The Lucid Dream photograph by Sam Wood

LUCKY 7 is the feature where we ask artists to name their 6 favourite songs by others, and a lucky 7th song of their own…today it’s a welcome return for Carlisle’s psych warriors turned acid house heroes The Lucid Dream. It turns out that in the 20/21 season we’re all having lucid dreams brought on by the uncertainty of a world ravaged by a pandemic which first hit in the same year the band wrote the songs to their new album “Actualisation”.

You know the story already how The Lucid Dream had their instruments stolen at a gig in Paris in 2017, and rose phoenix like from the ashes armed with 808s/303s to deliver the floor shaking banger “SX1000” and incumbent Hacienda-invoking masterpiece “Actualisation” and in turn won the hard-worn praises of their hero Andrew Weatherall before he departed this mortal coil for the great gig in the sky.

Well now, very much cut from the same cloth is a clarion call back to the dancefloor. It may have to be a virtual one at the moment, given you know what, but it’s gonna be quite a party when it all properly kicks off again in “The Deep End”.

The album was written by band leader  Mark Emmerson (vocals/guitar/synths) mostly using Roland 303/808 synths again, plus bass and vocals but also adding the Roland SH01a into the mix and a sampler for the first time.

There’s breathy atmospheric vocals that are part Ripley Johnson part Clinic, there’s looped hip hop vibes (check Mark Emmerson’s last “song for ewe” here), there’s also strangely prescient speech samples in thumping lead single “CHI-o3” (if “SX1000” was “Terminator” this is the silver molten “Terminator 2”).

That’s not to mention an 80s boombox block party on song “Fight To Survive”, Balearic meets blockchain beats on epic “Sunrise” nor a melancholic comedown in album closer “High And Wild” that reminds me of The Music. The album is as edifyingly tough as the calcified structure on which the mournful figures gaze at on the sleeve.

I’m a big fan of this band who dare to dream different, and who’ve not only rolled with the haymakers but have doled them out with aplomb.

So with that in mind, and the impeccable musical taste of Mark Emmerson, it’s ace to have them back here on VS to choose a brand new Lucky 7 sonic slabs…

Over to you Mark…

1. Outkast – Stankonia (Stanklove)

“I’ve become obsessed with Outkast over the past year. Like many, I had overlooked how versatile and ahead of the game they were. The album from which this track is taken (‘Stankonia’) and the follow-up (‘Speakerboxxx/The Love Below’) are as diverse as anything you’ll hear across 3 hours.

This track closes ‘Stankonia’ and I was blown away by the first listen of it. It is like Parliament/Funkadelic mixed with so much more. Soul, psych, gospel, certainly Prince too. What a band. I feel more inspired now by Andre 3000/Big Boi than I do just about anybody else. For once, 20m sales was proven to be a mark of brilliance.”

2. Roisin Murphy – Kingdom of Ends

“This is taken from Roisin’s album last year, ‘Roisin Machine’. It is a brilliant album, the best of last year in my opinion. Everything she was doing in the run up geared towards it being superb. She went back to releasing under the radar extended 12” singles, which is always very inspiring and against the grain of industry rotas for a campaign.

This song for me is the best of the lot on the album. What I love about it is that you think it’s going to ‘kick in’, but it holds off and off and builds the tension, with equal impact. Roisin’s vocal develops to suit over the course of the track too. The tension build/anti kick-in is also what I love about the early KLF trance series singles.”

3. Miles Davis – Black Satin

“I have loved ‘Bitches Brew’ for years, but had never got onto ‘On The Corner’ until Carlisle’s excellent record store (Vinyl Cafe) got a copy of the reissue in. I’ve had it on loop for around a month now. As usual, the thing that interests me most is when artists go against what is expected of them, and push boundaries.

This album does that beyond normal limits (to excellent effect), this track however almost has a ‘single’ like quality to it. The trumpet part hangs around in your head forever. I think it’s trumpet through a wah wah, but who knows?! That’s what I love about it. I am pretty sure Primal Scream sampled this on ‘Vanishing Point’, certainly elements are familiar.”

4. St Etienne – Speedwell (Flying Mix)

“Saint Etienne for me are a ‘Spring’ band (they also have a song with that title, funnily enough). I always play them around this time of year, usually as it reminds me of gigs and getting ready to play them (and of course the memories with friends etc that gigs bring).

There has never been a Spring where that feeling has been missed as much as last year. I couldn’t listen to tracks like this as it was too sad to have the memories mixed with St Etienne playing pre/post gig. However, I have revisited this single now with a feeling of ‘I cannot wait to hear this before we take back to the stage in October!’.

This mix is pure euphoria. I love St Etienne and I wish I could’ve been a part of hearing this in the early 90s. Can only imagine the joy it brought when dropped in clubs/house parties/record shops!”

5. Roach Motel – Transatlantic (Uptown Mix)

“This single probably ties back in with my previous feelings on St Etienne. I ratched out a load of my Junior Boys Own/Sabres of Paradise/Strictly Rhythm late 80s/early 90s singles the other Sunday, when it was gloriously sunny. I had this one on and it really hit home. The thing about this song and so many others around that time, it’s 8 minutes long but wish it was around 45 minutes long! Always keeps me hooked.”

6. Talk Talk – Life’s What You Make It

“Talk Talk became the band that powered me through 2020. It was of course a very difficult year with COVID, and I had a very challenging year outside of that too.

This track, I really can’t remember where it dropped for me but one day I heard it and it was just a pure beacon of positivity and realisation that all would be ok eventually (as the lyrics say). The lyrics are so optimistic and uplifting. The track itself is very basic in places, a repeating piano riff, repeating lyrics etc but it all works to stunning impact. I love this song so much. Always one to put on if you’re feeling it.

Talk Talk/Mark Hollis are another band who inspire me hugely. They made records on their terms, records they wanted to make. This track is from their classic ‘Colour Of Spring’ album and was followed by 2 further boundary pushing classics, ‘Spirit Of Eden’, ‘Laughing Stock’. All 3 are essential and can be picked up on vinyl for £10 each. It will be the best £30 you ever spend.”

The Lucky 7th: The Lucid Dream – CHI-03

“This is the first track from our upcoming 5th album, ‘The Deep End’. It probably is a good melting pot of the influences within some of the tracks posted above.

This was the first track I wrote for this album (way back in Spring 2018). I love the fact that it takes away the usual concept of what writing is – guitar, vocals, bass, drums etc. The ‘hook’ was made on the Roland TB-03 and quite simply didn’t need a vocal. Love this song, very proud of it.”


The Lucid Dream “The Deep End” is out on Holy Are You Recordings on 23rd April

They are also, fingers and toes crossed playing these dates live later this year:

15th October: Hebden Bridge – Trades Club

16th October: Carlisle – The Brickyard

29th October: Glasgow – Stereo

30th October: Manchester – YES

More Lucid Dreams news here

And check out Mark Emmerson’s last “song for ewe” for VS on the link below…