UK trailblazers I LIKE TRAINS release 'KOMPROMAT', first album in 8 years
“I Like Trains are too smart for most, or too interested in realism and fate when so many are content to indulge inwashy escapism” – The Quietus
“This is grand civic music, less to be listened to and more to be visited like a museum or war memorial, and all the more interesting because of it” – The Guardian
“The group takes its listeners on a trip down the shadowy back alleys of British history. It's all quite incredible, in every sense” – Pitchfork
Leeds-based trailblazers I LIKE TRAINS have released their hard-hitting ‘KOMPROMAT’ album via Schubert Music’s newly founded Atlantic Curve label. A resonant and timely rally against the powers-that-be, this ominous offering is the latest leg of the expository musical quest, following up singles ‘The Truth’, 'Dig In' and 'A Steady Hand' Congnizant reactions to a world that has changed beyond all recognition, the first two singles are accompanied by clever videos by co-conspirator and Leeds-born artist and designer Michael Connolly.
‘KOMPROMAT’ is the band's fourth studio album. It deals with the thorny subject of information; how we consume it, how we process it and how our personal data can be used for political and financial gain. This is the band’s first record since ‘The Shallows’ (2012), which focused on how the internet and smart technology is re-wiring the human mind and affecting our concentration spans. Now, with ‘KOMPROMAT’, it’s clear that this same technology, in the wrong hands, has taken an even more sinister turn. The game has changed – and I LIKE TRAINS have changed with it.
Formed in 2004, I LIKE TRAINS is David Martin (vocals/guitar), Alistair Bowis (bass), Guy Bannister (guitar/synths), Simon Fogal (drums) and Ian Jarrold (guitar). They have never shied away from confronting the possibility of humanity’s collapse. Earlier records, like the towering Godspeed-influenced ‘Progress Reform’ (2006) and ‘Elegies to Lessons Learnt’ (2007) took tales of tragic characters and events from history and applied them to the modern day, while ‘He Who Saw The Deep’ (2010) looked uneasily ahead to the climate change battle we are on the verge of losing.
While ‘KOMPROMAT’ sounds like none of those records, it contains DNA from all of them. I LIKE TRAINS has gone back to go forwards in some ways, returning to some of the primary influences that inspired the band’s formation: Joy Division, The Birthday Party, Gang of Four, Television and The Velvet Underground. This is a record that digs beneath populism’s rise, from the divide and conquer tactics that caused Brexit in the UK, to Trump’s ascent in America and the subsequent reign of lies and misinformation, to discover the grubby hands that have engineered it all.
“We didn’t set out to write a record about current affairs, but the path we set out on converged drastically with that daily discourse. The album inadvertently became about populist politics across the world. Brexit, Trump, Cambridge Analytics and covert Russian influence ended up at the centre of it all," says David Martin.
At the time, Martin started writing about low-key, insidious intrusions on our privacy. As global events unfolded, however, so did the importance of those themes: the perception of what is true and what isn’t true being challenged on a daily basis and how that confusion could be used to manipulate populations into thinking and voting in certain ways.
As of August 21, ‘KOMPROMAT’ is available digitally with physical release on black vinyl LP, limited edition silver vinyl LP and CD scheduled for September 25. All formats can be obtained via Bandcamp.
Performed by I LIKE TRAINS
Music by Guy Bannister, Alistair Bowis, Simon Fogal, David Martin, Ian Jarrold
Lyrics by David Martin
Produced and mixed by Lee Smith and Jamie Lockhart at Greenmount Studios (Leeds)
Mastered by Tom Woodhead at Hippocratic Mastering
Album artwork by Michael Connolly
‘The Truth’ and 'Dig In' videos created by Michael Connolly
Photos by Ben Bentley