Nicholas Wood of The KVB releases 'Flowing Fades', his second solo album under the Saccades moniker
‘Flowing Fades’, the second Saccades album from The KVB’s Nicholas Wood, is released into the world today. Where Wood’s work in The KVB trades in minimalist post-punk/coldwave, the Manchester-based artist’s solo material under the Saccades moniker is an exercise in escapist psychedelic pop. On ‘Flowing Fades’ we find a world of blissed-out synths, languid carefree guitars, dreamy vocals and influences that range from J.G. Ballard and Serge Gainsbourg to 80s dream pop and yacht-rock. You can pick up the album on vinyl here and stream it in full below.
“I began to properly work on this album after returning from The KVB’s North American Tour in late 2019, my head filled with new inspiration for this project and a clear idea on how this album should sound”, Wood remembers: “I wanted to create something soothing and immersive. Music for escapism, which can be listened to at sunrise or sunset. Even though it’s lighter and mellower than my usual output, I feel like there are strong hints of melancholia in there too, reflecting the world in which it was created.”
With the bulk of the album written whilst Wood was cooped up in his apartment over lockdown, the album inevitably reflects the social unrest that was unfolding outside. The breezy ‘Like Everyday’ is about “the idea of someone living their life through watching another person’s facade of luxury”. Reading stories of people spying on their neighbours during lockdown, Wood imagined this all taking place in a “Ballard-esque world of paranoia, isolation and opulent high-rises set against a fizzy synth-pop soundtrack”. The hazy four-to-the-floor euphoria of ‘Breezy’ is a song “about the feeling of being carefree and enjoying the moment, even if it’s only for a few seconds, while the world around you falls apart”.
Meanwhile, the washed-out psychedelia of ‘Day Dreamer’ imagines “a pandemic of apathy sweeping the world, where after being bored for so long, everyone is content to keep doing nothing forever.” Raising the tempo, Wood wrote ‘Heat’ “during the sweltering nights of last summer in the stuffy flat that I was living and working in”. Influenced by a mixture of early house music and yacht rock, “it’s a song about missing playing live shows and touring, the buzz of the crowd and the connections that are made at gigs.” Life on the road being something Wood admits he “took for granted, now it’s not possible” – having spent the last decade touring pretty much non-stop around Europe, North and Latin America, Asia and South Africa with The KVB.
Elsewhere, Wood describes the powerful album-closer ‘Lady Blue’ as an ode to Serge Gainsbourg that’s shot through with the dystopian themes on display throughout ‘Flowing Fades’: “I did my best to recreate the orchestra strings on Gainsbourg’s ‘Histoire de Melody Nelson’ using various string synths, including my Elka Rhapsody, which I hadn’t used for years. The lyrics are about someone going to bed and knowing the apocalypse is about to begin and not knowing if they will see the morning.”
Change, unexpected or otherwise, is a central theme on this album. Between this and the last Saccades album, Wood moved from Berlin to his home-town on the South Coast of England before finally ending up in Manchester where he now resides. The 80s-indebted dream pop of ‘Older Than Tomorrow’ (which, like ‘Breezy’ and ‘Like Everyday’, features Wood’s wife and KVB band-mate Kat Day on backing vocals) is a song reflecting on that brief stint back in his hometown: “This song is about returning to the place you’re from and realising that somehow it’s possible for nothing and everything to change at the same time.”
‘Islands Past’s lysergic guitar-pop is perhaps the clearest link between ‘Flowing Fades’ and the 2017 self-titled Saccades debut; jangly guitars are soaked in reverb and delivered with a slacker nonchalance. “It’s a song about the effect nostalgia and memory has on our lives. Trying to move forward, but knowing that the past is always there behind you,” Wood says. There are love songs thrown in, too. As well as the late-night ballad ‘Tonight We Can Expect The Same’, the laid-back ‘All Divided Selves’ is “about two people who spend every week falling out and then getting back together.” The title is taken from a 2011 film by Luke Fowler about the psychiatrist R.D. Laing: “Originally it was just a working title but in the end I felt it worked with the fractured nature of the characters in the song”.
‘Flowing Fades’ is unlike anything Nicholas Wood has made before. The gloomy atmospherics and glacial walls-of-sound seen with The KVB are nowhere to be found and the stripped-back, guitar-focussed psych-pop of his debut Saccades album has taken on a whole now life; one in which the synths take centre-stage again. It’s a rare sort of album that manages to feel purely escapist but has one foot firmly placed in our ever-changing present – Wood using the strangeness of our times as a conceptual launchpad more than anything else.