FRACTURED AIR

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Chosen One: Colleen

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Interview with Cécile Schott.

This decision actually made me feel a bit more confident that a fully electronic album was the way to go, since it would introduce a human element of non-exactness, something I value in music. ”

—Cécile Schott 

Words: Mark Carry, Photographs: Isabel Dublang

Colleen by Isabel Dublang ii

The world-renowned French artist Colleen has crafted one of her most captivating, absorbing and empowering works to date in the form of ‘A flame my love, a frequency’. The latest record marks Colleen’s first fully electronic-based album, having departed from the viola da gamba instrument (which was integral to the last two sonic treasures ‘Captain Of None’ and ‘Weighing Of The Heart’). The results are nothing short of staggering whereby Schott’s singular melodies shimmer across the radiant warmth of shimmering electronics and textured rhythms, creating, in turn, eight resolutely unique and stunningly beautiful sound worlds.

The delicate synth tones of ‘November’ immediately transports you to an ethereal dimension that serves the perfect prelude to the album’s lead single ‘Separating’. The gorgeously rich polyrhythms of Schott’s trusted Pocket Piano and Moogerfoogers creates mesmerising soundscapes that encapsulate the French artist’s achingly beautiful vocals. A charged immediacy and striking intimacy exudes from ‘Separating’s  masterfully interwoven sonic tapestries. As Schott sings on the opening verse: “Separating from the world /Is like a drop of rain/Falling to the ocean floor”, it reflects the artist’s emotional response to the inevitability of death and life’s impermanence. The hypnotic refrain of ‘Separating’ emits a healing force as a myriad of utterly transcendent moments continually fill the human space like stars dotted across the night sky.

The stand-out instrumental  cut ‘Another World’ forges a deeply moving journey into the depths of the human heart.  A piece of music such as this truly reflects the singularity of this remarkable musician, forever pushing the sonic envelope and exploring new avenues at each and every turn. The production’s richness and warmth is a joy to savor, which continually evolves and mutates into various shape-shifting patterns (a cross somewhere between Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s Black Ark studio productions and Nils Frahm’s synthesizer works). The ambient bliss of ‘Another World’ feels just like that: co-existing in some far-reaching stratosphere of unknown dimensions.

Winter Dawn’ is steeped in the darkness of anguish and pain: “The world had nearly ended and the sky was blue” is sung beneath rhythmic pulses of synthesizers. The glorious rise in the song forms one of the utterly transcendent moments of ‘A flame my love, a frequency’ as Schott laments “O dear soul, flesh and bones/Love alone is your home” beneath intricately layered and sumptuously crafted electronic passages. The dichotomy of light and dark permeates throughout as Schott pleads “Deep and warm, golden dawn/Shine some more of that light of yours”. An intensely beautiful and soul-stirring tour-de-force.

The gripping heart of the latest full-length comes with the achingly beautiful duo of ‘Summer night (Bat song)’ and ‘The stars vs creatures’. ‘Summer night (bat song)’ is an intimate, heartfelt lament that conveys Schott’s deep love for nature. Lyrically, I feel there’s a closeness with the timeless songbook of Sibylle Baier or Townes Van Zandt in the innate ability to create an entire world – with such striking emotional depth – within a song. A deep sadness is etched across the “descending milky night” of Schott’s masterful poetic prose wherein the metaphor of the bat’s mystical movement conveys the necessity of change. A masterful song-craft.

Nature’s peace flows throughout the sublime ‘The stars vs creatures’. The glistening blue of a kingfisher by a river or the rare sight of a terrific red fox in the early night sowed the seeds for this magical song-cycle. Lyrically, the song feels more like a parable – a message of divine wisdom – that reminds us to savor life and appreciate each moment. The blazing light of hope shines forth like a million stars.

The album closer – and sprawling title-track – is yet another defining moment of this monumental work. This meditative lament casts a spell like no other as Schott’s beguiling vocals ascends into the atmosphere with eternal rays of optimism “so stillness now can reign again”. The extended electronic sections (a key part throughout the record) swells like that of the ocean waves as they traverse the vast human space. As the sun-lit horizon looms in the distance, we – the listener – are reminded just how far the journey has taken us: “I will call you when the sun has reached the final hour”.

A flame my love, a frequency’ is a precious and divine work of art. To coin Carl Sagan, music such as this can “break the shackles of time”.

A flame my love, a frequency’ is out now on Thrill Jockey Records.

Colleen’s tour dates (including America and Europe) are listed here.

http://colleenplays.org/
https://www.facebook.com/colleenplays
http://www.thrilljockey.com/

 

Colleen by Isabel Dublang iii

Interview with Cécile Schott.

Congratulations firstly Cécile on your truly moving and groundbreaking new album “A flame my love, a frequency”. It’s a real pleasure to ask you some questions about this latest sonic marvel of yours. This sixth studio album represents something as close to a concept album as you’ve ever done. Rather than having to recount your specific memories of being in Paris – your hometown – during those atrocious terrorist attacks of November 2015, please shed some light on your mindset and outlook when it came to the immediate aftermath of this harrowing experience? For instance, you began to compose and make music again after a (much-needed) silence post these awful attacks, I would love to gain an insight into the feelings, colours, musical language that you soon found yourself heavily immersed in (and what would be the inception of “A flame my love, a frequency”)?

Cécile Schott: In July 2015 I had just finished the Captain of None tour and enthusiastically acquired a Pocket Piano by the brand Critter and Guitari and a Moog filter pedal from the Moogerfooger series called the MIDIMuRF. I experimented throughout the whole summer with the combination of the two and my Moogerfooger MF104M delay pedal (the one I already used on Captain of None), the initial intention being to create rhythms with the Pocket Piano + Moogerfoogers, which would form a kind of basis on which to play my viola. But somehow the two sounds did not seem to “gel” and I couldn’t find the excitement and freshness I had felt when playing the viola on my previous two albums. Instead, I did start to have little kernels of songs born just out of the synth and pedals, and I recorded these initial tests and took notes as I went along. This initial work period was suddenly interrupted by the illness of a close family member whom I had to go and visit immediately in France. I returned to Spain briefly, then went back to France again, and when I had to go back to Spain again, on the way back stopped in Paris on November 13th. So that when I came back, I found myself in the situation where I knew I had to work on a new album, but it felt like both a superficial and impossible task in the light of all the things that were happening on both a personal and more global level. For two weeks our flat stayed completely silent except for the online TV news, even listening to music just felt wrong. However, little by little, I realized that not working was not the solution, and that perhaps working on a new album might be helpful in taking my mind off the things that worried me so much. I felt an intense need for what I could call a joyful sound,and that’s when the basic ideas for the first songs were born: the instrumentals “Another world” and “One warm spark”, and “Separating”. “November” was also created early, as well as the basis  for “A flame my love, a frequency”.

The choice to have “A flame my love, a frequency” as your first fully electronic and keyboard-based album works so wonderfully on so many levels. The stark intimacy of your new song cycles – as your fragile vocals are masterfully embedded in sumptuous layers of electronic tapestries – and the cosmic quality of this latest voyage is further heightened by the minimalist nature of the new music. It’s this sacred space that your songs forever inhabit that makes for such an enriching, empowering and deeply affecting experience for the human heart and mind (which becomes the essence of the new album). Can you trace back to your decision as to remove the viola da gamba from your musical world (for now, at least) and I’d love for you to describe the various electronic instrumentation and studio set-up for the new album?

CS: I think that as a musician who has worked for more than 2 decades now, even if the first 12 years were not professional, I have a pretty fast understanding of when something is working or not. You always have to fully test out your ideas and give them a chance, but there comes a point where if something really feels forced, then you’re just wasting your time and not looking for alternative solutions that might work. I just remember that at one point it dawned on me that perhaps this album would have to exist as a purely electronic album, and because of the gravity of the situation, this drastic musical decision did not actually seem so drastic to me, or at least did not scare me as much as it might have done otherwise. The one thing I knew, from a composition and production point of view, was that if I was going to leave the viola behind for this album, then I needed to make sure I didn’t lose any of the characteristics of my music, which I see as a certain type of asymmetrical song structure, the combination of pop or at the very least melody and experimentation, and a warm sound.

As for the gear, I first saw the Pocket Piano at King Britt’s studio in Philadelphia during the Captain of None tour, and was immediately in love with its small portable size, and I was able to test the MIDIMuRF briefly twice, once again in King Britt’s studio and also at the house of my old friend French musician Dominique Grimaud. The Septavox came later, as I realized I wanted to expand the possibilities already contained in this extremely small but versatile setup. Pretty soon I made the decision that the album would have to be recorded live, because cutting into electronic soundwaves to correct mistakes (something I’ve always practiced in my past albums but always on acoustic sounds) is something that is extremely time-consuming and sometimes bordering on impossible. This decision actually made me feel a bit more confident that a fully electronic album was the way to go, since it would introduce a human element of non-exactness, something I value in music.

Many melancholic shades and textures shimmer across these new recordings, Cécile but I feel there is an undeniable light of hope and strength and beauty that radiates from the depths of darkness. Aesthetically, I just love how you place several instrumental tracks among the vocal tracks (obviously something not new here) but it really feels like one of those dub treasures from the 60s/70s as one hears these beautiful, transporting instrumental tracks alongside the richly poignant ballads. For example, how the ethereal, blissed-out instrumental ‘Another world’ follows precedes the deeply affecting (and latest single) ‘Winter Dawn’ – and the many intricate arrangements and moments within moments that effortlessly occur – creates such a profound listening experience. I’d love if you could discuss more in detail about these intricate transitions that occur between tracks (and within tracks of course) and the aesthetic quality of “A flame my love, a frequency”.

CS: Thanks for your kind words Mark. Because the subject matter could not be anything other than the very large question of life and death and our fear of death and illness, I immediately felt that this would almost be a concept album, and my feeling was reinforced by the limited instrumental palette – something I’d already tested on Captain of None. The idea in the case of a restricted instrumental palette is not that the songs will be similar, but the reverse: *because* theoretically you are limited in terms of the variety of sound, you cannot hide poor compositional ideas behind a lushness of diversity of instrumental timbres. Instead, the song structure itself, melodies and chords, effects used dynamically to truly shape the direction and mood of the song, the choice to include lyrics or not, and the actual lyrics themselves – everything needs to contribute to the diversity of the album. And to make extra sure that I wasn’t using the same sound combinations over and over again, I kept a precise account of what synth settings I was using (which mode and type of wave), what pedals I was using and what for (just the filter pedal / just the delay one / both, was I using preprogrammed filter patterns, LFO, etc). I really became lost in this electronic soundworld and found it immensely enjoyable, and was surprised at how I did not miss the viola da gamba once: it just felt like exploring a different country and thinking that it was worth a visit in its own right, without comparing it to other beautiful places you’ve visited. Exploring the various combinations was endless, time-consuming too, and not always fruitful, but regularly I found a combination that really spoke to my ears and heart and each time they became a new composition for the album, and little by little I started to get a clearer idea of the tracklisting, which follows a rough chronological timeline: November obviously refers to the worst month of that year, Winter dawn to the subsequent period, Summer night (bat song) already leads to a more peaceful period, and The stars vs creatures and the title track are more about the remaining uncertainty that one realizes will always accompany life, this emotional rollercoaster that life will always be: there simply is no way of evacuating death from life, it is part of it, and we have to learn to live with it.

Colleen by Isabel Dublang iv

The gripping heart of the new album comes with the achingly beautiful duo of ‘Summer night (Bat song)’ and ‘The stars vs creatures’ on side B. ‘The stars vs creatures’ is one of the most profound and moving ballads I have ever heard, one that reduces me to tears upon every visit. Please recount your memories of writing these particular songs, Cécile? The natural world and this magical, otherworldly realm that ‘The stars vs creatures’ inhabits exudes this remarkable source of intense healing. The lyric of “a single one of my feathers is worth a million stars or Venus” represents one of the most magical, celestial moments of ‘A flame my love, a frequency’. 

CS: These were part of the 3 songs that were born with the Septavox during the second half of the making of the album: Winter dawn, Summer night (Bat song), and The stars vs creatures. Summer night (Bat song) is one of the darkest sounding songs on the album, and yet it was inspired by a moment of profound peace: in the summer of 2016 I once again visited my parents in France and was lucky enough to find exceptionally good weather, so spent my afternoons either outside in the garden or inside my childhood bedroom with the windows wide open, giving me a great vantage point to watch birds and do birdwatching-related readings or listenings (something I’d planned on doing for a long time). In the evening after dinner I particularly looked forward to watching the house martins flying high in the sky and sometimes flying right above our house, but the moment I loved even better was waiting for the last bird to fly and for the first bat to appear. There are only two or three bats every night, so seeing them always feels quite special, and over the past couple of years I’ve grown more and more fascinated by these incredible animals, and the fact that they appear right after the last bird seen flying, sometimes within seconds, strikes me as an amazing symbol of a passage from the world of the day and light to a world of night and darkness, which in spite of the commonly associated negative themes is actually brimming with life.

One evening, as I sat in my room, one of them literally nearly flew into my room, and turned around at the last millisecond. I marveled at the dexterity and perfection of its flight, and reflected that I wished that I as a human being were able to do the same thing with my thoughts: just stop them when they’re going in the wrong direction. I knew there and then that I would need to make a song out of that experience, and out of the peace that I felt in that room so loaded with memories.

The stars vs creatures is indeed like another chapter in those reflections on the power of nature and its redeeming beauty: I really do see a kingfisher regularly in a river not far from where I live, and I had a chance encounter with a red fox in Switzerland while birdwatching in a low mountain area – a fleeting second in which I saw him and he saw me and then was gone, a second that filled me with an immense joy that lasted for weeks, the sensation of having had a privileged glimpse into the life of a wild animal where he’s really supposed to be.

Were there challenges posed with the electronic instrumentation and particularly when this provided the sole musical backdrop (excluding your vocals of course)? For instance, I presume some the Moog pedals were used on your previous ‘Captain of None’ tour and I presume you acquired some new equipment to be added to the mix for the new record?

CS: The Moog pedals were really crucial in giving width and analog warmth to the synths, and I used my favourite panning, 50% Left 50% Right, on all stereo returns from the pedals, so that the music sounds like it’s kind of dancing between your ears. I also added my favourite plugins which I’d already used on Captain of None, one is a spring reverb emulation and the other a tape delay.

I must ask you about the gorgeous album-title and how you came about choosing this deeply poignant title (which embodies the music so perfectly)? Also, please talk me through the song itself, it’s one of those meditative laments that maps the impending sunlit horizon. I also love how there seems to be a strong correlation between the album’s title-track and the lead single ‘Separating’, feels like they are sister songs. The title-track reminds me of ‘Lighthouse’, with its hypnotic, meditative feel and the everlasting light of hope that shines forth. Also, this organ sound that melds with your voice creates such a heavenly, soul-stirring sound.

CS: I had the core of that title song early in the making of the album, but the words came to me right towards the end, and in general, this album’s lyrics were hard to write given the serious subject matter. I knew I wanted to stay on a “poetic” (for lack of another word) level because that’s really the only way I manage to write lyrics, and the image of the flame seemed to work for me as a symbol of something that we need to keep alive in times of hardship: some people use a physical flame to represent life or the loved one in times of mourning, but in my title I use the flame more as a metaphor for anything that we hold on to make us survive fear and pain. The frequency was obvious because it’s literally what I did when making the album: I got lost in a world of sound to make myself feel better, and I know that music plays that role for so many people. And since I was in love with the filters’ sound on the MIDIMuRF pedal, I knew I wanted to have a song where the ending would be just that, a play on frequencies appearing and disappearing, with a final resurgence at the end, like a sun coming back from behind the clouds, as a musical symbol of hope.

