all in the golden afternoon

brief bursts of bliss-pop perfection

AN INTERVIEW WITH ALL IN THE GOLDEN AFTERNOON – JANUARY 16, 2017

It was a cloudy, warm afternoon in Austin, TX on January 16, 2017. I met Rachel Staggs and Carlos Jackson for sushi at their favorite spot. We ate and chatted about travel for about an hour. Then we headed out to the porch for a chat about their start in music, All in the Golden Afternoon, their recording and writing process, and many more things. All in the Golden Afternoon is a psych-gaze project with two brilliant albums released. The first was Magic Lighthouse on the Infinite Sea in 2011 and the second The Fog is Filled with Sprits in 2016. The Fogmade it into Somewherecold’s top ten albums for 2016 and, if you don’t own it, you should pick up a copy on vinyl. The same goes for Magic Lighthouse, which is equally brilliant. All in the Golden Afternoon have also started a subscription service for rare releases at their Bandcamp. I’m a subscriber and love what they are doing with this service!

Hello Rachel and Carlos, thanks for doing this. Since you are well known among readers I have at the site, perhaps we could start by talking about both your start in music. How did you both get starting making music and how do you see your past musical ventures sort of leading up to where you are at now with All in the Golden Afternoon?

Rachel: I started playing music at the age of 11 on clarinet. I was classically trained and I played for about nine years. Once I got to college, I played in the concert band but didn’t want to participate in the marching band anymore. I was done with the uniform. I skipped marching band, which was in the fall, and joined the concert band on clarinet in the spring during my first year in college. It felt like everyone was thinking, “who the heck is this girl?” They had formed their bonds in the fall. I did well and had a great time. I took a few more music classes. I really should have majored in music but I did not have the best career counseling at that point.

I put the clarinet under my bed and went on the hunt for an acoustic guitar. I tried to learn some songs. I learned Jane’s Addiction’s, “Jane Says”. I thought I was really horrible because it’s not an easy instrument. I was playing by ear. I had all this theory on clarinet. I taught myself how to play piano after learning how to read music with clarinet. I was transposing the left hand for piano. But guitar was a totally different animal.

So I tinkered around and finished college. I moved back to Austin. I got a job at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and with my first paycheck, I bought an electric guitar. Once I plugged that in on a borrowed amp, I was like “Oh!” It excited me. I went to a Bedhead show the night before. I think that was the impetus for the purchase. I saw Bedhead at Liberty Lunch here in Austin and sat down on the floor at the front because it was so beautiful. I loved the way the guitars were simple separately but together they intertwined into this gorgeous melody. I was inspired to try something like that. I thought, “I need an electric guitar… the acoustic, not my friend right now.” I bought an electric and it changed everything.

I started a couple of bands before Experimental Aircraft and that one stuck. I’m a better acoustic guitar player now because I’m not afraid of it. That’s my start. I met Carlos and I love his exploratory nature. I appreciate his creative abilities and willingness to explore different sounds and flip the tape backward. We started recording together on an eight-track tape machine. One track, the eighth track, is broken.

Carlos: The record deck is broken on the eighth track. So, you can record to it if you flip the tape over and record to the first track, but that part has to be backward when you play it back.

Rachel: So you record on track 1 when you have the tape flipped backward. It’s on a Tascam 38 and then you flip it back and the forward track is now backward on track 8. We starting working together in 2005 outside of other bands, we were like, oh, this is a limitation, but it’s also kind of a…

Carlos: It was a nice limitation to have.

Rachel: We thought, ok, this is what we can do. We don’t have a lot of money but we have this equipment. Every song on this first release is going to be eight tracks only and nothing digital. Every song is going to have one backward track. The fact that he [Carlos] could do that, and I had been in a lot of studios at that point, was exciting to me.

Carlos: I started playing music when I was a teen as well, but there wasn’t any formal training. I just loved music and wanted to be a part of it. So, I got a drum set as early as I could, I got a guitar as early as I could. I had a chance to play drums with the guys from Comet, with Jim and Neil who wrote the songs. After Comet disbanded, they started a thing called French Films, and that was one of the things I was first proud of doing. They were such great songwriters. From there, I found a Farfisa organ at a music store in Garland on Garland road. It’s the same place I found a Sound City amp. Those two are just a pair made in heaven.

