FRACTURED AIR

The universe is making music all the time

Road Atlas: Peter Broderick (Part 8)

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Part 8 (and day 17) of our Road Atlas series with Peter Broderick. “(Colours Of The Night) Satellite” is the brand new EP from Peter Broderick, available now via Bella Union.  

Words & Photograph: Peter Broderick

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First things first . . . the concert in Cork tonight has been postponed! Due to weather conditions, our ferry from the UK to Ireland was cancelled. We’re still hoping to make it to Dublin tomorrow, but unfortunately we won’t be in Cork tonight. I really hope we’ll find a date for rescheduling very soon! In the meantime, we had an amazing show in Manchester last night, and we’re now staying at my friend Bernie’s house. Bernie has been hosting bands that play in Manchester for many many years. My first time staying at her house must have been in 2007 or 2008, with Efterklang. . . . and ever since we’ve become good friends, and I’ve stayed in this house at least 5 or 6 times. Nils Frahm and I even recorded a song in Bernie’s basement once! A cover version of the song “Belle” by Taxi Taxi. As sad as I am that the concert in Cork tonight has been cancelled, we are very much appreciating a day off to rest, and I couldn’t have picked a better place to do that. Here is Bernie’s amazing cat, Sootie, sitting on the kitchen table. Awwwwww.

—Peter Broderick

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Peter Broderick’s European tour dates are as follows:

20 Oct   Dublin / The Workman’s Club / Ireland
21 Oct   Reading / The Bowery District / United Kingdom
22 Oct   London / Bush Hall / United Kingdom
23 Oct   Gent / Charlatan / Belgium
24 Oct   Middelburg / De Spot / Netherlands
25 Oct   Zwolle / Let’s Get Lost / Netherlands
26 Oct   Utrecht / Ekko / Netherlands
27 Oct   Berlin / Roter Salon / Germany
29 Oct   Luzern / B-Sides Indoor Festival / Switzerland
31 Oct   Soliera / Cinema Teatro Italia / Italy

*05 Nov   Cork / Half Moon Theatre / Ireland (rescheduled show/Solo performance)*

 


 

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“(Colours Of The Night) Satellite” is available now via Bella Union.

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http://www.peterbroderick.net/
http://bellaunion.com/

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Written by markcarry

October 20, 2014 at 11:53 am

RESCHEDULED SHOW: Peter Broderick (SOLO) / Plus Special Guest / Half Moon Theatre / Wed. 5 November 2014

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peterbroderick_specialguest_poster

ANNOUNCEMENT: We are very happy to announce Peter Broderick’s RE-SCHEDULED concert at the Half Moon Theatre, Cork on Wednesday 5th November 2014. Any purchased tickets for the original date are valid. Please note Peter Broderick’s concert will be a SOLO performance. Special guest to be announced shortly. Thank you for your time and understanding.

Tickets can be purchased from the Cork Opera House Box Office, Emmet Place, Cork (Tel: 021 427 0022) or from the link below:

http://www.corkoperahouse.ie/events/peter-broderick-plus-band

Any purchased tickets for the original date are still valid.

Thank you.

 


http://www.peterbroderick.net
http://www.bellaunion.com

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Road Atlas: Peter Broderick (Part 7)

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Part 7 (and day 14) of our Road Atlas series with Peter Broderick. “(Colours Of The Night) Satellite” is the brand new EP from Peter Broderick, available now via Bella Union.  

Words & Photograph: Peter Broderick

day14_image

Yep, it’s true . . . I still get a special tingling pleasure every time I see a cat! This little guy we came across at a rest stop in France. I gave him a little piece of ham and he seemed to enjoy it! At that same rest stop we were playing some football, and accidentally kicked the ball on top of a moving car. The man driving didn’t seem very happy about it… Woops! Our last concerts in Spain were really great. Madrid was especially nice, sold out at the little Teatro Del Arte . . . It was a really special atmosphere in there and a very warm and friendly audience. We said goodbye to Sumie after the concert in Barcelona. So lovely to have her along for a few days. I even had the great pleasure of singing a couple songs with her each night. Tonight we’re playing at STUK in Leuven, a fantastic venue run by very sweet people. This show marks the halfway point of our tour.

—Peter Broderick

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Peter Broderick’s European tour dates are as follows:

16 Oct   Leuven / STUK / Belgium
17 Oct   Brighton / The Haunt / United Kingdom
18 Oct   Manchester / The Roadhouse / United Kingdom
19 Oct   Cork / Half Moon Theatre / Ireland
20 Oct   Dublin / The Workman’s Club / Ireland
21 Oct   Reading / The Bowery District / United Kingdom
22 Oct   London / Bush Hall / United Kingdom
23 Oct   Gent / Charlatan / Belgium
24 Oct   Middelburg / De Spot / Netherlands
25 Oct   Zwolle / Let’s Get Lost / Netherlands
26 Oct   Utrecht / Ekko / Netherlands
27 Oct   Berlin / Roter Salon / Germany
29 Oct   Luzern / B-Sides Indoor Festival / Switzerland
31 Oct   Soliera / Cinema Teatro Italia / Italy

 

(Full European tour HERE).

satellite_cover

“(Colours Of The Night) Satellite” is available now via Bella Union.

