With the release of their 2012’s Creatures of an Hour, 2013’s Strange Pleasures and 2016’s Dead Blue the London-based dream pop act Still Corners — vocalist and keyboardist Tessa Murray and multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Greg Hughes — have developed a shimmering and atmospheric take on dream pop, centered around Murray’s smoky vocals.
Last year, the London-based JOVM mainstays released their fourth album, the critically applauded Slow Air. Deriving its name from the sultry Texas summer days and nights that they spent writing and recording the album in Austin, TX, the album found the band making a return to early form, with the band leaning heavily towards arrangements centered around electric and acoustic guitar, live drumming and a minimal use of synthesizers. Some of this may have been inspired by the studio Hughes designed and built for the recording sessions — and by a minimalist approach in which they consciously ensured that they didn’t overthink, while using a variety of old and new microphones.
While in the past there may have been countless takes and overdubs in an attempt to make things absolutely perfect, Murray and Hughes kept the inevitable mistakes to remind the listener of the material’s emotionality — and also to remind the lister that living, breathing, feeling humans made it.
Additionally, the band recorded and mixed the album in three months, the fastest they’ve ever done, and as a result, the material possesses a previously unheard urgency while retaining the shimmering and moody atmospherics that they’ve long been known for — especially on album single “Black Lagoon.” After completing what may arguably be the biggest world tour, including a memorable stop at Elsewhere, as well as across North America, Europe and Asia, the duo wanted to document their live sound with a live stood recording. As the band’s Tessa Murray says in press notes. “Abbey Road was the first studio we thought of when deciding where to record. It’s a beautiful and iconic place that we’ve always dreamed of. The sound and experimentation that happened there makes up much of the fabric of recording history.””Vintage consoles lined the corridors as we made our way to the Studio 3. We Could feel the weight of walking into the same studio where Pink Floyd recorded Dark Side of the Moon,” Greg Hughes adds. “We used microphones used on many Beatles’ recordings.”
During their Abbey Road session, the band recorded a live version of one of my favorite tracks off the album, Black Lagoon — and while being a slightly stripped down rendition, the Abbey Road rendition retains the song’s gorgeous melody and shimmering atmospherics, while possessing a road-tested looseness. “We played this for a session at KUTX in Austin and a lot of people mentioned they would like an official audio recording, so we decided to that as well,” Murray says in press notes.
The other track the JOVM mainstays recorded found the duo tackling Richard and Linda Thompson’s “The Calvary Cross.” As the band’s Greg Hughes explains in press notes, Richard and Linda Thompson’s I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight is a personal favorite of the duo — and they covered “The Calvary Cross” during their last tour. And while the original was more of a mid-tempo stomper reminiscent of Neil Young, the Still Corners version is a slow-burning and gorgeously atmospheric take, centered around shimmering country-like guitars and Murray’s smoky vocals.