Peter Lacey 2001
By Ronnie

What a jolt of electricity I felt when I heard Peter Lacey’s follow-up CD to “BEAM!” was on the way to me for review in EAR CANDY! When “Thru A Glass Brightly” arrived, I was hesitant. Would it rise to the expectation? I mean, “BEAM!” got some pretty impressive reviews all around. But, after hearing only a few songs, I realized that lightning can indeed strike twice! [But, enough of the contents of the CD, it will be reviewed in our review section this month.]

I talked to Peter about the new CD, how he compares it to BEAM!, his expectations and his approach to recording his new album .


E.C.: "Thru A Glass Brightly" is the title of the new disc. Is this a word play off the old Rolling Stones album, "Through the Past Darkly"?

Peter: It's actually a quote from the Bible; "Through A Glass Darkly" the theme of which is that, as children we see the world through untainted, fresh eyes, and then, as adults we look back from a dimmed-eyed perspective at all that went before. I thought it would be a good idea to turn the phrase and its meaning around, as I think in listening and playing music we cast off the mundane world, to see thru a glass brightly.

E.C.: Is there any hidden meaning behind the stained glass image on the cover? I did notice the continuance of the "sun" image. Is it rising or setting? Likewise, is there a "theme" to this album? Maybe I'm reading too much into this rising/setting sun description, but it seems valid to me. Where "BEAM!" hits you as a very "morning" album, "Thru A Glass Brightly" impresses an "evening" feeling to me. Not in any kind of dark connotations that "evening" has. I'm talking more introspective, as TAGB definitely has a more introspective feel. Were these songs more introspective to you?

Peter: What an interesting, intuitive question Ronnie!. I'd say it could be either sunrise or sunset. That said this sun is "in the west" and evening would be on the cards...

For me, the "hidden meaning" of the window is the wonder of our imaginative and perceptive powers. When we engage with pictures and paintings that are captivating, this involves the transition of seeing something as something else. That's perception. The imaginative activity enables us to "disappear" into a new realm only to return to the ordinary world. The wardrobe in "The Lion, The Witch and The ardrobe" is, as it were, the child's portal in story telling. As adults any painting that draws you in is just as wonderful...

The title track lyric "hides" these considerations, plus the idea that these don't have to be seen as two different world's but, in interface, that our appreciation of art can enhance the view we have of the every-day world...

Personally, I don't think of these songs as more introspective,- as products of my subjectivity, all the songs are introspective!. I do think the album as a whole is more measured and therefore perhaps introverted.

E.C.: They say you have your entire life to make your first album. Was there any pressure that you put on yourself in making your follow-up? If anything, I've noticed MORE confidence in your voice on this album.

Peter: Well Ronnie, truth to tell, BEAM! was created under some pressure. The record company were itching to "get it out there". Also, I was experimenting with the multi-track harmonies and wrestling with the limitations of the 4 track with a million overdubs! "Thru A Glass Brightly" was recorded in a far more relaxed way, and, with less elaborations. So I felt more at ease within the process of recording it.

E.C.: I admire your direction on the new album, it is definitely NOT a "Beam II". However, did the keep the same approach in songwriting? Were all the songs brand new, or were there any older songs that you had to work with?

Peter: Thanks. I had it in mind not to do Beam! 2. All my favourite writers moved on. There's nothing worse than "sausage factory music" turning out exactly the same form and content!, or is that an honest appraisal of the pop chart?...

My "formula" for writing was the same. "The Tower" like "The Green Man" was hatched entirely in my head as an accapella piece. The others from endlessly wringing out the ivories in the attic,- nothing changes!. All the songs were written from scratch as "jig-saw pieces" fitting an envisaged mood for an album. This spring I had listened to The Beach Boys "Friends" album a good deal and enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere the record may have rubbed off!.

E.C.: I'm curious, was a porta-studio used this time around? Or did you record in a studio proper? Also, were there any outside musicians on the album [sorry, my copy didn't come with any liner notes]?

Peter: Unfortunately no. Had Beam! sold in truckloads then the project was to get upgrade the technology and get HI FI!. Life being what happens to you while your busy making other plans, meant that the music is portastudio again, but as I say, paired down sound-wise. The clarity of the harmonies needed to count more over elaborate instrumentation...and anyway my loft is fine so long as it's not too hot outside!

