The universe is making music all the time

Posts Tagged ‘RVNG INTL

Mixtape: A Call For Distance

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A Call For Distance [A Fractured Air Mix]

To listen on Mixcloud:



01. Steve Reich ‘It’s Gonna Rain, Part I’ (excerpt) [Nonesuch]
02. Colin Stetson And Sarah Neufeld ‘Won’t be a thing to become’ [Constellation]
03. So Percussion ‘Music for Wood and Strings: Section 1’ [Brassland]
04. Nils Frahm ‘Wall’ [Erased Tapes]
05. Dawn of Midi ‘Nix’ [Erased Tapes]
06. Craig Leon ‘She Wears A Hemispherical Skullcap’ [RVNG Intl]
07. Holly Herndon ‘Morning Sun’ [4AD]
08. Severed Heads ‘Dead Eyes Opened’ [Dark Entries]
09. Lower Dens ‘Your Heart Still Beating’ [Ribbon Music]
10. Heather Woods Broderick ‘A Call For Distance’ [Western Vinyl]
11. Chris Isaac ‘Wicked Game’ [Reprise]
12. Julia Holter ‘My Love My Love’ [Tompkins Square]
13. John Bence ‘Disquiet, Pt. 1’ [Other People]
14. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis ‘Far from Men 2’ [Goliath Entertainment]
15. Edan ‘Beauty’ [Lewis Recordings]
16. Richard Strauss ‘Vier letzte Lieder: IV. Im Abendrot’ (excerpt) [CBS]
17. Tom Waits ‘You Can Never Hold Back Spring’ [Anti-]
18. The Beach Boys ‘Look (Stereo Mix Of Take 20)’ [Capitol]
19. The Books ‘“Ah…, I See”’ [Temporary Residence Limited]
20. Glen Campbell ‘Guess I’m Dumb’ [Ace]

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

To follow Fractured Air you can do so on Facebook HERE, or Twitter HERE.



Mixtape: So Etched In Memory

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So Etched In Memory [A Fractured Air Mix]

To listen on Mixcloud:



01. Adrian Crowley ‘The Wild Boar’ (excerpt) [Chemikal Underground]
02. Benoît Pioulard ‘So Etched In Memory’ [Kranky]
03. Sam Prekop ‘Invisible’ [Thrill Jockey]
04. The Declining Winter ‘The Declining Winter and the Narrow World’ [Monopsone]
05. Katie Kim ‘Wicked Game’ [Bandcamp]
06. Low ‘Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me’ [Chairkickers’ Music, Rough Trade]
07. Julianna Barwick ‘The Harbinger’ [Dead Oceans]
08. Bing & Ruth ‘TWTGA’ [RVNG Intl]
09. The White Stripes ‘This Protector’ [Sympathy For The Record Industry]
10. Unknown Mortal Orchestra ‘Multi-Love’ [Jagjaguwar]
11. Jib Kidder ‘World of Machines’ [Domino]
12. Panda Bear ‘Boys Latin’ [Domino]
13. Little Sister ‘Somebody’s Watching You’ [Light In The Attic]
14. The Band ‘Up On Cripple Creek’ [Capitol]
15. Bixy Guidry & Percy Babineaux ‘The Waltz Of The Long Wood’ [Tompkins Square]
16. Kenny Knight ‘All My Memories’ [Paradise Of Bachelors]

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

To follow Fractured Air you can do so on Facebook HERE, or Twitter HERE.


Time Has Told Me: K. Leimer

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Interview with Kerry Leimer.

“There was a sense of the many quiet nights spent bewildered by tape recorders and analog synthesizers, stuff just constantly getting away from me and the few moments when ideas and ability met on level ground.”

—Kerry Leimer

Words: Mark Carry


RVNG Intl. is a Brooklyn-based music institution that operates on few but heavily fortified principles, dealing with forward-reaching artists that ceaselessly push the sonic envelope. From visionary luminaries such as Julia Holter, Holly Herndon, Blondes, Maxmillion Dunbar et al, RVNG Intl. has consistently delivered some of the most adventurous, enthralling and breathtaking records this past decade. One of the label’s cornerstones has become the awe-inspiring archival series which has featured (and celebrated) musical pioneers Craig Leon, Ariel Kalma and K. Leimer. The third installment of the archival series — released last year — was Seattle-based sound sculptor, K. Leimer and a vast treasure of ambient voyages entitled ‘A Period of Review (Original Recordings: 1975-1983)’. I simply cannot think of a more special musical document to have graced my life this past year than Kerry Leimer’s resolutely unique and deeply human canon of pioneering ambient music.

A glimpse into Leimer’s creative process is touched upon on the compilation’s liner notes: “The loop provided an instant structure – a sort of fatalism – the participation of the tape machine in shaping and extending the music was a key to setting self-deterministic systems in motion and held clear relationship to my interests in fine art.”

‘A Period of Review (Original Recordings: 1975-1983)’ offers the perfect entry point (across an exhaustive double-album and thirty spellbinding tracks) into the beautifully enthralling and ever-revolving world inhabited by the special soul of Mr. Kerry Leimer.

Recently released on Leimer’s own imprint Palace of Lights, ‘The Grey Catalog’ encompasses an entire spectrum of enthralling sounds and textures; incorporating percussion, electric guitar, bass as well as found sound, digital and analog synthesis and sampled instruments. Album opener ‘Allegory’ gently fades into focus with gorgeous string passages reminiscent of the likes of Kranky’s Christina Vantzou and Leaf Label’s Murcof. Drifting tones of chimes and soft electronic pulses envelop the electronic balladry of ‘Ritual Thinning’. Elements of analog synths and bass are wonderfully incorporated into ‘Clasp’ before the drone soundscapes of ‘Gesture’ evokes ethereal and surreal dreamscapes of blissed-out sounds.

One of the album’s defining moments arrives with the hypnotic ‘Sung’ built on a returning violin motif that is masterfully melded with piano and bass, in turn, creating an utterly transcendent electro-acoustic exploration. Field recordings and thudding percussion expands the dynamic range on ‘Poesie’, further highlighting the wonderful diversity on display throughout ‘The Grey Catalog’. Neo-classical elements are masterfully embedded in the cinematic cut ‘Europe’, whilst the proceeding ‘Casual Suffering’ – the album’s longest piece – further expands the sonic envelope with dense strings reminiscent of the Touch catalog. The stunning closer ‘At Remove’ feels a distant companion to the opening ‘Allegory’ with its scintillating strings that ebb and flow into the forefront of your heart’s mind.


‘A Period of Review (Original Recordings: 1975-1983)’  is available now on RVNG Intl.



Interview with Kerry Leimer.

Please discuss for me your childhood and your early exposure to music while growing up in Chicago. Was there a strong musical background in your family? What records would your parents have been listening to at home?

Kerry Leimer: There was no musical background to speak of. My parents immigrated to the U.S. from post WWII Austria, via Canada. They gradually adopted American MOR of the time, stuff I refer to as misogynist cocktail pop — repulsive on many levels. As befits a lad of Austrian extraction I was given a few accordion lessons, mostly focused on learning the accompanying dance steps. It strikes me now that I was most probably tone deaf: music made no sense to me whatsoever. Tonality was something I had to learn to recognize, and given the environment, there was no real compulsion to do so. Early rock was completely lost on me — experiencing even a two minute song from that period remains nightmarish. So I came to an interest quite late, and it took some very specific exposure. A von Karajan recording of Mozart’s Requiem; ‘Epitaph’ and ‘Dust be Diamonds’ managed to cement an interest that had begun to make itself known a few years earlier, through some ill-defined attraction to parts of ‘Revolver’ and most of ‘Piper at the Gates of Dawn’. This interest expanded rapidly but to mostly obscure music. I had a suspicion of and dislike for widely popular forms.

Your family permanently settled in Seattle in 1967. Can you please describe Seattle in the late 60’s/early 70’s? What music of the time resonated powerfully for you that would inspire you to create your own unique blend of music?

KL: Seattle’s effect on me was principally depressive. The town was referred to at the time as The Space Needle and the Box it Came In, the box being the only office tower downtown, headquarters for what was then SeaFirst Bank, no doubt the money laundering arm of Boeing. It was a blue collar town, nice landscape, with an unremarkable manscape bereft even of sea shanties. The only things of immediate interest were learning about the Wobblies and to somehow live in nearly perpetual dark. Most of the people I met and went to school with were actively hostile to the arts, pro-war and, between bullying sessions, deeply involved in various sportsball activities. But my overriding interest was the visual arts, so early days were preoccupied with a study of 20th Century art that isolated me from what I took to be an ignorant and angry social order. In many ways, the ideas I pursue were shaped by the visual arts.

Please take me back to your first experiments with sound. What equipment did you have at your disposal? I believe you collected instruments from the local pawn shop- I am sure you must have some beautiful stories – and magical discoveries – born from these trips. I wonder do you feel the creative process involved, very early on has changed or altered in any way over the subsequent album releases?

KL: That would be tape collage with a little AIWA reel-to-reel. It had a splicing block and some splicing tape and I’d just cut up voice recordings, sometimes shredded to unusable size. It was all there: speed change, direction change, odd juxtaposition. Great fun and instantly rewarding: much less work than drawing or painting and generally neater than collage. Then found sound: mic’d stuff off television, radio, random sounds in- and out- of doors. The equipment was always of greater interest than instruments, if such distinction need be made. I found parts in pawn shops, built a primitive bass guitar, located an echoplex, then acquired a few MXR boxes, a Mu-Tron Bi-Phase. Thanks to an interest I had in piano my parents acquired an electric organ — I still do not comprehend this — so first up were loopy echoed drones between rote instruction of “Beautiful Dreamer” and the like. Multi-tracking was still some years off for me, so things were restricted to a single pass and a very few bounces. The first “albums” were done with an art school friend. John Holt had a Les Paul and we produced two cassettes of these sorts of mash-up titled I’d Rather Cadaver, probably a reference to the Surrealist game of Exquisite Corpse, and Grey Cows which culminates in a sparkling interpretation of Faust’s ‘The Sad Skinhead’.

In terms of ambient music, who do you feel have been pioneers of the genre? I was very interested to read that you felt Cluster’s II record was a key revelation early on. I would love for you to discuss this particular record and its significance on you as an artist and sound sculptor?

KL: All the early work of those artists — Cluster, Harmonia, Neu! –– even to some extent records such as IrrlichtCyborg and Zeit –– seemed in a very particular sense to be simple and within reach. I wouldn’t call them ambient and, given the manner in which the meaning of the term has changed, I wouldn’t really call much of what I do or am interested in to be ambient. The horrors visited upon our understanding by genre definitions remains an issue for some other discussion, but the general attractor for me was a form of simplicity, free of grand gesture, self-regulating and owning to the often overt presence of tape or some recording medium.