Rachel: In college, I became a DJ at the Texas Tech University radio station. I had that acoustic guitar and started playing PJ Harvey, Liz Phair, and the Breeders, seeing that there were a lot of women creating music and playing instruments. I knew I was a great instrument player. That was also a pivotal point for me. But Carlos and that Farfisa…which is a big part of our sound.

Carlos: Around the time I was working at CD World and Good Records, this was the time when Tim and Chris asked me to join the Polyphonic Spree. So I jumped onto that airplane as it was taking off. Got to play on the first record. Then I moved to Austin shortly after.

Rachel: We played a few shows together. Experimental Aircraft and Carlos’ bands – Hifi Drowning and French Films. We shared bills at Rubber Gloves in Denton, as well as Stubb’s and Emo’s in Austin, before we ever met.

Carlos: When I moved down to Austin, I had my own proto-pop band The Shells. It was very Ray Davies inspired pop songs. Very basic pop. The first Shells 7″ was dream-pop or drone-pop and it’s way gazier than most of the music The Shells were making. I met Rachel after living here a year and we started playing music together almost immediately.

Rachel: At least within a year or so. I was playing bass for the Black Angels at the time, as well guitar and keyboards in Experimental Aircraft.

Carlos: Once I moved in, we definitely started recording on the eight track.

Could you both talk about the writing dynamic between the two of you and how you go about composing songs?

Carlos: All in the Golden Afternoon, for me, is the most ideal collaboration because there’s nothing Rachel ever does that bugs me musically. Her standards are so high, and that’s probably from her classical training, that it’s a challenge for me to play something that she actually likes. When I’m composing, I’m almost always composing for the idea that there is this direct connection to this universe that we [he and Rachel] have and if I stay connected to that universe, it will be successful. It’s such a spiritual experience for her and I when we collaborate.

Rachel: I think it’s the most soulful expression we’ve been able to create so far.

Carlos: It’s because we do it together. I find that composing on my own can be almost boring at this point. I think it’s from writing all those pop songs. I mean, you can shit out a million 1/4/5 songs and put some great tones and textures on them but a lot of times the soul isn’t there unless you are incredibly inspired with every note you are playing.

Rachel: I still write songs start to finish. Stuff that I used to write and bring to Experimental Aircraft. I still do that. I wrote more often when I was searching for love. Now that I’m in love and with my best friend and partner, I write from a different perspective. Also, I’ve been dealt some interesting cards in recent years and I’m processing grief. I’ve been trying to access music as a tool and an outlet to process but, for the first time in my life, it hasn’t been there for me. That’s where my travel writing comes in and sort of fills that void. It used to happen weekly where a song would come to me from start to finish like Symphony on the Experimental Aircraft album, Love for the Last Time. That’s a song I wrote right when I came back from New York after 9/11. I picked up a guitar within hours of getting home and wrote that song quickly. I still bring songs start to finish to Carlos but also do things very organically where, maybe I’ll write a guitar and a bass part, record, then hand them to Carlos and it will be his turn. He’ll add sounds.

Carlos: Yeah, our process is a little odd because we will start with two or three instruments and then give it to the other person. We call it automatic composition. It’s very much in the vein of the surrealists. You don’t plan what you are going to write.

What does it mean to you to be a musician in a place like Austin? How has this environment impacted you as artists?

Rachel: If you’re going to be in Texas, for me, the place to be is Austin. I’ve been here since I was a child and coming up in the live music scene here in the 90’s was great. It’s a good place to explore and be vulnerable and naive and raw. I really enjoy traveling, even just outside of Austin. The expanse lends itself to the isolation of some of the sounds or feelings you might pick up from our recordings.

Carlos: Once you hit that dry-line, it’s a different vibe out there. And then when you head west and get into the desert, it’s its own soundscape.

Rachel: We do go out to west Texas for inspiration because sometimes the only thing you can hear is the sound of a train in the distance and maybe someone laughing. It’s a beautiful quiet that I find centering.

Before we turn to Magic Lighthouse, can you talk a bit about Music for Dreams and what inspired you to take the songs of your other records and really turn them into sort of ambient/experimental pieces? How did you approach the writing and recording process on this album?

Carlos: At the time, we were neck deep in Dub. We were listening to King Tubby and the Upsetters and the classic Jamaican Dub from the early 70’s and the late 70’s. I love the model where this track is a huge hit for Junior Murvin but then Lee Perry takes the song, removes the vocal track and then uses the same music track and then writes the song Curley Locks. Then Lee Perry is not happy with that, so he creates his own song, which is the same thing but with a different vocal track. I love that the basic tracks can be recycled and reused. I believe Olivia Tremor Control revisited that on their Black Foliage Record. They would take a track and it would be the basis for four different interludes within the record. I just love the idea of recycling that content. So when we had that memory man and all these delay pedals and the eight track. I just love the idea of creating another track from all this music that is already out there in a different format. I love that idea. That’s what inspired me to do Music for Dreams. All I did was take each track into a Memory Man and into a couple of delays, dumped them into a mono-signal, and then re-create the mono-signal track into a simulated stereo track within some applications.

Rachel: All I did was curate with my ears and say “yes”… “no”… He did all the work on it and I gave my feedback.

Carlos: I think there are maybe eight or nine tracks on there. We probably did 50 or 60 different cuts because these were all mixed on the fly. We did it right off the reel to reel tape. It was a lot of fun. That was the inspiration and method behind that recording. We may do that with The Fog.

Rachel: Yeah, it may be a recurring theme.

Given that The Fog is Filled with Spirits is your second full length, can you talk about the contrast, if any, you see between it and Magic Lighthouse on the Infinite Sea?

Rachel: The first album was definitely very organic. That one is all analog. With The Fog is Filled with Spirits, we decided to mix down the eight analog tracks to digital. We re-amped guitars and added vocals and polished it a little. Not too much but trying to give it some more space to grow by taking it to the computer. When you bounce tracks down, they can lose their fidelity and we didn’t want that to happen.

Carlos: Yeah, Fog was the first one we applied digital techniques to the record. On Magic Lighthouse, we literally just took the tapes and dumped them onto a master and that’s how the record was made.

Rachel: And the EP.

Carlos: Yeah, and the EP as well. So in my mind, the process for the three records, the first two are a completely different process. And it’s nice to think that when listened to, they don’t betray that vast difference in approach. Fog was…

Rachel: We took our time.

Carlos: We worked in three different studios at the end of the day and we had all these ideas going into the process. Then, when there were sounds that we didn’t like, we thought it important to go back and fix the sounds. It was a very long process. The album took six years.

Rachel: Involving other people definitely changes things. But we’re really excited about how it turned out.

 

 

 

So, I like to ask bands about tracks that especially intrigue me off current releases. Could you talk about writing and recording “The Fear and the Flame” and “Off the U Bahn”?

Rachel: “The Fear and the Flame” I love. We spent two weeks touring in the Czech Republic before lyric writing and vocal recording. Carlos is a poet. So, he wrote quite a few poems inspired by our travels around the Czech Republic and Bratislava, Slovakia and Austria. While we were in the studio, I would listen to the music in my headphones and have his poem in front me. I created a melody and took lines from the poem that felt right. So, that to me, was a beautiful collaboration because he had no idea what I was going to do with his poems. All of the lines are from his poem that I composed a little differently than just reading the poem straight through. So that was a really fun and new way to create together.

Carlos: Yeah, I love that song. The basis of that song was this little diddy we had on Rachels PS20. It was this innocuous little part and we built the song from there. I had a vision of an ebow symphony. I knew we would never have like 40 ebows on stage but I loved the idea of being able to track as many ebows as you want until you get a small string section. I loved the vibe that it created with the drum machine, the ebows, and the little Yamaha part. That track still has no bass on it but it doesn’t need it.

Rachel: As a songwriter, I break it down and I’m like, well, this is different.

Carlos: It doesn’t really make sense.

Rachel: It’s something I love about our experience together. We’re not trying to follow song structure on every song.

Carlos: I’m particularly proud of “The Fear and the Flame”.

“Off the U Bahn” is very different. We had been to Germany on our first tour in 2009. I think by the time we left Berlin we were like, oh man, we could have taken the U Bahn a lot more than we did. We sure walked a lot. It was an homage to that.

Carlos: Yeah, that track was interesting to work on because it started with drum machine and then we used a keyboard on it but I can’t remember which one. Maybe the 1983 Omnichord. The basic part was only two keyboard parts on that but I love the simplistic play with those sections and the backward guitars. We had asked in the studio if they had a Vocoder and they actually had one, not autotune or anything like that, but an actual Vocoder. It was really nice to be able to play the melodies on that while applying the lyrics to it. It was a really fun process.

I love some of your sonic and texture choices in your tracks like the fuzzy rumble at the beginning of “Place de la Bastille” and the bassy drones on “Road to Faroe Island.” What is your process like in exploring FX, sounds, and textures in laying out a track?

