The Dream Of The Red Sails

My new album of songs, The Dream Of The Red Sails, is my official follow-up to In Love With A Ghost, and represents a return to the Shoegaze/Dream Pop style I have been best known for, since the first Daniel Land & The Modern Painters album, Love Songs For The Chemical Generation

Whilst I was very pleased with my previous album, it was, in some ways, a diversion; heavy on piano, synths, and 80s gloss, I was trying to break the mould a little bit, especially from a production point of view. The Dream Of The Red Sails is the sound of me applying everything I learned about production, to guitar-based music – and the result is an album of summery, wide screen Dream-Pop which, for me at least, is the most satisfying and complete album I've ever made. 

You can pre-order, read more, or listen to snippets of the tracks from the links below.

pre-order the album

The Dream Of The Red Sails

Daniel Land

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Expected release: October 1, 2018

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  1. 1 Capistrano Beach 01:50
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  2. 2 Summer Song 03:10
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  3. 3 Long Before The Weather 06:08
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  4. 4 Still Closed 02:48
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  5. 5 Under a Red Sky 04:21
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  6. 6 Self-Portrait In Autumn Colours 05:22
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  7. 7 Starless 05:20
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  8. 8 Alone With America 06:13
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  9. 9 Fleur du Mâle 03:17
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  10. 10 Skindivers 04:17
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  11. 11 Cobalt Blue 04:51
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about 'The Dream of the Red Sails'

I'm closer to 40 than 30, and the older I get, the more I find that it's the ‘paths untaken’ which occupy my thoughts. Most of the songs on this album are about the friendships or relationships of my teens and twenties – the little affairs that went nowhere, or the short, intense friendships with people who whistled through my life. It is the kind of album that I could only have written now, in the relative peace of my late thirties; where my current stability allows me to look back at the inflection points of my life with a knowing smile, a glow of nostalgia, and the natural myopia of time – as Wordsworth put it, "emotion recollected in tranquillity". 

There's a Joni Mitchell album that I've come to love called Wild Things Run Fast. She wrote it at the beginning of the Reagan era, about her new husband (her bass player, Larry Klein). At the time of release, she said it was a "romantic album for unromantic times". And that's sort of how I feel about this album, which I started writing in the second half of 2016 – the year of Brexit, the year so many of my heroes died, and which culminated in myself and my partner, crestfallen, in New York City on the night that Trump was elected. If 2016 seemed dark from beginning to end, it was against that backdrop that I started working on a set of songs about light, warmth, memory, friendship, and the beauty of the late summer and early autumn, which was then further refined during a brief period spent in California in 2017. 

It was only after I'd mostly completed this album – with its multiple autumnal references, and its nostalgic look back on some of the key moments of my life – that a cancer scare made it seem at least potentially possible that I might be experiencing my very own 'autumn'. That cancer scare came to nothing, but the reflective mood precipitated by my health worries (along with the loss of a close family member at the same time) seemed very in keeping with the tone and theme of this album. 

This record represents a proper return to the shoegaze/dream-pop sound that I am undoubtedly better known for. It was lovely to be working in familiar territory again, and bringing to bear everything I had learned about production and texture from my last album, In Love With A Ghost. The collection of songs on The Dream Of The Red Sails came together very quickly, perhaps because instead of working against the grain of my instincts, I decided to acknowledge my skills and work towards improving them – and not be afraid of using my own ideas. 

I have, in the past, run in the same circles as more progressive musicians who – perhaps – slightly denigrated my methods, or the genre that I have chosen to work in; I wonder whether my last album was, in part, designed to prove my skills as a producer. But now, I no longer care what fashionable or influential people think about my music, and that has been a total liberation. My ambition is now focused on pushing the 'thing' that I do – my thing – as far as it can go. And in that respect I feel that, four albums in, I'm just getting started. 

I'm very proud of this album. I feel that it brings together everything I've learned from the other albums – about guitar textures, tunings, sound manipulation, chord sequences, lyrics, production, and dynamic arrangement – into one coherent whole. And it packs a punch too: the first Modern Painters album had 12 tracks, stretched out over 70+ minutes. This album squeezes 11 tracks into 47 minutes. It is leaner, sharper, better crafted, and more to the point. And whilst it is nothing like her music, I will invoke Joni Mitchell again; for me, this album has the same kind of breezy self-confidence that I love in her mid-period works; that sense of knowing one’s own style well enough to let the process unfold as it may, and to not worry too much about smoothing off some of the naturally rough edges. There’s a T.S. Eliot quote, which only now makes sense to me – “Great simplicity is only won by an intense moment, or by years of effort, or both”.

about the Bonus Album - 'a certain kind of light'

The way I write songs is a little back to front. The vocals are often the last part of the process; by the time I get around to writing the lyrics and a melody I usually have a fully-orchestrated piece of music, which I then attempt to work on top of. 

There are some exceptions to this – ‘Eyes Wide Shut’, ‘The Sweetest Lover’, and ‘Benjamin’s Room’, for example, were written on an acoustic guitar, the way one assumes most songs are written – but the upshot is that, every now and again I make a piece of music which, try as I might, totally resists any attempt to throw vocals at it. 

The bonus album A Certain Kind of Light is a collection of these pieces. They are tracks that started out as songs, but never supported a vocal.

Often, the reason they resisted vocals is because of something peculiar about their construction; the track ‘Beach Sequence’, for example, never repeats the same chord twice, and so from a harmonic point of view it was practically impossible to come up with a vocal melody for it. Other pieces, like the title track, stayed instrumental because I felt that they said everything they needed to say without vocals.

It's always been my intention to release a collection of these pieces; but I wanted to do it in a way which avoided the fanfare of a usual release – because these tracks are, in some ways, little experiments, rather than the ‘next step’. But I’m really happy to be able to share them as part of the bonus package for The Dream Of The Red Sails – some of these are, in fact, along my favourite pieces. 

To give one example, ‘Sebastian Shot With Arrows’ is a re-recording of a track I originally made twenty years ago. I spent most of the summer of 1998 housesitting for a lecturer friend in Exeter; at that point, I had never made any music with drums or guitars, but with some borrowed equipment and the help of my friend Ian McGinn, I set up a temporary studio, and set about making what was, in retrospect, the first song in "my" style. 

Many of the other tracks in this mini-album have similar stories, and I'm glad to finally release them, given the importance some of these pieces have in my development. I hope you like them as much as I do. 

Tracklist:

  1. Sebastian Shot With Arrows
  2. A Certain Kind of Light
  3. Lee-on-Solent
  4. Beach Sequence
  5. Late In The Season
  6. White Squall

Gallery

Most of the album was made in London but I was lucky enough to be able to use my guitar player Gary Bruce's studio in France, for some additional recording. I also managed to squeeze in a little bit of work in California (mainly lyrics, but also some mixing and location recording) when a group of us went over for my keyboard player's wedding. These are some of the photos taken during the making of the album.