Length of the Rail
Bristol UK scene staple Sam Jones (now relocated to Melbourne, Australia) has been recording and playing as the Balky Mule for nearly a decade, but his involvement in multiple other bands - including Movietone , Flying Saucer Attack , Minotaur Shock , Third Eye Foundation , and his brother Matt’s ramshacklist folk-rock project Crescent - made The Balky Mule’s recording and gigging sporadic. His much-anticipated full-length debut collects songs recorded over the past five years, and its patient and slow-winding sound follows its methodical construction.
Most of the songs here grew out of a library of existing short sound-snippets Sam built up from experimenting with old flea-market-found keyboards, analog synths and scavenged electronic kit (Arp Axxe, Casio SK1, Rhythmatix analogue drum machine) - guided by their inherent personalities and discovering what sounds could be coaxed from these manual-less and sometimes malfunctioning objects.
The Balky Mule can be placed within a rich vein of very British outsiders like Hood, Pram, Bark Psychosis, Talk Talk, The Pastels or Robert Wyatt; his sound also reveals allegiances to Maher Shalal Hash Baz, Jonathan Richman, Smog, and early Beck. Sam’s vocal is unmistakably English, its grain and tone similar to The Kinks’ Ray Davies, while his haunting-of-the-everyday lyrical style recalls Syd Barrett. Idiosyncratic and enchanting, The Length Of The Rail commands and rewards repeated listening.