——

http://www.peterbroderick.net/
http://bellaunion.com/

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Written by markcarry

October 17, 2014 at 10:35 am

Road Atlas: Peter Broderick (Part 6)

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Part 6 (and day 11) of our Road Atlas series with Peter Broderick. “(Colours Of The Night) Satellite” is the brand new EP from Peter Broderick, available now via Bella Union.  

Words & Photograph: Peter Broderick

day11_image

Huge thanks to all our audiences and promoters in Portugal! The three shows we had in Bragança, Coimbra and Lisbon were so lovely. In Coimbra we were joined by the lovely Sumie, who will be traveling with us all the way to Barcelona, playing support at the shows. We’ve all been spellbound by the simplistic beauty of her voice and guitar. Highly recommended if you’ve never heard her! Yesterday we had our first day off, after ten days in a row with concerts. We started driving towards Madrid (where we will play this evening), and pulled off on the side of the road about halfway. We found a really sweet hotel in a tiny village. They served us an incredible dinner last night, and then we all just went to bed. So tired! The light as we drove yesterday was so beautiful. A lot of dark clouds with light breaking through every once in a while. We saw a really nice rainbow!

—Peter Broderick

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Peter Broderick’s European tour dates are as follows:

13 Oct   Madrid / Teatro Del Arte / Spain
14 Oct   Barcelona / Antiga Frabrica Damm / Spain
16 Oct   Leuven / STUK / Belgium
17 Oct   Brighton / The Haunt / United Kingdom
18 Oct   Manchester / The Roadhouse / United Kingdom
19 Oct   Cork / Half Moon Theatre / Ireland
20 Oct   Dublin / The Workman’s Club / Ireland
21 Oct   Reading / The Bowery District / United Kingdom
22 Oct   London / Bush Hall / United Kingdom

(Full European tour HERE).

 


 

satellite_cover

“(Colours Of The Night) Satellite” is available now via Bella Union.

——

http://www.peterbroderick.net/
http://bellaunion.com/

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Written by admin

October 13, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Chosen One: Tape

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Interview with Johan and Andreas Berthling (Tape).

“All parts are equally important. It seems that’s what we’re always doing; straddling the fence between pop and more experimental music although we never think of it these days. The music just happens and we seem to know when it’s a music that’s us.”

—Johan Berthling

Words: Mark Carry, Design: Craig Carry
Video for “Repose”: Cedrick Eymenier

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This year marks the highly anticipated new record from Sweden’s finest, Tape, who also celebrate their 14th year of activity, having released a plethora of stunningly beautiful electro-acoustic explorations these past two decades. The trio’s sixth studio album is entitled ‘Casino’ which again reveals a band who defy categorization as the Berthling brothers (Johan and Andreas) and Tomas Hallonsten create utterly transcendent ambient infused folk pop odysseys of mesmerizing sounds with immaculate instrumentation of guitar, electronics, piano, percussion and field recordings. Each Tape record has become a reliable companion for the independent music collector as the band’s unique blend of experimental pop soundscapes ebb and flow gradually into the memories of the distant past and hopes and dreams of tomorrow.

Tape are unquestionably a musician’s band. A band who holds a special place in the heart of the independent music community. I recall talking with Germany’s Nils Frahm one autumn evening in 2012, and the Swedish trio soon loomed into the spotlight. After being asked “what music are you listening to most lately?” – and extensive rummaging through his beloved vinyl collection – the tone rose with the exclamation of ‘Fugue’ by Tape & Bill Wells. A precious work of art that features the piano of Wells interwoven with the intricate musical patterns of Tape. A vinyl I would order the moment our phone conversation came to its end. The same sense of special discovery awaits with each and every new Tape release and ‘Casino’ is no exception.

The album’s seven exquisite tracks contains beautifully constructed guitar-led melodies by Johan Berthling that are masterfully blended with Hallonsten’s scintillating piano patterns and Andreas Berthling’s distinctive modular synthesis and laptop wizardry. ‘Casino’s heart-warming sonic canvas awakens all your senses in one fleeting moment of rare beauty and graceful presence. The ambient flourishes of piano chords come to the foreground on ‘Alioth’ as textures of electronic glitches serve the ideal backdrop. ‘Repose’ is built on a returning motif of clean guitar tones that immediately feels familiar yet mysteriously unknown. Moments later, subtle touches of synthesizers swell beneath the gradual guitar cycles like ocean waves. An ethereal dimension is entered on the gentle ripples of ‘Goemen’ which builds continually throughout that feels a distant companion to 2011’s ‘Revelationes’. A brooding darkness envelops the surrounding space of drifting keys and synths. Added instrumentation of accordion is utilized on the album’s penultimate track, ‘Merak’ that conjures up the sound of a glowing moonlit sky on a summer’s night. The closing guitar-led melody of ‘Eagle Meows’ serves the fitting close to a stunningly beautiful work of true art.

