The Frosted Pane

Pagan Wanderer Lu‘s new album Planets In The Wires dropped today, and I just cried my eyes out at track 5 (The Frosted Pane).

It opens almost apologetically, like an explanation for the gap in new releases for most of the twenty-teens. But it quickly becomes a poetic exploration of a detached depression of a man trapped under the weight of the world. It’s sad, and beautiful, and relatable.

The Signal and the Noise

The Signal and The Noise
The Signal and The Noise, by Andrew Paul Regan.

I’d just like to say a few words of praise for Andy‘s new album, The Signal and the Noise. It’s not the first time I’ve said nice things about him, but it’s the first time since he’s been recording under his full name, rather than as “Pagan Wanderer Lu”.

I can say this for sure, though: The Signal and the Noise has finally dethroned my previous favourite Lu album, Build Library Here (or else!). It’s catchy, it’s quirky, and it’s full of songs that will make you wish that you were cleverer: so far, so good. I think that one of the things that particularly appealed to me in this album were that the lyrical themes touched on so many topics that interest me: religion and superstition, artificial intelligence, the difficulties of overcoming materialism, cold war style espionage, and cryptography/analysis… all wrapped up in fun and relatable human stories, and with better-than average running-themes, links, and connections.

One of the joys of Andy’s (better) music comes from the fact that rather than interpretation, it lends itself far better to being issued with a reading list. To which end, here’s a stack of Wikipedia articles that might help you appreciate this spectacular album a little better, for the benefit of those of you who weren’t lucky enough to have read all of this stuff already:

Oh; backing vocals, you’re too kind! But this is just another chapter in the story of my life.

The Omniscient Narrator

The final track’s a little weaker than the rest (the actual final track, not the “hidden track” bit), and I’m left with a feeling that this was so-close but not quite a concept album (which would have been even more spectacular an achievement), but these are minor niggles in the shadow of an otherwise monumental album.

Go get a copy.

By the way; I’ve got a spare – who wants it? Spare copy’s gone to Claire as an early birthday present. Somehow she failed to preorder a copy of her own.

Looking for an alternate opinion? Here’s a guy who didn’t “get it”.


Build Library Here (Or Else!)

This last few days, Claire and I have been listening to a hell of a lot of the new Pagan Wanderer Lu album, Build Library Here (Or Else!). And it’s such an impressive album that I’ve decided to write a little about it here, in the hope that some of you who’ve never heard of PWL before will take enough interest that you’ll download a few tracks (or persuade me to pirate some in your general direction), that you might enjoy them and the world will be a happier place. Oh; and so you might actually buy a copy of Build Library Here (Or Else!), ‘cos the artist is a great guy but is somewhat penniless:

Build Library Here (Or Else!) touches upon a combination of things going on both inside the songwriter and in the bigger picture, all put forward through a combination of intelligent lyrics, guitar, keyboard, and electronic/synthesised music. The Ending Makes What Came Before A Story is a slow acoustic piece with a soft chorus, which always reminds me of quite how easy it is to find pattern in something that you want to; whether in superstition or self-confidence. Or perhaps it’s about finding closure in hindsight. Good Christian/Bad Christian is a very danceable electronic affair: “I come to you with plans to be your leader – I come to you sing I’m a believer: Good Christian/Bad Christian… Baghdad can’t tell the difference,” sings PWL, in this politically and religiously fired-up song, challenging the link between state and religion that’s more obvious than ever in our terrorism-fuelled God-fearing Western democracies, with undertones of the association people mistakenly make between religion and morality. Keep The Weather Out is happy and bouncy; telling – on the surface – the story of a young couple buying a house for the first time and “settling down”, and the things that they consider important to making their house a home… with obvious references to tabloid-inspired xenophobia. Claire plays concertina in the background, and a strange synth drum-slapping session two and a half minutes in acts as a reminder that you are still listening to Pagan Wanderer Lu… in case you’d forgotten…

(Sick of) Playing Solo is, as Claire put it, possibly the bluntest, least-subtle Lu song ever. So far as anybody can see, there’re no deeply hidden meanings to go digging for; no clever run-on concepts to trip your brain up on; no second-listen “magic”. It is, essentially, an advertisement: but it’s a really, really good advertisement. Right from the start (and players of The Game will hate the second line) it presents a catchy, listenable tune, with frequent breaches of the fourth wall as the musician makes reference to his absent band and the things he’d love for them to be doing right now – with demonstrations. It’s fascinating to think that, owing to the complexity of the track, we may never see it played live ‘solo’, and the meaning is somewhat lost played with a band. I laughed out loud the first time I heard this song.

