Sunday, 3 October 2010


I first came across this song on a rather scrappy freak rock compilation bought in a sale at Rough Trade. Despite its shoddy sleeve graphics the CD was loaded with gems, and this song was the most lustrous of them all. 'House Of Many Windows' was incorrectly credited to Motherlight on the compilation, further research revealing that Motherlight was actually the title of a 1969 album, the work of a three-piece by the name of Bobak, Jons, Malone. Engineer Mike Bobak, producer Andy 'brother of Glyn' Johns (renamed Jons for the purposes of this release) and singer-songwriter Wil Malone were sessioneers working under the auspices of Monty Babson, owner of Morgan Studios and the similarly named record label. The project was instigated by Babson, who required a suitably 'progressive' album for his Morgan Blue Town offshoot.

On hearing the full album, I was gratified to find that the song I'd been so impressed by was not a fluke. Motherlight is a fantastic record, dominated by Malone's cool, airy vocals and churning post-psych organ, creating a style one might call 'progressive freakbeat' and allied to some highly memorable tunes, such as this one. It's a perfect autumn album, wistful yet biting, with an undercurrent of manic - and very English - surrealism.

Since then, Wil Malone has maintained something of a spectral presence in rock and pop. He immediately followed Motherlight with a self-titled solo album of pastoral psychedelia and an effort with short-lived Fickle Pickle. He composed the groundbreaking soundtrack to 1972 Brit horror film Death Line and has arranged strings for Black Sabbath ('Spiral Architect'), Massive Attack ('Unfinished Sympathy') and The Verve ('Bittersweet Symphony'). Prior to all of this he had been a member of the obscure but splendid psych outfit Orange Bicycle. Needless to say, given his services to supranatural sonics, Malone is guaranteed a place of honour in The Outer Church's pantheon of shady greats.

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