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How prog is former Ash guitarist Charlotte Hatherley?

She played with chart-toppers Ash in the 90s/noughties, loves sci-fi soundtracks and is “obsessed with Robert Fripp”, so how prog is Charlotte Hatherley?

For an ex-member of a chart-bound 90s/noughties punk pop band – 18 Top 40 singles and five Top 10 albums – Charlotte Hatherley, formerly the guitarist and backing vocalist with Northern Irish alt rockers Ash, is pretty prog.

She’s a fan of film composers Ryuichi Sakamoto, Trent Reznor and Angelo Badalamenti, and specifically the sci-fi/dystopian future-world soundtracks of Vangelis (Blade Runner), Cliff Martinez (Solaris) and John Carpenter (Dark Star). She worked on her second solo album, 2007’s The Deep Blue, with Eric Drew Feldman, keyboardist and bassist with Pere Ubu and Captain Beefheart, who introduced her to Beefheart and Frank Zappa, Todd Rundgren’s A Wizard, A True Star, early Yes (circa Heart Of The Sunrise and Siberian Khatru) and King Crimson – she was already, via David Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy, “obsessed with Robert Fripp”.

Something of a polymath, she has been a session musician with, and collaborator with, everyone from Bryan Ferry and Bat For Lashes to XTC’s Andy Partridge and extreme electronicist Squarepusher. In 2014, she composed the score for The Last Man, a dystopian sci-fi short directed by designer and VFX artist Gavin Rothery, and is about to start work on her first feature-length score. She is currently studying orchestration, and has ventured into theatre – writing the music for the acclaimed NHS-themed London stage play This May Hurt A Bit – and the world of advertising. And she has just made available for streaming the Night Vision EP, comprising radical reconstructions, heavily industrialised in some cases, of movie music, from Repo Man and Rejoice In The Sun to a barely recognisable How Deep Is Your Love.

Her latest foray is her proggest yet. Her fourth solo album, and first in almost nine years, True Love, is influenced by what she calls “science fiction realism”. It is a “cinematic, melancholic pop record”, a break-up concept album about an Earthling travelling to far-off planets looking for love. It was composed using vintage keyboards, several of the songs written with fellow sci-fi enthusiast, Michael Lovett of NZCA Lines, who is also a “big prog fan”, with whom Hatherley shares a fondness for Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. Not that you can hear it on True Love, but what it and …Lamb… do have in common is an epic scope and a protagonist whose story you follow from beginning to end.

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