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This is the elusive solo album (I Trawl the Megahertz) by singer-songwriter Paddy McAloon, originally released in 2003 by Liberty Records. The powerful and poignant album is now re-released under the name Prefab Sprout and on vinyl for the first ever time. The largely instrumental album marked a notable stylistic change featuring classical passages and orchestration reminiscent of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel, McAloon’s two favourite composers. The seeds of this album were sown when McAloon discovered he was losing his sight thanks to a damaged retina. Denied the pleasure of reading a book, he retreated into listening to the radio, mainly late night talk shows.
I Trawl the Megahertz is dominated by the title track, a 22-minute symphony with a spoken narration by a female vocalist. It is a beautiful and extraordinarily ambitious piece – one that no other songwriter working would have contemplated, much less attempted, much less realised as spectacularly as McAloon does here. The album is mournful, epic and lush. A true under rated gem.
“It was comforting to listen to a huge world beyond the narrow boundaries of my own teenage self, where Russian propagandists would monotonously intone documentaries about tractor factories, where you would hear the zeal and activity of American preachers. Or mysterious lists of numbers, or a static soundscape which the late night would blur into nearly comprehensible whispers. That idea is I think what lies at the heart of this piece: you are given an imperfect view of a greater reality revealed in little snippets. You’re suspended, detached, turning the dial and hearing the story emerge.” – Sproutology