Rachel: I don’t know that there’s a process at all.

Carlos: I just feel like the process is, that if Rachel and I have heard these sounds before and if we love the way the sounds make us feel, then they are going on the record.

Rachel: Yeah, we definitely give each other feedback on the sounds we are making.

Carlos: I trust my judgment at this point because I know that I have good instincts. What is that saying, “Garbage in, garbage out?” If I were listening to music I didn’t like all day, it would be different but we are very lucky to live in a time when we can curate our own experience. As long as we expose ourselves to beautiful sounds, hopefully, we can output beautiful sounds.

Rachel: Yeah, if there’s a raunchy guitar tone, I’m definitely going to say something to Carlos.

Carlos: And in retrospect, I always agree.

 

 

 

What sort of equipment do you both use in recording and then live, if it’s different?

Rachel: Well, we use the Tascam 38 to record our basic eight tracks for each song. Recently, we’ve also explored using Logic.

Carlos: Yeah, we’ve gotten into using Logic. I’m really into using it in combination with the Tascam 38. With all the interfaces that are available now, we are able to pull in either eight analog tracks or take 24 tracks digital and output them into eight analog tracks. I think the one thing I would be lost without is the Tascam 38. I could still do something but I would still be lost without it.

Rachel: I love our TubePac for recording bass. It’s a tube pre-amp and compressor. I really like fuzz bass and it kinda makes it fuzzy.

Carlos: I’m really fond of this Rode microphone that we’ve been borrowing for several years from our buddy.

Rachel: Plus, I’m in love with my 1968 Fender Super Reverb amp. It’s got 4 10″ speakers and “super reverb” is not a joke. When we recently covered the Jesus and the Mary Chain for a new years eve show – I had my reverb on 10. It’s essential to my sound along with my 1992 Jaguar reissue. It’s candy apple red, headstock and the body. I really love the tremolo bar on it. I’ve had this Jaguar since ’98 or ’99 so it’s my baby along with the amp. And my Russian Big Muff pedal… everything else is pretty interchangeable.

Carlos: For me it’s that Farfisa mini-compact. God I love that thing. I just know how to play it at this point. The sound is just so specific. I love running that through different effects. I have a weird Super Deluxe, kind of a reverb tank, kind of a Leslie simulator. It’s this weird thing that a sound guy told me had been outlawed due to a chemical in there that was making people sick.

Rachel: Oh great! And it’s in our music room.

Carlos: So the Farfisa through that thing and then through the Sound City amp. I’ve got this amp, it’s not even a really good amp, but the way it handles the Farfisa is so perfect.

Rachel: I do love my 1978 Musicmaster bass. I would probably grab that in a fire as well.

Carlos: Your drum-kit is amazing too.

Rachel: Oh, thank you. I have a 1960’s drum-kit that is a Slingerland knockoff. So it’s Japanese made, Maxitone, and it’s champaign sparkle. I just bought it on ebay years ago. I don’t really know how to play drums but I can keep a steady beat.

Carlos: Even individually, before we met each other, we were kind of building a studio. We had the parts that the other didn’t yet.

Can you talk about what influences your music, whether it be music, literary, or visual art?

Rachel: For me, it’s definitely life experiences, whether that be something tragic, sad, beautiful, magical… also when people share their experiences with me. I’m a good listener. When they share, sometimes I will turn those experiences into vague stories that I wish I could change for them but I can’t. Travel is very inspiring to me. I love exploring other cultures. I’m inspired by abstract expressionists, like Adolph Gottlieb and Vincent Van Gogh.

Carlos: I’m inspired by emotion a lot, like what is the sound of an emotion. I think Rachel does this and doesn’t even realize it. Like the sound of Rachel’s heartbreaking at the end of “With Your Eyes”.

If you can come even close to simulating or even honoring a feeling in a sound, that’s the ultimate accomplishment to me. How do you capture that in a sound?

Thanks so much for meeting with me. I guess my last questions is, what is next for All in the Golden Afternoon and for you both musically if you are involved in other projects?

Rachel: Well, we have been working on a book of poetry and photography from our two European tours. Film images that I took in 2009 and 2011. We were in Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Czech Republic, Austria, and Slovakia. I take photographs on tour and he writes poems about the experience of being on tour. We are also deep into the next album.

Carlos: We’re going to start working on Rachel’s solo record too.

