The Wisdom of Harry

Having very much been the singer-songwriter by the mid-nineties, I wanted some kind of change. So, for the first (and only time) I decided to live outside the city. The coincided with part of me that was tired of my own voice, singing songs about my damn feelings! This also went with a rediscovery of a musical self that had grown up besotted not only with The Velvet Underground and Dylan but also with Can, Neu, and, indeed, the side of the Velvets that was more about noise than folk songs. This chimed with a new music world, where Richard James went far beyond his early rave music to explore new sounds and textures. I immersed myself in the burgeoning music world of left-field electronica, making trips from where I lived in Matlock to Derby to buy new music on labels like Rising High, Lo, Rephlex and Warp.

At the same time, I was making tracks with an Atari 1040, an Akai 1500 sampler and an Emu vintage keys. The result was a 12 inch which I released on my own label, Faux Lux. I was very excited to have the people from Ambient Soho do the artwork and for my 12” under the moniker of Louie Chavez to be sold in the same racks as Wagon Christ and μ-Ziq in shops like Atlas in Archer Street and Ambient Soho itself.

On my return to London, I met with David Sheppard, a new friend with the same hunger for left-field sounds, and we started to make music together. This became both The Wisdom of Harry, and Ellis Island Sound with the former becoming more focussed on my solo work. Both groups became involved with a kind of musical spirit of the time which took in both electronic music along with lo-fi sample-based sounds embodying a kind of outsider spirit. We started to release music on a range of ground-breaking labels such as Wurlitzer Jukebox (home of the first releases from both Mogwai and Broadcast, to name but two), Static Caravan, Damian Lazarus’ Mind Horizon label.

As the group developed it got more song based. I just couldn’t keep the songs down! The final album Torch Division was all vocal music but still infused with the spirits that the group started with.