The Memorial Hall is my favourite song on the whole album. Even it’s musical peculiarities are remarkable and fascinating, such as the fact that it changes from 3/4 to 4/4 time some way into the song, without an awkward ‘jump’. These two parts each carry their own musical style: sombre and slow, and happy and disco-ey. It talks about the reasons for war, the arguments resulting from them, and the reactions of the people ‘left home’ in times of conflict, and comes to the startling realisation that the only valid purpose of modern warfare is to allow folks to dance at their local memorial hall disco. It makes reference to The Ending Makes What Came Before A Story, and leaves a catchy tune in your head that’ll soon take over your life in the way that (You And Me And) Winston Churchill, an earlier Pagan Wanderer Lu song, did before. It’s a remarkable song.

Show Me Yr Knuckles is worth a listen, 2 Bullets is good, although I can’t help but feel I’m missing something when listening to it, O Peter! (Won’t You Hear My Mournful Strum?) is an unusually deep-sounding, dramatic track, At The Hairdressers… is a masterful song about life, and death, and the triviality of it all in the eyes of anybody else, Harp & Chainsaw is an enjoyable experimental-sounding romp, and Yr On My Shoulder is a spectacular dive into personal ethics on which Claire and I are undecided whether the author is concerned with justification of his actions to himself (in a Marillion “Uninvited Guest” style ballad) or to somebody else: the lyrics could be read either way. Either way, it’s a stunning song.

Jabita Nu-Orleenz and Goodnight / Nos Da are both a little… weird, even for me. They’re still quite listenable, but there are perhaps boundaries in experimental up-and-coming music that even I’m not quite ready to venture into.

All in all, a fab CD.


I seem to spend most of my time on this blog posting retrospectively about what I did on any given weekend. Will try to spice things up with a little more thought and debateworthy stuff in the future – I’ve got some ideas. In any case:

Friday was Andy’s gig – not as good as the last one I went to, but still a fab show (and, in particular, some great guitarwork this time around). Claire couldn’t come – she was in Gregynog on a Computer Science away-half-weekend (the replacement for what used to be the “second Aberdyfi weekend” that we used to have in the first year).

Saturday was Troma Night. Rory (visiting) and not-gay Gareth (recently discovered to be in Aberystwyth) came along, as did Claire’s friend Ruth, and a good time was had by all.

And, of course, Sunday was Geek Night. We played Hacker for the first time in ages, as well as a little Fluxx. Matt seems to be a huge fan of the latter – perhaps it apppeals to the mathematician inside him.

Oh, and: Yay!

Halloween In Aber

I’m a big bad wolf, it seems. And last night I, along with Little Red Riding Hood (Claire), Death (Bryn), Paul (Andy!), Judge Doom [barely] (JTA), Pinocchio (Matt), and Matt (not in costume… grr), went out to the Coopers Arms to see Pagan Wanderer Lu. And he was good – some songs I knew, some songs I didn’t: tried to buy a CD at the end but it was £3 and Claire and I only had a £20 note between us and he evidently hadn’t sold £17 worth (i.e. 6) CDs yet because he couldn’t give us change so he’s holding one for us. Nothing rhymes with ‘Aberystwyth’, by the way.

We didn’t stay for much longer, because by this point the room was very full and very hot (particularly with us all in costumes)… so we bailed and went for a sly drink in Scholars, before retiring to the flat to watch My Neighbours, The Yamadas. Which was good.

Hmm… what’s everybody else saying:

Surprisingly Good Unsigned Artist

I’m actually impressed. My friend Andy’s finally put some songs online, and he’s really good (for one reason or another, I’d never heard anything of his before, and I’m much impressed – for some reason I’d come to the assumption that he’d be shit). Anyway – so long as you’re willing to put up with the (pretty crappy) recordings he’s put online, go listen to B.O.A.T.S. and Straight To Video (and Kofi Annan TV, if you can put up with bad MP3 quality). Then leave him some feedback.

In other news, have made a few minor improvements to Abnib: mostly to better highlight upcoming Troma Night events. On which note – this Saturday is Troma Night 50 – “Return To Firetop Mountain” (well done to Matt for understanding the reference), which I’m much looking forward to.