Comprised of Lavinia Blackwell (vocals, organ piano, electric guitar and glockenspiel), Mike Hastings (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and vocals), Alasdair C. Mitchell (electric guitar, organ, glockenspiel, and vocals), Alex Neilson (drums, percussion, whistle, and vocals) and Simon Shaw (bass, vocals), the Glasgow, Scotland-based quintet Trembling Bells formed back in 2008. As the band’s primary songwriter Alex Neilson notes, the band bounded over the fact that the members of the band are bonded by shared music tastes, passions and interests and that they are all “obsessive, pedantic, maladjusted, unemployable nerds.”
Throughout the band’s seven years together, the band and its members have been remarkably prolific as they’ve released four full-length efforts in five years, and the members have participated in a number of side projects, while establishing themselves as one of Glasgow’s most interesting up-and-coming band. With the forthcoming release of the band’s fifth full-length effort, The Sovereign Self, an album that takes its name from Dennis Potter, the late television auteur, the band may break big Stateside and elsewhere internationally, as the band’s sound channels the kaleidoscopic psych rock and early prog rock of the 1960s, as you’ll hear on The Sovereign Self’s first single “Killing Time in London Fields.” The propulsive and trippy song consists of twisting and turning keyboard chords, rolling bass, twisting and turning guitar chords, followed by a lengthy, buzzing mind-melting guitar solo and bursts of flute paired with Blackwell’s ethereal cooing. Although there’s clearly some modern production techniques, the song sounds as though it could have easily been released during the Summer of Love, as it evokes the sensation of experimentation with hallucinogens and other mind-expanding drugs.
However, as Neislon admits, despite the seemingly sunny tone of the song and of the material on the album. “Suffering played quite a big part in its conception. I came out of a relationship and was consoling myself creatively and intellectually by reading a lot of Greek tragedy. The language is incredible. I immersed myself in that and then cherry-picked lines from it, distorting and personalising them.” It’s not as clear in “Killing Time in London Fields” but the song lyrically makes references to Zoroaster, Venus, the fleeting nature of time, the nature of the consciousness and other themes that would be familiar to anyone who’s listened to and admired psych rock.