Sunday 26 October 2014

10 years after, a dream sleeps here

As it is the 10 year anniversary of John Peel's death, this means it is also the anniversary of a far less momentous occurrence, the split of out band Saloon, a band was much championed by the jovial DJ. We officially announced Saloon's split two or three days after the Peel news, but in truth the band had fallen apart at least a year before.

As a way of marking the date, I am posting here a set of real rarities; a collection of ideas recorded, mostly in 2003, and were a work-in-progress towards our third album. An album we referred to as our folk LP, also known as 'Speak Softly a dream sleeps here.' 

I issue thee songs with a 'health warning'; although written for Saloon I am somewhat loath to really give them the Saloon name. Our band was a very much a collaboration - nay collective - of five people, and it is telling that as soon as one of the five left, then the band fell apart. These recording are mainly just Matt and me; Amanda sings and plays on four of them, but there is not much of Mike and Alison on these recordings. Nevertheless, if you are or were a Saloon fan, I hope you enjoy these tracks despite the rather dour tone of some of them.

If you want to know a bit more of the backstory behind these recordings,  I have written a much more comprehensive post on another page.

On a cheerier note, I'm happy to say (to those who don't already know) that earlier this month I became a father for a second time (which explains why I am up typing this at 4am. Alison has a new record coming soon from The Left Outsides (lots of activity on their website), Matt is recording a new record with Leaf Library and I'm happy to say my synth-heavy solo record - under my moniker Rodney Cromwell - has  been mixed and mastered and is being polished off right now for, I hope, a release after Xmas. Lastly talk of a vinyl re-release of Saloon's our first collection of recordings - The Blue Demo - is gathering pace, so keep looking out here for an inevitable crowd funding request soon.

Keep on moogin people!

Speak softly a dream sleeps here

An imagined cover. Stolen from a design by Matt.
The album that didn't happen.

Posted here, perhaps one of the few remaining treats from the archives for Saloon fans.

There were always plans. In 2003, before the release of the second Saloon album, ideas were coming together for what might follow.  We were getting tired of the pick-and-mix approach, where our records would contain elements of electronica, krautrock and folk all thrown together in a big melting pot.  

By mid 2002 I was already thinking that album four should be a big pop record, focussing on pop hooks, more synths and a move away from the post-rock slant. While gigging in Spain in 2002 I came up with the idea of writing a Kraftwerk influenced song called ‘Autovia’ to open the fourth record. Of course the band split and none of that ever happened. The Arthur and Martha album was something akin to what I saw Saloon #4 would have been like, and Autovia ended up opening that record.

Before any of that, was a consensus amongst the group that the third album should be something smaller in scale than the first two records, and should concentrate exclusively on one part of our sound, notable our ‘folk’ side.

Saloon in 2002.
“There has always been a [complete as is currently fashionable] element to our music” is a classic band interview cliché. But folk genuinely was a big influence, from the start for Saloon. In 1998 Mike brought a load of Sandy Denny-period Fairport albums into the house, and we regularly spun those on the communal stereo along with Pentangle and the ubiquitous Nick Drake.  I was never an obsessive fan of folk, but I was really into all of those records, and I did have a formative and enjoyable evening at the Reading Folk Festival – although the real ale was the main attraction. On the first two albums, folk was one of the influences in songs like ‘Static’, ‘Dreams Mean Nothing’ and, most overtly, ‘Bicycle Thieves’. In many ways it was the folk influence, coupled with Alison’s viola, that stopped us sounding like a total Stereolab / Broadcast / C96 rip-off.

So in early 2002, at the same time as mixing ‘If we meet in the future,’ Matt and I began sketching ideas that might make up the third album, and it is some of those very rough ideas that are heard here.

Now these are not even demos; they are pre-demo sketches and I am loath to really call them Saloon songs. While clearing out the archives I found a minidisc containing recordings of 9 these ideas. There was only one song that featured Amanda and there was no contribution at all from Mike and Alison. In many ways that was a true reflection of the state of the band in 2003. Mike had a new girlfriend and, mainly as we still hadn’t made it to America, his interest in the band was waning. Alison was playing in several other bands, most notably Tompaulin. And Amanda was busy with her university studies (she got a first). It was really Matt and I who were driving forward this project, which is why most of the recordings were just the two of us.   

