In 1981 The Icicle Works released a cassette of their earliest demos. It went to John Peel and the like and we sold it at gigs. Chris Layhe, Chris Sharrock and I had been working together for a few months, rehearsing in The Ministry in Liverpool city centre and trying to find our way. In order to pay for rehearsals we reluctantly went into the local working mens' clubs billed as 'Current Affairs' to pay for time and someone to drive us there and back. We had all recently escaped from the cabaret circuit - which is great fun for a while, but becomes very old for young guns who desire more than playing other people's songs and just earning a few bob on the side, so this was a big deal, and it was done through gritted teeth.

   I had an MM mixing desk and a Tandberg reel-to-reel tape deck. I would bring them into rehearsal, record the bass and drums then take the results home, adding more instruments by bouncing between the Tandberg and a cassette deck. The results were lo-fi but they allowed us to hear ourselves in some form and I could develop as a writer/arranger. A Melos Echo Chamber was our only outboard effect. The more you "bounced" tracks the more definition you lost, so three goes was about all you had.

     Our embryonic influences were early Human League, Soft Cell, Heaven 17, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Magazine, Echo And The Bunnymen, The Cure, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Be Bop Deluxe/Bill Nelson, John Foxx, Teardrop Explodes - there was a lot going on and the past was to be left far, far behind.

As we developed, songs would get left behind and replaced with newer, better ones. Subsequently the tunes offered on Ascending served our live shows at the time but were never recorded even in a proper demo studio. When the likes of Nirvana, As The Dragonfly Flies, Reaping The Rich Harvest and eventually Birds Fly (Whisper To A Scream) came along many early songs were forgotten. We became less electronic. I recently came across a copy of Ascending and enjoyed hearing it again. It's embryonic, often lyrically unintentionally hilarious, the songs are just plain weird at times - but it's equally very important to me as it's The Beginning. I decided I must record these songs properly and release them. It's been a lot of fun revisiting them, they have all been drastically reimagined IN THE SAME KEYS and I can't wait for you to hear them. It was a lovely feeling doing this - it made me realise I'm the same chap at 60 as I was at 20 - just so much more handsome.


The original release:




All copies personally signed. Limited to 1,000 CDs and 250 vinyl. Due to Coronavirus restrictions I can only make an educated guess as to when Ascending will be despatched. I would hope for early Autumn. Utopian has taken a long time due to the Pandemic. It's affected every aspect of the process including mastering and manufacturing. Both are busier than ever as artists unable to play live are busy recording. Utopian's release was moved to coincide with a national tour in 2021. This will not happen now and all dates have been moved to 2022. Utopian will however be sent out from the end of April. Ascending will become a Hard To Find item very quickly and there will be no repress as I like the zen-like quietly of there being so few of them out there.

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Harry Dean Stanton

Taken from Ian's latest album "UTOPIAN"
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