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‘Casino’ by Tape is available now on Häpna.

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http://tape.se/
http://www.hapna.com/

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Exclusive premiere of the video for ‘Repose’ by Tape, directed by Cedrick Eymenier

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Interview with Johan and Andreas Berthling (Tape).

Tape are one of those rare treasures of independent music who have graced the stratosphere with a plethora of stunningly beautiful records, where each one possesses a unique charm and lo-fi warmth that permeates from the sonic layers. This all began in 2000 when you and your brother Andreas crossed paths with Tomas Hallonsten. Please take me back firstly, to your earliest musical memories with Andreas, and your family’s musical background that must have shaped you both growing up? 

Johan Berthling: There was music around a lot when we were small. Instruments were around at all times, which I think is a good thing to make children interested without forcing them to practice. On our fathers side there’s been a lot of musicians, our grandmother played organ in the church every Sunday and other relatives have played in orchestras etc. I started to study music fairly early on, Andreas took lessons too but wasn’t that keen at the time, his biggest interest was computers growing up. The first time we started playing together was when he moved to Stockholm and was in his early twenties. I have strong early memories listening to a lot of records on our parents hi-fi system. Swedish music as well as our mothers Beatles and Rolling Stones records.

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Was there a turning point when you both realized that making music was to be the path for you to explore? What were the instruments (I’m sure there was a wide array of musical instruments at home!) you learned to play first? Can you recount for me please first meeting Thomas, and indeed, the inception of Tape? It must have been a wonderful moment when the three of you formed this special trio. 

JB: I started to play the double bass at a quite young age, and always thought of having music as a career. I went to study at the Conservatory (but dropped out after two years), this was where I met Tomas. Andreas went to the Art Academy in Trondheim, Norway and had started making video art and computer music, when he left there and moved to Stockholm we got the idea to put together a band and we asked Tomas to join. We had a background in jazz, improvised music, electronic music and tried to fuse these influences together without knowing really how. We started out playing in 2000 and made some recording attempts we weren’t so happy with, but by 2002 we did the first recordings at our parents summer house and I think our sound came together there. We needed to get out of town and work in a more concentrated way. I think the surroundings there influenced us quite a bit, using field-recordings and found sound as part of the music.

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Like all great artists, the rich body of work lovingly bears your name. A divine blend of organic layers and digital warmth ceaselessly flows into the headspace that result in formidable mini-symphonies. I would love to learn about the creative process inherent in the construction of a Tape song?

JB: When recording we often have some basic idea from one of us and just play around with that to find out what the others can add to it. We’re interested in sound and recording so that becomes an important part of a composition. We like to keep the music feeling spontaneous and not too cluttered so the process are often taking away stuff and just keep the really necessary bits. When the three of us play together this is what comes out and we cannot change it that much even if we try.     

Andreas Berthling: When I started using computers for generating sounds I was aiming for something that wasn’t the traditional sequenced dance music that’s generally what people do with laptops, I was interested in coding and found SuperCollider to be the language I preferred and created patches that used granulation and other methods of acoustically treating sampled material in a way that I thought was binding the digital and acoustic worlds together.

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Congratulations on the new album ‘Casino’ which is the highly anticipated follow-up to ‘Revelationes’. It feels a natural step on from the previous material where the organic quality of the music (where guitars are prominently in the forefront of the mix) permeates throughout. Funnily enough, I see the music as one large piece of music and each track represents its own distinct movement within ‘Casino’s marvelous symphony of sound. Please take me back to recording ‘Casino’ and the choice of using the Atlantis studio in Stockholm? In what way do you feel the band’s two-year hiatus had on the resultant sound of the new record?

JB: This time we tried what we’ve been talking about for quite a long time, to try out the material live before recording it instead of vice-versa. We did a tour in November 2013 and went into the studio in December. We wanted the record to be done in shorter time than usual, both Luminarium and Revelationes we worked on for almost a year (of course spread out time), we wanted to make the album feel as a whole as much as possible.

Both me and Tomas has worked a lot with Janne Hansson at his Atlantis studio with other groups and projects. It’s a fantastic place, an old cinema that’s been used a studio since the 60’s. The place has a fantastic atmosphere and Janne is just a fantastic engineer who really knows how to get the sounds right. All of the record is cut with all three of us playing at the same time, some overdubs made at Atlantis and some made at our own Summa studio which is a very small place. We made our two previous records there in full so it also felt very nice to get a change of scene.

I think the pause we took had not such a great effect on the music, but at least I felt a strong longing for the group and wanted to start recording again.  

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In terms of the instrumentation for ‘Casino’, was it usually the case that the guitar melody forms the song or does it vary? I love how there is this compelling experimentation with sound ongoing but at all times there is a gorgeous pop sensibility that shines forth.  

JB: Yes, the guitar playing often forms the basic structure for the songs but not always. All parts are equally important. It seems that’s what we’re always doing; straddling the fence between pop and more experimental music although we never think of it these days. The music just happens and we seem to know when it’s a music that’s us.