In the liner-notes of the RVNG Intl’s compilation ‘A Period Of Review: 1975-1983’, you describe the “instant structure” and “sort of fatalism” the tape loop provided you with. This sense of wonderment and fascination with sound is dotted across the multitude of beguiling tracks contained on this very special compilation. I would love to gain an insight please into the looping process that is inherent in these sonic creations and indeed the layering of the various sounds.

KL: The open loop’s appeal is twofold. If the work is to be additive, the open loop is a very efficient tool for piling up a lot of sound without a lot of instruments or tracks — things that were in very short supply at that time. The other is that it’s somewhat self-deterministic. It doesn’t have to be, but it tends to behave as an automatic way to set limitations and then keep you within them.

There is very much a DIY aesthetic to your unique and revelatory music. I love how there are a myriad of ideas in each and every pristine ambient cut. It must have been a fulfilling project for you to cull together these – many of which are previously unreleased – tracks that offers a wonderful snapshot and retrospective of your work? Which songs in particular do you feel you’re most proud of or in a way surprised you, when you first listened back to the final recordings?

KL: Writing and recording are actually pretty difficult for me. Listening to the work, no matter how far removed in time, becomes a sort of chore. The memories are usually about the particular struggles and consequent shortfalls. There was a sense of the many quiet nights spent bewildered by tape recorders and analog synthesizers, stuff just constantly getting away from me and the few moments when ideas and ability met on level ground. In this instance, at the distance of A Period of Review, there was a bit of nostalgia for other people involved or in proximity. But recall that APOR was curated by individuals other than myself and that at least as many pieces were left out as were included.  There’s simply no point in favourites for me: now that it’s been circulated listeners make their own interpretations and the music assumes its own, independent, life.

You launched the Palace of Lights record label in 1979 with your wife Dorothy Cross. A plethora of innovative albums, on various formats would see the light of day on this pioneering label, including your own solo works. Please take me back to the label’s origins and the year of ’79 when the label was given its wings, so to speak? Can you recount some of your most cherished memories from the Paradise of Lights’ musical venture? 

KL: I need some time to consider this question. It’s Palace of Lights and still exists. It started in 1978, a few years before Dorothy and I met… it was a lot of work and many people wanted us to make them stars, which wasn’t the idea. So the memories oscillate between the great joy of building a studio / label and the utter disillusionment of being confronted with people seeking fame and fortune…



‘A Period of Review (Original Recordings: 1975-1983)’  is available now on RVNG Intl.


Written by markcarry

January 29, 2015 at 3:32 pm

Mixtape: This Uneven Thing [A Fractured Air Mix]

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This Uneven Thing [A Fractured Air Mix]

To listen on Mixcloud:



01. Antonio Sanchez ‘Get Ready’ [‘Birdman’ OST/Warner Jazz]
02. A Winged Victory For The Sullen ‘ATOMOS I’ [Erased Tapes/Kranky]
03. Ariel Kalma ‘Almora Sunrise’ [RVNG Intl]
04. Alasdair Roberts ‘This Uneven Thing’ [Drag City]
05. Teho Teardo ‘The Outside Force’ [‘Ballyturk’ OST/Specula]
06. Erik K Skodvin ‘Shining, Burning’ [Sonic Pieces]
07. Black to Comm ‘Hands’ [Type]
08. A New Line (Related) ‘The Slow Sound of Your Life’ [Home Assembly Music]
09. Kiasmos ‘Bent’ [Erased Tapes]
10. Thom Yorke ‘Guess Again!’ [Self-Released]
11. Antonio Sanchez ‘Doors and Distance’ [‘Birdman’ OST/Warner Jazz]
12. Charles Mingus ‘Slop’ [Columbia]
13. Mogwai ‘The Lord Is Out of Control’ (Nils Frahm Remix) [Rock Action]
14. Peter Broderick ‘Colours of the Night (Satellite)’ (Greg Haines Dub Mix) [Bella Union]
15. Noel Ellis ‘Memories’ [Summer/Light In The Attic]

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

Fractured Air. The universe is making music all the time.

Mixcloud / Facebook / Twitter



Don’t Look Back: 2014 (Part 2)

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Final part of our “Don’t Look Back” series; which is our look back on the year from the perspective of both musicians as well as various members of the arts community at large, who — despite varying geographical locations and backgrounds — all share the following in common: a deep passion and love for music. We’re both honored and delighted to be able to share the words of these special people through their personal accounts of the year that was: 2014. 

Part 2 of a 2-part series.



William Tyler (Nashville, USA)

William Tyler is a Nashville guitarist and composer who has played an integral part in world-renowned U.S. bands such as Lambchop, Silver Jews and Hiss Golden Messenger. In recent years, Tyler has carved out a deeply enriching solo path, beginning with 2010’s universally-acclaimed ‘Behold The Spirit’ (Tompkins Square) and its exquisite follow-up, ‘Impossible Truth’ (Merge Records), released in 2013. Last April marked the release of ‘Lost Colony’ – a limited-edition 12-inch – featuring the new song ‘Whole New Dude’, a full-band re-working of ‘We Can’t Go Home Again’ (from ‘Impossible Truth’) and ‘Karussell’; a cover of a Michael Rother (Neu!) song.


My year in review:

Hanging with my buddy Michael Slaboch talking records and life in early January. Michael came down to Nashville from Chicago and got stuck in a rare snow storm the precluded his return to the Windy City, which I believe was suffering from some of the coldest temperatures on record. We ate bbq and watched Auburn lose to Florida State in the national championship game while Nashville buckled from the cold outside.

Touring with Califone in the dead of an intense midwestern winter.  We did “Big Ten” country: Minneapolis, Madison, Columbus, Omaha, Detroit, Chicago. I should have brought a snowplow instead of a Volvo station wagon. Beautiful people and music. Frigid temperatures. Haunting drives through cracked Michigan highways covered with snow. Listening to Bruce Hornsby in a Tim Horton’s outside of Benton Harbor.

Taking a series of trains across central and southern Europe on tour in February. Played a rock club that doubled as an indoor shooting range in Belgrade. Played a theater in Zagreb. Played a wine bar in Switzerland. Played a cinema in Lausanne, another cinema in Dresden. Watched “Dallas Buyer’s Club” with German subtitles. Read “Blues People” by Amiri Baraka and “Where the Heart Beats”, an incredible book about John Cage and Zen Buddhism. Train hopped across Italy. Wrote fragments of songs in hotel rooms like you are supposed to. Ate everything that was offered to me. Bought Fernet at an Italian gas station.

I drove across America with my buddy Garland two days after returning from Europe. One day we drove from Nashville to Omaha, the next day across South Dakota to Wyoming. Next day all the way to Coeur D’Alene Idaho. The fourth day we made it to Seattle. I did a three-week tour opening for Daniel Rossen. My other best bud Brad Cook accompanied me for most of the trip. Stoned day off driving through the redwoods for a weird evening of awesome beer and sketchy Mexican food in Eureka, California. Playing a winery in Napa valley. Playing the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles. Driving across the west by myself in a rental car. San Diego to Phoenix, Phoenix to Santa Fe, Santa Fe to Roswell, Roswell to Marfa, Marfa to Austin, Austin to Jackson, Mississippi. Putting about 8000 miles on that poor rental car. Up and down the east coast. Driving back through the North Carolina mountains to home finally and the ‘welcome to Tennessee’ signs greeting me.

I moved temporarily to Oxford, Mississippi for a month. Spent a lot of time writing and reflecting, walking every afternoon down to the town square and sharing a few drinks with new friends. This was the place my parents went to college and I settled into the lazy, deliberate pace of the environs. I feel like as I grow older, the pull further South is stronger. It felt like home.

Green Man festival in Wales. Epic hang with my man David Morris. Playing to a field of friendly folks as the sun set. Being cold in the middle of August and drinking lots of cider.

Some things I enjoyed:

Steve Gunn – Way Out Weather
“Citizen Four”
Harold Grosskopf – Ocean Heart
Swans – To Be Kind
Bob Dylan – Basement Tapes reissue
Bitchin Bajas
Tashi Dorji
Blake Mills
“The Soul of Designer Records” – Big Legal Mess box set
“Jodorowsky’s Dune”

My favorite modern country singles of 2014:

Blake Shelton – Neon Light
Keith Urban – Somewhere in My Car
Dierks Bentley – Drunk on a Plane
Anything by Taylor Swift


—William Tyler




‘Lost Colony’ E.P. is available now on Merge Records.




Félicia Atkinson (The French Alps, France)

Félicia Atkinson is a French visual and sound artist based between the French Alps. She also co-curates Shelter Press, an independent music label and contemporary art publishing house. Félicia Atkinson also releases music via her Je suis le petit chevalier guise and exhibits regularly across both Europe and the US. Atkinson lives presently in the French Alps and has released over 20 records and tapes with labels such as Shelter Press, NNA, Umor Rex, Aguirre, Spekk, La station Radar, Home Normal. Atkinson has performed extensively all over Europe/USA-CANADA with such artists as: Sun Araw, Grouper, Gabriel Saloman, Theo Angel and Hamish Gilmour, Mind Over Mirrors, Lee Noble. She is also involved in the duo Naked Island on the L.A based label Peak Oil (alongside Ensemble Economique’s Brian Pyle). Her new album, ‘A Readymade Ceremony’, will be out on Shelter Press during 2015. 




Caption: Félicia Atkinson painting yogo balls during the preparation of her latest art show at Saprophyt, Vienna, last November.



New Year’s Eve, dancing with candles and flutes outside in the snowy mountains with my friends, the musicians and artists Mc Cloud Zicmuse, Anne Brugni, High Wolf, Marsh Cavern, Chicaloyoh and Bartolomé, my partner in life and in Shelter Press.
Anne Brugnu makes incredible colorful ceramics and drawings. She just published a children books with Mc Cloud called “bonjour”, published by L’artichaud, here is an image of it:


It’s a very sensitive book about natural phenomena and the marvels of earth. And here is an example of her vivid collages:


You can also hear Mc Cloud Zicmuse’ poetic words and music HERE.