You must feel deeply proud of this magnificent new album, Cécile. Looking back over the making of ‘A flame my love, a frequency’, I wonder did one song (over other ones) form a gateway into the rest of the album, which allowed you to nearly see the path you were navigating, in a way? Or in some ways, did mistakes or happy accidents occur during any of the sessions that found their way on the final album? 

CS: I actually think the whole process of making an album is a combination of disciplined persistent work and loose explorations where you should just let go and let so-called accidents happen, and electronic music-making is actually the ideal playing field for this approach: there are so many parameters that can change a sound, and with analog gear, there is no way of saving settings, so it’s all about capturing the moment. I take notes because I know I’m going to take the album to the stage later on, so that is also a fascinating activity, learning to know how your machines react to try and replicate something that can be very fleeting. I just loved the learning curve to this project, and I really feel that a new door has been opened in my music-making.

A flame my love, a frequency’ is out now on Thrill Jockey Records.

Colleen’s tour dates (including America and Europe) are listed here.

http://colleenplays.org/
https://www.facebook.com/colleenplays
http://www.thrilljockey.com/

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November 2, 2017 at 2:59 pm

Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S02E10 | October mix

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fracturedair_october17

This month saw the eagerly awaited return of prestigious American musician John Maus with the release of ‘Screen Memories’; a synth pop masterpiece (and follow-up to the remarkable 2011 opus ‘We Must Become The Pitiless Censors of Ourselves’). Opening this mix is one of the heavenly synthesizer-based tracks culled from Maus’ recent Bleep mix.

Colleen is an artist very close to our hearts and the release of Cécile Schott’s sixth full-length ‘A flame my love, a frequency’ (via Thrill Jockey) marks 2017’s most bewitching, absorbing and deeply affecting records to have graced the atmosphere. Armed with just electronics and voice, the album’s eight otherworldly compositions transcend space and time: drifting majestically in the ether of unknown dimensions. Colleen’s tour dates (including U.S, North America and Europe) are listed here.

On the 14th & 15th December, the second edition of The Notwist-curated Alien Disko returns to Munich. The festival’s line-up reflects the boundless and pioneering qualities of the chosen acts, from Shabazz Palaces, Konono Nº1 and Amiina to Colleen, Sam Amidon and The Notwist. Tickets are onsale now.

This month’s mix also includes new releases from: Xylouris White; SAICOBAB; Spirit Fest; Lindstrøm; Sufjan Stevens; Gunn – Truscinski Duo and Les Filles de Illighadad.

Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S02E10 | October mix

 

To listen on La Blogothèque:

http://www.blogotheque.net/2017/10/31/fractured-air-x-blogotheque-s02e10-october-mix/

 

01. Peter Davison“Shadow” (Higher Octave Music)
02. John Maus“The Combine” (Ribbon Music)
03. Shabazz Palaces“Moon Whip Quäz” (feat. Darrius) (Sub Pop)
04. John Carpenter“Assault on Precinct 13” (Death Waltz Recording Company)
05. Severed Heads“George the Animal” (Dark Entries)
06. The Velvet Underground“I Can’t Stand It” (Verve)
07. The Cat’s Miaow“Not Like I Was Doing Anything” (Library)
08. Cymbeline“Look at the Stars” (Guerssen)
09. Gunn – Truscinski Duo“Flood and Fire” (Three Lobed Recordings)
10. Les Filles de Illighadad“Abadrarass” (Sahel Sounds)
11. SAICOBAB“One” (Thrill Jockey)
12. Xylouris White“Only Love” (Bella Union)
13. Guelewar“Ya Mom Samaray” (Kindred Spirits)
14. Wallias Band“Muziqawi Silt” (Manteca)
15. Don Cherry“Brown Rice” (EMI)
16. Spiritualized“Feel So Sad (Glides And Chimes)” (Spaceman, Arista)
17. Colleen“The stars vs creatures” (Thrill Jockey)
18. Spectrum“All Night Long” (Silvertone)
19. Slowdive“No Longer Making Time” (Dead Oceans)
20. Spirit Fest“River River” (Alien Transistor)
21. NSRD“Schwenn” (STROOM)
22. Lali Puna“Wear My Heart” (Morr Music)
23. Four Tet “Daughter” (Text)
24. Sufjan Stevens“Wallowa Lake Monster” (Asthmatic Kitty)
25. William Eggleston“On the Street Where You Live” (Secretly Canadian)
26. Lindstrøm“Bungl (Like a Ghost)” [feat. Jenny Hval] (Smalltown Supersound)
27. Daphni“Carry on” (Jiaolong)
28. Blanck Mass“The Rat” (Sacred Bones)
29. Colin Stetson“All this I do for glory” (52Hz)
30. Dirty Three“Moon On The Land” (Bella Union)
31. Cat Power“Metal Heart” (Matador)
32. Marisa Anderson“Amazing Grace” (Mississippi)
33. Jackson C. Frank“Milk and Honey” (Sanctuary)
34. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis“Three Seasons in Wyoming” (Wind River OST) (Invada, Lakeshore)

Compiled by Fractured Air, October 2017. The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or record labels. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.

http://www.blogotheque.net/
https://fracturedair.com/

Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S02E07 | July mix

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fracturedair_july17

July saw the highly-anticipated return of world-renowned French composer Colleen (aka Cécile Schott) with her achingly beautiful new single “Separating”, taken from the forthcoming “A flame my love, a frequency” out October 20th via Thrill Jockey. On her new album, Schott’s viola da gamba – used on her last two records “Captain of None” and “The Weighing Of The Heart” – is replaced by solely electronic instrumentation: Moog pedals and Critter and Guitari synthesizers. The result is yet another otherworldly, far-reaching sonic odyssey from this visionary solo artist.

Following on from last year’s exceptional debut mini-album “Shady & Light”, Hamburg-born and Berlin-based multi-instrumentalist and producer Martyn Heyne has unveiled his stunning new single “Carry”, taken from the forthcoming solo debut album (coming out later this year on the neo-classical imprint 7K!). The divine guitar-based compositions crafted by Heyne carves out a ceaselessly rich listening experience for the here-and-now.

Elsewhere on July’s mix we have new releases from Montreal composer Kara-Lis Coverdale (Boomkat Editions), Four Tet’s new single “Two Thousand And Seventeen” (Text), Daphni’s new fabric live set, Los Angeles composer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s lead single “An Intention” (taken from the forthcoming Western Vinyl release “The Kid”), Jane Weaver’s krautrock-flavoured latest opus (Fire Records), Snake Eyes (the current house band in the new Twin Peaks) and UK psychedelia courtesy of Ulrika Spacek.

Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S02E07 | July mix

 

To listen on Mixcloud:

https://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/fractured-air-x-blogothèque-s02e07-july-mix/

 

01. Gil Scott-Heron“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” (BGP)
02. Shabazz Palaces“Welcome to Quazarz” (Sub Pop)
03. Danger Doom“Mad Nice” (feat. Black Thought & Vinny Price) (Lex)
04. Robert Wyatt“Shipbuilding” (Rough Trade)
05. Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland “2” (Hyperdub)
06. Patricia“I Know The Face, But Not The Name” (Spectral Sound)
07. Barbara Morgenstern + Werkstatt“Grow” (Monika Enterprise)
08. Four Tet“Two Thousand and Seventeen” (Text)
09. Daphni “Poly” (Fabric)
10. Om Alec Khaoli“Enjoy It” (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
11. Marijata – “I Walk Alone” (excerpt) (Mr Bongo)
12. Visible Cloaks“Terrazzo” (feat. Motion Graphics) (RVNG Intl)
13. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith“An Intention” (Western Vinyl)
14. Avey Tare“Season High” (Domino)
15. Deru“1979” (Friends Of Friends)
16. Brumes“Backward Hands” (Dauw)
17. Ulrika Spacek“Mimi Pretend” (Tough Love)
18. Jane Weaver“Did You See Butterflies?” (Fire)
19. Trouble“Snake Eyes” (Sacred Bones)
20. Donnie & Joe Emerson“Baby” (LateNightTales)
21. Balmorhea“Clear Language” (Western Vinyl)
22. Mary Ocher“To the Light” (Piano Version) (Klangbad)
23. Marcus Fjellström “Aunchron” (Miasmah)
24. The Durutti Column“Sketch For Dawn (I)” (Factory)
25. Martyn Heyne“Carry” (7K!)
26. Kara-Lis Coverdale“Grafts” (excerpt) (Boomkat Editions)
27. Colleen“Separating” (Thrill Jockey)

Compiled by Fractured Air, July 2017. The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or record labels. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.

http://www.blogotheque.net/
https://fracturedair.com/

Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S02E02 | February mix

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fracturedair_feb17

We’re excited to present three exclusive tracks for February’s mixtape.

February’s edition features an exclusive first listen of UK-based organist and composer James McVinnie’s “Cycles_1” album, set for release this Spring via Icelandic independent Bedroom Community. The album is a collection of reworks of McVinnie’s glorious 2013 Bedroom Community album, “Cycles”, an album featuring thirteen organ pieces performed by Mcvinnie, written by Nico Muhly and also featuring contributions from Nadia Sirota, Chris Thompson and Simon Wall. Presented here is the rework of “O Emmanuel” (the final of the “Seven O Antiphon Preludes” from “Cycles”) by composer Paul Evans, who is also the producer and engineer at the legendary Greenhouse Studios; the creative home of Bedroom Community, founded by Valgeir Sigurðsson in 1997.

Also featured on February’s mixtape is an exclusive first listen of Irish songwriter Brigid Mae Power’s hauntingly beautiful cover of Planxty’s “As I Roved Out” (a regular inclusion on Power’s enthralling live shows), taken from her forthcoming “The Ones You Keep Close” EP, comprising a collection of older songs of Power’s newly recorded by Peter Broderick at his Woods, Oregon-based studio The Sparkle during 2016. The stunning six-track vinyl EP will be available this April via German independent label Oscarson.

We’re happy to also feature the exclusive track “Rook” by Seattle-based artist Benoît Pioulard (Kranky, Ghostly International, Morr Music) which will be exclusively made available on a tour-only CD during his forthcoming eagerly-awaited European tour, commencing on 4th March 2017.

Also included on February’s mixtape are new releases from: Brokeback; Colin Stetson; Hauschka; Jens Lekman; Visible Cloaks; Cindy Lee; Clap! Clap!; Talaboman; Mind Over Mirrors; Julie Byrne & much more.

Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S02E02 | February mix

 

 

01. Visible Cloaks“Circle” (RVNG Intl)
02. Julia Holter“So Lillies” (Live at RAK) (Domino)
03. Yaw“Where Will You Be” (!K7)
04. Françoise Hardy“Voilà” (Disques Vogue)
05. Cindy Lee“A Message From The Aching Sky” (Superior Viaduct)
06. The Sadies“It’s Easy (Like Walking)” [feat. Kurt Vile] (Yep Roc)
07. The Saxophones“If You’re on the Water” (Self-Released)
08. Brokeback“Spanish Venus” (Thrill Jockey)
09. Jens Lekman“What’s That Perfume That You Wear?” (Secretly Canadian)
10. William Onyeabor“Fantastic Man” (Luaka Bop)
11. Brentford Disco Set“Rebel Disco” (Soul Jazz)
12. Adrian Homer Miller “One and Only One” (Light In The Attic)
13. Colleen“Eclipse” (Thrill Jockey)
14. Those Who Walk Away“First Degraded Hymn” (Constellation)
15. Toydrum“I’ve Got a Future” (Nick Cave & Warren Ellis Rework) [feat. Gavin Clark] (Skint)
16. Julie Byrne“I Live Now As A Singer” (Ba Da Bing!)
17. Clap! Clap!“Ascension Psalm” (feat. HDADD) (Black Acre)
18. Talaboman“Safe Changes” (R&S)
19. Caribou“People Eating Fruit” (Leaf)
20. Vermont“Norderney” (Kompakt)
21. Paddy Mulcahy“On The Steps” (Self-Released)
22. Hauschka “Constant Growth Fails” (City Slang / Temporary Residence)
23. Mind Over Mirrors“To the Edges” (Paradise Of Bachelors)
24. James McVinnie “O Emmanuel” (Paul Evans Remix) (Bedroom Community)
25. Benoît Pioulard“Rook” (Self-Released)
26. Colin Stetson“Spindrift” (Constellation)
27. Mario Batkovic“Restrictus 2” (Invada)
28. Richard Osborn“Still I Will Be Merry” (Tompkins Square)
29. Brigid Mae Power“As I Roved Out” (Oscarson)

Compiled by Fractured Air, February 2017. The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or record labels. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.

http://www.blogotheque.net/
https://fracturedair.com/

 

Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S01E10 | October mix

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October’s mixtape contains an exclusive unreleased track by the world-renowned electronic composer Loscil (Canada/Kranky) ahead of the release of his forthcoming album “Monument Builders”, due for release on November 11th via Kranky.

For over nearly two decades Loscil (Vancouver-born Scott Morgan) has been amassing a constantly evolving, soul-stirring body of work. Beginning with his 2001 debut “Triple Point”, Loscil has developed his own unique style of textural rhythms that ceaselessly blur the lines of ambient, techno, drone and modern-classical. Next month sees the hugely anticipated release of Loscil’s “Monument Builders” (his eighth release for the Chicago-based independent Kranky) and follow-up to 2014’s magnificent “Sea Island” full length.

Also included in October’s mix are two selections from the latest masterful guest mix by Late Night Tales – this time with Belfast-born producer extraordinaire David Holmes at the helm – which ranks amongst the most irresistible contributions in the vast Late Night Tales archive to date. Featured here is the heart-stopping tribute to the late Henry McCullough, the Northern Irish guitarist who was a member of Spooky Tooth, Paul McCartney’s Wings, Sweeney’s Men and also performed with Joe Cocker. Holmes collaborates with the Irish DJ, musician and author BP Fallon for the gorgeous “Henry McCullough”, a most loving and poignant tribute to his memory.

October’s mix also features new releases by the Irish-based electronic producer Ellll (pseudonym for Cork-based artist Ellen King) who releases her sublime debut EP “Romance” next month; Katie Gately’s stunning debut album “Color” on the Tri Angle label; the impeccable “Stranger Things” soundtrack composed by Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein from the Austin-based band S U R V I V E and the second album by Xylouris White (legendary Cretan-lute player George Xylouris and Dirty Three’s Jim White) entitled “Black Peak”, out now on Bella Union.

Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S01E10 | October mix

To Read/listen on La Blogothèque:

http://www.blogotheque.net/2016/10/21/fractured-air-x-blogotheque-s01e10-october-mix/

 

Tracklisting:

01. John Carpenter“Hofner Dawn” (Sacred Bones)
02. Colleen“Your Heart On Your Sleeve” (The Leaf Label)
03. Ellll“Romance” (Art For Blind)
04. Katie Gately“Lift” (Tri Angle)
05. Jessy Lanza“Could Be U” (Hyperdub)
06. Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein“This Isn’t You” (Stranger Things OST, Lakeshore)
07. Black Marble “It’s Conditional” (Ghostly International)
08. Madvillain“The Illest Villains” (Stones Throw, PIAS)
09. Betty Harris“There’s a Break in the Road” (Soul Jazz)
10. J Dilla & MF Doom“Sniper Elite” (Gold Dust Media)
11. Virginia Wing“Daughter of the Mind” (Fire)
12. Marissa Nadler“High on the Road” (Bandcamp)
13. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis“Texas Midlands” (Hell or High Water OST, Milan)
14. Stars Of The Lid“Tippy’s Demise” (Kranky)
15. Low “Untitled 1” (Bandcamp)
16. Bob Dylan“Song To Woody” (Columbia)
17. Xylouris White“The Feast” (Bella Union)
18. the Marquis de Tren and Bonny Billy (with Angel Olsen)“Solemn 28” (Drag City, Domino)
19. The Children Of Sunshine“It’s A Long Way To Heaven” (LateNightTales)
20. Townes Van Zandt“Waitin’ Around To Die” (Charly, Poppy)
21. Ennio Morricone“The Ecstasy Of Gold” (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly OST, United Artists)
22. The Avalanches“The Wozard Of Iz” (XL)
23. BP Fallon & David Holmes“Henry McCullough” (LateNightTales)
24. Primal Scream“Inner Flight” (Creation)
25. Katie Kim“Ghosts” (Art For Blind)
26. Boom Bip“I See Me” (Sun Choke OST, Lex)
27. Loscil“Varia” (Unreleased)
28. Jóhann Jóhannsson“A Song for Europa” (Deutsche Grammophon)
29. Claire M Singer“Wrangham” (Touch)
30. Gavin Bryars (with Tom Waits)“Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet” (Obscure, Island)

Compiled by Fractured Air, October 2016. The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or record labels. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.

http://www.blogotheque.net/
https://fracturedair.com/

 

Fractured Air Presents: COLLEEN (FRA) w/ special guest Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (IRE) / Cork Opera House / SUNDAY 3 MAY 2015

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We’re delighted to be presenting the following double-bill concert with world-renowned composers Cécile Schott (Colleen) and Meteor Choice Music Award winning Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (The Gloaming, This Is How We Fly). This is Colleen’s only Irish date for her 2015 European tour to promote her latest fifth studio album ‘Captain Of None’, released earlier this April via Thrill Jockey Records. Both artists have mastered their own respective instruments of choice; Schott’s treble viola da gamba and Ó Raghallaigh’s ten-string Hardanger d’Amore fiddle. Join both musicians on the Cork Opera House stage (literally) for an intimate gig set up to bring the audience right into the heart of the music. Concert takes place this Sunday 3 May, doors are 8pm and tickets are €17.50.

Tickets are available now from the Cork Opera House Box Office (Emmet Place, Cork), telephone: + 353 (0) 21 – 427 0022, or online from the following link:

http://www.corkoperahouse.ie/event/colleen-caoimhin-o-raghallaigh/2015-05-03/

Event Page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/667437746735775/

colleen

COLLEEN (FRA/Thrill Jockey)

The Paris-born musician Cécile Schott has been making music as Colleen for over a decade now: beginning with a string of much-loved records for The Leaf Label (debut 2003 album ‘Everyone Alive Wants Answers’, 2005’s ‘The Golden Morning Breaks’ and 2007’s ‘Les Ondes Silencieuses’, as well as 2006’s ‘Colleen Et Les Boîtes À Musique’, (an E.P. originally created for Atelier de Création Radiophonique as a commission from France Culture). After a four-year break, Colleen made her long-awaited return to music in 2013 with the release of her album ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’ via London-based label Second Language, its eleven songs featuring, for the first time, Schott’s own voice as well as a new-found love for Jamaican music and rhythm. Colleen’s highly acclaimed fifth studio album ‘Captain Of None’ was released by Chicago-based label Thrill Jockey Records in April 2015.

‘Captain Of None’ is characterized by a stripped-back sound palette (Schott adopts the use of two main instruments; the treble viola da gamba and voice) and finds Schott embracing her long-term love for Jamaican music in terms of the construction of her own songs (production ideas and experimentation with sound). The album was recorded entirely in her home San Sebastian studio, where two key things happened. Firstly, Schott wished to add basslines to her own music, which lead to her using an Octaver Pedal to create bass sounds (the pedal adds another octave below the original sound you are playing). Secondly, Schott began to use a Moogerfooger pedal to create the delay effects crucial to the dub reggae sound aesthetic. ‘Captain Of None’, together with it’s predecessor, 2013’s ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’, journeys Schott’s natural and beautiful transformation from instrumentalist to lyricist, where Schott’s songbook details the inner human life (“so rich and complex it’s just impossible to really understand it and that’s what is really fascinating”).

Colleen’s performance at Cork Opera House will mark Cécile Schott’s eagerly-awaited return to Cork to mark the release of ‘Captain Of None’, her fifth studio album. This is Colleen’s only Irish live performance.

Selected Press for ‘Captain Of None’:

“Colleen essentially provides a journey to this mysterious, elusive heart, one that requires an open mind and sense of adventure… valiant and genre-defying.”
(The Quietus)

“…the whole thing carves out and inhabits a persuasively exotic world of echo that invites total immersion.”
(MOJO)

“…positively vibrate with melodic ideas… the way Colleen uses classical acoustic instruments to reconfigure modern idioms recalls Arthur Russell’s cello-driven World of Echo or Hauschka… Somehow, Schott is able to make these disparate elements feel organic and effortless.”
(Pitchfork)

“The result is gorgeous, like a quietly brewing storm of layered pizzicatos, bouncing off the walls and grazing your ears as they glide past you.”
(Stereo Gum)

“Captain of None is her most ambitious [album] to date. The elegiac vocal elements that buoyed its predecessor are now well and truly on the surface.”
(FACT)

http://colleenplays.org/
https://www.facebook.com/colleenplays
http://www.thrilljockey.com/

caoimhin

Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (IRE/The Gloaming, This Is How We Fly)

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.

2014 was a remarkable year for Ireland-based composer Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh. Firstly, January ‘14 saw the release of contemporary quintet The Gloaming’s stunning self-titled debut album via Real World Records. Subsequent concerts would be performed across the globe (including Sydney’s Opera House) to mass celebration and widespread critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. As well as touring with his other band, the Irish/Swedish quartet This Is How We Fly, across both Ireland and Europe (and most recently across the U.S.), Ó Raghallaigh also performed a series of truly special solo concerts (entitled “In My Mind”, a solo fiddle and film show) across the length of Ireland for the month of October, organized by Irish Music Network. Despite the hectic touring schedules, Ó Raghallaigh also released two stunning albums: the solo album ‘Music For An Elliptical Orbit’ (via Dublin-based label Diatribe Records) and the mesmerizing ‘Laghdú’, a collaboration with U.S. fiddle player Dan Trueman. The Gloaming’s self-titled debut album was recently awarded the prestigious Meteor Choice Music Prize for 2015.

Selected Press:

“a seamless and unfettered soundscape… there’s enough space and light here for influences as diverse as baroque to minimalism to breathe free… the work of musicians reveling in the moment: a rare find.”
(The Irish Times)

“possibly one of the most fulsome and beautiful recordings I have ever heard. Great music has this magnificent power over us, a power to which the heart must yield always and without regret.”
(Iarla Ó Lionáird)

“ASTOUNDING… Replete with unexpected melodic twists and turns, the tunes are highly cinematic, painting richly impressionistic images.”
(Colm O’Hare, Hot Press)

http://www.caoimhinoraghallaigh.com/
https://www.facebook.com/caoimhinoraghallaigh

 


 

Fractured Air Presents: COLLEEN (FRA) w/ special guest Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (IRE), Sunday 3 May 2015, Cork Opera House, Tickets: €17.50, Doors: 8pm.

Tickets are available now from the Cork Opera House Box Office (Emmet Place, Cork), telephone: + 353 (0) 21 – 427 0022, or online from the following link:

http://www.corkoperahouse.ie/event/colleen-caoimhin-o-raghallaigh/2015-05-03/

Chosen One: Colleen

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Interview with Cécile Schott, Colleen.

