Ten years ago, The Natural Yogurt Band’s Away With Melancholy was the mysterious introduction to a strange little project, full of impish personality. The rumor went that a package showed up on the doorstep of Jazzman Records one day, with no information on its origins, and that the label was so taken with what they heard that they simply released it, like a baby in a blanket and a basket, left on the doorstep in some bizarre old cartoon. And bizarre it was, a worshipful suite of improvised, but highly produced and deeply grooved, goof-jazz, with smokey noodles of flute everywhere and gobs of Hammond as a bedrock, percolated with extra-live drums.
The human beings behind this shadowy and strange, buoyantly cartoon-narcotic sound were drummer and bassist Wayne Fullwood and the everything-elser Miles Newbold, owner of the Nottingham recording studio The Chicken Shack, who have released one full-length and have popped out, at random, three seven-inches since Away, most recently last fall, from which comes the new and very dumb video above.
Explaining the genesis of The Natural Yogurt Band’s sound, Newbold cited a love of French and Italian “library music.” (He’s not alone — see Harmonic 33’s Music for TV/Film and Radio, Vol. 1, which opens with the heartbreaking “Optigan.”)
The cult of library music is a fascinating one; anonymous musicians from the ‘50s through the ‘70s recording like an assembly line were, eventually, found to have done more than just jazzy widget assembly to fill space for film and television. The archivist David Hollander has devoted a lot of his life to this corner of music history, releasing some of its most notable tunes through his Cinemaphonic series, and writing about it in Unusual Sounds: The Hidden History of Library Music.
Like his forebears in the musical factories of yore, Newbold told an interviewer: “I don’t hang on to the music I have done, I like to move onto the next thing.” Look back to move forward.