Rachel: I’ve slowly worked on it for ten years, off and on. I’m a big collaborator, so whenever I start collaborating, I kind of put my own work on the back burner. He’s trying to help me focus and finish. It will be released under Rachel Goldstar, which is clearly not my last name. The name came from a 1997 joke. It stuck. Someone left that on my answering machine “Hey Rachel Goldstar, when you’ve erased all your messages, give me a callback.” They thought I had a Goldstar brand answering machine but it was an AT&T. Anyway, we are excited about the new All in the Golden Afternoon album because it’s different.

Carlos: The new record’s weird. I don’t even know if it’s going to be a new record.

Rachel: We don’t want to make the same music all the time.

Carlos: There are currently no guitars on it.

Rachel: Well, because I have not touched it. He’s laid down some groundwork for me. That’s how this album is going to work. They all work differently. A few of the songs on the last album I wrote from start to finish and the others were organic. This album is going to be quite organic I think.

Carlos: It’s going to be fun.

Rachel: I love this two person project because when we have things to get done, it’s easy. We talk to each other, we make a decision, and we move on to the next task.

Thanks so much for spending time with me and answering my questions.

 

 

 

 

Austin Music Minute

Although tonight’s show is billed as I’m Dreaming of A Shoegaze Christmas at Cheer Up Charlie’s, 900 Red River, put aside expectations of a typical holiday shindig. This all-local bill puts the spotlight on the hazily cacophonous, dreamy-dreamtime side of the pop realm, with today’s featured Austin Music Minute band, All In the Golden Afternoon, in the mix.

The evening starts out with sets by Alexis Ramirez and Krista Van Liew, followed by psych-swirl shimmer masters She Sir, with All In the Golden Afternoon wrapping up the night. Doors open at 8 p.m., and the music starts at 9 p.m. Recommended.

-Photography by Briana Purser.

http://kutx.org/austin-music-minute/holidays-shoegaze

 

 

Reverberation LP review: The Fog is Filled with Spirits

Experiencing and navigating through The Fog Is Filled With Spirits means getting lost in its otherwordly record cover first. Highly immersive and atmospheric, the sleeve leaves you daydreaming and flickering through its metaphorical and surrealistic elements. Gazing at it, you will find boundaries dissolving between dream and reality. You become part of the picture, slipping into that eerie fog. The first thing that catches your eye is this not so blurry silhouette whose hands are trying to reach the moon, it seems ready to levitate. Is it a ghost? One thing then strikes you, the silhouette has no head but its face with no eyes appears up close next to the album title, as if it was whispering those words. True artists don’t state the obvious, they arouse the viewer or listener’s imagination, which is precisely what All In The Golden Afternoon is doing here. 


The opener “Magic Eyes” lures you even more with its sibylline vocals, it fully propels you into an uncanny dimension. The Goldstars are masters at depicting the elements in their songs, they have the power to paint not only mental pictures but the different sensations that come with your surroundings. “The Fear and The Flame” is a tune of hypnotic magnitude whose musical texture properly sets the tone of the record, it reminds of Broadcast circa 2005, especially with Rachel’s enchanting voice. The fog is filled with the spirit of Trish Keenan. That beat holds you spellbound. The foggy journey through the record is dotted with various recollections of places the band is smitten with. “The Long Goodbye” is a wondrous number that echoes “The Fear and The Flame”, it captures how hard it is to leave a place you hold dear to your heart. The melody is adorned with longing fairy-like backing vocals and attired all over in a sorcerous atmosphere. 
All songs on the record are a sort of emotional rollercoaster, bittersweet and captivating that keeps you hallucinating. “With Your Eyes” lets you penetrate further into the fog with an angelical beginning and a stark ending. 

The title track makes a final spectral pinnacle, signifying the end of the passage from blur to clarity. A staggering conclusion to the record. Let your soul get lost in the fog again, you may have a visual and sensory epiphany.   

Somewhere Cold LP review: The Fog is Filled with Spirits

All in the Golden Afternoon is the project of the duo Rachel Staggs (Experimental Aircraft) and Carlos Jackson (Polyphonic Spree). They began recording together in 2005 and released their debut album, Magic Lighthouse on the Infinite Sea, in 2011. Five years later, Staggs and Jackson have released their second LP, The Fog is Filled with Spirits. It is twelve tracks of blissed out, psychedelic dream-pop and brings the listener on a tripped out journey filled with depth and emotion.

