New Signing: The Dawdler
The Dawdler is songwriter John Edgar from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. In outright contrast to the effervescent and heavy output from the bands he played in and lead over the past decade (including Okay Champ, EAT FAST and Nately’s Whore Kid Sister), The Dawdler is the manifestation of Edgar’s delicate and beautiful ambient music – work also imbued with a slo-core sensibility, conjuring a gently meandering mid-point between Grouper, Low and Codeine. Keith In Ballachulish is The Dawdler’s debut album. Released May 10th, the album follows swiftly after the launch of the project on a snowy day in January 2019.
Connecting The Dawdler‘s floating works to the sonic heft of Edgar’s band-driven outpourings is a continuum of mournful sentiment and connection to narrative – crafting songs and tales based loved ones pervades throughout. “I live in a flat with walls and floors made of paper” explain Edgar. “I hear the neighbours, they hear me. Over the last couple of years, when I write music I plug my guitar and microphone in, put my headphones on, and play and sing at a whisper… Some of the tunes were recorded entirely in my room of paper walls.”
“It’s easy to feel completely alienated and alone when you see the world as totally impersonal, abhorrently superficial, violent, and selfish,” Edgar continues. “Escaping from this through alcohol and drugs, existing within an Agatha Christie novel or the world of Inspector Morse, fully immersed, detached from reality. Songs [from Keith In Ballachulish] such as Around Eve, Feast on the Calm, and Soup For One express this way of life.”
These delicate compositions nestle against the more assertive rallying cries of Mr. Sot and Sylvie, the latter proclaiming “give the demons hell, bloody tooth and nail” and “you’ve a heart that bleeds, big enough for three”, as though a sonic representation of a person picks themselves off the floor til standing as strong as a highland mountain over an empowering 3 minutes. Across much of the album Edgar is aided by longtime friends and collaborators Will Thorneycroft and David Turnbull, who fill out a number of arrangements with synth, cello, piano, autoharp and additional vocals.
“Let me talk about Keith,” John begins. “Keith is in his 70s, he’s a widower, and his family are all dead. Every conversation is tinged with death and ill health. I’m sometimes overwhelmed by the weight of the sadness and nostalgia when he recounts stories of his past. The eponymous track is a verbatim account of what occurred when Keith said goodbye to his wife in Ballachulish, a quaint village in West Scotland. The album draws upon memory and stories like this. As with Flickering Out, Pete, Donald, and Jimmy and Steve ’94. Snippets of nostalgia and memory that blur and fade.”
“Keith in Ballachulish – It’s the kind of thing you would find written on the back of an old beaten up photograph.”