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My favourite song at the moment is the album’s penultimate track ‘Merak’. The added instrumentation of melodica brings new colours and textures to the divine sonic canvas. I also love the electronic wizardry that ebbs and flows beneath the guitar-led melody. What are your memories of writing and recording this particular piece of music? I wonder is the arrangement of songs the most labour-intensive part of the music-making process? When one listens to any Tape record, it feels like such an effortless process.

JB: Thank you. It’s actually an accordion played beautifully by Tomas. There is certainly a bit of work put in the editing and mixing stage of making a Tape record. Less these days I think as we nowadays know what we’re after more clearly already when recording. Taking some things out, adding certain small stuff. This time we worked with our good friend Andreas Werliin ( Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Time is a Mountain, Fire!) on the mixing and he did a really great job creating this big sounding picture but still keeping it quite sparse.

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You have recorded in various locations for the various Tape albums, from a small stone barn on the first two records (‘Opera’ and ‘Mileu’) to your own Summa studio in Stockholm. I would love to gain an insight into these particular recording spaces and the set-up of the studio itself? The choice of recording space to record must have a big effect on the resulting sound you, in turn, create?

 AB: During the first two albums (‘Opera’ and ‘Mileu’) we only had a limited amount of equipment to record with, a laptop with a soundcard, two AKG mic’s and some smaller microphones, so we simply filled a van with musical instruments and took it to the house for a week on two separate occasions and the result are those two albums.

The third album ‘Rideu’, was recorded in Cologne with Marcus Schmickler at his Piethopraxis studio and pretty soon after that we started to build Summa and filled it with all the gear and instruments we acquired over the years, it’s a mixture of old analog gear, a lot of tape-echos and a DAW system, we rarely use plug-ins (if ever) and spend quite a bit of time getting sounds right before hitting record. For me personally it was really great to record ‘Casino’ at Atlantis as I mostly end up turning and twisting all the knobs at Summa. There’s no computer generating any sounds on ‘Casino’ as I now only use a modular synthesizer, so I basically have a lot more knobs to twist now!

JB: The choice of recording environment influence the music a lot. As said earlier, the choice of recording at a bigger studio gave us a little more possibilities soundwise. We also got the feeling to keep the music more sparse than on the previous albums as soon as we started recording. We felt that the sounds could hold its own even more than before.

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A vinyl I hold dear is ‘Fugue’, the collaboration between Tape and Bill Wells. It’s a match made in heaven. How did this collaboration come to light? Were the pieces of music written prior to the recording process? I love how the four songs coalesce together, forming one sublime, cohesive whole. Bill Wells has collaborated with many interesting artists producing many great records but ‘Fugue’ for me is the most resonating. 

JB: We knew Bill from some of his recordings on Geographic, I think we met personally the first time through our friend Stephen Pastel from the group the Pastels, who’s also running the great record store Monorail in Glasgow. Bill invited us to play the Triptych Festival in Scotland, 3 gigs in different cities with him. We did a session in Glasgow, but the tracks on the album were recorded during a couple of days in our studio in Stockholm.

To me his way of playing really simple but strong stuff really influenced the music. We had some sketches beforehand but most of it just came together there and then, based on that we played shows together both in Scotland and Sweden. I think what came out was really a something third, something not sounding exactly as Tape nor Bills music.

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You also co-run the prestigious Häpna label. The likes of Hans Appelqvist, Musette, Tape, Sagor & Swing among many others have been responsible for such illuminating works of art. It must be a real privilege to champion such unique artists. How did running a label come about for you? Looking into the future, what releases can we expect for 2014/2015? 

JB: We (co-runner Klas Augustsson and me) has been going since 1999 and a lot has changed during those years. Lack of time might be the biggest change, and also of course the whole music scene has changed (even for a miniature label as Häpna). It’s harder and we also see quite a lack of interest from press to cover what we release, but what has kept us going is that we are lucky working with some great artists as the ones you mention. We’ve chosen to work more closely with just a few rather than releasing as much as we did in the earlier years. Me and Klas has been friends since age 15 or so and we had a band together. The label came out of late-night listening sessions, around that time it felt like starting a record label wasn’t impossible. We got influenced by the many small foreign labels releasing experimental music around that time. The labels output has followed the expansion of our musical tastes, starting out with field-recordings and improvised music and then onward. We chose from the start just to release stuff we really liked and at the time there were few labels covering what we did in Sweden, so it felt that there was a gap to fill. We also started doing a couple of festivals and also curating small live events in Stockholm, something that we still do from time to time.      

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Lastly, I would love to know what records you have been listening to the most this past year?

JB: I listen to a lot of Brazilian music; Evinha, Marcos Valle, Arthur Verocai,  Ethiopian; Getachew Mekuria, Tsege Mariam Gebru  and so at home. Lots of Free Jazz of course; Don Cherry, Ornette Coleman. Also some artists that I come back to all the time like Talk Talk, Microstoria, Morton Feldman.