The Fog is Filled with Spirits begins with “Magic Eyes” and is a perfect opener for setting the feel for the rest of the album. Staggs’ voice cascades over sparkling synths, lightly strummed guitars, subtle bass, and humming drones. “Magic Eyes” quickly fades and “The Fear and the Flame” begins with syncopated, percussion like synths. Here, Staggs paints a picture of characters interacting with each other in a hazy dreamlike moment.

Floating through the mountains
Forest beneath my feet
I thought I saw you in the window
Your face was empty
Consumed with the loss
You wanted to reach down

Staggs and Jackson really seem to be channeling early psychedelic music like The 13th Floor Elevators with influences like Slowdive and Mazzy Star thrown into the mix. “Place de la Bastille” creates this atmosphere that really makes one want to throw on some go-go boots and dance in a room full of black and fluorescent lights. It is stripped down with fuzzed out bass and minimal guitars. Staggs sings, “I don’t need your love, I don’t need your love, I’ve locked the door and lost the key.” Under the fuzzed out layers of free-love, there is a seriousness to All in the Golden Afternoon if one is able and willing to listen. This album is not a glossy, sugary attempt at nostalgia but, rather, a deft sculpting of a deeper sort.

Fog continues with “The Long Goodbye” which is the first long track on the album, clocking in at seven minutes. The track is ethereal, with Staggs’ vocals sitting back in the mix among walls of sound as stripped down percussion provides barebones structure. This is like a gorgeous drone piece but with far more structure. “Oh My Love” and “Hôtel de Ville” are two tracks that provide brief bursts of bliss-pop perfection. “Oh My Love” begins with a sitar like feel that has Staggs’ dreamy vocals sitting over it. They echo, ring, and enchant. “Hôtel de Ville” begins with a low rumble. It pounds in the speakers over floating vocals. “Ghost of Moravia” is an instrumental track that begins with the melody being strummed on guitar which is eventually joined by fuzzed out bass and acoustic guitar. Percussion eventually joins as a wall of sound erupts.

The sound of a sitar makes another appearance on “Road to Faroe Island” as Staggs’ dreamlike vocals ironically sing “I can’t sleep, I can’t sleep tonight.” The fuzzed out guitars become a conversation partner with the sitar which plays the melody amid rumblings of percussion. “With Your Eyes” ushers the listener into the latter half of the album with blissed out guitar strumming slowly. Staggs’ vocals are clear and present here, peering outside the fuzzed out fog they have been hidden in much of the album. Also, this is another song on the album that is longer than most of the others with a running time of 5:18. It has an ambient quality with Jackson and Staggs playing with multiple textures, tones and sonics here as they create a lush, cascading landscape. At about three minutes in, guitars erupt in a wall of fuzz which, at the end of the track, shut off like someone pulled the plug, abrupt and brilliant.

“Bordeaux Let Me Go” begins with a light hum then becomes this gorgeous pop track with all the fabulousness of glittering guitars. Flashes of fuzzed textures burst into the mix every once and a while with synth and organ making appearances to interrupt the all too common structure of the song. Staggs sings “ah’s” throughout the track to give it this far away feel. “Off the U-Bahn” begins in a very different way than prior tracks. This track is quite electronic in nature, with clicking percussion and a robotic vocal. Like an angel, Staggs’ vocal appears among the synthetic landscape to give it a human feel here and there. “The Fog is Filled with Spirits” is the title track and finale of the album. Staggs’ sings,

I’ll climb these hills for decades
And never see them all
A thousand hilltop houses
Dot the lush green terroir
The fog is filled with spirits
Searching for dry land

The track is spacious, lush, ambient, and surreal. Drones swirl around the vocals like the “fog” from the title. Vocals float along the ethereal swirls to usher the listener to the end of the journey. A grand finale it is indeed.

Rachel Staggs and Carlos Jackson have crafted an ethereal, psychedelic, blissed out jewel. The Fog is Filled with Spirits is a swirling journey filled with psyched out bliss, ambience, and a hint of electronica. This album is worth your time and hard-earned cash.

 

 

ANON Magazine LP release preview

Comprised of artistic wife and husband Rachel Staggs and Carlos Jackson, All in the Golden Afternoon are one of Austin, Texas’ musical powerhouse gems. With Staggs having played in Experimental Aircraft in the late 90’s for a decade and the duo having shared the stage with Beach House, Animal Collective and Spectrum, All in the Golden Afternoon have been steadily gaining momentum in Austin’s music scene and beyond. The band is set to release their LP, The Fog is Filled with Spirits on October 18th with a celebratory record release party taking place tomorrow night at Cheer Up Charlies. We got to chat with the band about their upcoming release, their paranormal tour adventures and the wax and wane of Austin’s local music scene.