Driving from California to New Mexico with Bartolomé. We also met a series of unforgettable artists. In Joshua Tree we walked among the prickly pears with Alexander Stewart and Lilli Carre. They are from Chicago and make very interesting minimalist animated films. Lilli is also an illustrator and ceramic artist. She exhibited recently at the MCA of Chicago. Here are two images of her sculptures:



Alexander made collaborative films with musicians from Chicago, such as Jeremy Lemos, who plays now in Acteurs and also with Disappears, two Chicago bands that I strongly recommend. I particularly like the specially designed EP Disappears published with the Belgian Sleeperhold publications with a silkscreen on the B-side by this young and talented Belgian photographer, Stine Stampers. You can see the design here:


Here are video stills of Alexander’s films ‘Peacock’ and ‘Power’:




In March Bartolomé and I did an exhibition, ‘The Last Frontier’, at this artist-run space in Basel called OSLO 10. They are also a music venue and there was a wonderful list of music shows during the exhibition, some with shelter press artists and some with people, even if we don’t publish them, we feel related to. One of them played at Oslo 10 in March 2014, it’s the French-Japanese musician Tomoko Sauvage who plays with water and bowls: a mesmerizing and meditative music.


April was a beautiful month in the Alps, with butterflies and flowers everywhere. On the 1st of April I invited Jennifer Tee, an artist from the Netherlands, to make a lecture at the art university I am teaching in: Annecy, L’ESAAA. I am a huge fan of her works that include: performance, sculpture and installation. Some examples of her works here, including her latest exhibition at Signal in Malmo:




In May I played a music show for Videoex Festival in Zürich with the experimental film-maker from San Francisco, Paul Clipson. I don’t know if you are familiar with his works, but he showed his films with a lot of interesting musicians from the Bay Area such as Grouper, Jefre Cantu and Barn Owl, who are all musicians that inspire me everyday. Here are some images of Paul’s films:




June was a month spent listening to Suzanne Ciani’s amazing re-issues by Finders Keepers.


In July I toured in Canada with the amazing Sun Araw and D/P/I. I feel like I learned a lot while seeing them playing and each of their shows was a source of joy. I recommend you to see them live and to listen to their latest album. I also played in Seattle with RM Francis that month, which was the occasion to discover his beautiful and smart music.


August was a month spent in Oregon. I always love Portland. It was great to hang out there with my friends and see very good shows and have such great vegetarian food. Then we spent some time camping at CAPE LOOK OUT before I recorded with my friend Peter Broderick. Stay tuned… the project will be called La Nuit and will be out next summer on Beacon Sound.
In Portland I bought a lot of records at Little Axe Records, Mississippi Records and Beacon Sound Records. One of my favorites is ‘Put No Blame On The Master’, a record of Jamaican gospel, published by Mississippi.


In September 2014 I did a mini tour in Switzerland with the amazing Gabriel Saloman, with whom we just published a record on Shelter Press. I recommend also his records on Miasmah and Infinite Greyscale. When he played in Geneva​, it was so powerful that the sound engineer actually cried. We are all blown away. I also listened very much to the re-issues of K. Leimer on RVNG.


In October I saw Lieven Moana / Dolphins into the future and Spencer Clark / monopoly childstars playing also in Geneva, with wonderful visuals. It was like being in another time. Lieven is a kind of Caspar David Friedrich of modern times.


In November I played at Soy Festival where I had a chance to see playing some people I admire: Lee Noble, Noveller, Steve Hauschildt and Robedoor.
Do you know Lee Noble’s cassette labels NO KINGS? They do amazing artworked tapes that you should take an ear/eye at!


My highlight of December was feeding and meeting the neighbor’s little cat that love to visit us and watching VANISHING POINT by Richard Sarafian and CARRIE by De Palma. I also listened a lot to Valerio Tricoli album on PAN, Miseri Lares. And Bartolomé bought me this wonderful book by and about Robert Ashley, ‘YES, BUT IS IT EDIBLE’ published by New Documents.



—Félicia Atkinson




Naked Island’s self-titled debut, the collaboration between Ensemble Economique’s Brian Pyle and Félicia Atkinson, is available now on Peak Oil. ‘A Readymade Ceremony’ is a forthcoming release on Shelter Press.



Cian Ó Cíobháin_web

Cian Ó Cíobháin, An Taobh Tuathail (Galway, Ireland)

Cian Ó Cíobháin is the presenter of An Taobh Tuathail, a music show dedicated to promoting the very best in independent music. Cian’s show is broadcasted on RTÉ Raidió Na Gaeltachta on weeknights from 22.00 to midnight, Monday to Friday. Cian also compiles a series of compilations which are made available for free download. Presently, the An Taobh Tuathail compilation series is at volume 6 (they have this year been uploaded to Ó Cíobháin’s Mixcloud page HERE). Additionally, Cian DJ’s at 110th Street, Galway, with Cyril Briscoe. As of this year Cian Ó Cíobháin has also carved a name for himself as a specialist wedding DJ.


In January and February, I dipped my toes into English language broadcasting for the first time in eons, with a six-part series on Pulse about my ‘An Taobh Tuathail’ compilations. My thick-tongued mumbling were well received, in some instances it was the first time listeners were able to follow what I was saying on the radio. ATT was shortlisted for two awards this year. In April I visited the picturesque St. Ives in Cornwall for the Celtic Media Awards, then had a night to remember in Kilkenny in October at the PPI Radio Awards. The Lyric FM contingent were seated at our table and helped us to party with panache. The winners of both categories were utterly deserving. JJ O’Shea’s superlative ‘The Global Village’ took the gong in St. Ives and Ray Wingnut’s excellent documentary on the Community Skratch games topped the PPI list.

Two of the best DJ sets I heard this year happened at Ireland’s best off-the-radar summer festival (so secret that I’m afraid to even refer to it by name). A fine summer’s evening somewhere in deepest Longford, the intimate & enthusiastic gathering in convivial spirits, were treated to the DJ début of Roscommon-native Peter Casey who simply blew the roof off the place with a perfect festival set: a combination of bangers, anthems and sing-a-longs. Later on, underground Liverpool legend John Heckle showed what an outstanding DJ he is, reading the crowd perfectly, working some amazing disco basslines into his high-octane techno set…. Speaking of Scousers, following Liverpool last season was a riot. Sure they fell short, sure they may never win the Premiership, but what a gallant effort it was, playing some of the most scintillating football in Europe, which even Pep Guardiola tipped his hat to. Of course, we’re back to a level we’re sadly more accustomed to now, in the wake of Luis Suaréz migrating to warmer climes. In a peculiar way, like when the winter evenings begin to draw in, there’s almost something strangely comforting about being simply mediocre again. Almost.

In other sports, my native Kerry thrilled in their two game battle against Mayo in August before grinding out an unexpected All-Ireland victory in September (unexpected to everyone bar the team and management), ending a five-year Celtic Cross-less drought in the Kingdom. All this without The Gooch. Great to see Star poach an opportunist’s goal in the final. I was DJing in West Kerry a few years ago and he was right up the front urging the crowd to sing along to the words of Warren G’s ‘Regulate’.

Jonathan Glazer’s ‘Under The Skin’ was a haunting cinematic experience, made all the more powerful by Mica Levi’s superlative soundtrack. One of her featured compositions ‘Love’ is my tune of the year: somehow evoking ‘Loveless’-era MBV, Badalamenti and Bernard Herrmann. I only recently realised that the movie is based on a book by Michel Faber. I picked up his latest novel ‘The Book Of Strange New Things’, as endorsed by the wonderful West Cork-based author David Mitchell and have been in a trance reading it the past few days… Other movies I enjoyed this year were ‘12 Years A Slave’, ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’ and I finally watched ‘The Good, The Bad & The Ugly’. How had I ignored it up to now? Simply one of the finest movies I’ve ever laid eyes on. If only I could roll a cigar around in my mouth like Clint Eastwood. The original ‘Blondie.’

Summer 2014 was one of the most consistently summer-like summers in recollection, the rain seemed to bypass our island. How good was the vibe at ‘Body & Soul’ during the shortest nights of the year? It was my first time in attendance and I was bowled over by the genuinely magical, fairy-tale atmosphere. Galway legend Mike Smalle played a beautiful set under the trees, that weaved everything from Max Romeo to Nolan Porter to Hot Natured into its fabric. Mike was busy recording again this year, his first work since B-Movie Lightning, under the Augustus & John moniker collaborating with Matteo Grassi. Check out their excellent ‘Crosslines’ EP.

In late August, with the help of Galway’s Electric venue, 110th Street hosted a boat party on the river Corrib, where Cyril Briscoe & I were joined by Jon Averill and Sol O’ Carroll. Between the genial atmosphere on the boat, where everyone was best friends by the end of the voyage, followed by a hothouse atmosphere in the club, created by a combination of our guest DJs being on top form and the visiting influx of revellers, it was a day and night that will live long in my memory.

I read shed-loads of books this year but the two that stood out were ‘The Casual Vacancy’ by JK Rowling, a brilliant take on that peculiar and specific genre of ‘English village’ literature and ‘I Am Pilgrim’ by Terry Hayes, one of the most breathtaking thrillers I’ve ever read. Re-reading Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Portrait Of Dorian Gray’ was a great pleasure. Two evocations of hedonistic life in our capital city in different eras also provided food for thought. Anthony Cronin’s ‘Dead As Doornails’ recounts the lives of Patrick Kavanagh, Brendan Behan & Myles na gCopaleen in the pubs of post-war Dublin. The drinking and the poverty they endured to keep on drinking is utterly startling. Rob Doyle’s ‘Here Are The Young Men’ recounts a different Dublin, that of the early to mid-‘noughties’. If the pre-mentioned literary giants had access to the drugs that the characters in Doyle’s début novel binge on, well … the mind boggles at the consequences. Both books shine a torch into our nation’s gluttonous, booze-centric culture and reveal long, dark shadows extending well into the background.

The best TV show I saw this year was ‘Fargo’ but I was also impressed by ‘Boardwalk Empire’ (seasons 3 & 4), ‘Ray Donovan’, ‘Vikings’ (second season), ‘Love/Hate’ (which found its groove again – though I’d love to sort out their often incongruous soundtrack choices for them) and ‘The Fall’. Caught the first season of ‘Sherlock’ too, the opening episode was particularly good. I waded my way through most of the first season of ‘Game Of Thrones’ but was left cold by its clunky pace and prolixity.

My best nights DJing all happened at weddings. I was lucky to be invited by some remarkable people to play at their nuptials, more often than not in memorable, bucolic settings to intimate gatherings of sound heads. The atmosphere at these evenings were off-the-hook and has encouraged me to launch myself in the specialist DJ wedding market in the year ahead. So (here comes a plug) if you’re getting married and want to avoid the usually stodge, I’m available through or the One Fab Day site.

