July 25 Hastings, UK @ Blackmarket VIP
July 26 Cornwall, UK @ Port Eliot Festival
July 27 Topcliffe, UK @ Deer Shed Festival
July 28 Derby, UK @ Indietracks Festival
July 29 Wakefield, UK @ Chantry Chapel