The only other musician on the album is my good friend Jon Fielder who supplied Synth and Tympani on "Cloud Gathering", and did the lovely string arrangement for "Ellen Street", performed by the Fielder Fiddlers. (a besuited-string quartet in your attic is a sight to see!)

E.C.: Now the question I'm sure everyone wants an answer to...will there be a tour or any live shows to promote "Thru A Glass Brightly"?

Peter: Ahh! as before Ronnie, the idea is most beautiful, but again, the cost and logistics are overwhelming. We looked into taking the music out in the UK alone and the cost was once again, unless someone with the clout offers to foot the bill, both Beam! and Thru a Glass Brightly remain trapped on CD.


I've always found Peter's lyrics intriguing. So we are going to depart from the norm on this interview and devote a section to analyzing the lyrics on Peter's new album.

Note: the artwork/photos for this section were supplied by Peter himself.

E.C.: THRU A GLASS BRIGHTLY-I see this song comparing the "gilded" adult to the child looking "optimistically" towards the future. Can only a child see the lighthouse of hope, even without a looking glass? I love the wordplay in the phrase, "behold the setting of the sun the farther to the man...” Is hope the theme to this song? There also seems to be a touch of reverie in regards to the "gilded shore".

Peter: Well I think such lyrics by their very nature tend to elicit lots of interpretations, and that's half the fun - reading what meaning you can into a lyric or poem and that will be different for each individual. One thing I did hope to convey was the way in which memory plays tricks on images of the past. There is a name loration the mind imposes on childhood, such that, even if it was not that great, you can view the past through rose-tinted spectacles and make everything all right. The interesting part about it is that it is the adult superimposing these perceptions upon childhood, where a sense of loss or nostalgia prevails. Yet it is actually an act of an adult's creative imagination in the present making it at all possible!. It's a sleight of mind to marvel at. The gilded shore is of our making. So, unlike the Biblical thru a glass darkly, we are prone to want to create a gilt-edged past. Hope is given a sporting chance by such legerdemain. As adults I think we like to turn what has happened into a story and in some sense make it comfortable as a result. So it is the adult being pro-active in keeping the lighthouse of hope going.

E.C.: INSPIRATION-Anybody who has been inspired by a girl, whether it be poetic or musically, this song will make perfect sense. Although the song is very upbeat, I sense something maybe not so perfect. The line "the girl's a pearl bright as any sun to my jaded heart...Inspiration" hides a positive AND a negative. But, does she know why your heart is jaded?

Peter: I would like to add that if the bloke in the song was suffering because of the end of one love affair, and I mean suffering, and is lucky to meet a kind and caring girl, I think then we then speak of angels.

E.C.: THE SPARKLE ROOM-I love the imagery of this song, especially the second half-which musically takes you to the "Sparkle Room". Are you talking about awareness, one that you wonder if it is there or not? "Shifting-shape" and "momentarily" describe a place that is never the same, although always the same?

Peter: The "Sparkle Room" is actually a term used in wave surfing for the ultimate experience. An epiphany. I am told that if the moon is full or the sun in a particular position when traversing the "tube" of a rolling wave, surfer's experience kaleidoscopic hallucinatory effects. It is apparently the ultimate high in surfing. I just thought how wonderful it sounded and wrote the song based on such accounts...

E.C.: ELLEN STREET-On first glance at the lyrics, I picture and English city- once alive, but bombed during World War II? Especially with the lines, "with your hardships and your history you were taken so suddenly...and the man fearing aeroplane engine overhead". You seem to hit on the Ray Davies art of describing British towns.

Peter: Yes indeed Ronnie, In a nutshell, Ellen Street was the road where my Grandparents lived, and my Mum was born. My Grandad worked on the railway, and the houses were built as homes for railway workers. I have many happy memories (or amelioration’s) of being a boy there.

Very sadly, in their infinite wisdom, the local council tore them down in the 1960's to build high-rises in which they re-housed the residents, by and large taking away the sense of close-knit community there before. The song is an elegy.....

E.C.: MALANDRO- This being an instrumental, how did you come up with the name and is there any special meaning or feeling you wanted to evoke?

