Ten years have passed since THE UPTIGHTS’ debut cassette, At the Wörthersee Hotel, first surfaced online. The sad and eerie tape sounded like little else, owing as much to books and old radio/TV vignettes as to indie guitar music. Now Oslo’s unsung lo-fi heroes are back. Their new album “It is for them that the lights twinkle” features 10 hanting, melancholic and experimental post-punk tracks recorded to cassette, and is out today! Their first album in ten years ranges from explosions of noise and upbeat punk energy to soothing drones and hushed acoustic strums. We’re thrilled to give you its full listen and special top 10 inspirations feature below!
Taking its name from Lewis Mumford’s The Culture of Cities (1938), IIFTTTLT revolves loosely around isolation and the city – from subdued fragments of lives to electric bursts of energy. The ten tracks were recorded to cassette in a damp rehearsal space between 2012 and 2016. They stem from a batch of songs originally intended for a double LP.
Throughout the years the The Uptights have resurfaced for the occasional show, most recently opening for Molchat Doma (BY) last year. In 2019 they became a four-piece.
The Uptights are releasing their first album in ten years today, on June 25th.
10 THINGS THAT INFLUENCED THE UPTIGHTS’ NEW LP, «IT IS FOR THEM THAT THE LIGHTS TWINKLE»
1. František Kupka – «Four stories in black and white»
The Czech painter and graphic artist’s «Four stories in black and white» from 1926 (and his studies in black and white, which led up to its publication) were an inspiration for the album artwork. It pointed out a direction for Andreas no. 2’s early sketch of the light bulb, which he ended up cutting in lino in the end.
2. Guided By Voices – the lo-fi years
Guided By Voices’s (many) records from their lo-fi years inspired us to record to cassette when we first formed in 2010. And we’ve never stopped since. «Club Molluska», which kicks in a minute and 45 seconds into this short documentary, is a good example of the kind of songs that got us hooked. GBV’s cassette recordings have an aura of mystery to them that you don’t get with your regular rock’n’roll band.
3. Andreas no. 2’s dreams
Andreas no. 2 quite literally dreamt the instrumental «Among Verticals» and recorded a demo on his phone when he awoke. The title is taken from a František Kupka painting, so Czech artist must have made an impression on him.
Andreas no. 2 wrote the music for «Arthaus Rock» as well. Øyvind wrote the melody on «Bær», Andreas no. 1 the rest of the album. We did the arrangements together.
4. Lewis Mumford – The Culture of Cities (1938)
The title «It Is for them that the lights twinkle» is taken from a paragraph in Lewis Mumford’s 1938 book, «The Culture of Cities», describing how the lights of adverts and theatres twinkle at the crowds at night. Our album offers brief impressions of city dwellers. From the old lady speaking in a slightly old fashioned and broken Norwegian of her past and inner lives on «Bær», to the «pompous man with shiny shoes» in the phone booth late at night on «Rings Hollow».
5. The Slow Painters
Andreas no. 1 and Øyvind play in a jangly indie pop/rock band called The Slow Painters as well. Two of the songs on «IIFTTTLT» were originally intended for them: «Days» and «Swacket».
At the time The Uptights recorded the songs, sometime between 2012 and 2015, The Slow Painters weren’t as active as they are now. Their debut LP came out last year, 16 years after they formed.
6. Our old rehearsal space
A little L shaped room in an old brick warehouse, what more can a man ask for? These dark pictures are pretty indicative of the lighting in the room. All the music on the album was recorded there.
If you look closely at the second picture, you’ll see our Tascam 488 tape recorder and the old telephone Andreas no. 1 bought while living in Berlin. Our friend Øystein Dale Svendsen (Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson, Ben Leiper and Aldrin) turned it into a microphone. We used that to record the vocals on «Tonight’s Coolest Concert.» The title was lifted straight off of a makeshift concert poster, which was hanging on the wall.
Our debut cassette is still our most important point of reference. The mood we hit on when we recorded those nine tracks is something we’ve tried to preserve on «IIFTTTLT». We never really stopped recording after «At the Wörthersee Hotel» was done, so our new album picks up where its predecessor left off.
8. Andreas no. 1’s collection of cassette players and microcassette dictaphones
Andreas no. 1 has a little collection of cassette players and microcassette dictaphones. We love the ambience, texture and noise those little machines generate. One by one they all malfunctioned, so they were more frequently used on our first tape, but the conversation on «Bær» was run through an old Grundig dictaphone.
9. The Telescopes, At the Drive-In and MC5
Three songs have had a direct influence on «IIFTTTLT» in one way or the other. One of them is MC5’s «Skunk (Sonically Speaking)». It gave us the idea of adding trombones on «Quit Jazz» and making one of them sound like a motorcycle revving towards the end of the song.
This guitar pedal is all over our record.