Great Valley, “Ride Across the Moat Of Love”

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The psych-syntheses of The Lizards of Camelot, from NNA Tapes, + discussion with Peter Nichols.

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Sjimon Gompers | December 17, 2013

Great Valley

Re-enter the Great Valley, with a listen from The Lizards of Camelot.

Brattleboro, VT's Great Valley have proven themselves over the years to be the psych wielding lilies of the lysergic valleys. We dug their split with Prince Rama with Divine / Journey, the Holiday, Holinight EP, In the Silver Dream, Maybe When I'm Dead, Continental Lunch, and now the Arthurian legend continued on, Lizards of Camelot cassette for NNA Tapes. Fresh out of “Peter's World” studios, Peter Nichols and Jo Miller-Gamble encourage you to buy the ticket and take the ride with them into the home recorded riches of, “Ride Across the Moat of Love”. Circle the castle, dodge the lizards, and don your valiant armor for an audio experience that enters an imaginitive indie amusement part between the speaker channels.

With a few licks and confident riffs, Peter and Jo begin the quest to storm the castle in “Moat of Love”. Tales of a reptile princess are divulged along the way, followed by a request for her to lower the draw bridge and saddle up the horses so that they may steer across this legendary purple hazed river of trials and courage. Guitars and keys cut through the medieval heroics like the sound of an old 70s cassette left in a hatchback tape player deck for an entire Spring/Summer season. The narcotic lazers of the synths zap in plumes in between guitars that jam out chords like a vintage television show theme. But Great Valley aren't dealing here with reruns, as the character of the “Moat” takes on an adversarial and Chaucerian villainous persona, where Peter calls out for the drawbridge's lifeline for guidance and safe passage. Never before have tales of courtly love and valor been put to a test soundtracked by vintage radio hooks dressed in polyester flairs.

On the eve of the tape's release, Great Valley's Peter Nichols chatted with us about their latest release for NNA Tapes, medieval fetishizations, inside the “Moat of Love”, and more.

What inspired you all to take the medieval thematic route with the Lizards of Camelot cassette?

I'm not sure how we hit on the medieval thing, it was an idea Jo had one time and it was immediately like obvious, we'll make a whole album about this. Maybe it was an homage to this one song Chris Weisman wrote for his album Bentonia, where he sings, 'all the dragons, flags unfurl', in this sort of fake-british voice. Definitely something we really admire in Chris's music and other of our favorite artists', when they're going way out on a limb with something so totally 'uncool', that's pretty much the most far out thing we can imagine. Plus medieval-style music rules, I can get down with a million and one of those formal and glorifying rising and falling melodies, so transporting and psychedelic and hypnotic.

Was there any larping or further cosplay that went into the pudding? Are you all Arthurian legend fanatics?

It all became kind of a small obsession while we were working on the album, we got into a couple of ancient books of Arthurian legends, plus movies. We drew a lot of pictures of knights and lizard-knights and lizard-ladies. I made a sword and shield and helmet out of cardboard.

What brought on the funky ren-fair-gone weird fun of “Moat of Love”? Is this your ode to what happens in the castle chambers when the draw bridge is lifted up for the night?

“Ride Across the Moat of Love” is a song about how people shouldn't be afraid to love each other completely, how even though we all may have been burned by love in the past you can still let yourself step into love again if you are strong and brave and pure of heart.

Any “Knights of the Spiral Table” themed parties, banquets? Toasts for the new year of 2014?

Dang, I never thought to have a 'Spiral Table' party, that sounds fun maybe we can figure out something like that to kick off the four week East Coast tour we are booking for the month of February 2014!

Great Valley's The Lizards of Camelot cassette is available now from NNA Tapes and coming soon on vinyl from Feeding Tube Records.

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