Geographic, the Domino imprint label set up in the year 2000 by Stephen McRobbie and Katrina Mitchell of The Pastels, is pleased to announce the reissue of three of their seminal label releases: Maher Shalal Hash Baz’s experimental Blues du Jour (2003), The Pastels’ The Last Great Wilderness (2003) – the score to director David Mackenzie’s film of the same name – and Lightships’ astounding debut, Electric Cables (2012). All three of these Geographic rare cornerstone releases will be reissued on December 2nd alongside an exclusive Geographic mix entitled You Are Trying To Make Me Remember You, collated by McRobbie and Mitchell.
After making their 1997 album, Illumination, The Pastels followed it up with a remix set, Illuminati, which explained how their own world intersected with other like-minded artists. An invitation from Domino label head, Laurence Bell, that same year, suggested that the pair explore these relationships and think about The Pastels place in the new century. McRobbie comments: “The idea was to release beautiful semi-unknown music from around the world and to take it as far as we could in the spaces between releases by our group, The Pastels.”
And so Geographic was born. McRobbie and Mitchell’s eclectic taste and keen ears for finding rich new sounds was echoed in the diversity of the label’s roster. From the wild imaginary pop of Future Pilot AKA to the transcendent Bill Wells Trio and from the psychedelic duo Nagisa Ni te to the quiet gorgeousness of Empress. “We lavished our time and love on every project,” McRobbie reflects. “Releasing a run of myriad records that on reflection were slightly wayward but optimistic and warm.”
After a welcome tip off from David Keenan at The Wire, Japanese improvisation ensemble group Maher Shalal Hash Baz, led by Tori Kudo, became one of the first signings to Geographic. McRobbie comments: “It was exactly the kind of music we wanted to release. It was kind of wild but totally melodic too – a mixture of original brass, outsider pop oddness and Tori Kudo’s brilliant cutting Syd Barrett-influenced guitar.”
A fruitful friendship between Geographic and the group blossomed and led to the first release on the label: From A Summer To Another Summer (An Egypt To Another Egypt) (2000). A retrospective release of their 80s and 90s music, the album was released to critical acclaim including from BBC Radio 1 legendary DJ, John Peel. Blues du Jour, Maher Shalal Hash Baz’s second album released on Geographic in 2003, was recorded in East Kilbride by David Scott and was the ensemble’s final record with their legendary euphonium player, Hiroo Nakazaki. A 41-track journey into the strange and wonderful world of the band. In the words of McRobbie, “it’s one of the many reasons that Katrina and I are so proud of Geographic.”
The Last Great Wilderness (2003) by The Pastels arrived on Geographic that same year. The first time the band had been commissioned to score a film, the album perfectly captures the film’s mixture of thriller, horror and comedy. Engineered by John McEntire (Tortoise, Stereolab) at Glasgow’s CaVa studio, the album included a performance with Jarvis Cocker on the instant-classic album closer, “I Picked A Flower”. The slightly windswept chime of the album fits perfectly with a by then quickly developing Geographic aesthetic.
Lightships’ debut album, the brilliant Electric Cables, was released on Geographic in 2012. At its core is Gerard Love, enigmatic bassist and founding member of Teenage Fanclub. The release won supporters across the board with MOJO extolling in a 5* review the “sun-baked panoramas which dominate the record” and the Guardian praising Love’s “wholly distinctive (songwriting)…it’s a record to cuddle up and cherish”.
“Gerard spent a long time on it trying to find a sound that was different from Teenage Fanclub,” McRobbie comments. “He used a well-chosen collection of musicians including Tom Crossley from The Pastels and International Airport. It’s a glorious record, quite introspective in places but bold and timeless too. Everything on it seems to fit in place.”