AB: There’s a lot of Brazilian music for me too, currently spinning Orlandivo and Chico Buarque but also a lot of Kraut like Harmonia, Cluster, Michael Rother and La Düsseldorf.

 


 

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‘Casino’ by Tape is available now on Häpna.

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http://tape.se/
http://www.hapna.com/

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Tape are on tour across Europe this November. Tour dates are as follows:

Nov 14
Den Haag, The Netherlands
@ Volkspaleis Zuiderstrandtheater
http://www.volkspaleis.org/

Nov 17
Praha, Czech Republic
@ Cross Club
http://www.crossclub.cz

Nov 19
Maribor, Slovenia
@ Narodni Dom Maribor
http://www.nd-mb.si/

Nov 21
Utrecht, The Netherlands
Le Guess Who? Festival
http://www.leguesswho.com

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Written by markcarry

October 13, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Road Atlas: Peter Broderick (Part 5)

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Part 5 (and day 7) of our Road Atlas series with Peter Broderick. This Autumn sees the European live return of Portland Oregon-native Peter Broderick, joined by a full-band lineup with special guest Loch Lomond (USA/Chemikal Undergorund). “(Colours Of The Night) Satellite” is the new EP from Peter Broderick. The Portland-based singer-songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist’s first song-based release in two years will be available on Monday 13th October on Bella Union.

Words & Photograph: Peter Broderick

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Last night we had the immense pleasure of playing in Cafe Pop Torgal in Ourense. I played there once four years ago and was really looking forward to returning. It’s a tiny little place, fitting 100 people at the most. The atmosphere is so special. The owners of the place are true music lovers and also really great hosts. After the show we all went out to an epic dinner where they treated us to all the local delicacies. This region in Spain is especially known for the way they prepare octopus from the local waters. And today we’ve crossed over to Portugal, where we’ll be playing at a museum in Bragança . . . one of two cities on this tour which I’ve never been to. The drive today took us on tiny roads through the mountains. The scenery was absolutely stunning. We passed through a couple tiny villages which really felt like going back in time.

—Peter Broderick

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Peter Broderick’s European tour dates are as follows:

09 Oct   Braganca / Museu do Abade do Baçal / Portugal
10 Oct   Coimbra / Centro de Artes Visuais / Portugal
11 Oct   Lisbon / Musicbox / Portugal
13 Oct   Madrid / Teatro Del Arte / Spain
14 Oct   Barcelona / Antiga Frabrica Damm / Spain
16 Oct   Leuven / STUK / Belgium
17 Oct   Brighton / The Haunt / United Kingdom
18 Oct   Manchester / The Roadhouse / United Kingdom
19 Oct   Cork / Half Moon Theatre / Ireland
20 Oct   Dublin / The Workman’s Club / Ireland

(Full European tour HERE).

 


 

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“(Colours Of The Night) Satellite” is the new EP from Peter Broderick which will be released on Monday 13th October via Bella Union.

——

http://www.peterbroderick.net/
http://bellaunion.com/

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Written by admin

October 9, 2014 at 7:28 pm

Central And Remote: Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh

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Interview with Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh.

“The Earth orbiting the Sun describes an ellipse, and traditional music is at the heart of my own elliptical orbit. Sometimes I’m very close to it, sometimes a little more distant, and this record feels like I’m a little further towards the outer edge of that trajectory. Winter, night-time, facing out.”

Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh

Words: Mark Carry

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Ireland’s Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh plays traditional and contemporary folk music on Hardanger d’Amore and other fiddles. The masterful musician and gifted composer is undoubtedly a national treasure; heralding a distinctive and utterly compelling voice in Irish contemporary music. In addition to being an established solo artist, he performs with two groups The Gloaming and This is How we Fly, in duos with Dan Trueman, Mick O’Brien & Brendan Begley, a trio with Martin Hayes & Peadar Ó Riada, and as part of many other collaborative projects.

Last August saw the eagerly awaited release of Dublin-based independent label, Diatribe’s Solo Series Phase II which features some of the country’s most exciting and ground-breaking musicians making music today: Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (Hardanger d’Amore); Kate Ellis (cello); Adrian Hart (violin) and Cora Venus Lunny (violin, viola). Each of these stunning solo works represents the utterly transcendent sonic creations currently being unearthed from Ireland’s vivid, imaginative and striking musical landscape. In the words of label Director, Nick Roth: “I feel privileged to have been party to sharing these journeys; four circuitous paths across wild terrain which converged, finally, on the top of the mountain, looking out. I am so happy to introduce this music to its audience at last, and I look forward to seeing it march on from here – sliding across the other side of the scree, and on into the world.”