“…for this album there would be a general theme of trying to speak about the human brain, the mind and basically things that connect us all; these inner struggles, inner demons – if you want to call them that – and just, in general, the inner human life is so rich and complex and also it’s just impossible to really understand it and that’s what is really fascinating.”

—Cécile Schott

Words: Mark Carry, Artwork: Craig Carry

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The Paris-born musician Cécile Schott has been making music as Colleen for over a decade now: beginning with a string of much-loved records for The Leaf Label (debut 2003 album ‘Everyone Alive Wants Answers’, 2005’s ‘The Golden Morning Breaks’ and 2007’s ‘Les Ondes Silencieuses’, as well as 2006’s ‘Colleen Et Les Boîtes À Musique’, (an E.P. originally created for Atelier de Création Radiophonique as a commission from France Culture). After a four-year break, Colleen made her long-awaited return to music in 2013 with the release of her album ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’ via London-based label Second Language, its eleven songs featuring, for the first time, Schott’s own voice as well as a new-found love for Jamaican music and rhythm. Colleen’s hugely anticipated fifth studio album ‘Captain Of None’ has just been released by Chicago-based label Thrill Jockey Records, representing the crowning jewel of Schott’s treasured works of art thus far.

The first glimpses of the San Sebastian-based artist’s new material came during 2013’s ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’ tour, in the form of the shape-shifting creations: ‘Captain Of None’, ‘I’m Kin’ and ‘Lighthouse’. The scintillating dub-infused rhythms interwoven with Schott’s mesmerising voice is a pure joy to behold as vast seas of tender beauty ascend into the human space. I was fortunate to witness Colleen’s live performance on two separate occasions during 2013 – Dublin’s Unitarian Church during the early summer and Cork’s Triskel Christchurch in early November – that were dotted with an endless array of utterly transcendent moments created in Schott’s own little corner of the world.

The hypnotic notes of Schott’s trusted treble viola da gamba (a baroque instrument with gut strings) formed the foundation to ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’s sonic trajectory – in accordance with Schott’s use of vocals for the very first time – that would be further explored on ‘Captain Of None’ to wondrous effect. Unlike ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’ – which incorporated a wide palette of instrumentation (for instance, the use of organ on ‘Humming Fields’ or clarinet on ‘Moonlit Sky’) ‘Captain Of None’ limits the instrumentation to Schott’s voice and treble viola da gamba (with the exception on the melodica-led, Augustus Pabo-inspired ‘Salina Stars’). The album’s eight sublime creations further evolve, transform and ceaselessly mutate due to the compelling production ideas and wholly unique artistic vision of Schott, who creates, in turn, a sonic marvel of a record. Inspired by Jamaican music, the dub-inspired techniques (basslines provided by a Moogerfooger delay pedal) utilized throughout ‘Captain Of None’ transports the listener to the further reaches of one’s mind: a lost labyrinth of time.

In Lloyd Bradley’s comprehensive history of Jamaican music, ‘Bass Culture’, one particular chapter describes Lee Perry’s Black Ark Studio (Schott’s own San Sebastian-based studio has been lovingly dubbed the White Ark). Leroy Sibbles describes Perry as “an explorer going into the future of the music” and I feel those very words epitomises both the ambitious scope of ‘Captain of None’ and the breath-taking inventiveness of its author.

“The naked eye can’t see these things” sings Schott on ‘Captain Of None’s penultimate tour-de-force, ‘Eclipse’, it perhaps best describes the lyrical viewpoint of Schott since she commenced adding voice to her compositions on 2013’s ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’, where both realms of the real and the imagined are simultaneously traversed and explored (in a similar vein to Liz Harris’s Grouper guise or Sibylle Baier’s beloved ‘Colour Green’, for instance).

Like a beacon of the night, ‘Captain Of None’ reveals a sense of the vulnerable and the fragile (as well as a sense of the deeply personal) which quietly lie side-by-side with the brave and the permanent. All the while to the pulse of a beautiful, beating heart.

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‘Captain Of None’ is available now on Thrill Jockey Records.

http://colleenplays.org/
https://www.facebook.com/colleenplays
http://www.thrilljockey.com/

colleen_collage_craigcarry_web

Interview with Cécile Schott, Colleen.

Congratulations, Cécile, on the incredible new album ‘Captain of None’, it is very special.

Cécile Schott: Thank you.

First of all, it’s great to see the songs you performed on ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’ tour – the likes of ‘Captain Of None’, ‘Lighthouse’ and ‘I’m Kin’ – present on the new album and to hear how they have evolved over the past year or so.

CS: Yes, it’s true. It’s actually one of the first albums I’ve done where most of the songs – well, half of the songs on the album – were born as live songs as I was basically preparing the live show for ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’. What happens usually when I rehearse is of course I am rehearsing specific songs but there is always a point when, for instance, your hand strikes another chord or maybe you just sing something to yourself and all of a sudden you realize that you have the seed for a new song. And basically the first song that was born that way was ‘Lighthouse’. When I was rehearsing for ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’ live shows in 2013 and then the following summer, ‘Captain Of None’ and ‘I’m Kin’ evolved really rapidly as I was rehearsing in my studio, playing around with ideas. So it’s true it’s the first time I’ve been able to play a couple of songs from a forthcoming album before the album is released, basically. It was actually really nice at the moment of recording, I had the body of these three songs and then I was able to give them further clothes by adding little production ideas and having a more complex sound. It’s obviously easier to have a more complex and interesting sound when you are recording because you have more tools at your disposal.

That’s exactly one of the aspects that makes ‘Captain Of None’ such a compelling journey: it is the instrumentation itself and all the different layers. I think too it’s the studio set-up that you have – which you have dubbed ‘The White Ark’ in reference to Lee Perry’s ‘Black Ark’ – I would love for you to discuss the various techniques because it’s obviously an album with so many ideas where there is so many elements happening in the music.

CS: Thank you. Well basically the album is both very cohesive in the sense that there is only one stringed instrument – that’s the treble viola da gamba – and then there’s the voice and these are the two main instruments. On ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’ there was treble viola da gamba, bass viola da gamba, acoustic guitar, clarinet, piano, organ, toy gamelan (basically a miniature version of a gamelan), frame drum, floor tom and other bits of percussion, and of course my voice, so it was very varied.

With this album I knew I was going to do something different because I really fell in love with the sound of the treble viola da gamba. Basically, what happened was, when I was making ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’, there was a moment when I took the treble viola – and I hadn’t recorded with it yet – and then I changed its tuning and that’s how I first made the song ‘Geometría del Universo’ and then I made a couple of other songs like ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’ and ‘Raven’ with it. And at that moment I knew I was really onto something because I think it’s a very, very specific sound and it led me to a way of playing that was different. So I knew from that moment that the subsequent album would be mainly focusing on this and on the voice.

Also, at the time of recording ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’, I was listening with Iker [Spozio] to a lot of Jamaican music and I felt so inspired by it that I also thought that ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’ was a very prepared album – in a way it’s a very controlled album in the sense that it was my comeback album, I was trying the voice which was obviously a big, big challenge for me and I was quite worried whether or not I could pull it off – and so I had to control many parameters on ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’ and I think after that I needed to make an album where I could feel free – free to play, free to experiment – so from then on, I knew the album would have a kind of restricted palette of instruments but that it would be counter-balanced with my approach to producing it. And you know that’s where the Jamaican influence comes in big time even though it’s true it doesn’t sound like Jamaican music as such because obviously the instruments are different – my voice is nothing like a Jamaican singer’s voice – the point is not to even imitate the Jamaican music that I am so fond of but rather to take my inspiration from production ideas and the idea of experimenting, of playing with sound and seeing how far that can take you in terms of constructing songs, basically.

