Cardiff Psych Rock phenomenon ‘No Thee No Ess‘ is set to release their second single from the anticipated new album ‘Dimmer Switch’ via Surk Recordings this September.
‘Dimmer Switch’ is the second single to emerge from the new LP and will be released on Friday, August 27, and the album ‘Dimmer Switch’ will be released on Friday, September 17, 2021.
No Thee No Ess is a collaboration between Paul Battenbough (The Cosmic Array, King of Despair) and Andy Fung (Derrero, Cymbient). The two musical and visual artists met while working in the kitchen of a Cardiff arts center and bonded through a shared love for The Beach Boys, Neil Young and West Coast psychedelics.
The association creates spontaneously, conceiving songs and ideas in the studio and then recording immediately to preserve their freshness and immediacy. No Thee No Ess’ eighth album, ‘Dimmer switch’, was recorded with musician / producer Frank Naughton at his legendary Cardiff studio, ‘Ty Drwg’.
Naughton brings additional instrumentation, bringing new lysergic colors to songs like «kaleidoscopic» and «Chorus.» The result is among the most adventurous works of no e no ess to date, rich in experimental energy while retaining their characteristic vision of happiness. Surk Recordings will release Dimmer Switch on vinyl, CD, streaming and digital download in August 2021.
We have had the pleasure of speaking with them, and this has been the result.
Hi there, where can we find you right now? how did you start your day?
Woke in a my house on the hill, had a percolated coffee and fed my cat Arlo and gave him his insulin injection. Released him into the wild, then checked my mail.
When did the idea of starting a project start to take shape? has it always been something you wanted to do.
We began recording what would become ‘Dimmer Switch’, immediately after the release of our last album ‘California’. So this album has been a few years in the fermmentation process. We decided after ‘California’ we wanted to push the psychedelic aspects further and really challenge the song structure. We recorded with Frank Naughton as producer and also creative contributor to the album project. Frank is an old friend so we were immediately on the same wavelength. Ours is a spontaneous response. We rely on our innate musicality, for good or bad and record stuff as it is played in jams. We distill it down, add and subtract until the soundscape is how we collectively want it. like water finds it’s own level, we dont interfere by allowing the conscious mind to stick it’s oar in and start editing ideas, we go with the flow and (stretching the water analogy to it’s knicker elastic breaking point) let it find it’s own course. That’s in essence how we normally make albums, but this time had no plans except let’s get outside of the box pronto! It’s an ongoing organic experiment in making music that has no definitive template.
How would you define the sound of your latest work, what is behind it?
I’d say ‘Dimmer switch’ is our most psychedelic work to date. On a par with ‘Silver Stream’ another experimental album we did a few years ago. The only concept was to be open to the sounds and record ideas fresh without too much structuring. We don’t write songs and bring them into the studio much. on this album it was just laying down tracks, fleshing them out, checking on possibilities of where it might lead. It’s a very satisfying way of working because there’s no tedious rehearsals or discussions beforehand. We just pick a spot to begin and let the thing grow. Water the song so to speak. Let it flourish as I explained in the previous question. all our albums follow this basic priciple. It has been shown to work and the lack of control makes it stronger rather than weaken it. As artists both me and Andy make work this way and understand the creative link to the subconscious . Freeing the mind allows stuff to appear the conscious mind might weed out or not even consider.
We go into the studio and enter the twilight zone, some wine and smokes to relax us and loosen the grip further, and we’re good to go. It’s engrossing and stimulating, and , does a good job of blocking out the dull machinery of reality. The lyrics are similarly thrown into the mix. Words collide and start speaking to each other and forming sentences, obscure, re-imagined. I’ll sing one bit, then Andy. We don’t even try to create a narrative. It’s stream of consciousness stuff. the sort of thing I first encountered in the work of American author and bad boy, Henry Miller. Let the words do their work. Meaning comes later.
I have a notebook always with it’s cache of musings on this and that. Andy has a sketch book he uses in the same manner and also we both will just start writing for a given track as it pricks the imagination. As we listen to Frank twiddle the knobs and make some coherance from the chaos. It’s a highly satisfying method that produces some great results.
What artists are you interested in these days?
there’s so much stuff out there and we are all fans of music first. There’s always a place in our hearts for Sparklehorse, Steve Malkmus, the late David Berman, Ween, Captain Beefheart, Gram Parsons. Andy has been getting into Snarky Puppy. I’ve been going back to Public Enemy. There’s more jazz creeping into our choices. Andy and I both like to hear live jazz.
Gong has been on the turntable. Laura Marling, Angel Olsen. We’ve wide screen musical appetites. Chuck in a bit of Deerhoof, Battles, Elliot Smith. It’s endless.
How do you manage such disparate genres. How do you manage to give them unity and harmony. what do they have in common for you?
I think I’ve already gone into this question in previous answers. Ours is so hands off an approach we might go anywhere. We might start off with two light acoustic guitars picking merrily through the daisies, that turns into a freakish dark swirlig mass of feedback on an overlaid track and completely changes the mood and direction, heading for the unmapped dark forest. The song evolves itself from the clash of seperate, often disparate, elements. An out of tune piano can lead you into an unexpected place, or some synth burps propel you into the cosmos. Recording is our musical playground. It’s highly democratic.We’re like the caretaker’s of the sound. Soundshape shifters! The recording studio is the lab and Frank is the mad scientist! It gives birth to an aural progeny, except we add a little make-up to hide the scars and sheer off the bolts; or polish them to make them a feature, depending on the wind direction and inner ear balance fluctuations. We just like to go off piste, down the overgrown path into uncharted terroitory. The idea that there is unity is only because me and Andy are the chief controllers of the creative ideas through our output. We give it unity by not trying too hard.
How would you define your sound?
Soundtracks for unwritten film ideas that arose from lucid dreaming. A box of fireworks brought back from a parallel universe, with that mystery still in tact as it remains unopened, waiting for the perfect moment to break the seal. Leaves from a torn up book of poetry floating downstream. Near death mumurings heard as you ascend into the heavens, just before you get called back.
Can you tell us something about current or future projects
Well we’ve already begun the next album, which is going to be a country album and a break with tradition because of lockdown. We couldn’t use our usual appraoch so Andy and I wrote the songs beforehand. This is the only time we’ve ever done that in No thee no ess and is a complete departure from our normal method. We fancied a complete about turn to confuse people. And we both love country music. We also have stuff on our newly formed label Surk, that we’re contributing to. Botch Sconnet – ‘Back to yours’ which is spoken word rap stuff with Andy’s brother Dave Fung and our friend Wayne McAuliffe’s ‘Quilty Pleasures’ which is a comic concept album about sleep. Then there’s a new one we began recently supplying the aural textures with poet Tom Kingsley. There’s also other stuff, Andy has Derrero and Cymbient and I have Cosmic Array and Horse Trader. bands we currently write and record with. We keep busy. we are relentless and prolific, and make no apologies for it!