"A stunning album, not for the faint-hearted!” 

Stephen W Tayler - album producer

Brothers Duncan (drums, percussion and loops) and Robert Forrester (guitars, mandolin and bass) were founder members of early 90s band This Picture. Together with Stephen Whitfield (keys and vocals), they’ve come together again to release The Incredible Shrinking Man. A meditation on darkness, it’s an emotive, confessional album that comes from the subliminal depths of lives not fully realised. Lyrically, it will resonate with anyone worn down by mediocrity and the relentless boredom of just getting by. From the signature, scene-setting guitarscapes and jolting lyrical content to the minimalist arrangements and vulnerable baritone vocal, it is an alt-folk-ambient-country-prog, genre-flirting piece that sounds not quite like anything else. 

Stephen W Tayler  

Thoughts on producing ‘The Incredible Shrinking Man’ 

"When I first heard a few of these songs I wasn’t expecting to have such an instant reaction. 

What hit me from the start was a deep sense of storytelling in a very cinematic setting - reminding me of one of my favourite film and television genres - Nordic Noir. 

I wanted to enhance the atmospheric backdrops which then led me to look for a way to present, sequence and thread them all together in such a way to create a unique listening experience. 

Fascinating, frequently dark subject matter, along with superb, occasionally minimal compositions along with dynamic and unexpected arrangements. 

Having previously known and worked with Rob and Duncan Forrester it was a complete pleasure to be involved with them again, along with the charismatic Steve Whitfield. 

A stunning album, not for the faint-hearted!” 

Stephen Tayler is a mixing and recording engineer, music producer, musician, composer and sound designer who has contributed towards many albums for artists including Kate Bush, Suzanne Vega, Peter Gabriel, Underworld, Duncan Sheik, Howard Jones, Stevie Nicks, Milla Jovovich, Rush, Bob Geldof, Rupert Hine and Tina Turner. 

Starting with analogue and tape techniques, and subsequently an early adopter of synthesis, sampling and digital technology, he is based out of one of five long-term project spaces at Real World Studios in Wiltshire, UK.

Reviews

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Burning Shed

https://burningshed.com/store/wess

 

How the Label describe the album

Western Electric Sound System is a new trio formed out of the ashes of celebrated 1990s Epic Rock band This Picture. 

An emotive and confessional collection of spacious, sonically vast songs recorded ‘in the moment’ over the course of three years, from the cinematic guitar-scapes and jolting lyrical content to the vulnerable baritone vocal, The Incredible Shrinking Man is an alt-folk-ambient-country-prog genre-flirting piece that sounds quite unlike anything else. 

Produced by Stephen W Tayler (Kate Bush, Bruford, Rupert Hine). 

CD in gatefold cover with 8 page booklet.

1991 - 2019 This Picture: The Back-story

It is early 1991, Rough Trade have just released a one-off EP on 12-inch vinyl by an out of town band, who are travelling almost weekly into London to play at The Mean Fiddler, The Fulham Greyhound, The Underworld, the Rock Garden… 

A month later and This Picture are in receipt of more offers than they know what to do with. The band want an independent label - and are torn between signing with Alan McGee’s Creation (Oasis have just signed here), or with a new label Dedicated Records run by Doug D’Arcy former President of Chrysalis Records. 

The boys decide to sign a five-album deal with unproven entity Dedicated. The first album, A Violent Impression, is recorded with young Irish producer Kevin Moloney at Peter Gabriel’s Real World studios in Bath. The band rent a house in the area, and the wheels begin to turn… 

Bruce Flohr, Dedicated’s label manager at RCA records in New York is hugely enthused with the album - and particularly the track Naked Rain, which he is convinced will be a hit in America. He flies the band to the States to do a small acoustic tour with a handful of other artists - which include Kristin Hersh, The Wonder Stuff, Ian McCulloch, Chris Isaak and Alison Moyet. The tour travels coast to coast, ending on December 23rd at The Universal Amphitheatre Los Angeles.

By the summer of 92’, Naked Rain has reached number 1 nationwide in the College Radio charts, and the album is well on the way to selling 100,000 copies. This Picture spend much of the year in and out of the States, ending the tour with a sold-out headlining show at The Whisky A Go Go. 

UK and European dates and support tours are sprinkled among American headline tours - and This Picture play at The Royal Albert Hall, Barrowland, Manchester Apollo and Brixton Academy, as well as at Womad Festival, Greenbelt Festival and venues and festivals throughout France, Germany and Austria. Work begins on a second album. 

Naked Rain is released as the lead album single in the UK. The song gets ‘A -listed’ at Radio 1, is record of the week, gets 50 daytime spins in a week, and has massive exposure and support on UK radio. Dedicated have somehow neglected to manufacture enough vinyl singles, though and when people go into record shops to actually buy the single - there are no copies on the shelves. Dedicated are told it will be three weeks to press and distribute - by which time Radio 1 notice that their ‘record of the week’ hasn’t charted after a fortnight on heavy rotation and they take it off air. The moment is gone! 

If it could get worse, the second album, recorded with producer Rupert Hine, is about to be released when This Picture find themselves having to jump ship to Arista Records in the States, which, although a great label, do not really know what to do with the band, and sales of new album City of Sin, tail off quickly. 

Things drag on for another year, and although the band are writing for a third album, there is no clear direction or much momentum, and things grind to a halt. 

The two albums still stand up to this day. There is regular internet/social media discussion of This Picture - nearly all of which is an expression of great love for the music and complete mystery as to what happened to the band. In pre-internet times, the band simply vanished without trace. What had in fact happened was that while investigating a crop-circle at Alton Barnes in Wiltshire, the band were abducted by aliens. The exact circumstances of their return are shrouded in mystery and the subject of much speculation. 

Western Electric Sound System 

Twenty years on, Robert Forrester - ex This Picture guitarist- is contemplating what to do with several hours worth of new music written with long-time friend, vocalist and piano player Stephen Whitfield. . they approach Duncan Forrester with the 'work in progress' to see whether he would be interested in a new project with a new band. He is. Very soon a handful of the new tracks are recorded in the front room of a house in the Gloucestershire countryside, which are then sent out for a bit of feedback to a few old contacts….. 

World class studio engineer Stephen W Tayler - who had previously recorded and engineered This Picture’s City of Sin album, listens to the tracks and straightaway offers to take on post production and mixing duties. The album (SWT assures  the band they do actually have an album) takes shape. SWT has a production room at Real World Studios, so after a rather lengthy intermission, a long dormant connection with Real World is rekindled. Stephen takes the masters to Tim Bowness at the Burning Shed label, and the band are delighted to be offered a home for the album on Burning Shed - a perfect fit.

The Incredible Shrinking Man 

On Friday 13th September  2019, The Incredible Shrinking Man will be released on Mirrophonic Records, exclusively available through Burning Shed.

Night Train 

https://youtu.be/I9DDryFb2Ls

Night Train is the first single and third track on Western Electric Sound System’s debut album, The Incredible Shrinking Man, due for release on September 13th 2019. Produced by Stephen W Tayler (Kate Bush, Rush, Peter Gabriel…), the track is at the ‘up’, ambient end of this three-piece’s alt-folk-country-prog, genre-flirting meditation on darkness. This is atmospheric, sparse, cinematic storytelling in the vein of Nordic Noir. Ostensibly drums/percussion, guitars, keys and vocals, the minimalist instrumentation leverages extreme dynamics – from huge crescendos to pin-drop silence – to create its emotional force. Watch out for the full release, this autumn. “A stunning album, not for the faint-hearted!” 

 

Sample Video

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