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Tuesday, May 03 2005 | 13:51

When you’ve crafted a clutch of immaculately hazy tunes, the album’s ready to go and the EP is already on the way out the door, you don’t really need – or expect – an obscure German collective to put the skids under you. However, word of these promos spread far and wide and The Live Ambient Workshop were soon contacted by their similarly-monikered European counterparts.

Goodbye Live Ambient Workshop, hello Motion Pictures. Remember that name.

Following on from the critically-lauded “Nighthawks” EP comes Motion Pictures’ eponymous debut long-player. XFM, Channel 6 and BBC Radios 1 and 2 have all picked up on the sublime lilt of “My Queen, Your Dream”, with Zane Lowe and Mark Radcliffe amongst the growing list of admirers. Rob da Bank was also quick on the case, championing the breezy “Time For a Smile”.

Alternately light and dark, “Motion Pictures” is an album of contrasts: Exquisitely chilled, but with an ethereal edge that keeps you checking over your shoulder – part daydream, part listless night visions. Bad things happen on sunny days too, remember.

The Isle of Wight four-piece was born when friends Tom Gardner, Rupert Brown and Antony Truckell took a sabbatical to the Lake District in October 2003. They returned with a vision, brought Jack Clutterbuck on board, and six months later the band now known as Motion Pictures was officially born.

Seasoned session drummer – and Motion Pictures mouthpiece – Brown had tired of backing scantily-clad American superstars, but found kindred spirits in Tom Gardner (vox, guitar) and Antony Truckell (bass, guitar). With the influence of classic sixties pop (Beatles, Kinks, Byrds), folk (Neil Young, Dylan) and prog (early Floyd) already in the mix with the likes of American experimental trumpeter John Hassle, Bert Jansch, Pentangle and some obscure Norwegian jazz, something interesting was inevitable. The arrival of Jack Clutterbuck (guitar, vox) brought more modern sensibilities (Kings of Leon, Sigur Ros, Stands) and a gaggle of carefully honed tunes to the table and the picture was nearly complete.

Multi-instrumentalists to a man, the album (recorded purely in analogue at Stingray Studios and engineered by Brown) also features auto-harp, sarrod (“a 32 string Indian beauty”), zither banjo, calfskin drums and the classic Hammond L100 sound, as well as a host of other obscure instruments and array of African and Egyptian percussion. “We’re not technophobes obsessed with getting hold of every new piece of kit …” explains Brown, “we just find it easy to get the sounds we like out of analogue equipment”.

Six months of continuous rehearsal in a draughty church followed, and the band played their first show at a packed, and expectant arts centre gig, soundtracking the latest cut from Island film-maker Darren Cooper.

Had the Stone Roses spent their five year hiatus sitting on beaches drinking red wine with the Mamas and Papas they just may have conjured “My Queen, Your Dream”, an exquisite lilt that sends warm summer zephyrs across your face and through your hair.

“It’s high time someone else around here took the lead and showed the way” sings Gardner, striking out at apathy but without the slightest hint of bitterness or regret. It’s akin to the melancholy of a sun-bleached summer photograph – you know that autumn followed, but could hardly care to tell from the easy smiles and tanned skin captured in the snap.

The gentle finger-picked guitar and airy vocals of “Time For a Smile” puts similar flowers in your hair, this time with a tinge of lament: “Now I find she’s entwined with another of my kind”. But tracks like “Flying Eye” and “Maybe Another Time” indicate better the swirling waters beneath the calm surface – the former has the ghostly unease of a half-remembered nightmare and puts in mind dark deeds and subterfuge “ ‘The Ipcress File’ made music. The band describe the paradoxical Unforeseen Prophecy as “a crossword without any clues”. This is what we’re dealing with here. Have a look, go on, we dare you.

The album Motion PicturesMotion Pictures” (Sat-On) is going to be released June 6, 2005.

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