The Boxed Set #8: The Aberystwyth Cliff Railway Disaster 1902

The boxed set goes analogue! From here on in we’re into the realms of material recorded all during the two years of PWL’s existence on a Tascam 4-track cassette machine.

This EP was recorded in 2001 and probably released in early 2002 – my memory is a little hazy. I recorded at least some of it in my bedroom on High Street in Aberystwyth (quite near Siop Enoc Hughes, for the record), then I think I physically made the CD’s over Christmas.

This is also the only PWL release to feature outside help recording-wise right up until I did ‘The Independent Scrutineer’ with Napoleon IIIrd in 2006. It was cleaned up, edited, and mastered at Aber Sound Productions by a nice man called Huw.

Sound wise we’re in mostly acoustic guitar territory on the proper songs, but with a few curveballs coming in. I took a bit more care with this record than the first two, which was also reflected in the snazzy packaging complete with stickered CD and full jewel case. The photograph is of a Halloween pumpkin that lived in our student house. The back cover depicted him months later when he had rotted into a little pile of orange mulch. Deep.

The Lord Geraint / The Lords Marks

The first and last tracks are actually the same piece of music played backwards then forwards. It was made with delayed guitars and a bit of kalimba. The names of the tracks are the carriages on the Aberystwyth cliff railway. On the cd ‘The Lord Marks’ was listed as ‘tniareg drol eht’ – made by flipping the handwritten tracklist sideways in photoshop. This was because I couldn’t remember the name of the other carriage, and the railway was closed for winter so I wasn’t able to check. The internet could not help me.

Asking you to dance

A simple tale of romance. Inspired by a particular girl at university (yeah, we’re getting into that territory) but re-cast in a school setting for reasons I now can’t recall. Pretty damn twee, but likeable enough I think. Certainly a million miles away from some of the cynical stuff that would come later….

Life’s too good (for other fkers and not for me)

A superior version (i.e shorter & more upbeat) of one of my ‘live favourites’ from my first year. It first appeared on the first EP and I’ll talk it about it properly when we get to it there.

Straight to Video

Despite the bongos I prefer this version to the one on ‘Restless Revolution Day By Day’ a few years later. My first real attempt at a political song, in the context of watching my little brother grow up. Obviously this was 2001 so everything was very ‘post 9-11’ even in sleepy coastal Wales. I think the positive response to this song was what encouraged me to move a bit more in that direction in later years.

This song is one of those ‘gems’ that made me feel like it was worth unearthing all the ‘slightly less good’ stuff from these archives. But yes it does sound a little bit like ‘Stand By Me’ by Oasis, well spotted.

The Buck Stops Here, Merritt!

Odd guitar instrumental, using a delay as a looper. I was totally ahead of the curve on guitar looping. When I first saw someone use one (a guy called Karl Blau FYI) it was like a revelation. The thing I had been waiting for so long was here! This was in 2004. I finally bought a loop pedal in 2009 and have hardly used it for PWL. They’re just totally overdone now, and don’t lend themselves to interestingly structured songwriting. Anyway…

This track is basically three minutes of screeching atonal, shrill noise. Utterly out of place on the EP. A friend said around the time that ‘it terrifies me’. You’ll see why.


This recording actually pre-dates Pagan Wanderer Lu entirely and is lifted from one of the nine albums that I made before university*. Using the actually pretty decent synth setting on a Yamaha keyboard I made a reasonable sub-Joy Division dirge about some girl or other. You’ll notice I seem to be feigning a little Stuart Murdoch lilt on this. I used to do that a lot. I genuinely don’t think I realised at the time that ‘Control’ was a Joy Division song title.


Another ‘about a girl’ dirge. This time with clanging electric guitar and please-god-forgive-me out of tune vocals. Your ears will not like this. Lyrically somewhat self-pitying. A song from a whole different human being.

The Glen

This was the bonus track. During my first year I recorded each of the 25-ish people who lived on my floor in the ‘Ifor Evans’ hall of residence talking about things… various questions about their lives. I then used the results to make a whole EP which for some reason or other never got released. This was the only track from it I used. Much of it is in-jokes.

‘The Glen’ in question was, at the time, a deeply awful seafront night spot. It was the sort of place where you could ask for fourteen vodkas in one glass and they would happily serve it to you. The chorus line refers to an ‘incident’ on the speaker’s birthday. The reason everything is so out of time is that I made the loops by editing the tracks on a minidisc using my hi-fi. I had no laptop or sequencer at the time, so I was hand-editing minidisc loops then trying to record them onto a cassette machine. So, erm… yeah… a comedy/novelty bonus track full of in jokes. Enjoy.

As usual, pay what you like! Two more releases to go, see you next time.x

*These will not be getting reissued. Ever. Ever ever ever…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: