By now, many of you will have heard the work of Steve Lamacq's favourite new band, Goldrush. Meanwhile, Four Storeys have attracted much acclaim for their debut album, Betting On Now. However, mystery shrouds the latest band to be ushered into the loving arms of Truck Records. So who are they, these Black Nielson scamps? And where the hell did they come from?
Geographically speaking, the answer to the latter question is Hampshire. On a more historical tip, however, we need to re-rewind back to the late 20th Century, when four young drinking buddies decided to rock the world (or at least Southampton). Calling themselves Orko and citing the likes of Mogwai and Radiohead as influences, they built up a formidable local reputation. Unfortunately, the demon known as "musical differences" reared its ever-predictable head and the band split up. Hell, one of them even went so far as to move to Swindon. The end.
...Or was it? Frontman Michael Gale began writing a new set of tunes for a solo project, inspired by dEUS Sparklehorse and Grandaddy. As his former bandmates heard this new material, they voted with their feet and returned to the fold one by one. Thus Black Nielson was transformed from a solitary figure to a fully-fledged band.
Now, back in the day, there had been something of a mutual appreciation society between Orko and Oxford troubadours Whispering Bob. This was rekindled when Black Neilson gigged with band now known as Goldrush, leading to an offer to record for the highly-regarded Truck label. Thus it came to pass that Michael, William (guitar), Andrew (bass) and Christopher (keyboards / programming) spent the week before Christmas 2000 holed up in a studio in the wilds of Oxfordshire, fending off cabin fever to produce their debut album, Still Life Hear Me.
Those lucky enough to have heard this mighty piece of work have already remarked upon its excellence. Black Neilson's specialty is the beautiful melancholy captured in enchanting songs like My Friend and Brain. Lasso The Moon is a hazily delicate waltz which wouldn't sound out of place on a Mercury Rev album, while Calm Down It's All A Dream ups the pace with some irresistible power pop. The other tunes on the album sit alongside experimental interludes, a surprisingly noisy title track and, apparently, a nice picture of a zebra, to make up one of the year's most promising debuts.