But, like stumbling upon a missing vintage Pat Troughton Dr Who treasure in the archives, my brother found alternative versions of ‘Castle’ and ‘Demonology’ with Amanda singing on them. With the addition of ‘Brockley Cross’ from roughly the same period and which does feature Mike, this little collection of ideas, which oozes wth atmosphere, started to feel a bit more Saloon, and gave an indication of how Saloon #3 might have shaped up.   

The four ‘fragments’ plus ‘The Maze’ are all ideas that Matt had. ‘Brockley Cross’ was an improvised jam recorded to tape recorder in our dining room (Mike, drums; Amanda, gloch; Matt, guitar; me, bass) possibly recorded before a La Jette rehearsal.

Damon and Naomi Gig Flyer
The other four songs are all based on riffs I put together. ‘Castle’ was the only song of these that we ever played as a full band. Much inspired by American Analog Set (who at the time we hadn’t yet played with) and Galaxie 500, we performed it at a wonderful gig with Damon andNaomi and The Clientele. That night was recorded onto video, and there may be a record of it out there somewhere, but sadly not in my archive. ‘Cathedral’ features Amanda singing with both Matt and I on guitar, which was kind of rare.

‘Demonology’ was just me and Amanda. This recording, made by my brother Dom, along with ‘The Castle’ was from the only session we did in the year between Mike, Alison and Matt leaving and the official split. I had completely forgotten about this little semi-acoustic session (and I still don’t remember why we recorded it) which also featured rather poor versions of ‘2500 Walden Ave.’ and ‘Victor Safronov’.  ‘Demonology’ was inspired by reading “The European Witch-craze of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries” by Hugh Trevor-Roper, although I think the actual title came from within “100 years of solitude” which I know was on our bookshelf.

A Study in Demonology
Almost every Xmas holiday, I would lock myself away and try and write a song. The final track here ‘The Sleep Laboratory’ was written over the Xmas break 2003. I remember the joyous ‘Nina Says’ came from my Xmas writing session in 1998. But in 2003, following the band falling apart and with my mother becoming seriously ill, I was incredibly down and suffering from terrible anxiety. It was a miserable Christmas, as can be heard from this song, written for what looked to be a doomed project. I thought the use of electronics (in the vocoder) at the very end of this album would move nicely into Saloon #4 (if that ever happened). The final vocodered refrain ‘Burn Burn machine’ was a play on the band name ‘Bang Bang Machine’ the other band that came up for criticism after a ‘controversial’ Peel Festive 50 #1. 

The title of the album was Alison’s contribution. When we came to name the first album, none of us could come up with anything decent. Alison made two suggestions ‘This is what we call progress’ and ‘Speak softly, a dream sleeps here’ (it may have been 'tread softly', but lets not knit-pick.) Both titles we thought were brilliant and this project became known as ‘Speak softly’ from an early stage.

All these recordings are as I recorded at the time on the MTX-8, with the exception of the birdsong in ‘Fragment #1’, the Melodica and bass on ‘Sleep Laboratory’, the bass on Castle and I’ve done a tiny bit of snipping and added some reverb. Other than that it’s all as recorded in 2002-2003.

I have included also, in a separate playlist, the original demo versions of 'Castle' and 'Demonology'  along with another recently unearthed sketch of my own from the same sessions called 'The Black Death' .

These recordings are not the third Saloon album, they are just a collection of raw ideas, several tinged with regret and sadness. But I hope to any of you that listen to it, that they might be a small reminder of friends and family loved, lost, never forgotten. 

Friday 23 May 2014


Summer is almost here and my strawberries are coming along nicely. It feels like a good time to post a mix of the stuff I have been listening to at the moment to get me in the mood for summer.

Obviously I can’t claim this is a Saloon-mix (it’s an Adam from Saloon mix) but I have tried to avoid the handbag-house pop-cheese stuff that I like, because I am quite sure no-one else would appreciate it.

Most of this is fairly new stuff with some big tracks from great new albums by artists you would expect to see on a Saloon-related list (e.g..
Fujiya and Miyaji, The Horrors, Ulrich etc). I am looking forward to picking up The Soundcarriers new album from the post office-tomorrow.

I also had also to include Carice Van Houten (Melisandre from Game of Thrones –sigh) and Stromae (who says that Saloon don’t like French Rap, OK he’s from Belgium and only raps occasionally but still...) as I have played their albums to death over the last few months and I’m still spinning them.

With new albums / ep’s from collaborators Mahogany and Cosines out later this year I am sure this mix will change a bit – and I’m sure I will be talking about them here later. Maybe some Saloon news on here soon too.

Enjoy the sun and I hope you didn’t vote UKIP.