And what about the night the Sleaford Mods came to Galway? Like Gang Of Four, The Fall, Jello Biafra, Henry Rollins & Bez rolled into one Tour(ettic)-de-force. Middle-aged rock stars showing everybody else how it’s done. Proper.

Oh! One of my music moments of the year was when my truelove bowled me over by playing the soundtrack to ‘Tales Of The Unexpected’ out of the blue at a party last summer. I hadn’t heard it in decades and it completely transported me another place. Somewhere special, beyond mere nostalgia.


—Cian Ó Cíobháin



There will be two An Taobh Tuathail Christmas specials on Christmas Eve & Christmas Day, 22.00 – 00.00. Cian Ó Cíobháin is also now taking bookings as a specialist wedding DJ at


DJ bookings:




Seán Mac Erlaine (Dublin, Ireland)

The Dublin-based woodwind composer (saxophonist and clarinetist) and music producer Seán Mac Erlaine is one of Ireland’s best-loved musicians and composers. Mac Erlaine is also a member of the Irish/Swedish four-piece This Is How We Fly and has collaborated with numerous musicians in the past in both live and studio settings (The Gloaming, Bill Frisell, Lisa Hannigan, The Smith Quartet, Iarla O’Lionaird). This Is How We Fly had an extensive European and Irish tour this year promoting their remarkable debut self-titeld album (having been released at the end of 2013 via Playing With Music) while Mac Erlaine also released his latest solo album ‘A slender song’ via Dublin-based label Ergodos. Earlier in the year, Mac Erlaine contributed to the Ergodos-released ‘Songs’ album which featured numerous re-interpretations of songs by members of the Ergodos roster of musicians. In September, Mac Erlaine performed at Dublin’s annual Bottlenote Festival (which Mac Erlaine co-runs) for a site-specific “The Walls Have Ears” series of live improvisations. 


Two thousand and fourteen began in an urban idyll: Prenzlauer Berg. Waiting on fingers to defrost to record a range of songs from John Dowland to Richard Thompson. That record, released a few months later, turned out to be a beautiful thing – listen to Michelle O’Rourke sing! Germany has a lot of saxophone players and a lot of dead saxophone players – I bought a sleeping beauty from a dusty shop – a Martin alto saxophone from 1968.

Nobody saw it coming but in February I made my dancing debut in Willfredd Theatre’s CARE, this was a great eye-opening process working with super people looking into the work of hospice workers.

I was very lucky to find myself lost in Pauline Oliveros’ near infinite reverb chambers in the company of fine musicians broadcasting live to the nation on my favourite medium, radio. More radio followed later in the year working with director Dylan Tighe on a new sound piece celebrating one of our favourite poets, the late Michael Hartnett. We poured many hours into this work and in every moment (almost) there was a richness that can only come when your two singers are the incomparable Nell Ní Chróinín and Iarla O’Lionaird.

Spending time with the three other members of This is How we Fly has been such a rewarding and important aspect over the last few years. In 2014 we got to play in France, Sweden and all over Ireland (Baltimore Fiddle Fair does seem in fact to be the best festival here!).

Other high points included: sharing the stage and shaking the soft, soft hand of maestro Bill Frisell… The honour of playing solo to many rooms of silent listeners over the year… Playing Bowie’s back catalogue in NCH with such a killer band… Walking around Cork City in the very early morning… Walking around the Lower East Side in the almost late night… Swimming through a lake in Northern Sweden at midnight watching the paling sky… Cycling thousands of kilometers through the mountains of Wicklow, the flatlands of Kildare and the streets of Dublin… Cycling a 180km round-trip to play a gig in a sauna…

I loved seeing Ger Wolfe sing in Dublin – gotta be one of the most honest songwriters out there these days. Steve McQueen’s ‘12 Years A Slave’ didn’t hit me quite in the same way his first two features did but this was a fine piece of work. Irish film-maker Pat Collins produced another beautiful work with ‘Living in a Coded Land’ and Lenny Abrahamson’s ‘Frank’ was superb. Contemporary fiction isn’t a strong point for me but I was astounded by the beauty of Tarjei Vesaas’ ‘The Ice Palace’, a Norwegian novel from 1963. Gabriel Rosenstock’s monumental collected poems ‘The Flea Market in Valparaíso’ seems to have slipped under the radar but that can happen easily. Richard Mosse’s work ‘The Enclave’ got a lot of lookers, it blew many of us away. Israeli choreographer Danielle Agami had me up out of my seat whooping after her dance piece as did Irish actor Shane O’Reilly’s piece ‘Follow’ in The Abbey Theatre. A great time for Irish music: The Gloaming album made many revolutions on my CD player (I hope they press it on vinyl!), seems to have classic album written all over it. Deaf Joe’s ‘From The Heights Of A Dream’ is refreshingly really going for something and presented so beautifully – strongly recommended. Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh and Dan Trueman’s fiddle duo record ‘Laghdú’ (also presented as a highly covetable good) is a tender thing of beauty.


Seán Mac Erlaine




‘A Slender Song’ is available now on Ergodos.




Kat Epple, Emerald Web (Los Angeles, USA)

Kat Epple has released 30 music albums internationally, composes music for film scores and television soundtracks, and performs live original music featuring synthesizers and flutes with her various ensembles, including the legendary “Space Music” band Emerald Web (comprising Epple and her late husband Bob Stohl), whose hugely influential music continues to impact music audiences worldwide through many recent re-issues. ‘The Stargate Tapes’ album was re-issued in November 2013 via Finders Keepers, and consists of music originally recorded from 1978-1989; earlier this year, Emerald Web’s ‘Whispered Visions’ has also been re-issued by Finders Keepers, while ‘Catspaw’, Emerald Web’s seminal recording (first issued by Larry Fast’s Audion label) will be re-issued by Anodize in January 2015.


Highlights of my year 2014 include: a concert for dolphins, ancient dead Indians, growling dinosaurs, and ‘Whispered Visions’. These events transpired as I concert toured, recorded new albums, did session work, archived old reel-to-reel masters, and enjoyed some amazing adventures!

“Legends of the Giant Dinosaurs” is a film for which I composed music, sound effects and Foley, for The Hong Kong Science Museum. The high-tech digital animation was projected onto a sixty-foot-wide HD screen with my music and sound effects in surround sound. I enjoyed creating the music, but especially making the sounds of the dinosaurs as they tromp, fight, and perish as a meteor strikes the earth. CRUNCH…….GROWL……..RUMBLE…….SCREAM………EPIC CRASH!

Playing native flute at sunset, on the top of a burial mound built by the extinct Calusa Indian tribe, may have been one of my concert highlights of the year. I felt as though their spirits were surrounding me, and softly singing. Now THAT is surround sound!

My favorite jam session happened one night as I was playing flute for a star-gazer cruise on a beautiful ship on the Gulf of Mexico. A pod of dolphins arrived, then surrounded the ship as they lifted their ears above the waterline, apparently to listen. They all joined in as they clicked, splashed, and squeaked along with the sound of my flute.

There has been a resurgence of interest in the music of my vintage synthesizer and woodwind band, Emerald Web. In fact, this year, our second album, “Whispered Visions” was released on vinyl LP, thirty-four years after its original issue. The master tapes had to be baked and archived after sitting on the shelf for decades. It was very moving to hear the music again after all those years, as it transported me back to the moment it was created so long ago. Music has the power to do that, especially when it is your own music!

I recorded acoustic tracks for a new album with World Percussionist, Nathan Dyke. I played World Flutes in the session, and am now in the process of overdubbing synthesizer tracks to the album. Yep……Thirty four years later, I am still pissing off the purists who don’t like it when I mix ancient primitive instruments and technology. Yay!

My session work on flute, EWI, and synthesizers for albums by a variety of musicians include: New Age pioneer Steven Halpern, enchanting folk musician Mariee Sioux, electronic guitarist Barry Cleveland, and legendary heavy metal guitarist Devin Townsend.

I did manage to get out of the studio once in a while to go camping, running on the beach, and to attend concerts, including King Crimson, the “Hardly Strictly Bluegrass” festival in San Francisco, and a variety of amazing house concerts.

I am grateful for the wonderful experiences that 2014 brought, and look forward to 2015 being even better!


—Kat Epple




‘The Stargate Tapes’ and ‘Whispered Visions’ by Emerald Web are available now via Finders Keepers Records. ‘Catspaw’ by Emerald Web is to be re-issued on 20 January 2015 via Anodize (pre-order HERE).




Roll The Dice (Stockholm, Sweden)

Roll The Dice comprise the Stockholm duo of Malcolm Pardon and Peder Mannerfelt, who released their hugely anticipated third LP this year, ‘Until Silence’, via the renowned UK-based independent The Leaf Label. ‘Until Silence’ sees a brave and intriguing shift in the duo’s sound (most noticeably with the addition of a 26-piece string section ensemble during the recording sessions with an even greater focus this time around on an intensity of emotion across an ever-expanding sound palette) while the conceptual framework of the album draws inspiration from World War One (the album’s title is inspired by a book on the period). To date, Roll The Dice have released a trilogy of monumental albums, beginning with their self-titled debut LP (Digitalis, 2010);‘In Dust’ (Leaf, 2011); ‘Until Silence’ (Leaf, 2014), confirming the Swedish electronic group as one of independent music’s most intriguing and compelling contemporary artists.


Tracks of 2014 by Roll The Dice:

Future – ‘Look Ahead’
The groove and the sample and the 123 /15 hi hat pattern. Lovely.

Aphex Twin – ‘Produk 29’
Surprisingly likable. As I haven’t been a big fan in the past, I had no “issues” with him putting out a new album whatsoever.

Vessel – ‘Red Sex’
Simple and to the point monotony as it should be.

Nils Frahm – ‘Says’
A bit cheesy in the best possible way. Reminds me about us…

Katy Perry – ‘Roar’
I have been force-fed this track every morning all spring by my 10 year-old daughter. A bit like a musical stockholm syndrome…I have fallen in love with my tormentor.

Gazelle Twin – ‘Anti Body’
Just found out about this record, totally feeling the attitude and impact of it. Really got a sound of it’s own which is pretty rare these days.

Klara Lewis – ‘Msuic II’
Klara is probably the artist that has had the biggest impact on me this year. It’s a real privilege to be able to work with such a unique and gifted talent.

DB 1 – ‘Nautil 1/3 B1’
The whole Nautil series on Hidden Hawaii is so amazing but if I have to pick a favorite from the 3 records this has to be it. Perfectly balanced and executed.

Surgeon – ‘Fixed Action Pattern’
The best techno 12″ this year from the best label, Token.