Ó Raghallaigh’s newest solo work, ‘Music For An Elliptical Orbit’ contains some of the most beautiful and visceral musical compositions to have graced this earth. The album closer, ‘What What What’ is an intimate re-work of a timeless gem that forms a vital pulse to This Is How We Fly’s self-titled debut record. Elsewhere, the experimental sounds of ‘Rún’ inhabits the cosmic space of the late great, Arthur Russell. The traditional ‘Easter Snow’ is beautifully re-interpreted by Ó Raghallaigh on the album’s penultimate track. A beguiling atmosphere is immediately cast upon us with the album’s mesmerising opening pieces of music, ‘Litosphere’ and ‘Cloud’. As ever, with Ó Raghallaigh’s deft touch of hand, an ocean’s depth of raw emotion and rare beauty seeps through the aching pores of the listener’s heart and mind.

Laghdú, the title of this debut album by Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh and Dan Trueman, translates as: a lessening, a decrease, a reduction. The music they have written evokes a purity and timeless quality as the majestic fiddle notes becomes a dialogue between two close friends. In essence, the universal language of music is instilled in each of Laghdú’s eleven evocative compositions. The dynamic range is nothing short of staggering — from the near-silent to the nigh-on orchestral, at times exploding joyously from their hybrid 10-string fiddles, at times barely there — holding time still. Laghdú is a revelatory, awe-inspiring and exhilarating experience.

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Interview with Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh.

It’s such a pleasure to ask you some questions about your music, Caoimhín. Since the last time we spoke quite a lot has happened, music-wise, so it’s very exciting to talk to you once again! You have recently returned from California where you were teaching fiddle as part of the 31st annual Valley of the Moon fiddling school. The photographs from this place looks spectacularly beautiful; this must have been a very special experience for you. I would love for you to recount your memories of your stay there and indeed, the lessons in particular that you taught to your students? What sort of advice would you share to people who are starting to learn a musical instrument, Caoimhín? 

Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh: California was indeed beautiful. I was teaching the fiddle there among the redwoods at the invitation of Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser, and it was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before — an incredibly strong sense of community, a wonderful openness and welcome for everyone, a very special atmosphere. Nearly 250 people in a self-contained bubble for an entire week, an immensely enjoyable and nourishing bubble, hugely inspiring for tutors and students alike. The sense of fun and play are a very strong part of it, both such important aspects of real learning.

In terms of the lessons in particular, I had three classes a day of between 30 and 50 people each, and it was certainly a challenge at first to figure how to teach a group that large effectively. I guess my aim was to help people discover ways to expand time, and expand the notes of the music, to get to a point where every note feels huge and bursting, where they feel like they have all the time in the world to spend on that enjoying note before going on to the next, and through that feel what it’s like to play music that’s full of heart. Quite simple, but beautiful too, and so rewarding.

For people starting to learn an instrument, one bit of advice would be this: not to think of the aim as to play that instrument, but to both find a way to let the music that’s inside you to burst out, and to enrich the music that’s inside you. Pick some favourite tunes to sing to yourself over and over and over again, hum or whistle them all the time, become so familiar with them that you are bordering on boredom, and then turn the tunes into playgrounds for fun and adventure for yourself. Of course you need some technical ability on the instrument, but I really feel like you don’t need that much, far less than most people think, and if you have music inside you that is just bursting to get out, your body will find a way. It is SO easy to become bogged down in the technique of playing the instrument and never get above and beyond that, and to lose sight of the music and the reason why you wanted to play in the first place.

Play. It’s an important word we use to describe making music. If you can have immense fun in playing music without your instrument, the instrument then just becomes a tool to let that music out in another way. Pick one tune, an incredibly simple tune, immerse yourself in it, get to know it inside out upside down, and then start playing with it through your voice, be audacious, make yourself laugh with the ridiculous things you do when you are truly playing with it and having too much fun, embrace all the idiosyncratic things peculiar to you, your voice, your mind, yourself.

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Congratulations on your new solo album, ‘Music For An Elliptical Orbit’. It’s such an incredible journey that really captivates your heart. This album was made as part of the wonderful Diatribe Solo Series II that has been an ongoing project from 2009 to its eventual release this year. Firstly, please discuss this particular project for me, Caoimhín and what you set out to create and capture from the outset? I would be very interested to know in what way do you see ‘Music For An Elliptical Orbit’ fitting alongside your previous marvel work of ‘Where The One-Eyed Man Was King’?

CÓR: Nick Roth approached me a few years ago now to ask if I’d be interested in making a solo record for Diatribe as part of a String Series, along with Kate Ellis, Cora Venus Lunny and Adrian Hart. I really like what Diatribe do, and what I thought it might allow me to do, too, and I viewed it as a wonderful chance to push things a little further than The One-Eyed Man, and put out some music that I might not otherwise have a chance to release. The actual recording of it was up in Wicklow, in the most beautiful little cottage in the mountains, with some lovely mics and Keith Lindsay engineering. We spent two or three days there, recording both things I had intended to record, plus some improvisations and other things on the suggestion of Nick Roth. It must have been fairly chilly — I remember that between pieces, when there’d be a break, we had all four of the gas cooker’s ring firing full blast, the oven the same, in an effort to thaw into the bones. I’m particularly delighted with ‘Cloud’, which is a decomposed version of the very common traditional reel, Miss McLeod, because I’d never played it like that before and only did so because Nick pushed me to, and I love the result. I love the two Mammoths [‘Big Mammoth’ & ‘Little Mammoth’], too — they totally delight me, how ridiculous they are on first listen, but so beautiful once you get over that.