The quality of the overall sound as well where there is a very warm and organic sound from the instrumentation you use but I love too how like you mention with ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’, on one level the songs are quite longer in the sense that there are extensive closing sections to many of the songs. 

CS: I can talk a bit more about certain things in my set-up that have really led to the sonic identity of the album. For instance, and that’s one of the things I love about trying to develop as a musician, is that sometimes you feel that you want to do something but maybe you haven’t got the right piece of gear to do it – you know, for instance I’m not at all someone who buys lots of gear, it’s something I don’t do. At one point I had a tendency to collect instruments but now I really stopped doing that. But sometimes it’s true that acquiring a new piece of equipment can really make a big difference. I think for this album, two things happened: First, I wanted to have some basslines in my music so I researched what is called Octaver pedals on the internet and I ended up buying one. An Octaver pedal adds another octave below the original sound you are playing, so it gives you a bass sound but with the original sound still present. When I got it and started playing with it, it was like: “Oh I just can’t believe how good this is!” It was giving me a bass sound that was way better than anything I could have hoped for especially because the treble viola in itself doesn’t really have any bass. So the first big change was that I started to think in terms of basslines.

And the second big gear acquisition [laughs] was the Moogerfooger pedal. I basically got this pedal after seeing the Moogerfooger pedals in a video by American musician King Britt and I thought: “wow, these pedals look really cool” so I started to look at demo videos on the internet and I thought: “wow, this looks like something really different”. I already had lots of delay pedals but they weren’t analog pedals, just digital pedals doing emulations of analog delay. So I got one of them and you know again it was a case of not being able to believe the things that it was doing to the sound; it was completely different to everything I had in my array of pedals. So that was the second thing that started to enable different sounds to come into play on the album. And the thing about the Moogerfooger is it’s a pedal that you really have to use as if you were playing live. Basically, I was recording something and I was turning the dials on the pedals or maybe I recorded something beforehand and afterwards I would run the sound that I had recorded through the pedal and I would touch the various parameters that you have on the pedal.

For instance, a song like ‘Holding Horses’, the song is really – apart from the bassline – completely connected with the use of the Moogerfooger; all the different sounds – changes in the sounds you hear – it’s all through the Moogerfooger. Also, a song like ‘Salina Stars’, the melodica goes through the Moogerfooger and it’s what really gives those sounds and likewise for ‘Eclipse’, the voice goes through the Moogerfooger and so that was a really good moment of buying something and seeing that it’s taking you into whole new places in terms of sound, which in turn takes you to a different way of making music.

One of the first things that comes to mind is that the album feels like a live performance in the way that it takes you to the live show itself. In terms of the lyrics, I love how, for example ‘I’m Kin’, I love the beautiful imagery that is drawn from the song itself.

CS: I am a very curious person and I have an interest in so many things and one of those interests is trying to see how humans are connected across the ages, across geographical spaces and how we are connected to animals and just, in general, to the natural world that’s around us. So, I think with ‘I’m Kin’ I was trying to express this feeling of connection to other past ancient cultures including cultures that have completely vanished. I can tell you specifically for instance that the “golden ram from Iraq” is a reference to a statue that’s in the British museum; it’s a statue of a ram, it’s usually called the ‘Ram in a Thicket’ – it’s what it’s officially called, if I remember well – and I remember the first time I saw it, I was thinking wow, this is from the same place that now we only hear about because of the war in Iraq and you know this is like a birthplace and cradle of civilisation which was incredibly important to the development of the arts and so I thought that was quite interesting.

And then, afterwards, basically the song takes you from, first, it’s the connection to past civilisations and then it’s the connection to the animals; so in ‘The Odyssey’, Argos is the dog of Odysseus and when Odysseus comes back from his long journey, no one recognises him because he’s changed so much and there’s only his dog that recognises him. I remember when I read ‘The Odyssey’ I thought that was such a moving passage, I thought that there is no better example of that connection between a dog and his master. And also the next sentence of “the greyhounds hanging from the trees” – I don’t know if you’re going to understand this reference [laughs] – it’s basically a reference to the Spanish greyhounds that are used by hunters and unfortunately the hunters, once their dogs are not useful anymore for hunting or if they’re considered bad hunting dogs, they’re basically left to die in horrible conditions; they’re even tortured. It just meant a lot to say that I felt connected to the fate of the poor animal like that and then it moves onto the elements like “the rocks and the water” and when you tread on something there is this whole hidden world – insects and life underneath – like the song goes from something that is concrete and human to the world of elements and of the tiny, basically.

Again, I think the lyrics are so poignant; they feel almost like parables as you listen to the different songs. 

CS: I think there are various ways of writing lyrics. For instance, I really admire people who can write lyrics that have a narrative content so, for instance, I think a real master of that kind of lyric writing is Townes Van Zandt. When you listen to a Townes Van Zandt song it’s almost like hearing a short story and it works so well and if you had to sum up the contents of his songs they would sound really, maybe cliché but his gift for narrative writing which obviously is infused with a lot of poetry is really, really strong. Or someone like Stina Nordenstam who I think has some songs that really have this sense of mysterious narrative and, unfortunately, I don’t think I am one of those kind of lyric writers. Also, I think I’m very much at the beginning of writing lyrics, you know in total I’ve written very few lyrics but I knew that for this album there would be a general theme of trying to speak about the human brain, the mind and basically things that connect us all; these inner struggles, inner demons if you want to call them that and just in general the inner human life is so rich and complex and also it’s just impossible to really understand it and that’s what is really fascinating. For instance, a song like ‘Captain Of None’ is really about that but the thing is the way I was writing the lyrics I was really trying to stay away from clichés and so when you say a parable, it’s not necessarily that I want the lyrics to be hard to understand and I don’t think that they are but it’s trying to write them in a way that hopefully will resonate with every listener and maybe every listener, when listening to the lyrics, will take something from it and maybe interpret it in his or her own way.

Staying with the song ‘Captain Of None’, I love how both the title-track of this album and ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’, I think it works so beautifully that each song closes the album as well.

CS: Yeah, yeah I like the idea of maybe keeping the most important thing for the end in a way.

If one lyric comes to mind that sums up nearly the feel of the album would be the lyric “I got lost inside a dream”, it encapsulates the journey as a whole. 

CS: The song is about losing touch with reality and not recognizing or understanding yourself – trying to find rest yet being unable to do so – hence the feeling of getting lost in a kind of parallel reality (a “dream”) which leaves you feeling “Captain of none and nothing”.

colleen_concertposter_craigcarry

When you listen to the new record too you feel there is a trajectory going back to even your first album and the music boxes; there are textures and nuances present that makes you feel shades of your previous material is somehow embedded in there as well.

CS: Yeah, it’s funny I’m actually quite happy about that because, on the one hand, I’ve never made an album like this one but on the other hand it’s true that some aspects of it go back to the first album and in a way that’s quite nice. I think maybe at one point – I’ve never rejected what I’ve done in the past – but I remember when I was making ‘Les Ondes Silencieuses’ I really wanted to be able to play without looping because I was thinking “Oh ok, everyone uses loopers, it’s boring; to be a real musician I need to be able to play without any background looping” so I had these kind of ideas in my head and you know I think as an artist, you do go through various phases and it’s interesting how if you let a few years pass you can change your mind completely. Well, I’ve gone back to my initial love of sampling and looping and I think that’s completely fine and also I think one of the effects of Jamaican music is that in a way Jamaican music and especially the dub productions, they really pre-date so much of the music from the end of the electronica and all subsequent electronic music. And one of the things about Jamaican music is that it’s often very basic in terms of the melodic unit: it can be the same chord for five minutes and when I realized that I was never disturbed by that, I thought well it just goes to show that it’s not about whether something is looped or sampled, if it’s a great melodic unit then yeah, it can last for ten minutes for all I know, so I was really glad to be able to just work without any preconceptions of what I should do. And I still really like that first album [‘Everyone Alive Wants Answers’] so I’m glad I was somehow able to make the circle form itself.