QT – ‘Hey Qt’
The PC music camp is the most punk of 2014. The fact that both my girlfriend and my 3 year-old daughter told me that it was the worst thing they ever heard me play at home makes me like it even more.

2014 Highlights Roll The Dice:

Putting out ‘Until Silence’ of course but also the fact that it turned out exactly the way we wanted.

Semibreve festival in Braga, Portugal: it was a delight to get to play in this beautiful old theatre where they have hosted the festival off the beaten track for several years. The organisers and everything surrounding this small and heartfelt festival was a delight.


Highs 2014: 

My 10 week old Staffordshire puppy, Billie.

Being able to do what I do for another year, to be able to make music and do whatever I want is something I am truly grateful for.

Lows 2014:

The Swedish parliamentary situation which is going from bad to worse rapidly.
We all hope that the re-election in march will clear things up a bit, but as is now its just a farce, with very sinister undertones.

See Mal’s answer. One love, fuck fascism.


—Roll The Dice




‘Until Silence’ is available now on The Leaf Label.




Klara Lewis (Stockholm, Sweden)

Earlier this year marked the eagerly awaited debut full-length release from Swedish electronic artist, Klara Lewis, on the prestigious Editions Mego label. ‘Ett’ was recorded, sampled, edited, manipulated, mixed, produced and arranged by Lewis. A collection of four new works — contained on the sublime ‘Msuic’ EP — would later see the light of day on the Swedish imprint, Peder Mannerfelt Produktion (released on 12″ vinyl last November). ‘Msuic’ sees Lewis further expand the sonic envelope with her signature explorations of field recordings, electronics, rhythm, sound and atmosphere; confirming the Swedish artist as one of electronic music (and independent music at large)’s most exciting new talents.


My top albums:

1. ‘Under The Skin’ OST, Mica Levi
2. ‘Because I’m Worth It’, Copeland
3. ‘All Over + All Under’, Edvard Graham Lewis
4. ‘The Epic Of Everest’, Simon Fisher Turner
5. ‘The Aquaplano Sessions’ (re-release), Donato Dozzy & Nuel


—Klara Lewis




‘Ett’ is available now on Editions Mego. ‘Msuic’ (12″ & Digital) is available now on Peder Mannerfelt produktion.




Seti The First (Dublin, Ireland)

Seti The First is the Ireland-based cello-led group comprising the songwriting duo of Kevin Murphy (cello) and Thomas Haugh (drums, marxophone, percussion). ‘Melting Cavalry’ was the band’s debut album, released in 2012 to widespread critical acclaim. The band’s distinctive sound draws inspiration from a wide number of diverse sources (Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Arvo Pärt, John Tavener, Henryk Gorecki, The Haxan Cloak). 2015 will see the highly anticipated follow-up to their mesmerizing debut, ‘Melting Cavalry’, entitled ‘The Wolves of Summerland’.


Kevin: It’s probably a question of tunnel vision but for me 2014 was all about finishing our second album which is called ‘The Wolves of Summerland’. We toiled relentlessly and finally put it to bed in December. It marks a bit of a departure from our first album ‘Melting Cavalry’ and therefore was a bit of a nerve-wracking adventure, however, we’re thrilled with the results. Cellos still provide the bedrock but there is much more frantic Marxophone and Zither leading the way; overall there is a more aggressive intend this time out. We had strong themes of unrest and revolution in mind––the dynamics of denial & delusion and the blindness to rising tides of societal upheaval among those in power; and of course, the recurrence of these things time and time again. So we focused on some extraordinary historical events, the rise and demise of entire empires and the regimes that followed, huge moments of passion, bloodshed, tragedy and melancholia. This became the canvas unto which we offered our wandering brush. In November we collaborated with visual artist Brian Kelly at the Cork Film Festival which took these ideas into the live arena, something we’ll hopefully further explore going forward.

Other than that, highlights of the year include playing on Adrian Crowley’s brilliant album ‘Some Blue Morning’. Myself and Seti’s live cellist Mary Barnecutt also played at Adrian’s launch in The Workman’s Club in Dublin which was a special night.

Thomas: Working on the second Seti album likewise dominated my year, rhythm made an unexpected return to my musical outpouring. As we got into the spirit of the music–with all of these big themes and ideas, it just became necessary to have that kind of foundation. It’s been a long time since I got behind the drums to really drive the bus, I just let it happen and it more or less flowed. Some new discoveries for me here too–the Persian Daf (drum), an incredibly versatile instrument. It’s a powerful and sacred centre piece in lots of Sufi music of which I’m very fond. Some Hurdy Gurdy made it on there too and I’ve loved that instrument since my teenage years when I first heard a Nigel Eaton album.

As for the music of others in 2014, Perfume Genius and Wildbirds & Peacedrums come to mind, both of which also took rhythm to new levels on their latest releases. Mica Levi’s incredible soundtrack for ‘Under The Skin’ thrilled me, also Grouper’s ‘Ruins’ and Arca’s ‘Xen’. Hildur Gudnadóttir’s ‘Saman’ took some time to settle with me but it was worth the effort. I also took some time to listen to the works of Ligeti–the music of whom most of us are probably familiar with through it’s prolific usage in films, music that is both terrifying and thrilling in equal measure. Not a bad aul year.


—Seti The First




‘Melting Cavalry’ is available now; its much-anticipated follow-up, ‘The Wolves of Summerland’, is due for release in 2015.




Adrian Crowley (Dublin, Ireland)

2014 marked the special return of Irish songwriter Adrian Crowley with his hugely anticipated (and career-high) seventh studio album, ‘Some Blue Morning’, via Glasgow-based independent label Chemikal Underground. ‘Some Blue Morning’ is the follow-up to Crowley’s masterful 2012 Choice Music Prize nominated ‘I See Three Birds Flying’, and features contributions from Seti The First’s Kevin Murphy on cello; Dublin-based songwriter Katie Kim on vocals and members of London string ensemble Geese, amongst many more.


When I cast my mind back to the beginning of 2014 I am brought back to the familiar recording den with my old friend Stephen. I remember a few crisp mornings where the sun was shining in its wintry way. I’d walk from the north of the city all the way to the south reaches, along the grand canal, the path on the bank with the weeping willows near Portobello and on and on towards Dolphin’s Barn… thinking all the while about the day’s recording that lay before me and wondering how it would all sound by the evening when I’d walk back along the same way along the canal banks to Portobello…and turning then towards Kelly’s corner, up Camden Street and onto Wexford Street, South Great George’s Street… continuing through the city and finally on to the home stretch of North Strand. Those walks were times I would relish every day with a spring in my step for the record that was beginning to take shape. That daily ten-mile leg-stretch became a part of the process of making the record. Yes, I’m pretty sure there is no joy quite like the joy of recording new songs and building an album from the those first glimmers of ideas. And then I finished the record that, later in the year, I would call ‘Some Blue Morning’. 
I suppose much of early 2014 was taken up with making ‘Some Blue Morning’. It is all-consuming and, really, I found little time for anything else. I remember thinking that until I had something complete I would hide myself away. Even after the recording there was that matter of coming up with suitable artwork for the album. Which brings me to Steve Gullick.
2014 was the year I first met the fine gent that is Steve. We had ‘spoken’ over the years and talked about maybe making some pictures and indeed had planned to meet once or twice, usually when I was in London for a gig. But things happened and we never seemed to manage to get to the same spot at the same time. Not until Easter, ‘14, that is.I remember waiting in a café down the street from Highbury and Islington tube station across from Union Chapel. I sat in the window seat with a huge coffee staring out at the brick portico of the chapel. Then the door of the café swung open and Steve was greeting me in person for the first time. He was carrying three cameras. We sat there chatting for some time. About the world, about making records, about people, about life and mutual friends. About Jason Molina who had tragically passed away the year before. Something that has deeply effected me and so many others. Then Steve said, “okay, let’s get started” and we left the café and walked across the busy street and approached the heavy locked doors of Union Chapel. A quick phone call to Les who was working in the chapel that day (installing a new lighting rig) and we were inside wandering about corridors and back stairwells. Steve must have taken more than 800 photos and by the end of the afternoon we were sure that he had captured something that would be the cover art for ‘Some Blue Morning’.
Oh, 2014 was the year I discovered I could play clarinet. There is a charity shop near where I live. One day I ducked in for a quick look round. And there at the back of the shop in a glass cabinet was an opened black box with a dissembled clarinet inside. I knew it had to be mine and a few minutes later I was at home checking on YouTube how to put a clarinet together. A few minutes after that I was getting some sounds. I suppose all those years of playing saxophone in my bedroom had some bearing. I told Thomas and Kevin of Seti The First about this “haunted clarinet” I had found. Thomas called me a few weeks later and asked me to have a go at recording some parts for the new Seti record.
So the next thing you know I’m on a 123 bus to Thomas’ house with the charity store black box under my arm. I’ve been listening to the finished record and I have to say that I am proud to have played a small part in it. I’m so happy that my clarinet notes didn’t end up on the cutting room floor.
I’m trying to remember what films I went to see in the cinema. I spent a week in London by myself in the summer in a little house in Golders Green by Hampstead Heath. A friend of mine kindly let me stay there and I thought it would be a nice way to work on some writing. I did get some writing done but I also did a lot of walking around. One day I went down to Soho and headed for the Curzon Cinema. That’s where I saw ‘Boyhood’ by Richard Linklater. What an incredible film. I didn’t feel the three hours pass. I loved ‘The Double’ by Richard Ayoade which I saw at the IFI in Dublin, the Nick Cave documentary ‘20,000 Days on Earth’ at The Lighthouse Cinema in Dublin. ‘Under The Skin’ was creepy and great.

Oh, and speaking of London, I’m brought back to a late night taxi ride with my sister. It was late September. We had hopped in a cab in Hammersmith and didn’t speak once all the way to Woolwich Arsenal where our younger sister lives. Why didn’t we speak? Well, we both suffer from car sickness and we had just been on a pilgrimage, you see, and were still trying to process the three hours or so that had just passed. I’m talking about Kate Bush. Kate Bush at Eventim Apollo. The opening bars of ‘Running Up That Hill’. Now there was a moment.

But that was the night there was a power outage on stage before the show was due to start. We, the audience, sat waiting for around 50 minutes. At one point when the house lights went up, we all thought the show had been cancelled but a few minutes later Kate is onstage telling us matter-of-factly and down-to-earthedly that “it had been sorted”.

I managed to see a lot of great concerts. Bill Callahan at the Olympia, Dublin in February. Cat Power in July, also at the Olympia. Eels at Muziekgebouw, Eindhoven for Naked Song festival. I was playing at the festival and I managed to duck in behind the sound desk an watched the whole concert (at the end of the concert Mark jumped off the stage and went around the entire auditorium giving hugs to everyone in his path before ending up back on the stage to play an encore).

