Pete Astor’s Songbox


Peter Astor Songbox now out includes artwork by myself and Adam Sutherland who both did original Weather Prophets artwork in a lovely package 🙂



Songbox, hospital Pete Astor’s sixth solo album and his first record outing for four years, marks a welcome return for a significant, if under-heralded, British underground musician finally getting his due partly thanks to a prominent role in the acclaimed Creation Records documentary Upside Down. His return is accompanied by a new album, which surely ranks among Astor’s finest recorded work since those heady ’80s heydays.

The new album marks a change in direction from Astor’s more experimental, post-Creation work in groups such as Ellis Island Sound and the Wisdom of Harry. Backed by the woodwinds of Keiron Phelan (State River Widening, Phelan-Sheppard) and Jenny Brand (Kluster Ensemble), together with layers of guitars, drums and keyboards from David Sheppard (State River Widening, Ellis Island Sound) and supported by the harmony vocals of Angèle David-Guillou (Piano Magic, Klima), the eleven essays on Songbox offer an abundance of lushly arranged, timeless chamber-rock, brimming with wry lyrical insight and haunting melodic hooks.
A potent synthesis of very British songwriting, Europhile sensibilities and a stateless cosmopolitanism, Songbox serpentines between the diseased Jacques Brel-meets-Alex Harvey monlogue of ‘Dead Trumpets’, to the baroque, Bill Fay-like murder mystery of ‘The Perfect Crime’, via chiming, nostalgia-soaked folk-pop nuggets like ‘The Ride’ and ‘Tiny Town’, and is concluded with the heart-wrenching, Leonard Cohen-like artistic hymnal ‘Mistress Of Song’.

Presented, in the Second Language label’s customary bespoke style, in a limited edition box package, the aptly titled Songbox is accompanied by an additional album of cover versions of the album songs by an eclectic lineup of illustrious fellow artists including Let’s Wrestle, The Raincoats, Darren Hayman, Comet Gain, Dollboy and Pastourelle, alongside 12 exquisite, especially commissioned fine-art postcards which illustrate the songs’ lyrics.

An ’80s indie chart-topper with his band The Loft (and later The Weather Prophets), Astor brought considered, literate songwriting craft to Creation, a label more characteristically in thrall to less cerebral ’60s pop thrills; none of which prevented him gracing the cover of the NME, the main stage at Glastonbury and the BBC’s legendary music TV showcase, Whistle Test. Astor went on to release a series of critically-lauded solo albums, touring extensively in France and across Europe, receiving Les Inrockuptibles’ ‘Album of the Year’ accolade in 1992 for the album Paradise before a fin-de-siècle ‘second coming’ with Matador recording artists The Wisdom Of Harry (who recorded three albums for the label) and instrumental duo Ellis Island Sound. A solo folk covers album Hal’s Eggs (Static Caravan, 2004) and EIS’s The Good Seed (Peacefrog, 2007) were his most recent releases.
These days, Astor divides his time between songwriting and a career as an academic at the University of Westminster and London’s Goldsmith’s College, lecturing on and researching popular music cultures.

Pete is undertaking a series of rare live appearances, backed by his band, The Souls, to support the release of Songbox.

Songbox comes in a bespoke cardboard box with 12 individual artist postcards (artwork by Neil Brown, Kerry Stewart, Darren Hayman, Eve Gonzalez, Louise Clarke, Tony Veritas, Shaun Belcher, Merida Richards, Wes Gonzalez, Mathew Sawyer, Adam Sutherland).

First 300 copies also come with a bonus CDR album of alternative versions of the album tracks by Dollboy, Let’s Wrestle, Darren Hayman, Comet Gain, Pete Greenwood, The Raincoats, Patrick Fitzgerald, The Proper Ornaments, Pastourelle, Mathew Sawyer and Piano Magic whilst stocks last.

This is SL012.

I have created an illustration illustrating a track on Peter Astor’s new CD for Second Language.

Here a link to his blog and a cool video of Pete and Darren Hayman playing together.

Second Language website



Going back through blood and years
Branches,histories and tears
Going back to where time won’t move
And day comes down and there’s nothing to do

Sleepers don’t have anything to say
They just cradle they just wait
They hold the track that takes the train
That takes me back again

Sleepers,why do I sing my song to you?
Sleepers,why do I sing my song to you?
With your metal hands and your wooden shoes
Lying still,forever mute
Sleepers,there’s nothing you can do

Going back to cold-eyed ways
You end up here you can’t escape
The ladies wait under light and dust
The salt sea turns the town to rust

Sleepers,why do I sing my song to you?
Sleepers,why do I sing my song to you?
With your metal hands and your wooden shoes
Lying still,forever mute
Sleepers,there’s nothing you can do



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