And what is also wonderful are the sublime instrumental cuts. I know you’ve already mentioned ‘Salina Stars’ and I love how it brings you to the likes of Augustus Pablo and the like.

CS: Absolutely. Augustus Pablo was my reference point to the song, it was almost like a little homage. It’s funny because first I thought I wasn’t going to use the melodica because I thought well that is going to sound sub-par compared to Augustus Pablo’s melodic genius but then I took it out of its case and I hadn’t touched it in years and years and then all of a sudden the song was born. And yeah I’m really glad because I think it adds variety to the album’s sound as well. Before, I said the album is only treble viola but it’s not completely true, there is also the melodica.

Actually another thing, Cécile, I didn’t realize it until recently but if you’d like to talk about first noticing the viola da gamba itself, I think it was in a French film?

CS: I think I was about fifteen when on French TV they showed ‘Tous les Matins du Monde’ by Alain Corneau. I remember watching it and just falling in love with the sound of the viola da gamba. At the time, I think maybe I had just started to play the guitar possibly, but anyway it seemed like something that you would think about but it’s never going to be for you because I don’t have a classical education. At the time I couldn’t read notes on the score and also the viola da gamba is a very expensive instrument; it’s very rare. I mean, you can find a cello quite easily but to obtain a viola da gamba is like a whole different process. So that basically stayed at the back of my mind and later on, when I took up the cello, that kind of went into the foreground a little bit until, in 2005, when I made the decision to order a viola and then so afterwards I had to wait for nine months for the viola maker to make it and then I got it in early 2006. But the treble viola da gamba, I only got it in 2009 and the interesting thing is I just wasn’t using it. I got it precisely at the moment when I went through my blank period of not feeling like making music. But afterwards, when I went back to making music, it wasn’t the easiest instrument to go to because I hadn’t really played it. So, I thought: oh, I’ve ordered the viola and it’s cost me money and it’s just lying there and I haven’t even used it until I had this revelation when I was making ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’ and I changed the tuning and so that’s the short story about the viola [laughs].

Another thing is how fantastic it is that you have your proper studio set-up – which is really like for the first time – and no longer having difficulties of only recording at night, for example with ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’? So this time for once you had your proper space.

CS: Well I have to say this album has been such a joy to make. All of my previous albums, there’s always been a challenge of some sort. If I think of the second album [‘Golden Morning Breaks’] it was the first time I was recording with real instruments and I had the so-called second album pressure on and the third album ‘Les Ondes Silencieuses’ that was a really hard one to pull off because I was going for a more minimal sound with the big viola da gamba and for that you need really good microphones, you need quite a good recording technique, so in the end I got the help of my mastering engineer at the time, Emiliano Flores: he’s also a sound engineer so thankfully he helped me to record it. But it was recorded in two weeks in an attic at his parents’ place and then I did some of the additional recording at home but it was far from ideal and kind of rushed. For ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’, I had the studio but the studio had these terrible doors and windows; you could hear the sound of cars and from people coming by so I had to record the album partly in our flat here and partly in the studio at night. It was just insane and I would be so tired; it is just not good for you to work that way and it’s also quite stressful. One of my aims with this album was: “Ok, this time I’m really going to take my time and just do things well” and I was able to do it thanks to the renovation of the doors and windows of the studio that happened in late 2013. Honestly, it was amazing to go there at a normal time like 3 in the afternoon and just spend the whole afternoon until 8 in the evening recording and there is no noise and there’s light coming through the doors, it was just great you know [laughs]. My first pain-free recording, basically.

At the start of your last tour you had some new songs, I wonder do you have sketches of new songs in your head at the moment or is it too soon?

CS: I have very, very small things but to be honest I’m just concentrating on learning how to perform all the songs from the album – well seven from the eight songs on the album – I’m learning to perform them live because the thing is some of them are really easy because they already existed before the album was recorded; ‘Captain Of None’, ‘I’m Kin’ and ‘Lighthouse’ – these were pretty easy – but the other ones were made in the studio and the thing about using delays is that delay works differently in a studio setting and in a live setting: in the studio it was going into the computer and you’re basically using headphones but then it’s a different bag of tricks when you’re playing through a PA system because then the delay doesn’t react the same way. So I’m having to learn how to change the settings of the delays from how I’ve had them for the recording. And also I have to learn how to perform the songs in one go because obviously on the album, with the luxury of recording, you can always touch up on mistakes and do twenty takes if you need to. So right now I’m mostly concentrating on just that and I have a faint idea of what the next album might be like but I also think I shouldn’t rush.

I love ‘Lighthouse’ which is one of the older songs off the new album. I suppose it shows the inspiration you draw from your surroundings in San Sebastian?

CS: Absolutely. I think in a way ‘Lighthouse’ is a bit different from the rest of the album because I think it’s the only one that doesn’t really fit the thematic unit of the rest of the album because it was made much earlier. The thing is ever since I moved here I’ve always had the idea of having at least one song that would pay homage to the beauty of the landscape here, the soothing quality of it and the magical quality of living by the sea because, in a way, I’m used to it now but I think it’s when I see something like a lighthouse, I don’t know maybe it’s the human element within the landscape of the sea, the flashing lights; there’s something about lighthouses that are very poetic. For instance, I always have this fantasy of one day being able to record an entire album in a lighthouse and at some point it would be something I’d love to do. Also in a way I think the lighthouse flashes, they also have enormous musical qualities – I don’t know if that really makes sense – there is something like a pulse that really speaks to me and you’ve seen this lighthouse anyway, it’s always the same emotion of seeing that landscape and definitely as far as living here is concerned, I actually find it very beneficial to be living in a place where there isn’t very much happening because in a way it forces you to look deeper within you and also gives you more time to work on your own stuff. And that’s the way I feel and I’m glad I lived in Paris for many years – and I probably think it was the right place for me at the time – but actually right now I couldn’t go back to a big city. I think it’s really good to be here and have this balance and also this ability sometimes to completely disconnect from city life, and go to a park or go by the river or sea or go to some hills and completely disconnect and I think that is quite important and quite healthy.

I love your story about when you used to visit the local libraries in Paris, which in turn formed your musical education in many ways? It must have been a whole new world of sounds that opened before you?

CS: I think I’m so lucky that I was able to arrive in Paris at the moment I felt like making music again. Basically what happened from the age of nineteen to twenty-three, I gave up for a moment. From about twenty/twenty-one to twenty-three/twenty-four, I wasn’t sure what kind of music I wanted to make and I didn’t have the tools anyway to do something original and I knew that I wanted to do something by myself. I knew that I didn’t want it to be guitar driven – and I was only playing the guitar at the time – and I think arriving in Paris at that time and having free access to all this music at the time when the internet was barely starting, you know that’s like pre-historic times you know for young people reading this now. I think you have to remember that in 1999 there was no way to listen to things that easily and I think it really formed my whole project of making music in a different way through having access to all this different music.

Finally, Cécile, in terms of Jamaican music, what artists would you recommend?

CS: I’d like to suggest the work of the following people; in terms of producers: Lee Perry, King Tubby, Augustus Pablo, Scientist, and the recordings that appear on the Wackies label. For interpreters: the early Tappa Zukie and early Burning Spear are favorites, as well as Noel Ellis, Ras Michael, Stranger Cole, Horace Andy… but it’s just the tip of this huge iceberg of excellent music that is the Jamaican music production from the late 60s to early 80s (the period I love the best, with my year of birth – 1976 – being a particular favourite, but that’s just a coincidence!)

 


 

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‘Captain Of None’ is available now on Thrill Jockey Records.

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We’re proud to be presenting Colleen (with special guest Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh) live at Cork Opera House on Sunday 3 May 2015. Tickets are €17.50, available at Cork Opera House Box Office (Emmet Place, Cork City); telephone (+353 21 427 0022) or online HERE.