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In terms of solo music, your fiddle music belongs in the same illuminating stratosphere as say, Satie’s piano works, Bach’s cello concertos, Frahm’s piano and so on. What is immediately apparent on ‘Music For An Elliptical Orbit’ is your singular style of instrumental music; the timeless sound you create could be only made by you (and isn’t that the hallmark of a great artist?) I would love for you to shed some light your approach to composition and the trusted tool of the Hardanger d’Amore fiddle with which you create such beautiful music? Can you discuss the choice of the album-title and the central narrative that you feel runs through the collection of songs? I feel the title serves the perfect embodiment to the resultant music contained on ‘Music For An Elliptical Orbit’. 

CÓR: That’s kind and generous in the extreme of you. I feel quite embarrassed by such a statement, and absolutely can’t imagine how anyone could think that, but graciously accept the compliment, too. Thank you! In terms of composition, I like to improvise, and record the improvisation, then review it and extract what I think has promise, be that extracting the finished recording, or extracting material with which to craft a performable piece of music. I  like to think about space, sound, texture, feel and effect on state of mind as opposed than notes, chords and musical ideas.

The Earth orbiting the Sun describes an ellipse, and traditional music is at the heart of my own elliptical orbit. Sometimes I’m very close to it, sometimes a little more distant, and this record feels like I’m a little further towards the outer edge of that trajectory. Winter, night-time, facing out.

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‘Má Tá’ is my current favourite; a piece of music that elicits a full spectrum of human emotion. What are your memories of writing this particular piece, Caoimhín? I would love to know how much are these pieces of music improvisation-based or spontaneously created or is it a case of taking time for the music to naturally take flight where a piece of music will eventually bloom?

CÓR: A few years ago I had a three-month residency at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris, and improvised every day for an hour or two in the beautiful chapel there. Má Tá popped out one day there, one of the very few “traditional tunes” that wrote themselves there for me. I loved the discipline of that residency, and the wonder of taking a blank sheet of time every single day, whether you felt like it or not, and painting sound onto it until something new and beautiful would pop out, which it inevitably would.

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Please discuss the act of improvisation and the creative process involved? Already this year, you have made utterly transcendent music — borne from live improvisation and for live performance — with the likes of cellist Julia Kent in Cork and Bill Frisell as part of the Kilkenny Arts Festival, and Iceland’s Amiina sometime ago in Dublin, among many others. I can only imagine how special the feeling is when music created by a collaboration of this kind (and in this live context) ascends into the atmosphere. Is there a certain approach or path you seek when exploring sounds through live improvisation?

CÓR: The creative process for me begins with the desire to be at that point where things come into existence, the desire to start with a blank canvas and to not know what the first brush stroke will be, plus the ensuing reaction to that. Improvisation for me is being in the moment, reacting in that moment, being open to anything and everything, being willing to go wherever it is that you will be taken, relinquishing control, embracing chance. What I seek when playing live is a change in the state of mind in both myself and the listeners, more-so than following any musical ideas through. I’m drawn to less, to paring back and inviting space and silence into play, playing so quiet and so little that the silence becomes a magnifying glass for extraneous sound; for a while, at least, until something changes, until the balloon of sound wants something to inflate it again, fill up the room with notes that now sound big and bold and beautiful, after the quiet, and make you breathe in a different way, larger, after the whispers.

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I must congratulate you on the phenomenal Laghdú record, which is the ground-breaking collaboration between you and Dan Trueman. I can’t begin to describe the sheer beauty and joy this album ceaselessly transmits. You and Dan must feel deeply proud of this gorgeous record. Please give me the background to Laghdu’s inception? When did you first cross paths with Dan? I feel this deep connection between you both with the music of ‘Laghdú’ casts its magnificent spell. Can you describe the musical connection that exists between you both, Caoimhín? It’s such a joy to witness each artist’s devoted instruments coalesce together, almost like an intangible symbiosis that gravitates between the soaring notes and masterful musicians. 

CÓR: I first met Dan in September 2000. He was the first person I ever saw play the hardanger fiddle, and that obviously has had a fairly monumental impact on where my music has gone since then. He had just brought out a record with his wife, Monica, called “Trollstilt”, which remains one of my favourite albums, and one I have listened to a very very large number of times. We started making music together in 2010-11, when Dan lived in Dublin for a year with his family. In addition to being a phenomenal composer and a frightening fiddler, Dan is also a computer music genius, and initially we toyed with various programmes, electronics and tools before deciding not to go down that particular rabbit hole, and instead focus solely on the pure joy of playing two fiddles together. While he was living in Dublin, Dan went to Norway to collect an instrument that had been made specifically for him by Salve Håkedal, a strange and beautiful 10-string version of the hardanger fiddle. It was the most beautiful instrument I’d ever had the privilege to play, and immediately asked Salve to make me one too — it’s the only instrument I play now, and I find it near-impossible to go back to playing anything else, such is the beauty of it. Equally special are the bows we play with, baroque and transitional bows from French bowmaker Michel Jamonneau. And though we have identical instruments and identical bows, the sound and music we both look for and get is really quite different to the other. Writing music with Dan is such a thrill, crafting things phrase by phrase, interlocked parts. And playing that music together is the most absolutely satisfying and rewarding experience, utterly thrilling and delightful.