Friday 9 May 2014

The Shape of Things to Come

Alison posted onto her Facebook earlier this week a link to the The Left Outsides' unreleased album The Shape of Things to Come.  Recorded several years ago by Simon Trought at Soup Studios with appearances from Ben Phillipson, Karl Sabino & Matt Ashton (aka Matt from Saloon) & mixed by Martin Noble & Graham Sutton. 

I've not had a chance to listen to it all, but what I have heard sounds great. Criminal that it was never released, but hey that's the music biz these days (grumble grumble etc etc). I am sure it will be much enjoyed by all you Saloon fans. 

Monday 7 April 2014

Stock Take Time

After the plays on Gideon Coe and the setting up of the Arthur and Martha bandcamp, there has been a bit of movement with shop sales so I thought it was time to do a stock take.

This is a list of everything we have left.  I'm afraid the prices have gone up a little due to a) extortionate UK postage b) People buying off me at uber-reasonable prices only to then re-sell them for much higher on eBay 


Electron T-Shirt: Dark and Light Blue (Medium in dark blue and Large in light blue) (no XS or XL left - sorry) £4.99


Girls are the new boys - 7' single (new in box - despite being the Festive 50 smash! I have still got a box of new copies. This was limited to 500)  £0.99

Saloon / Lazer Guided Split Single. (I just unearthed 2 of these - very rare [250??] and unplayed. Saloon's track Futurismo our first 7" release on purple vinyl. Very nice.  £4.99

Arthur and Martha: Autovia 7' single (Despite glowing reviews from likes of NME, I still have a box of these too)  £1.99


SALOON: (this is) what we call progress. (On Track and Field, new and unplayed. Stock running low now - about 10 copies left)  £4.99

ARTHUR AND MARTHA: Navigation (New and sealed.)   £4.99

SALOON: if we meet in the future. (CD Test pressing. I have 2 copies only.)  £4.99 Only one left


Readipop No.1 Includes Pink by Saloon (our very first release!! Still have about 10 of these)  £0.99

Readipop No.2 Includes Nina Says by Saloon (never released anywhere else. Rare. Still have about 10 of these)  £0.99

SALOON: LP Demo (3 tracks from the debut album uber rare blue CD handmade sleeve demo. No idea if it works, but looks nice though - one to show off that you own on Discogs. I have one copy)  £2.99 Gone

LAUDANUM: Remixed. (Includes SALOON's only ever remix the wonderful 'Russian Moon' also never again released. I have two copies of the promo version left. Cover starting to look a bit dog-eared though)  £4.99

Litte Darla has a treat for you no.20. (Includes 'Happy Robots' from second SALOON album. Last 2 copies £2.99

Litte Darla has a treat for you no.24 (Includes SALOON 'Suivez La Piste Remix' - I think a slightly different mix from the 'Resonance 7" - certainly the only way to get this song digitally. Last 2 copies £2.99

BOTPOP vol 1. Compilation album from the Happy Robots label that I ran with Alice. Lovely sleeve by Andrew. Includes ARTHUR AND MARTHA: Ultra Alliance [perhaps our best track] as well as loads of other great tracks by the likes of Hong King in the 60's, Katsen, Jupiter etc.  

Please email me [adam.cresswell [at]] with the stuff you want and I will send you postage details. Payment by Paypal please. First come first served on the limited stuff. Apologies if I do take a day or two posting stuff out - this will be due to me not being an amazon sized multinational conglomerate.

Friday 28 March 2014

Saloon's Expanding Rock Family Tree

So it feels like the last few weeks have been a (relative) hive of activity for the ex-members of Saloon and their extended families, with our Rock-Family Tree seeming to spread its branches further.

One of the things I had been putting off for ages was getting the two Saloon synth serviced. The guy I have been using for almost 15 years now is the best in the business; the moog rogue is playing better than ever and the Moog Opus 3 finally has a working string section. The strings have never worked so this is a big deal to me (but probably not of much interest to anyone else reading this.)

Three tracks from the July 2001 Saloon Peel session were aired again by the brilliant Gideon Coe on his 6 Music Show. Someone emailed Gideon to say that he had fond memories of us at Truck Fest (hopefully from the great 2003 show as opposed to the ropey 2000 one where we were compared to The Corrs).

The Saloon ex-members have spoken a fair bit about setting up a Saloon Bandcamp, giving fans the chance to buy enhanced versions of the albums with extra bits and bobs. Hopefully we can make that happen soon. In the meantime I have set up a bandcamp for Arthur and Martha which is looking quite nice. No rarities on there yet (as there aren’t really any) although you can get the singles at a bargain price, as well as downloads of the three A&M videos.  

