By Cait Brennan
The delightful Robyn Hitchcock is back with two new (and free) songs, “There Goes The Ice” and “Twitch 4 Sam Surfer”—the latest in Hitchcock’s series of “Phantom 45″ offerings, and a harbinger of good things to come.
A spare, melancholy duet with Hitchcock and KT Tunstall, “There Goes The Ice” turns George Harrison’s Beatles classic “Here Comes The Sun” on its head, written by Hitchcock as the Arctic ice sheet literally went to pieces around him.
“‘There Goes The Ice’ was written in October 2008 off the coast of Greenland on board the Grigor Mikheev, the Russian ship chartered by Cape Farewell to take a collection of artists and scientists up to Disko Bay where we visited a region of the imperilled Arctic,” Hitchcock explained. “The photographer, Chris Wainwright, had just filmed me spelling out Here Comes The Sun in semaphore, silhouetted on deck against the sunset. Surrounded as we were by icebergs ‘calved’ from the rapidly melting Arctic ice-cap, I found myself writing ‘There Goes The Ice’ as a mournful echo of George Harrison’s song.”
“I took the song fresh to KT Tunstall and her husband Luke Bullen in the cabin next door, ” Hitchcock continues. “KT obligingly sang harmony and Luke recorded us. Back in England the following June, Luke recorded KT and I performing this version, in their tent. KT also plays guitar on this version.”
Recorded live at Three Kings in Clerkenwell under the watchful eye of a fiberglass Rhino head, and “featuring a galaxy of stars” including Green Gartside from Scritti Politti, “Twitch 4 Sam Surfer” is one of Hitchcock’s patented absurdist character novellas (Highgate surfing, oblong feet and all), cold-pressed through a catchy pub-rock vibe.
Both songs bode well for the new album Hitchcock and Paul Noble are working on for Yep Roc, provisionally called “File Under Pop,” and slated for release in January 2013. Hitchcock will also be performing at Yep Roc’s 15th Anniversary celebrations at the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC in October, alongside labelmates like Sloan, Nick Lowe, John Wesley Harding, John Doe, Liam Finn, and many more.
These two “interim tracks” can be downloaded for free via Hitchcock’s website at http://www.robynhitchcock.com/phantom45s/ (audiophile fans can pay 99 cents for a WAV/FLAC version.)
Hitchcock closed his characteristically droll album release announcement by wishing his fans “a fruitful, fecund and blossoming 2012 summer.” With these two charming songs as an early sneak peek, it seems Hitchcock’s doing some fruitful, fecund blossoming himself.