Simon Fisher Turner Announces A New Album

Simon Fisher Turner has announced details of a new album for Mute, Instability of The Signal, out on 2 August 2024 on limited edition vinyl and digitally.

The composer, musician and Zelig-like artist who has worked and performed in groundbreaking and underground music, film and art scenes since the 1970s has created a lush, soothing and intimate album, a landmark in his ever-expanding catalogue of projects. The 13-track album features Fisher Turner singing for the first time in many years, accompanying compositions built from tiny snippets of sound along with piano, classical strings, a detuned Fender Telecaster, and his magpie-like collecting of field recording. 

Listen to the album’s opener, the playful earworm ‘Barefeet’, with its accompanying video by documentary filmmaker Sebastian Sharples:

Instability of The Signal pulls together four strands of Fisher Turner’s sonic experimentation: Slivers, Sounds, Strings, and Singing. The ‘slivers’ are tiny snippets of audio he used as source material for the tracks, all created by Salford Electronics (aka David Padbury), and reworked by Fisher Turner into foundations for entire tracks. The ‘sounds’ that pepper these tracks are sourced from Fisher Turner’s relentless field recording, and include a rhythm created from the sound of a spinning bicycle wheel recorded in Berlin; the percussive sounds of objects on hard floors inspired by his collaboration with artist potter and writer Edmund de Waal; a hand-made mechanical pencil sharpener made by Tilda Swinton’s father (recorded while working on a film with Swinton and the Derek Jarman Lab), along with an extended index of guerrilla field recordings and sonic textures. The album’s ‘strings’ are recordings made with The Elysian Collective (who have recently been performing live with Pulp). Fisher Turner’s voice is the centrepiece of this album – it is the ‘singing’ that draws all these sounds together into a complete and distinctive album of songs. “I was making these tracks with Padbury’s slivers one day, and then the penny just dropped,” he explains. “I just knew I wanted to sing over them: to use my voice again.”

His lyrics scramble Burroughs cut-ups sourced from two of Harold Pinter’s poems; words from a book on the video work of Czech filmmakers Breda Beban and Hrvoje Horvatic, flashes of memories of riding buses in London, cycling topless in jeans around the city. The intimate, soft vocals feature his own memories, pulled extracts from diaries and other texts, some of which are political and subtly delivered the frustrations he felt at the beginning of the project. These lyrics, he says: “reflect how I feel without standing on a soapbox and screaming.”  

The album is rooted in the intimate sound space of a small studio, where he recorded with producer Francine Perry. The intimacy is mirrored in the album’s artwork – a photo of his regular collaborator and long-time friend, the filmmaker Isao Yamada listening to the album for the first time. Film plays an important part in telling the visual story of the album, with several filmmakers, including the documentary filmmaker Sebastian Sharples (who previously collaborated with Simon Fisher Turner for Lana Lara Lata (Mute, 2005) invited to create short films to accompany tracks from the album. 

Like Fisher Turner’s long and varied career, Instability of The Signal is an accumulation of experience, effervescent memories, sounds and textures. It contains hidden learnings. It is about how restorative singing of ourselves and to ourselves can be but is also a document of times and places delivered in beautifully impressionistic palettes of sounds and voices. It is also another document of Fisher Turner’s remarkable life and unshakeable curiosity about sound. “I’m now a 69-year-old man and by hook or by crook, and some good luck, this album has turned into something which really sounds like me,” he reflects. “I’m singing how I feel I truly sound; this time, I’m not hiding anything.”

Simon Fisher Turner’s Instability of the Signal is released by Mute on 2 Aug 2024.

Instability of the Signal

  1. Barefeet
  2. Turning Slowly
  3. She Lowers Her Arms
  4. I Can’t Hear Anything
  5. Thrashing It Out
  6. Fishscales
  7. Boymanduet
  8. Toast
  9. Democracy
  10. Tape Ends
  11. The “Special Relationship”
  12. Purr
  13. Bless Your Hands (Part 1 and 2)