 

ANON: How did All in the Golden Afternoon initially come together? 

Carlos: Rachel was playing bass for the Black Angels in 2004. She invited me to try out for guitar, as they were still developing their sound. My proto-pop band the Shells was dissolving around the same time, so when Rachel decided to leave their band, we started tracking all of the ideas we always wanted to make but felt restricted to before. I had been using a Tascam 38 with one broken track that only recorded backwards, and our first EP was a direct result of flipping tape back and forth for months. Rachel and I have both written countless songs and there are certain aspects of composing that annoy the hell out of us, so our automatic composition process produced anomalies we couldn’t achieve with traditional composition methods, and we immediately connected.

 

ANON: What vision did you have for your upcoming LP, The Fog is Filled With Spirits? What was the recording process like?

Carlos: We began recording the tracks on the same broken 8-track, then took the analog recordings to London in two different sessions. We brought tracks back each time adding more tracks at home, then finally mixing everything with Louie Lino at Resonate studio here in Austin. Many of the lyrics were written and inspired while touring the Czech Republic in 2011. Bohemia was misty and eerie; a local band told us about the white lady who often appears over Jindrichuv Hradec’s lake.

Rachel: Our previous album was called Magic Lighthouse on the Infinite Sea and we wanted to continue this mysterious line of exploration. The Czech Republic and traveling in general was a huge inspiration.

 

 

 

ANON: Can you tell me about one of your most memorable touring experiences?

Carlos: We saw ghosts in two different towns in Moravia, but only while we were performing. One was sitting in a corner in a basement in Olomouc, and the other was near the sound board in Sumperk. I also loved playing in Nantes, France during SOY Festival. It was like a small SXSW but the main venue was part of a castle.

Rachel: The ghost in Sumperk was hovering at the front of the stage while we were setting up gear. I could see him in my peripheral vision and when I would look up to where he was standing, there wasn’t anyone there. I wrote about it on my travel blog, Artist Wandering. I remember calling across the stage to Carlos as we were both plugging in pedals and such, he said he saw and felt it too. I thought it was the sound guy, which is why Carlos remembers the sound board. But the sound board was way in the back, far from the stage. The presence was so intense and he certainly wanted us to hurry up and get the hell out. Once we started performing, he disappeared. It was my birthday and we really connected with the local band and host.
During our second sighting in Olomouc, Carlos wasn’t able to see the ghost, I could only see it when I would look over at Carlos’ hands to see where he was in the song. So, this particular ghost, another man, was sitting in a corner and when I first spotted him on the other side of Carlos I thought, “Oh man, I hope he likes our set because he’s stuck back there behind our equipment.” But when the set was over, there was just an empty chair there. It was a bit unnerving to see him every time I looked over at Carlos during the set, but he quite enjoyed the music! He had very good vibes.
Bohemia was more visually mysterious, but the otherworldly visits in Moravia, I suppose. I’ve always been open to the unknown but I’ve never had such vivid contact with the paranormal. In general, I prefer touring in Europe. Music is treated more like the form of art it is and musicians are taken care of in ways that seem basic (dinner, a place to sleep, payment) but when you’re doing things on your own (booking, promoting, driving, loading, unloading, performing, etc) it makes a huge difference in how we function.

 

ANON: What are your thoughts on being a musician in the Austin music scene? How have things changed since you started playing music in the late 90’s?

Carlos: I moved here in 2002, and it’s quite a bit different. There are so many bands now; it’s easy to get lost in it all. There are no shortage of ideas floating around and we’re meeting more and more people we are cosmically connected with.

Rachel: I’ve been playing around town since 1997. I’ve seen so many of my favorite performance spots close. Electric Lounge, Liberty Lunch, you know. I even remember when Red Eyed Fly opened and they had the cleanest women’s restroom in town! Also, they didn’t have a patio, everyone wanted to play there and the inside room was often packed. I haven’t been in there in years. Emo’s (on Red River Street) was our hub. I played so many great shows there and saw so many great shows there. It was home. When that closed and moved, no matter how divey, it was the end of an era.
15+ years ago the community seemed more tight-knit. Maybe because it was smaller? We would all want to book each other so we could perform together and hang out. There wasn’t any sort of competition vibe. We were all in it together. I booked shows, entire bills, all the time and never took a cut as the booker. I was young and the extra work was part of the passion. I’m slowly getting back out there locally and finding the new generation to be supportive, inspiring, and super creative.

