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In praise of - the blue nile.

Published on 8 March 2012

THE bad news is that Paul Buchanan isn't entirely sure that The Blue Nile still exists.

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The good news is that Buchanan, the band's singer, brings out a solo album in April or May.

The glacial pace with which the Glaswegians have released their albums has often been remarked upon. Suffice to say that an 18-year-old who fell in love with their perfect 1983 debut, A Walk Across the Rooftops, could have graduated from university, got married, sired a couple of kids, survived a messy divorce and embarked on an on-the-rebound second marriage by the time of the fourth album, High, 21 years later. Buchanan has, however, hinted to fellow member Robert Bell about making another record.

"Melancholy perfection", their music has been labelled, thanks to exquisite and emotionally affecting songs such as Automobile Noise and From a Late Night Train. The Blue Nile have a fan base that would walk to the ends of the earth to see them play. I remember them at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow in 1990, and all their subsequent gigs there.

In a new interview with Mojo magazine, Buchanan describes the band's attempt to evoke something with no name. "We tried to do the most austere, sackcloth and ashes, self-flagellating thing that we could on the way to way to making a record that was free of any pose."

His forthcoming album, Mid-Air, is a "piano at two in the morning with a Dictaphone" affair –"very solitary and very empty", which pretty much sums up most of the band's earlier work. "The key thing for me is to try and capture those little elements of humanity. It doesn't matter where you live; if you hear an ambulance you go to the window and hope that it's not coming for someone you know." Melancholy perfection, indeed.

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