Alison and Mark have started recording their new album for The Left Outsides. News and links found on their Facebook. They are also playing in a band The Trimdon Grange Explosion which has a new Facebook page also.  I don’t know how the pair of them find the time to be in so many bands!

Matt has been doing some work with his other band The Form Group, in demo-ing some new songs towards a proper album. He is also writing songs for a new The Leaf Library album and they have a new 7" single coming out in June. A picture disc no less. 

Mike’s brother Rob with his Hot Chip hat on, posted a link the other day to a great cover of William Onyeabor’s ‘Atomic Bomb’ that he plays guitar on and will be released for a forthcoming remix album which I think will be out for Record Store Day. Nice moog on the cover too.

The news for me is that although I hinted previously that there might be another Arthur and Martha album in the pipeline, Alice and I have agreed that the record I have been slowly working-on, probably shouldn’t be an Arthur and Martha record. This is in part due to Alice’s commitments to her band Cosines, but perhaps more due to the fact that it really is an Adam solo album, and it’s very hard to pretend that its anything else. So instead I will probably release it under my solo-Rodney Cromwell moniker. Rodney Cromwell was the name I used back in 2002 when I recorded a song– Radaghast the Brown – for the Bearos Records Tribute to The Lord of the Rings (my song was inspired by the Spectum Lord of the Rings game).

I mentioned Alice’s band Cosines who played last night (which I missed due to family commitments / general flakiness) well their new single Commuter Love is out now via Fika Recordings and it’s a glam rock, glittertastic stonker. She originally wrote it for A&M, which might explain the name-checking of the old Moog Rogue, but obviously due to my aforementioned flakiness I never got around to doing anything with it.  Anyway I hope you enjoy it along with everything Alison and Matt are doing – hopefully one day I will have something new to contribute.

Friday 21 February 2014

Saloon: Live @ The Alleycat, Reading 9.4.98 (Our second gig)

Here is another gig recording from the early days, this time of our second gig. I posted this on Soundcloud a while back but have been too ashamed to talk about it before. Matt spoke about this gig in his interview last year, specifically about what a horrorshow it was; but I did say that I would post everything on here, regardless of quality control, so I must not shy away

So having played a decent debut gig, there was a bit of a buzz on the Reading scene about us. Somehow we got ourselves booked onto a gig at The Alleycat which was Reading’s premier 500 capacity venue. (Over the next year we played a lot of gigs at the Alleycat, including an enterprising and lucrative show the Thursday of the Reading festival, and a night supporting our heroes ‘the lab’ – which was witnessed by our latterly friends from Track and Field who ‘couldn’t see the point’ in us). Anyway on this occasion we were booked to support a band called Blue Seed, who I think had had some Lammo airplay, and another band called Enertia (currently residing in the ‘where are they now’ file (along with the rest of us)).
Clearly as soon as we got on the big stage we were totally out of our depth; we didn’t know what monitors or DI’s were, and what were these things called ‘BV’s’ that the sound men kept talking about? We also found it very hard to persuade the soundman to let us put our pocket Theremin through the PA. Anyway, despite this somehow we managed to get set-up and play a semblance of a gig.

Rather than play safe and drop the same set that we played a few days before (this would be a running theme throughout out ‘career’) we dropped one of our catchiest songs (Fuzzy Felt) (y’know the one Earworm wanted to release a year later) along with the AA side of our first single (Conquistador) and we added a new track, Nina Says. (For each of first five gigs we kept adding a new song to the set further complicating things).

As you can hear, our playing was a shambles, with things out of tune even more than normal, feedback all over the place and beats missed right, left and centre. The crowning glory was a capo related incident which meant we couldn’t play Spacer and led to much frantic messing around between songs.

I can’t remember exactly how we felt after the gig. I know our glowing review in the Reading Chronicle didn’t make us feel much better about it (I am pretty sure a friend wrote the review anyway). I do remember getting home and listening to the tape of the gig that had been recorded off of the PA. Rather than sounding like a messy embryonic VU (which I had hoped) the reverb and delay that the soundmen had added, made us sound like the world’s worst Corrs tribute band.

After regrouping, working on the Blue Demo and rehearsing, thankfully the Alleycat had us back a couple of months later, this time supporting the band of Garthie from Birds of a Feather (at this stage, a career highlight for us).