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Mox Nox

by Alison Eales

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    Limited edition 12" black vinyl, with printed inner sleeve with full lyrics.

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1.
Rapunzel 03:24
Come to my window Let me let down my hair My home is a prison A vision of disrepair Between these four walls So crooked and thin I’ve paced and I’ve braced myself Look at the state I’m in Well first I had friends And then I had enemies And I see them and hear them As if they were here with me And I believe you have Something to share with me Let’s dress ourselves up And let ourselves down Let’s let everyone watch As the wheels come off Conquer my captors Get me out of my tower Help me break history’s Weakening grip on me We’ll abscond And the world will be ours Once I’m free of this weight I’ve longed to be free And I’ve waited too long Look at the state of me
2.
Ever Forward 03:59
Dark September I woke up this morning to summer’s surrender A suffering street and a sky full of water An emptying beach and a desolate pier My whole body aches as I stand at the counter And pour myself into the ears of a stranger - Why do I feel it so keenly this year? And how will I ever forget the beholder Whispering wickedly over my shoulder? I grew a skin that could never be shed But she is the black at the back of the mirror I think of her words and I hear them and shiver - Why is her conscience a voice in my head? All heavy bones and prickling skin I’ll try to laugh the winter in But feel my humour faltering Dark September Pages of changes are rung every Sunday New lows expected in Malin and Lundy The lulling, mysterious language of ships And here in a town with so little redeeming I’m weary and worn but I can’t sleep for dreaming I dread the imperious sound of the pips Dark September He’s driving too fast and I fear a disaster He raises the pedal and I breathe at last A sigh of relief as the needle falls The roads are a dangerous place in this weather One slip of the foot and it’s over forever We’ve learned that already, the worst way of all I’ve numbered the days on a page in my diary I tear it away, pull a new year towards me Tokens of time I can hold in my hand Faraway parties and trials and tension I’m longing to leave, I need an adventure The ocean recedes; I’m trapped in the sand
3.
Yesterday remains dogged in my veins I’m sleepless in the brightest room in town I’m still hyperactive, easily distracted The hands are stuck, the sand is slowing down Can't tell how hard I hit the glass Can't tell how long has passed Can't see the marks I can’t think my thoughts Until I hear them I don’t have the patience, I’ve got no concentration I struggle to control my wandering mind Every thought erratic lost amid the static Amnesia paves the way and trails behind Can't tell how hard I hit the glass Can't tell how long has passed Can't see the marks I can’t think my thoughts Until I hear them
4.
Time will bring everything And then harvest everything from us The hour is upon us My heart lashed to the deck I’ll let it sink into bliss with the wreck Then you’ll take my secrets one by one Disassemble each ‘til all are gone And how I’ll thrill at how it’s done No ball will fall In a muddle of ice and ginger I will snap my fingers My heart will spit and scratch As I abandon it to its happiest match Then we’ll see each other as we should Every shadow shared and understood While we still have time, let us do good Coiled tight, moved by light To delay is to beckon danger Why fight nature My heart bound to the track I’ll leave it rapt under thunderous black Then we’ll count our hours in the sun And accept their gifts ‘til there are none And how we’ll thrill at how it’s done
5.
Negligence 02:55
Leave yourself in my care if you choose I won’t be held responsible For all the damage that I do So don’t complain When I kick your heart over the coals And give it back to you riddled with holes Put yourself at my mercy if you must But don’t hold me responsible When I leave you to rot and rust Don’t be surprised When I turn fire into soot And trample your hope underfoot Maybe I was in finite supply But I have salted the mine – Get in line, get in line, get in line You believe that you’re safe and you’re strong That I’ve dismantled the bomb – But you’re wrong There is danger all around I may choose to run you aground Or I may choose to let you drown You have been warned – When I decide enough is enough I will ride roughshod over your love
6.
