Caught by the River


1st December 2017

Robin Turner takes Mark Peters’ mini-album Innerland — out today on Sonic Cathedral — for a spin

My mind’s drifting today.

There’s a low autumn sun bouncing off the dull, corrugated silver of the ugliest train station in Britain. I’m sure there’s strong competition for that title; this one really is quite crap though. It’s so bright here today, I’d wear sunglasses but I know I’ll end up looking like I’m trying too hard. These days, I’m a commuter. I’m sure there are rules about how one of those acts, how one composes themself. Whether sunglasses are acceptable and that.

Bang on time, here comes 10 carriages of sleek new rolling stock. Even a month back, these trains were a rare sight and more than a little problematic; springing leaks and always crawling in late like a guilty teenager. One of them made that bleached Mekon Chris Grayling look (even more) like a prick though so I’m good with them.

Five minutes into the journey, we’re cutting through green fields, speeding past the blots – those endless invasive farm buildings; unpretty and bloody everywhere. To the left, a wind turbine pulls lazy loops on the horizon.
The sun gives the impression it’s spring.
Palettes and palettes and palettes.
Silage truck.
Pig sheds.
Low candyfloss clouds hanging over some kind of mega Tesco. I really must start Christmas shopping.

Drifting again. Press play.

I’m sat on the 11.32 to London, plugged into a record by Mark Peters that my friend Nat gave me the other day. Six instrumental tracks whose only visual descriptor is a section from a fictionalised OS map (the place names are all real, the map bends vast distances to suit purpose). The record imagines a fluid landscape – the Innerland of the title. I figure the best way to soak it in is on one of my own cross country voyages; one where the only distractions are ones glimpsed at 125 miles per hour.

The opening track, ‘Twenty Bridges’, arrives on a rising ambient tone, opening up wide with a gliding Vini Reilly guitar figure. It’s impossibly beautiful, evoking a bird’s-eye view of its own landscape, one untarnished by the blots and the palettes and the Tescos of the real world that try – and fail – to break the spell of this beautiful and expressive record. The closest Innerland comes to breaking a sweat is when ‘Mann Island’ fuses something close to a power chord over a hypnotic, somnambulant backing track. Otherwise, it flows like a daydream, creating its own visuals in your head, a countryside in motion – hills, lanes, fields, villages. Panoramas unspooling behind your closed eyes.

With London in sight, Innerland miraculously powers down. I’ve played it three times during the journey. Each time the music reveals itself a little more and the outside world stops intruding. I hardly notice that we’re alighting at Platform 8 and everyone has adopted that London face, their expressions set to ‘repel’. The city requires something else – something mechanical and aggressive enough to make the tube bearable. Mark Peters’ record – all delicacy and widescreen beauty – will have to wait for the return trip tonight. I can’t wait.


Innerland is out now, and available to buy here.

Mark Peters plays London’s St Pancras Old Church on 7 December (tickets here), and Liverpool’s 81 Renshaw Street on 9 December (tickets £4 OTD, with all proceeds going to Merseyside Domestic Violence Services).

Robin Turner on Caught by the River/on Twitter