 

ANON: What albums have been on your playlist as of late?

Carlos: MJQ era Milt Jackson, Gal Costa’s 1969 s/t record, Harmonia’s Deluxe, lilys the three-way, Booka Shade’s Movements, lots of King Tubby & Eno.

Rachel: The Kills’ Ash & Ice, S U R V I V E’s RR7349, Prince Rama’s Extreme Now, Stereolab’s Switched On (always), and anything by Walter Wanderley.

 

All in the Golden Afternoon’s LP, The Fog is Filled With Spirits, includes enigmatical cover art by Iker Spozio and inside artwork by Rachel, limited to 250 copies. Their LP will be officially released on October 18th via their website for purchase, and for those who live in Austin, Texas, you can pick up an early copy of their vinyl on Saturday, October 15th at Cheer Up Charlie’s for their release party! It’ll be a stellar, shoegaze-filled night starting at 9PM with sets by Dead Leaf Echo from New York, Pale Dīan, Moving Panoramas, Single Lash, Grivo and All in the Golden Afternoon set to take the inside stage at midnight.

~ Trish Connelly ANON Magazine

 

 

OVRLD.com: Cheer Up Charlie's 23 September, 2015

Husband and wife duo, All In The Golden Afternoon, opened up the show with a pulsating and haunting soundscape. Later launching into a more ethereal, dreamy groove, All In The Golden Afternoon’s key sense of pacing led the audience into a hypnotic tour of just how skillfully varied their sound can be. Seamlessly transitioning from floating ambience to driving guitar to a kind of dreamy, sexy surf rock, duo Rachel Staggs and Carlos Jackson captivated the crowd and never became redundant. At first glance, Staggs had a kind of 12-string-wielding Stevie Nicks of shoegaze vibe, but ultimately proved to be a talented songstress in her own right. Together with the calculated synths and strings of Carlos Jackson and a live drummer, Staggs helped to deliver a great set, both arty and abstract at times while exhibiting a more structured dream pop at others. All In The Golden Afternoon has a new tape out, something that Staggs told the audience was “an experimental thing…we did some weird stuff.”

OVRLD.COM by Lindsey Hornbeck

 

 

 

Terrascope magazine 2011

ALL IN THE GOLDEN AFTERNOON – MAGIC LIGHTHOUSE ON THE INFINITE SEA

Named after a poem from the trippiest of children’s books, Lewis Carroll’s “Alice In Wonderland”, husband and wife duo Carlos Jackson and Rachel Staggs specialise in lo-fi, deceptively innocent sounding dream pop but which on this outing at least displays both an edge and a creative maturity which ensures it never sounds twee.

Ranging from instrumental like “Advice From A Caterpillar” and“The Pool of Tears”, the woozy acid pop of “In A Box” - which sounds like a slowed down and deconstructed outtake from Hawkwind’s “Hall of Mountain Grill”  - delightful, semi-sweet shoegaze vignettes and the hypno-tronic, download –only closer “Up All Night – Western Arms Remix”, Magic Lighthouse on the Infinite Sea is bound to draw at least superficial comparison with the likes of Mazzy Star, Damon and Naomi, even latter day Broadcast.  However, make no mistake, this has both an instant and enduring charm of its own and stands favourable comparison with any of the “peer group”.

Other than the quality of the music, the reason why this works well is pacing. Aside from the deliciously ethereal eight minute, “30th and Sanchez” (featuring some serious Theramin action courtesy of Octopus Project’s Yvonne Lambert) only the aforementioned “Up All Night...” clocks in at more than 5 minutes. In fact, most of the rest barely touches half of that. Whilst those who consider the world to have started and ended with side-long slow burners may be tempted to feel short changed at this point, bear in mind that this sort of format doesn’t allow for much latitude as a result of which it would be easy for this to quickly become a boring retread of itself. In this case, less really is more and it is to Jackson and Staggs’ credit that that they are able to keep proceedings so fresh and interesting throughout.

The verdict? Well, Magic Lighthouse on the Infinite Sea is pleasingly poptastic in a way that goes straight to your psychedelic psunspot (and in a way that shouts “silly grin alert”). Great cover from the inimitable Iker Spozio, too.

 

(Ian Fraser)