Pull on your winter skates It won’t be long before We freeze and disintegrate Columbine, Harlequin Anxious ‘til the thaw, My pantomime heroine This town was my design And it will be my undoing This town was the making of me It’s going to be my ruin Bending, cloud-muffled trees Their roots claw from the ground, Beg me to tend to their injuries This season could do with a lick of paint Now rattle round and round And take me home, little orange train This town was my design And it will be my undoing This town was the making of me It’s going to be my ruin Here’s a wheel that never span Here’s a man who never loved Here’s a dove that never folds Here’s a cold I’ll never feel This town was my design And it will be my undoing This town was the making of me It’s going to be my ruin
7.
Oh my knuckle-hearted twin I didn’t know where to begin When disappointment settled in As quickly as we met I gave a mile, you took an inch But not before and never since Has anyone had me convinced There’d be no regrets You used to sing, you used to dance I used to squint at burning arcs Your cigarette drew in the dark: Together and alone And in your room under the stairs All heaving shelves and empty chairs Your contradictions everywhere I thought you’d brought me home I don’t know why I take such pains To keep you gently entertained When disillusion takes the reigns Or when she’s all at sea A later hour, a shorter night I take a guilty taxi ride We watch the sun rise on our lies You’re sleeping when I leave Because the first time that we woke You sealed tight as morning broke Lit up in shadow, froze in smoke Together and alone And I was quieted by your ghost All creaking lips and stale clothes But then you stopped and pulled me close As you walked me home
8.
I had a clumsy and impatient tongue. Now I have two: One is mine and one belongs to you My darling, when I crossed my little heart I crossed my fingers too Another name I held upon my lips was there so long None will fit there now that one is gone And your own name is bitter, it is barbed It never did belong
9.
Inshore, a meteor; he leaves her to learn She sits at his table and waits for him to return The moon rings; the harbour sings in quays and in bars The chords of the freight trains, the beat of the spars Nav lights, boat bites, sea lions and gulls Hissing like sherbet, the water against the hull Rust red overhead, the bridge waves them through Between the white sail and the scattering blue Tired, anchored, alone in the bay He wakes her to tell her the fog has all blown away One dress lighter she walks from the yacht Retracing her steps and breaking the knot
10.
Mox Nox 04:29
The light decays Maybe my soul has had its day And there’s a long dark night to face I’ll watch the skies on each horizon I will not pray Or pretend angels guide my way Or that they watch me with dismay Every time I go astray All hours wound; the last one kills By night, the sun stays still - I turn away The light decays Maybe my heart will waste away You know what they say – ‘If you don’t use it, you will lose it’ I go for days Without a beat of joy or pain Just a feeble pulse remains Dragged around its old terrain It’s loud and clear, invite and threat ‘Come quietly, let me have my way’ The light decays Maybe I heard my spirit break By design or by mistake If I can’t fix her, I won’t miss her And some would say I never used her anyway She was neither strong nor brave And never kept the dark at bay All hours wound; the last one kills And just when all seems still, life flows away Maybe my mind’s seen better days After all the tricks it’s played It’s what I’m made of I’m afraid of 
11.
Goodbye 03:56
Give me back that Monday dawn And we will leave the picnic on the lawn And turn our backs on laughing gas and wine Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye A scribble and a photograph I struggle just to balance soft and sharp Assembling their features in my mind Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye It’s more than I can bear The trouble is I don’t know how to share And for a time I had it to myself Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye And if I find it’s something I’ve outgrown I’ll wander to the subway on my own And say I’ll stay in touch, and wish you well Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye
12.
This is the sound of my house falling down Come home with me Come home with me I’m not known for wishing wisely Come home with me Come home with me Waste the time my wishing buys me I don’t have much to offer in my flat I can’t tell the cobwebs from the cracks The kitchen’s full of rotting fruit Up we crawl and then it’s all downhill to ill repute The lights come up The music stops Morning marches straight toward us So let’s pretend This song won’t end Join me for a final chorus There’s nothing there for me at home All the bulbs are bare or they are blown We deserve all that we get: Our sanity and solvency replaced with drugs and debt

