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Paul Thomas Saunders

Away From The Noise


Paul Thomas Saunders is a talented producer, sonic architect, singer and songwriter based in Brighton, and has recently released his long-awaited second album ‘Figure In A Landscape’. The follow up to his critically acclaimed debut ‘Beautiful Desolation’ (2014, Atlantic Records), ‘Figure In A Landscape’ is the result of almost eight years away from music in search of greater meaning which saw the songwriter become a paramedic and RNLI lifeboat crew. 

"As a human, there are many occasions I have failed to rise to the occasion, however, if an opportunity arises to chew people’s ear off about the films of Jim Jarmusch – I shall rise, like a weird impish looking phoenix, every time. I was introduced to his movies almost a decade and a half ago now through his third feature ‘Down by Law’, made a couple of years before I was born, starring Roberto Benigni (Life is Beautiful) and Tom Waits (…all round God). Since then, his filmography has always been a bit of a comfort blanket, something I crawl into when I want to turn my brain off when I want to feel inspired or just when I’m a little blue.   

I’ve always been a bit of a movie nerd (I like to think), and a total sucker for those stories that feel like a portrait of a character’s essence, rather than some intricate three-movement blockbuster (which I also definitely have time for). His first movie, made for $12,000 after he’d dropped out of film school, is the perfect example of that. ‘Permanent Vacation’ is this beautiful moving picture of an unassuming but disenfranchised teenager making his way through a dilapidated New York back-drop, drinking in eccentric characters along his journey. It’s meandering, with lingering scenes that are as punk as they are poetic. His ability to explore the warm introspection of characters in often broken environments, or imperfect situations, for me, creates this really intimate and immersive experience that whilst totally idiosyncratic at times, is so real and touching.   

From the disorientating chaos of ‘Mystery Train’ - which sees a Japanese couple take a pilgrimage to Memphis, or the tenderness of ‘Patterson’ - a simple story about a bus driver, their poetry book and a dog… essentially, J. J. never underestimates the curiosity of the audience. It’s that belief in the audience, that I think allows his movies to transcend their form into something just a little purer than entertainment. Re-watching them today, that’s quite a foreign sentiment, they truly are the antithesis of immediate gratification and what we assume is the depleting attention span of the consumer – whatever the medium. The little moments of magic that Jim Jarmusch directs therefore are worth far more to me than inspiration as a musician, but, recognising the connection that can be made when you don’t assume the very least from your audience, is a mantra I now value highly." 

Paul's stunning new album ‘Figure In A Landscape’ is out now via sevenfoursevensix records.

Words by Paul Thomas Saunders

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