1 Inch: ½ Mile
Sometimes an album title is chosen at the last minute or for no other reason than it sounds good. Sometimes an album is just an assemblage of unrelated tracks and the title is meant to give form to a body of work that doesn’t really have any. Sometimes the title comes to its creator in a stoned dream. Sometimes it’s found written on the back of a pub toilet door. Grasscut don’t work like that. Main writer Andrew Phillips doesn’t say or do anything without it meaning something. So in using the slightly old fashioned (but highly accurate) map scale of “1 Inch: ½ Mile” you can be sure he’s trying to tell us something.
1 Inch: ½ Mile maps the route of a transcendental journey across a real landscape, centering on the Sussex South Downs of High Down, but taking in frozen mountains in North Wales (Meltwater), a man with a metal walking stick in a park in Brighton (The Tin Man), his mother’s memories of post-war rationing (1946) to the slightly more metaphorical Nintendo Cathedral of Muppet and Hilaire Belloc riding a winged horse across the nation. Weaving in between the lead vocal are voices from the past and the present, snatched from mobile phones & gramophones – a 1920s tenor, gossiping mums, land developers and the aforementioned Victorian singing poet. It’s a remarkable achievement – an evocation of a place and time where the countryside meets technology, a kind of interzone between the past and the future, and a journey through it that’s often funny, often moving, technically brilliant but never anything other than catchy and memorable.
“Ghostly, weird and enveloping electronica”
— Sunday Times
“Prepare to hear the future sound of yesteryear”
“One of that select band of artists who are making genuinely daring music that still remains an accessible and enjoyable listen”
— Tom Robinson, BBC 6Music
“Highly melodic, intelligently crafted and genuinely interesting”
— Clash Magazine
“Pastoral psychedelia…wonderful stuff”
— Stuart Maconie, BBC 6Music
“This album is pure genius”
— Sunday Telegraph, 5/5 (Top 10 pop CDs of 2010)
“A celebration of England at its naffest and most beautiful…I like it a lot!”
— Steve Lamacq, BBC 6Music
“Grasscut are the perfect riposte for those who doubt electronic music’s capacity to be romantic, nostalgie and human”
— Mojo, 4/5 (Electronica album of the month)
“Imagine the Gorillaz being led down a dark alley by Holden and Neu! Yet another indication of Ninja’s currently unstoppable purple patch…nine tracks of the most inventive songwriting you are likely to hear all year”
— iDJ, 9/10
1 Inch: 1/2 Mile was conceived on the South Downs of Sussex, near our home city of Brighton. This map details a secluded, half-forgotten valley on the fringes of the city – for us, the ideal environment in which to hear it.
From the edge of the suburban housing estate of Woodingdean, the route descends through rolling downland into what was once the village of Balsdean, evacuated and subsequently destroyed during World War Two. Of the manor house, cricket pitch, farms, cottages and lunatic asylum, nothing is now visible save a few scattered foundations; the site of the Norman chapel is marked only by a plaque.
Those of a curious and/or dogged disposition might also like to know that we have secreted, in the environs of Balsdean, a single, utterly unique Grasscut artefact. Its location is hinted at in bonus track A Lost Village.
Transport: There is a small car park on the hill above Woodingdean, just to the east of Brighton, at the junction of Bexhill Road and Falmer Road. There are also buses to Bexhill Road: 52 (from Brighton Station) and 22A (from Brighton’s Churchill Square); the bus stop is called Sea View Way. The walk should take around 50 minutes.
Start point: Walk over the bank at the top corner of the car park, and turn right along the first path. You will see two phone masts. Head towards the larger one on the right, beyond the houses. (This path is Norton Drive, and old drovers’ route between Brighton and Lewes.) Keeping the houses on your right, continue for five minutes. 250 yards before the phone mast, the path divides into three. Take the left path, signposted as ‘South Downs Circular Walks’, towards a wooden gate 50 yards ahead.