about

Alison Eales is a long-standing member of the band Butcher Boy, playing piano, accordion and other keyboards as well as arranging for choir and brass. The band have made three studio albums: Profit in Your Poetry (2007), React or Die (2009) and Helping Hands (2011). All of these albums have been well-received, with React or Die featuring in The Times’ top 100 pop albums of the 2000s. The band have also released two EPs. A compilation album, You Had A Kind Face, was released on Needle Mythology in 2022, along with three new songs, with tracks mastered by Miles Showell at Abbey Road. Butcher Boy have supported bands including Belle and Sebastian, Scritti Politti and The Wedding Present.

Taking inspiration from sundial mottos, Mox Nox is an album about the passing of time – most specifically, the transition from day to night. Its twelve songs explore experiences of all-nighters, anxiety, travel, frustration, and friendship. The album combines acoustic and electronic instrumentation with samples of environmental sound, resulting in an indie pop record that is by turns playful and melancholy and that is likely to appeal to fans of Saint Etienne, The Magnetic Fields, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stereolab, Jake Thackray and Kirsty MacColl.

With support from Creative Scotland, the album was produced by Paul Savage at Chem 19 studios. Cover artwork was designed by Rhian Nicholas at The Passenger Press in Glasgow, using a mix of traditional printmaking techniques. The design represents a sundial and was inspired by the cover of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, with its stylised Doomsday Clock.

Opening the album with shimmering wine glasses and dulcimer, Rapunzel is the oldest of the songs. It expresses the frustration of feeling isolated and not fully engaging with life. This theme is continued in the second track: Ever Forward is a lyric about being trapped in a dilapidated seaside town as the seasons change, delivered over a string quartet expertly arranged and recorded by Pete Harvey (Pumpkinfield).

Originally conceived as a song about falling in love for the first time, The Broken Song eventually transpired to be a song about the onset of anxiety. The approach to writing this song was unique on the album – it was left deliberately unfinished to create room for experimentation in the studio. Track four, Shadow Blister, is also unique, as the lyric was the result of a challenge to use as many sundial mottos in one song as possible. Negligence is possibly the most personal song on the album.

Closing Side A, the single Fifty-Five North has parallels with Ever Forward, but while both songs are about struggling with the change of the seasons, this song is rooted firmly in Glasgow and expresses how a place can be both transformative and overwhelming. The song features sounds sampled from the Glasgow Subway, with a rhythm track made from the sounds of the train doors closing, and a melody made from the ping of the turnstiles.

Side B opens with Through Hoops, a song about the tensions inherent in friendships between people who are almost too alike. Upbeat and energetic, the song features flute improvised by Diljeet Kaur Bhachu (Kapil Seshasayee). By contrast, Half-French Kiss is a tiny, atmospheric song built around a chromatic music box and bowed cymbal. A Natural History of California was inspired by a single line of cello played by Maya Burman-Roy (James Grant, Idlewild) and images of San Francisco by night.

Mox Nox, like Shadow Blister, is a lyric built around sundial mottos, including the title itself (‘Night, shortly’). Opening with glockenspiel played by Joanne Murtagh (Remember Remember) it builds one instrument at a time, featuring strings, flute, autoharp, dulcimer and kalimba.

A song about walking away from outgrown friendships, Goodbye features guitar played by Basil Pieroni (Butcher Boy), a musical callback to Rapunzel, and an improvised robot choir. The album closes with Come Home With Me, a lyrical counterpoint to Rapunzel with a manic musical setting.

credits

released March 24, 2023

This album was produced by Alison Eales, recorded and mixed by Paul Savage, and mastered by Reuben Taylor.

The strings on Ever Forward were arranged and recorded by Pete Harvey at Pumpkinfield and performed by the Pumpkinseeds: Simon Graham (violin), Emma Connell-Smith (viola), Harriet Davidson (cello) and Chris Sergeant (double bass). Strings on other tracks were performed by Maya Burman-Roy (cello) and Cat Robertson (violin). Guitar on The Broken Song, Shadow Blister, A Natural History of California and Goodbye was played by Basil Pieroni. Diljeet Kaur Bhachu played flute on Negligence, Through Hoops, and Mox Nox. Joanne Murtagh played glockenspiel on Rapunzel, Negligence, Fifty-Five North and Mox Nox.

The artwork was by Rhian Nicholas, the photography was by Euan Robertson and the layout was by Tom Ashton.

Sincere thanks to everyone who contributed to this album, and to those who offered support: Geoff, Joan, Steve, Beth, Henry and Eva Eales; Tom Ashton; Tom Attah; Alistair Braidwood; David Burns; James Clark; Katy Cooper; Sophie Dodds; Sam Dymond; Colin Edwards; Fraser Ford; Iain Hamilton; Iain Hepburn; Garry Hoggan; Lauren Hulstedt; John Hunt; Knut Børre Lindbjør; Ken Lynch; Gerry Lyons; Aoife Magee; Findlay MacKinnon; Jyoti Mishra; Laura Molloy; Margaret Paterson; David Pope; Katie Pope; Emma Pollock; Fiona Shepherd; Graeme Smillie; Robert Spark; Alison Stroak; and Jonathan Trew. Kiitos to Martin Cloonan.

Dedicated to Paul Mason.

℗ Alison Eales 2023
© Alison Eales 2023
Under license to Fika Recordings

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