DINKED EXCLUSIVE 091
Great Spans Of Muddy Time
DINKED EDITION 091 £24.99
And Everything Changed (But I Feel Alright) -
Somewhere Totally Else
Nothing At All
St. Giles’ Hill
A Forgotten Film
Theme from Muddy Time
[a sea of thoughts behind it]
Changed (But I Feel Alright)’. Representative of the album as a whole, the lead single is eclectic and unpredictable, but also
playful and infectious. On top of gently pulsing electronics, soothing harmonies and glowing melodies, there’s also a ripping
guitar solo that ricochets around the song like a pinball. “It's partly a reaction to the complexity and excess of my last album. I
wanted to get back into the craft of writing individual songs rather than being concerned with overarching concepts,” Doyle
It’s nearly a decade since William Doyle handed a CD-R demo to the Quietus co-founder John Doran at a gig, who loved it so
much he set up a label to release Doyle’s debut EP (as East India Youth). Doyle’s debut album, Total Strife Forever, followed in
2014, as did a nomination for the Mercury Music Prize. A year later, he was signed to XL, touring the world and about to release
his second album – all by the age of 25.
After self-releasing four ambient and instrumental albums, Doyle’s third full-length record – and the first under his own name –
Your Wilderness Revisited arrived to ecstatic reviews in 2019: Line of Best Fit described it as “a dazzlingly beautiful triumph of
intention” and Metro declared it an album not only of the year, but “of the century”. Just over a year later, as he turns 30, Doyle
is back with Great Spans of Muddy Time.
Born from accident but driven forward by instinct, Great Spans’ was built from the remnants of a catastrophic hard-drive failure.
With his work saved only to cassette tape, Doyle was forced to accept the recordings as they were – a sharp departure from his
process on Your Wilderness Revisited, which took four long years to craft toward perfection. “Instead of feeling a loss that I
could no longer craft these pieces into flawless ‘Works of Art’, I felt intensely liberated that they had been set free from my
ceaseless tinkering,” Doyle says.
“The album this turned out to be – and that I’ve wanted to make for ages – is a kind of Englishman-gone-mad, scrambling
around the verdancy of the country’s pastures looking for some sense,” says Doyle. “It has its seeds in Robert Wyatt, early Eno,
Robyn Hitchcock, and Syd Barrett.” Doyle credits Bowie’s ever-influential Berlin trilogy, but also highlights a much less expected
muse: Monty Don, presenter of the BBC programme Gardeners’ World, Doyle’s lockdown addiction.
“I became obsessed with Monty Don. I like his manner and there's something about him I relate to. He once described periods of
depression in his life as consisting of ‘nothing but great spans of muddy time’. When I read that quote I knew it would be the
title of this record,” Doyle says. “Something about the sludgy mulch of the album’s darker moments, and its feel of perpetual
autumnal evening, seemed to fit so well with those words. I would also be lying if I said it didn’t chime with my mental health
experiences as well.”
Great Spans of Muddy Time is a beautiful ode to the power of accident, instinct and intuition. The result, however, is far from an
anomaly: this celebration of the imperfect album is one that required years of honed craft and dedicated focus to achieve. “For
the first time in my career, the distance between what I hear and what the listener hears is paper-thin,” Doyle says. “Perhaps
therein reveals a deeper truth that the perfectionist brain can often dissolve.”
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