The Ghost Stories era – Before the dawn (February)
Before the dawn – February.
2nd part to the 12 months of 2014 review series (View January here).
February dawned upon us and Coldplay’s sixth album seemed closer, yet so far away. A new Coldplay song, Magic was listed as a single, for release in May of the same year in the UK chart release schedule, which in turn brought hype and speculation to what Magic may sound like. It was a very quiet time during the first half of the month on the Coldplay front. The calm before the dawn!
On the 19th February, Anchorman released news of the band’s comeback show at the iTunes festival, in March, located in Austin, Texas.
The first snap of the band for their new era was taken by photographer, Anton Corbijn, who directed their music videos for Talk and Viva La Vida (alternate version). He also played a key part in the band’s ‘Unstaged’ performance in Madrid for the Mylo Xyloto era.
Paul Epworth was announced as a producer for Coldplay’s forthcoming album a few days after the iTunes festival announcement. The famous producers involvement on the sixth Coldplay record seemed likely and pictures involving the band emerged on Paul’s instagram at the end of 2013, as reported by Coldplayzone and VivaColdplay. For those unfamilar with Paul Epworth’s work, he produced the record smashing album, 21 by Adele, in addition to her one off Grammy winning release, Skyfall for the same titled James Bond film in 2012. Florence and the Machine in addition to Bruno Mars are among star names the producer has worked with in recent times. Was move to work with world class and proven producer of recent times a signal of Coldplay’s re-occurring desire to adapt with the ever-changing music scene?
The dawn arises
Something peculiar started to happen on Coldplay’s official website. Two GIF’s/animations were uploaded, on February 23rd and 24th, in the form a new band graphic (see below) and in what appeared to be a mysterious forest. The first things which came to mind were the ‘dark’ edge of these graphics. The opposite to the colourful Mylo days of 2012 and 2013 and more of a similarity to the pre-Viva days. Excitement was prevalent but we didn’t have much of a clue of what was to come next, apart from the Magic single release, listed for May.
The following day after the second GIF was uploaded on Coldplay.com, a music video titled ‘Coldplay – Midnight’ appeared on the band’s Youtube channel on the Tuesday afternoon of the 25th. No description was noted, other than ‘a new Coldplay song’. Either Anchorman wasn’t in an talkative mood or the guys at ColdplayHQ just wanted to keep us guessing! Everyone was certainly mystified on whether it had anything to do with Coldplay’s forthcoming sixth LP.
First reactions from many fans were along the lines of ‘Is this Coldplay’. It was experimental and completely different from anything they have done before. This went down a treat with some fans but did split opinion, as it was bound to. Midnight was immediately compared to Bon Ivor and Justin Vernon by critics. The song was built on top of an unreleased track by Jon Hopkins in 2003, titled Amphora. Jon Hopkins co-produced the track, alongside Paul Epworth (in addition to Dan Green and Rik Simpson who all played a part in recording LP6). Midnight’s official video had been directed by Mary Wigmore. ‘Trippy’ and ‘Techno’ was often used as a description for the video. Chris’ dancing in the Midnight forest, the mirrored foxes and ‘hallucinogenic’ movements all factored into the unlikeliest of Coldplay videos (reminded me partly of The Prodigy in places too!).
More new tracks on the way?
As we reach the end of February in what we would eventually know as the Ghost Stories era, we were all pondering on what we should expect next. Was Midnight the actual first single, a teaser of what’s to come, or a stand-alone release altogether? We didn’t know but there was a date to look forward to and that would be Coldplay’s live return for 2014 at the iTunes festival on 11th March. If the album was to arrive, we would of expected new material to be played during their performance in Austin, just like when the band debuted a few Mylo Xyloto tunes during the summer of 2011.