My Brightest Diamond at The Workmans Club. Shara Worden’s voice is incredible and it was so great to finally see her live. Violinist Cora Venus Lunny played an astonishing improvised set at her album launch in The Grand Social in Dublin. The National at The Iveagh Gardens in Dublin. Speaking of the Iveagh Gardens, I got to see some great comedy there… namely Eddie Pepitone.

Albums released in 2014… I really loved ‘Brothers and Sisters of The Eternal Sun’ by Damien Jurado and wonderful albums by Cora Venus Lunny, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, Kate Ellis, Tindersticks, Einsturzende Neubaten, Marissa Nadler… I’m sure I’m missing others and I’ll probably kick myself later.

Well, my own album came out towards the end of the year…early November. I had a kind of belated album launch at The Workmans Club on December 12th. I am pretty confident that was the favourite gig of mine in 2014. I had been rehearsing with the twin cellos of Kevin Murphy and Mary Barnecutt, and also with Katie Kim who sang on more than half of ‘Some Blue Morning’. It felt so good having Katie, Mary and Kevin on stage with me not to mention my good friend Matthew Nolan who plays guitar on ‘The Wild Boar’ when we perform it live (just saying “plays guitar” feels like a gross understatement, though, considering the vast soundscapes he conjures).

Other favorite live moments from the point of view of the stage were the Daylight Music event at Union Chapel with Katie Kim (it just so happens it fell on the Summer solstice. I remember waking up that morning at 4am to the near deafening sound of birdsong from Hampstead Heath. It was quite something). Explore The North Festival in Leeuwarden, Netherlands was special too. That was in a church also, a Lutheran church with a lot of history. Oh, singing some David Bowie songs in The National Concert Hall in July was much fun.

And there was a special show that I was invited to be a part of during the East Cork Early Music festival. Justin Grounds and Ilsa de Ziah who play baroque violin and baroque cello respectively rearranged an hour-long set of my songs which we performed together at L’Atitude for a late night show. It was the first time I sang my songs on stage without playing an instrument. It felt like a new discovery. What incredible musicians. Also sharing the stage with David Thomas Broughton, Roddy Doyle, Mark Andrew Hamilton of Woodpigeon at the Golden Factories event for Young Hearts Run Free at St. Michians Church was quite special.

In theatre… I saw the final show of a seven-day run of ‘A Girl Is A Half Formed Thing’ performed by Aoife Duffin. She was incredible. It was intense and staggeringly impressive. I wondered how long it must have taken her to unwind after giving so much.

This Is The Kit played in the engineering library of The National concert Hall as a part of the Brassland weekend there in December. Well, that was a beautiful show but equally sweet was having them sing happy birthday to my five-year old daughter in the hallway of my house at 7:30am before they rushed out the door to catch the ferry to Holyhead. I hope they didn’t miss it.


—Adrian Crowley




‘Some Blue Morning’ is available now on Chemikal Underground.




David Westlake (London, UK)

The Servants formed in 1985 in Hayes, Middlesex, England, by singer and songwriter David Westlake (Luke Haines would later join The Servants in ‘87). Their unique blend of poignant lyrics, intricate arrangements, and utterly compelling indie-pop sounds was a world away from the mundane and noisy lo-fi scene heralded by the NME’s C-86 compilation the band would later appear on. ‘Small Time’/‘Hey Hey We’re The Manqués’ re-issued double album is available now on 2CD via Cherry Red and on double LP via Captured Tracks. David Westlake’s ‘Play Dusty With Me’ will be re-issued next year by U.S. independent label Captured Tracks.


2014? Deficit, devolution, free movement, Remembrance, Crimea, Ebola, ISIS, One Direction, Rolf Harris. But you know all this already. My 2014 – I got married, I played the NME C86 show, and first time since 1991 I played music with Luke Haines.

I am 49, so the best 2014 music release is unsurprisingly a reissue. It’s the Kevin Ayers Original Album Series five-disc set. The award for best latter-day recording (that I’ve heard) goes to Morrissey, from whom the very existence of new work is always an event. Cherry Red Records reissued C86 in 2014. I am on the compilation, but I always hated that song. Captured Tracks Records will issue my album ‘Play Dusty For Me’ in April 2015. Highly recommended.

Best book of 2014 has to be ‘Coming Up Trumps’ by Jean Trumpington. Multitudes of dull and deluded people trot out self-satisfied memoirs nowadays. Many can claim worth only as purgative toilet-seat reads. ‘Coming Up Trumps’ earns its right to exist – a remarkable life winningly told. Aurum’s paperback selection of John Betjeman newspaper pieces, ‘Lovely Bits of Old England’, is a treat.

Best film – ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’. Impeccable in every respect. Ralph Fiennes delivers a tour-de-force performance. Tenacious and good as Leslie Howard’s Scarlet Pimpernel. Or Anthony Valentine as Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman. There’s one for the teenagers. Someone would have to have a pretentious heart of stone not to love ‘Paddington’, too.

Memorably best new TV – Andrew Graham-Dixon’s BBC documentaries on Paul Nash and William Sickert, with the centennial focus on World War One. Most momentous TV – a repeat in March 2014 of a 1979 episode of ‘Top of the Pops’. Momentous because my wife was on-screen in the audience, then aged 14. Who could have known that thirty-five years later we would be thanking our lucky stars that the presenter she found herself standing next to that week was blameless Mike Read?


—David Westlake




‘Play Dusty For Me’ by David Westlake will be re-issued by Captured Tracks (LP & CD) on 18 April 2015. ‘Small Time’/‘Hey Hey We’re The Manqués’ by The Servants is available now on Cherry Red Records (2CD) and on Captured Tracks (2LP).




K. Leimer (Seattle, USA)

For the third installment in Brooklyn-based RVNG Intl.’s archival series, the tape is wound back to 1970s Seattle, home place of ambient music pioneer K. Leimer. ‘A Period of Review (Original Recordings: 1975 – 1983)’ unearths unreleased portions of Leimer’s vast archives and highlights the work of a self-taught visionary whose use of generative compositions ferried his music to infinite resonance. Kerry Leimer was born in Winnipeg, Canada. He was raised in Chicago before his family permanently settled in Seattle in 1967. This year’s ‘A Period of Review’ heralded one of 2014’s most prized re-issues. K. Leimer’s forthcoming full-length player, ‘The Grey Catalog’ will be released on Palace Of Lights in January 2015. 


It’s odd that highly obscure music, written and recorded more than 34 years ago, would matter in any way at all today. So despite performing again and completing and releasing a few albums on our little label, much of the past year was spent talking and writing about the germinal work that was assembled as ‘A Period of Review’. Which made 2014 seem more like 1979 to me. But between bouts of studio time and grappling with miles of tape there was some remarkable listening: Gudnadóttir’s ‘Saman’; the Jakob Ullmann ‘Fremde Zeit’ / ‘Addendum’ box; Taylor Deupree’s ‘Faint’; David Sylvian’s ‘There’s a light that enters…’; Nils Frahm’s ‘Screws’; and A Wing Victory for the Sullen’s ‘Atomos’. impossibly rich diversity and innovation. And now wrapping up the year with ‘Different Every Time’, a book that’s unevenly written but compelling all the same. And the recording — especially important to me because it includes Wyatt performing one of the ‘Experiences’ by John Cage from a record, also thirty+ years old, originally issued on the Obscure label. Now if i could just find the piano pieces from that same document! The free hours that remained were given over to compiling another reissue, based on ‘The Neo-Realist’ (at Risk). A compilation for my fake rock band Savant which will be released in the first half of 2015. Titled ‘Artificial Dance’, it seems set to guarantee that my experience of 2015 will seem more like 1982. But beyond the solace and joy of such sustained musical innovation and accomplishment, the overriding experience of 2014 remains the naked violence and injustice that my country visits upon so many people. Our own citizens routinely and unjustifiably killed by police; The published and redacted details of the Bush administration’s torture program; pornographic levels of wealth set beside unprecedented income inequality; blanket denials of our shared environmental crisis. Just who is meant to be left solvent and able to purchase the refrigerator magnets and iCrap that drives most of the culture?


—K. Leimer




‘A Period of Review (Original Recordings: 1975-1983)’  is available now on RVNG Intl.



Matthew Collings (c) Zeno Watson_zenowatson(dot)com_crop

Matthew Collings (Edinburgh, UK)

Matthew Collings is a Scotland-based composer. In addition to his solo recording and live output, he collaborates regularly with artists from disparate backgrounds, including musicians Dag Rosenqvist from Jasper TX and Denovali label-mate Talvihorros, dancers and filmmakers. 2014 marked the release of Collings’ new sophomore full-length, ‘Silence Is A Rhythm Too’ on the prestigious German-based independent label, Denovali Records.


So, 2014.

Has been another year of slow growth. I spent much of the year wrestling with the idea of Edward Snowden. Realising that my work is much better off with other people, and made with other people…and so am I.

It saw various births and deaths of beautiful people who I will miss and look forward to getting to know. I wonder what role I will play in people’s lives.

This year saw a furry of releases – a beautiful vinyl/photobook with Elin Svennberg, the dark yet uplifting pop of Graveyard Tapes, and a new record in ‘Silence is a Rhythm Too’ and a re-release of ‘Splintered Instruments’ on Denovali. 2015 will expect the Snowden monster to rear it’s head, as well as a record with Dag Rosenqvist which I’m finishing right now.

I’ve been incredibly lucky this year to meet so many amazing, inspiring people. The thought of them keeps me positive when I start to complain about my place and position in the world, which I really have no ground to do.

I’m a very very lucky person.

Some music to listen to this year: These New Puritans, Ben Frost, Talvihorros, Numbers are Futile.

Here’s to 2015 ; chasing sound, not chasing my tail.


—Matthew Collings




‘Silence Is A Rhythm Too’ is available now on Denovali.




Sophie Hutchings (Sydney, Australia)

‘White Light’ is the latest collection of mesmerising piano music from Sydney-based composer and pianist Sophie Hutchings. Beginning with 2010’s debut ‘Becalmed’, the gifted composer has crafted her unique blend of neo-classical, piano-based compositions, which would later be followed-up with the spellbinding ‘Night Sky’ LP in 2012. Both records are available now on the Australian independent label, Preservation. Hutchings is currently working on her third studio album – and follow-up to ‘Night Sky’ – which will be released in 2015.


Does anyone get nostalgic as midnight creeps towards the closing of a year, the beginning of another…… Reminiscent. Looking back over years, contemplating life…….