Peter: After the lament of Ellen Street and its "Englishness", I thought it would be good to transport the listener into the exotic. "Malandro" is Portuguese/Brazilian word for a character, a man living on luck and charm, lazy but street wise, often strumming his guitar whilst others work. A romantic vision of a vagabond.

E.C.: THE TOWER-This song still puzzles me lyrically. It seems so transcendental that I don't come away with a clear meaning. But, the delivery of the song as an almost monk-like chant almost seems to put me in a trance! I do notice that this is the second song with a camera reference. You have "camera-lucida" in "Thru A Glass Brightly" and in this song you have "camera obscura". Any chance of a hint?

Peter: Well again Ronnie, hopefully it works on different levels. All I can say is there is an ambiguity between the tower and the man who discovers it...I was also taken with the idea that when you apprehend a ruin, the imagination tries to "re-construct" it as it was before time took it's toll. There is however the ability to enjoy the relic for what it is in its present state, no longer what it was. I suppose its are turn to the way in which our minds transform things by virtue of how we perceive them. With our thoughts we make the world.

E.C.: KATHY IN CHIAROSCURO- I think I've found a piece to the puzzle, or maybe just a coincidence. "There is hope in light" seems to reflect a little of the theme of "Thru A Glass Brightly"? Is "Chiaroscuro" a real place?

Peter: Ha!Ha!, another intended ambiguity I'm afraid!. A title a little like "The Girl From Ipanema "perhaps?...But no, Chiaroscuro is a term used in painting for the use of light and shade in pictorial representation. "The hope in light" line definitely refers back to the theme in "Inspiration", where meeting and being with the right person makes the world a wonderful place.

E.C.: WHITE WORLD (WITHOUT SOUND)-I picture a snow covered landscape in the dead of winter, the world sleeping. "For now the earth becomes spellbound here in a White World without a sound"-but what of nature's sounds in winter?

Peter: Beautifully put Ronnie, that's exactly the evocation. In my mind it walking on the Sussex Downs at the moment after a night of a snow blizzard and all has settled and become transformed. Literally speaking sounds are always present, but there is this wonderful sense of stillness and quietness at such times....

E.C.: SUN STREET-Coincidence that the instrumental is called "Sun Street"? The awakening of the earth?

Peter: There's a road in the historical town of Lewes nearby that has this name. But I imagine it as the ideal place to live, where children play without danger and everyone is friendly. A place where they have street parties all the time without occasion, just because everyone likes everyone else...

E.C.: FOOLS & KINGS- From the cradle to the grave, mortal man has no real power, whether he is a king or fool? I also catch a few references here: mythology ("Icarus"), "the voice of an angel struck dumb" (Brian Wilson's original 'Dumb Angel'), classic literature ("behold the lord of flies") and the Bible ("from the taste of the first fruit"). All of these point to man's mortality.

Peter: Again Ronnie, your finger is on the button. I really don't know what to say about the words. You said it already.

E.C.: CLOUD GATHERING-The sound of the ancients in the trees? That's what I get from the line, "mistral-warped trees...whispers of the past the shape of things to come..."

Peter: Great image. Yes, I was thinking of the trail of time and faceless people claimed by the vortex. Chilling. But in literal terms of the weather I imagined another stillness to that of snow. The calm before the storm. Then turmoil. As a metaphor for life I suppose it's making the point that you never know what's round the corner...

E.C.: THE SO LONG SONG-I can't help of comparing this song to the Beach Boys, "God Only Knows"- with its "as long as there are stars above you" line. In your song you say, "so long as time will wait for me, bowed but not broken are we". Am I on the mark here? A love whose existence can be measured by those unworldly attributes?

Peter: It wasn't intended as an echo of "God Only Knows" but it’s an honour to make such an alignment!. I admire the 11th century poet Omar Khayyam who wrote the Ruba'iyat, in one he says; "The days of time disdain him who sits sorrowing over the grief of time drink a glass of wine to the notes of the harp before all glasses are smashed on rock" I just wanted to say that life can be full of obstacles and difficulties and that life is short, so it's best to make the most of it while you may. Is your glass half empty or half full? I'm saying look through your glass brightly.

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