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Invisible Music

by Jonathan Coe

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Tokyo Story 02:24
Bliss Mill 05:47


The music on this album was recorded at various points during the last twelve years. The earliest track, Tokyo Story, was recorded in 2009 at Regal Lane Studio, in a session engineered by the late Kenneth Brake. The most recent, Spring in My Step and Autumn in My Step, were finalised – and guitar parts added – in January 2021. Like my previous album, Unnecessary Music, this is a completely solo effort: I play all the keyboards and guitars, and programmed all the drum parts.

I’ve improvised and composed little tunes on the piano and guitar for most of my life, usually in the intervals between writing my novels, but I went through an especially prolific phase during my mid-twenties, in the years 1985-1987. Some of the longest pieces on this album date from this period. Three of them (Christmas in Eastbourne, The Hatchjaw-Bassett Version, Juliet and the China Men) were written for The Peer Group, the band I was then playing with, which at this time was a largely instrumental outfit with a line-up of keyboards, guitar, alto sax, drums and bass. My heroes back then were composers like Dave Stewart, Alan Gowen and Neil Ardley, who had been writing elaborate, tuneful pieces in a jazz-rock idiom, and this was what I tried to imitate, even though musical fashions had changed dramatically in the meantime. I don’t have any good recordings of our performances, so these new versions are attempts to recreate the sound of the band with virtual instruments.

As its title suggests, 14th March 1985 also dates from the mid-1980s. My diary tells me that the piece was composed that day, although I don’t have a clear recollection of what prompted it. Whatever it was, it clearly inspired me with unusually romantic feelings.

The remaining pieces are more fragmentary, and mainly arose from improvisations on the keyboard during the last few years. I keep an electric keyboard next to my desk as I write, and when words are failing me (as they often do) I sometimes turn to music instead. Tunes like Bliss Mill and It’s Been Real are the result.

I wouldn’t really know how to categorise this music, but listeners familiar with bands like Caravan, Gilgamesh and National Health – stalwarts of the so-called Canterbury scene of the 1970s – will perhaps see where I’m trying to come from. For this reason, I’m especially pleased that these tracks have been mastered by Julian Gordon-Hastings, son of Caravan’s Pye Hastings. I hope you'll agree that he’s done a fantastic job, on what is essentially a collection of home recordings.


released February 4, 2021

All tracks composed and performed by Jonathan Coe

Mastering by Julian Gordon-Hastings

Spa Road Records SPA 004


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Jonathan Coe London, UK

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