As a child I often created a sacred moment as the year wound down. Preparing for the approaching strike of midnight, setting up the record player with one of mum or dad’s records. I took life very seriously! Always allowing a moment over midnight to ponder over life… And so we should…… Casting our minds back and then casting it ahead in view of a new beginning.

I often start the year with the goal of uncomplicating my life. Uncluttering my brain… Simplfying and yet as weeks and months go by, slowly or quickly enough, the complicated starts to work its way back in. Whether it be the things in your life or the things you fill your mind with…

There was a lot of creative purging this year associated with writing the new album.. The highs and lows that come with that and life in general. So as I venture down the beautiful south coast of Australia this week, and make my way through the diverse landscapes of Myanmar in January, I want to remind myself of a basic fact. The simple things in life can offer so much contentment…

A boundless vast ocean, lying under a star lit sky, or gazing into an open fire……..Things like these..
I’m going to press the reset button and see how it goes for me this year ….


Inspiring Highlights of 2014:

Reads and Watch:
First read of 2014 – Donna Tarts ‘The Goldfinch’ one of the best contemporary authors to date. Her compelling narratives lead to not being able to put the book down!..

‘Tracks – The documented Solo Journey of Robyn Davidson’ (also known as ‘The Camel Lady’) through the Australian West Desert. The cinematography and soundtrack by Garth Stevenson created for the actual film was also a highlight.

Reading Solzhenitsyn’s contemplative and symbolic story ‘The First Circle’ depicting the lives of a secret research development made up of Gulag inmates set in Moscow. His sayings and philosophy on life pack some punch… Indeed an author to respect.

I watch so many movies so this is a hard one, but first one that comes to mind is Lao film ‘The Rocket’. It wasn’t released this year but was a standout for me. After living in Laos for sometime, Kim Mordaunt (director) was inspired to write the film whilst working on the documentary ‘Bomb Harvest’, and discovering Laos was the most bombed country on the planet, per capita. Two young children play the main characters in the movie, both whom had never actually acted before. It was a really inspiring film and gives insight to a country that has suffered at the hands of war.

I wanted to watch Béla Tarr’s 8 hour epic film ‘Satantango’ this year and it’s on my film hit list for 2015! There’s some beautiful shots HERE from it set to one of my all favourite composers Arvo Pärt.

I’ve been embracing a few new musical eras and genres. 60’s Vietnamese rock, Gamelan and also Turkish singer songwriter Fikret Kızılok!…
Also, ‘Open’ by The Necks was on high rotation.
Cleaning the house to this year’s Liars release ‘Mess’.
Touring with Ólafur Arnalds…
Creatively purging and mapping out the journey for the new album which will continue into the new year…….

All the best to everyone’s start to 2015.


—Sophie Hutchings




‘White Light’ is available now as a free download via Bandcamp HERE. ‘Becalmed’ and ‘Night Sky’ are out now on the Preservation label.



To read Part 1 of Don’t Look Back, click HERE.

To read our Albums & Re-issues of 2014, click HERE.

With very special thanks to all the wonderful contributors for their contributions.
Wishing all our readers a very happy new year and best wishes for 2015.





Albums & Reissues Of The Year: 2014

with 14 comments

The following is a selection of the albums and re-issues that had the greatest impact on us for a wide range of different reasons. As difficult as it proved to settle on a final (and very concise) selection, we both turned to these special albums most often throughout the year. 2014 has been a year which has produced so many absolutely wonderful and truly special albums, here’s our personal selection of some of these (with a selection of ten albums and five re-issues).

Words: Mark & Craig Carry, All artwork: Craig Carry


Albums of the year:


Grouper ‘Ruins’ (Kranky)

‘Ruins’ was made while U.S. musician and artist Liz Harris was on an artist residency (set up by Galeria Zé dos Bois) during 2011 in Portugal’s Aljezur region. The location would provide a striking influence to Harris’s subsequent recordings (recorded in typically minimal fashion: a portable 4-track, Sony stereo mic and an upright piano) while the sense of both departure and a new-found freedom flow throughout ‘Ruins’ and its majestic and dreamlike eight tracks. During her Aljezur residency, Harris would embark on daily hikes to the nearest beach where she would encounter the ruins of several old estates and a small village. As Harris has said: “The album is a document. A nod to that daily walk. Failed structures. Living in the remains of love. I left the songs the way they came (microwave beep from when power went out after a storm); I hope that the album bears some resemblance to the place that I was in.”

‘Ruins’ is a stunning achievement which proves all the more astonishing considering the already extensive (and consistently breathtaking) recorded output of Grouper since the mid 00’s. ‘Clearing’ is arguably Harris’s most singularly beautiful song conceived to date. As Harris sings: “What has been done / Can never be undone” over a gorgeously delicate piano line we embark on yet another wholly unique and deeply personal odyssey under the stewardship of Harris’s very heart. Like a silent witness we hold our breath as we remain under Harris’s spell throughout (from the timeless ballad ‘Holding’ to the closing epic drone-heavy tour-de-force ‘Made of Air’). ‘Ruins’ is a quietly breathtaking force of nature: an album made as much by Harris’s own hands as by the moonlight’s illumination in the night sky or the evening sun’s last rays of faded half-light.



‘Ruins’ is available now on Kranky.



Caribou ‘Our Love’ (City Slang/Merge)

One of my most memorable moments of this past year was undoubtedly witnessing Caribou’s storming live set at 2014’s Body & Soul festival. A euphoric feeling ascended into the summer evening skyline as each transcendent beat and luminous pop-laden hook flooded our senses. The majority of 2010’s glorious LP ‘Swim’ was revisited, from the tropicalia-infused ‘Odessa’ to the hypnotic ‘Sun’ and all points in between. Dan Snaith & co’s set further confirmed the legendary status of Caribou; whose innovative and utterly compelling sonic creations (where elements of krautrock, dance, jazz, soul, hip-hop, and electronic soundscapes form one irresistible, mind-blowing sound spectrum) have long served a trusted companion for the independent music collector.

This year marked the highly anticipated fifth Caribou studio album, ‘Our Love’, which, in many ways, nestles beautifully between its predecessor ‘Swim’ and Snaith’s more techno-oriented project of Daphni. Lead single ‘Can’t Do Without You’ is an instant classic with a seamless array of melodic patterns and soulful vocals that evokes the soul-stirring songbook of Al Green as much as it spans the history of the dance floor. Several of the songs were co-written by gifted Canadian composer/violinist Owen Pallett (whose own solo record ‘In Conflict’ has been one of the most original, daring and innovative records of 2014) and Pallett’s distinctive violin-led melodies coalesce effortlessly with Snaith’s visionary dance structures.

Numerous remixes have since seen the light of day (where new perspectives and insights are drawn and re-configured) with the latest example being Carl Craig’s techno mix of ‘Your Love Will Set You Free’. Much in the same way as ‘Swim’, I know (and firmly believe) ‘Our Love’ will remain as vital and significant for many more years and decades to come.



‘Our Love’ is available now on City Slang (EU) and Merge (USA).



Sharon Van Etten ‘Are We There’ (Jagjaguwar)

When Jersey-native and New York-based songwriter Sharon Van Etten first announced the arrival of ‘Are We There’, Van Etten’s fourth full-length and follow-up to her 2011 seminal work ‘Tramp’, she had these words to share: “I really hope that when someone puts my record on that they hear me.” Of course, Van Etten’s wishes have clearly been fulfilled. If there’s one thing we can firmly establish by now it is this: Van Etten makes music from the real world; a world of real events and real people with real feelings. Subsequently, steeped in a sometimes harsh reality, Van Etten’s songs are imbued with fears, struggles and (often) much pain. Much like Chan Marshall’s pre ‘The Greatest’ recorded output, Van Etten bravely examines her own life’s immediate surroundings and relationships to share her most innermost confessions and feelings for us all to bear witness. Through Van Etten’s songs we too can find our own deepest feelings long hidden in the shadows of some forgotten, distant dream.

‘Are We There’ is Van Etten’s first self-produced album (The National’s Aaron Dessner produced its predecessor ‘Tramp’) and features a host of wonderful musicians, including: Torres’s Mackenzie Scott on vocals (who toured extensively supporting Van Etten); Heather Woods-Broderick (on strings and vocals); Mary Lattimore (harp) as well as Van Etten’s trusted and formidable rhythm section (Zeke Hutchins on drums and David Hartley on bass). The use of vocal harmonies (Van Etten, Scott and Woods-Broderick) is a pure joy to witness. The resultant musical arrangements are stunningly cohesive and yet genuinely innovative, providing for many moments of challenging and divine musicianship — at times wonderfully dense and strikingly tactile (‘Our Love’ or ‘Every Time The Sun Coms Up’) — other times remain starkly sparse (‘I Know’) but, importantly, such intricacies of musicianship and arrangements only ever serve the song.

“Everybody needs to feel” sings Van Etten on ‘Your Love Is Killing Me’. It’s a sentiment that best serves the phenomenal and beloved artist that is Sharon Van Etten and ‘Are We There’. It’s another step to becoming your own true self. It’s a destination no one is ever likely to realistically reach but striving for it is proving to be Van Etten (and her sacred songbook)’s true towering achievement.



‘Are We There’ is available now on Jagjaguwar.



Clark ‘Clark’ (Warp)

‘I Dream Of Wires’ is a documentary based on the phenomenal resurgence of the modular synthesizer; exploring the passions and dreams of people who have dedicated part of their lives to this electronic music machine. The splendid documentary — released earlier this year — features interviews with Ghostly’s Solvent (who co-wrote the film in addition to composing the film score), Carl Craig, Jeremy Greenspan (Junior Boys) and Warp’s Clark. Reflecting on this particular film now, I feel it is precisely this exploration of passions and dreams that filters into the dazzling music of  UK’s Chris Clark. The unique blend of utterly transcendent electronic creations is forever steeped in a rare beauty, filled with endless moments of divine transcendence.

This year marked the eagerly awaited release of new self-titled full-length (and seventh for Warp), following up 2012’s magical ‘Iradelphic’. The gifted producer’s meticulous touch can be felt throughout, from the cold-cut classic ‘Unfurla’ to the blissful synth-laden ‘The Grit In The Pearl’. Dance music for the here-and-now that breathes life and meaning into music’s endless possibilities.

As Clark has said: “Music is like sculpture. It’s like trying to capture a moment of ultimate momentum, and distill it forever”.



‘Clark’ is available now on Warp.



