Nine is the Level - Traces EP cover

I've featured the dark ambient music of Nine is the Level (otherwise known as Doug Tolley. my friend and next door neighbour) on Troika #36, and since then Doug has released three further EPs. I had the honour of designing the cover for the latest of these, called 'Traces', where each of the four tracks represent his grandparents.

I asked Doug to search through his family photo archives to provide material, and also to give me some background about the subject of each of the tracks:

Doris as an old lady with one of her favourite Aberdeen Terriers


"Doris was my paternal Grandmother and was married to Gordon. She died when I was three, so I don't have any memory of her, but I do know that she used to breed Aberdeen Terriers and West Highland Whites and had many cats."

Giulia as young lady in Italy


"This is dedicated to and named after my maternal Grandmother Giulia. She came from a small village in North Eastern Italy, where she met my Grandad, who was a British soldier during WWII. She came to live in the UK with Jack not long after the war."


"This is dedicated to, and named after my, paternal Grandfather Gordon. After his war effort in WWII, he became a Precision Engineer. He was also a musician and played the violin (which I still have). He lived with Doris in West Sussex in a Tudor house which took a lot of work to keep going."


"My Grandad Jack is a hero of mine. Born into abject poverty between the wars, he eventually got into the army after a couple of attempts as he was previously turned down for being too young. He went on to fight in WWII in Italy and helped the Italian Resistance by giving them diesel that he had skimmed from jerry cans whilst filling the British trucks. He was a bit of a local legend there too. He met Giulia in Italy and the set up home in the UK after the war and drove lorries until he retired. I will always remember his quickfire humour, his Brylcreamed hair and braces."

Listen to the EP below, or even better, purchase from Bandcamp.