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Can you talk about the choice of the two traditional songs on Laghdu: ‘The Jack of Diamonds Three’ and ‘Fead an Iolair’ (the latter was also recorded in s different version for ‘Where The One Eyed Man Is King’)? What are your memories of first hearing and indeed playing these particular tunes?

CÓR: The Jack of Diamonds Three is a set of three tunes from three different traditions: an old-time American tune (Jack of Diamonds), an Irish tune (Garrett Barry’s) and a Norwegian (a mazurka from Vidar Lande). When Dan suggested Vidar’s, I immediately thought of Garrett Barry’s. They seemed to fit nicely together, and we liked the idea of a set of traditional tunes that represented all three countries from whose traditions we had been extracting DNA. Garrett Barry’s is a tune I associate with Willie Clancy, of course, as Garrett Barry was a huge influence on him, although I think I first learned it on the whistle and flute from Michael Tubridy as a teenager, who I was lucky enough to have as my teacher on those instruments for many years. And speaking of Michael Tubridy, his solo record from 1979 is called “The Eagle’s Whistle”, which is what “Fead an Iolair” translates as, and it is from Michael I learned that tune many years ago. I also associate it with Séamus Ennis, and particularly his playing of it on the “Feidhlim Tonn Ri’s Castle” LP, an epic story punctuated with a few scattered tunes. I love playing it with Dan, and in addition to it in its innocent and beautiful state, there’s also a much much darker version of it on the record, “Tuireamh na n-Iolar”. Gnarled, twisted and powerful.

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‘What What What’ is one of those awe-inspiring pieces of music that never ceases to amaze. I love how this piece (and others too, of course) has mutated, transformed and evolved across various incarnations; belonging nicely on This Is How We Fly’s debut record, your newest solo work and again on Laghdú. As a musician and composer, it must be wonderful to witness a piece of music you wrote evolve and change depending on the context — space and time — in which you find yourself in. I wonder is this one of the endearing thrills of a musician as his/her work continues to explore new terrain? I would love for you to recount your memories of ‘What What What’ and the moment in time which this beautiful song came into glittering life? 

CÓR: I’ve always loved having recordings of the same person playing the same tune at different points in their life, seeing how it had evolved — different versions of the same thing by the same person. And I love the idea of letting a piece go where it wants depending on the people you’re playing with, too. As far as I remember, I wrote “What What What” down at the Baltimore Fiddle Fair in 2007 or 2008. I think I’d just heard Brittany Haas play the fiddle for the first time, and was totally blown away by what she was doing — I couldn’t understand her bowing, went back to where I was staying, took out the fiddle and tried to figure it out, but somehow this tune popped out instead. Brittany is a phenomenal fiddler, frightening, from a kind of old-time music background. Herself and Dan have a beautiful record out, too, of music they wrote together, called “Crisscross”.

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It is very exciting to see your forthcoming solo Irish tour this Autumn which is based on your love of traditional music and its importance on you as a musician and person. Please discuss this special project and what other projects do you have in the pipeline, Caoimhín? As with any project you have been involved in, it is with a special sense of anticipation we await your next work of art. Thank you for the truly beautiful music you have crafted thus far and the very best wishes with all your future endeavours. 

CÓR: The project for the Music Network tour is a solo show I’m making. I’ve wanted to find a really satisfying way to perform a show solo that offers a bit more than just me on stage with only my fiddle. With this show, while it includes some sections of me playing totally solo, I’ve also got sections with live looping and some sections where I play with projected “virtual guests” — friends of mine who play or dance that I’ve made videos of. I love photography, and this is a way to integrate that into what I do, too. I’d be hoping that it becomes the way I play solo shows in the future, and that I’d be constantly making new little films and pieces, continually evolving new sections and enriching what I’ve already made.

 


 

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‘Music For An Elliptical Orbit’ by Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh is available now on Diatribe Records (Buy HERE).

‘Laghdú’ by Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh & Dan Trueman is available now on Irishmusic.net (Buy HERE).

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http://www.caoimhinoraghallaigh.com
http://www.diatribe.ie
http://irishmusic.net

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Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh’s “In My Mind”, a solo fiddle and film show, tours Ireland from 11—19 October 2014 courtesy of Music Network Ireland. Tour dates are as follows:

11 Oct   Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny
12 Oct   The Model, Sligo
13 Oct   Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar
14 Oct   Sugar Club, Dublin
15 Oct   Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray
16 Oct   Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge
17 Oct   Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire
18 Oct   Triskel Christchurch, Cork
19 Oct   Tipperary Excel Centre, Tipperary

For bookings and further information CLICK HERE.

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