Hauschka ‘Abandoned City’ (City Slang/Temporary Residence Ltd)

Witnessing Hauschka’s Volker Bertelmann — whether in live setting during his renowned concert performances or in recorded contexts — a certain sense of magic fills the air. Sylvain Chomet’s 2010 animated marvel ‘The Illusionist’ comes to mind, as we are left in wonderment to observe the artist’s vast collection of skills and unlimited wells of talent. Known worldwide as one of the most recognizable 21st Century proponents of what is known as Prepared Piano, Bertelmann has amassed a considerable body of work over the last decade, ceaselessly weaving his own singular path — and on his own terms — to wondrous effect (much like fellow modern composers and restless souls Nils Frahm and Max Richter or such Twentieth Century masters as Eric Satie, John Cage and Steve Reich). Importantly, the album itself draws from research Bertelmann made (after the discovery of a series of photographic prints depicting the subject of abandoned cities) on the number of actual vacated cities in existence (each track title references a particular city). As Bertelmann has said: “I was interested in finding a metaphor for the inner tension I feel when I’m composing music, a state of mind where I’m lonely and happy at the same time.”

‘Abandoned City’ proves a certain milestone in Hauschka’s recorded output to date. An intriguing sense of both adventure and discovery seeps through every pore of the album’s ten compositions. Like all of Hauschka’s art, nothing is as it first seems. As we delve further into this abandoned city Hauschka has built for us we begin to lose all sense of what we initially thought was important in the process. We lose all traces of ourselves for that beautiful instant we are under Bertelmann’s sacred spell and that is what Hauschka’s divine art forever manages to do.



‘Abandoned City’ is available now on City Slang (EU) and Temporary Residence Ltd (USA).



Steve Gunn ‘Way Out Weather’ (Paradise Of Bachelors)

The flawless North Carolina-based independent label Paradise of Bachelors has yet again been responsible for a string of modern-day Americana masterpieces, not least the latest tour-de-force from the ever-prolific, Brooklyn-based guitar prodigy and songsmith, Steve Gunn. This year’s ‘Way Out Weather’ feels like a natural culmination where every aspect of Gunn’s deeply-affecting songs — poignant story-telling quality, immaculate instrumentation and intricate musical arrangements — is heightened as the towering eight creations hits you profoundly and stirs your soul. 2013’s ‘Time Off’ was the starting point of Gunn’s song-writing path, having collaborated closely with Kurt Vile, Michael Chapman, Mike Cooper, The Black Twig Pickers and a host of others in recent times.

A timeless feel permeates every corner of the record. The recording sessions took place at Black Dirt Studio in Westtown, New York, featuring a formidable cast of musicians (and Gunn’s long-term collaborators) further adding to the widescreen, cinematic sound to ‘Way Out Weather’s sprawling sonic canvas. Longtime musical brothers and kindred spirits Jason Meagher (bass, drones, engineering), Justin Tripp (bass, guitar, keys, production), and John Truscinski (drums), in addition to newcomers Nathan Bowles (drums, banjo, keys: Black Twig Pickers, Pelt); James Elkington (guitar, lap steel, dobro: Freakwater, Jeff Tweedy); Mary Lattimore (harp, keys: Thurston Moore, Kurt Vile); and Jimy SeiTang (synths, electronics: Stygian Stride, Rhyton.)

On the utterly transcendent album closer, ‘Tommy’s Congo’, shades of Sonny Sharrock beautifully surfaces beneath the artefacts of time. The deep groove and rhythm interwoven with this vivid catharsis is nothing short of staggering. The cosmic spirit captured on the closing cut — and each of these sublime recordings — permanently occupies a state of transcendence. As each song-cycle unfolds, the shimmering worlds of Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue or the Stones’ ‘Exile On Main St.’ fades into focus. ‘Way Out Weather’ is dotted with captivating moments from the ways of a true master.



‘Way Out Weather’ is available now on Paradise Of Bachelors.



Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh & Dan Trueman ‘Laghdú’ (

2014 has been a remarkable year for Ireland-based composer Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh. Firstly, January 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, 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. Despite the hectic touring schedules, Ó Raghallaigh also released two stunning works: 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.

‘Laghdú’ (an Irish word which translates as: a lessening, a decrease, a reduction) is a hugely significant work for many reasons. Most notably, it was Trueman who first introduced Ó Raghallaigh to his beloved ten-string hardanger d’amore fiddle (custom-made in Norway by Salve Håkedal) during September 2000. It is the simple dialogue and deep connection which exists between the pair (both performing identical instruments and identical baroque bows) which is a pure joy to savor. Two traditional pieces are performed by the pair (‘The Jack of Diamonds Three’ and ‘Fead an Iolair’) while the remainder of ‘Laghdú’ comprises original compositions written and arranged by Trueman and Ó Raghallaigh. 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 in the process. The resultant eleven heavenly tracks occupy both the realms populated by the most ancient forms of traditional music as well as those thrillingly in-between spaces carved out and inhabited in modern neoclassical composition of the most utterly enchanting and truly sacred kind.



‘Laghdú’ is available now via HERE.



Christina Vantzou ‘N°2’ (Kranky)

‘N°2’ is the second solo album by the Brussels-based artist and Kansas-born composer Christina Vantzou and, like its predecessor, ‘N°1’, was issued by the formidable Chicago-based independent label Kranky. Written over a period of four years, ‘N°2’ finds Vantzou reunited with Minna Choi — of the San Francisco-based Magik*Magik Orchestra — and regular contributor Adam Wiltzie (A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Stars Of The Lid) who Vantzou effectively began her musical career with when the duo made music as The Dead Texan (Vantzou was keyboardist as well as film-maker, illustrator and animator). A wide sonic palette is used throughout, from the gentle ripple-flow of piano notes on the album’s penultimate track, ‘Vostok’ and prominence of harp on the achingly beautiful ‘VHS’ to the rapturous crescendo of strings of ‘Going Backwards To Recover What Was Left Behind’ where an emotion-filled sadness engulfs every pore. Elsewhere, slowly shifting layers of brass and woodwind drifts majestically in ‘Brain Fog’ before brooding strings come to the fore, resulting in a cathartic release of energy. Layers of angelic voices appear and disappear throughout, forming not only a monumental symphonic movement but also an other-worldly choral work.

Indeed, the most appropriate analogy to imagine while attempting to surmise the sheer magic of ‘N°2’ is the act of making those frame-by-frame animations Vantzou has so patiently and laboriously created in the past: while they are meticulously worked on, over such a long and painfully slow process, the results yielded are both stunningly imperfect and remarkably pure. It’s a characteristic which runs through all of Vantzou’s breathtaking art (from her drawings and sleeve artwork to her dreamlike slow motion film works) which truly heightens all that surrounds you.



‘N°2’ is available now on Kranky.



Birds Of Passage ‘This Kindly Slumber’ (Denovali)

New Zealand-based composer Alicia Merz has been quietly amassing a soul-stirring collection of albums under her Birds Of Passage moniker over the past five years or so. ‘This Kindly Slumber’ — released by German independent label Denovali Records — is Merz’s third solo full-length album and features Merz’s spellbinding lyricism (at times recalling Mark Linkous or Daniel Johnston in their open honesty and raw emotion). Like Grouper’s Liz Harris, Birds Of Passage’s power emanates from minimal musical arrangements (vocal takes are often first takes) where a sense of both purity and intimacy is conjured by Merz throughout, providing for an unforgettable listening experience. As we delve into the innermost caverns of ‘This Kindly Slumber’s mysterious and complex maze of real and imagined landscapes; the sensation one feels is akin to the finest of Murakami’s fictional prose or the most ancient of children’s nursery rhymes and folklore tales. Interestingly, Merz holds a deep fascination with nursery rhymes since a very young age and ‘Ladybird, Ladybird’ is combined with ‘And All Of Your Dreams’ to powerful effect. Elsewhere, the deeply personal ‘Yesterday’s Stains’ contains an openness and honesty rare in music.

‘This Kindly Slumber’ is a life-affirming journey which finds Merz navigating the darkest of nights while facing her gravest of fears. On the other side of this kindly slumber we realize that even the darkest of shadows lie closest to light: through the sacred and secret songs of Birds Of Passage we learn that in every moment of hopelessness exists hope. For that, we can be eternally grateful.



‘This Kindly Slumber’ is available now on Denovali.



Marissa Nadler ‘July’ (Bella Union/Sacred Bones)

‘July’ (which documents Nadler’s life events from one July to the next) is the ever-prolific U.S. songwriter’s latest opus of longing and hope. The album can be read and interpreted autobiographically but, crucially, like all of Nadler’s songbook, songs are masterfully left open to the listener’s interpretation. Interestingly, Randall Dunn (Earth, Sunn O))), is at the helm of production duties on ‘July’; providing a first-time collaboration for the pair. Accompanying Nadler is Eyvind Kang (strings), Steve Moore (synths) and Phil Wandscher (Jesse Sykes, Whiskeytown) on lead guitar. However, as is always the case with such a truly unique songwriter, it is Nadler’s breathtaking voice and impeccable lyricism which quietly dominate proceedings. Like such kindred spirits as Missourri songwriter Angel Olsen or British folk legends Vashti Bunyan and Bridget St. John, Nadler’s music captivates the mind (and heart) of each and every listener fortunate enough to cross paths with her. From album opener ‘Drive’ to the forlorn closing piano ballad ‘Nothing In my Heart’, immediacy and directness prevails throughout ‘July’. Transcendental moments abound, from the poetic lyricism to ‘We Are Coming Back’ (“Still I live many miles away / So I can miss you a little everyday”) to the brooding tour-de-force ‘Dead City Emily’ which combines both gut-wrenching honesty (“I was coming apart those days”) and heart-stopping beauty as, ultimately, the prevailing sense of hope outlasts all struggle and inner-conflict (“Oh I saw the light today / Opened up the door”).

As the lyrics of ‘Drive’ return to my mind: “Still remember all the words to every song you ever heard”; I feel those very words reflect the empowering feeling in which the cherished songbook of Marissa Nadler ceaselessly awakens (and continues to re-awaken) in me.



‘July’ is available now on Bella Union (EU) and Sacred Bones (USA).


Reissues of the year:


The Moles ‘Flashbacks And Dream Sequences: The Story Of The Moles’ (Fire)

Looking back on 2014, the first sounds which come to my mind is Australian band The Moles and the magical first-time discovery of their music in the form of their first retrospective ‘Flashbacks And Dream Sequences: The Story Of The Moles’, released via Fire Records. The double-album is packed to the brim with impeccably constructed pop songs, heart-breaking love songs and just about every shade and nuance in between (spanning punk, shoe gaze and indie rock). ‘Flashbacks and Dream Sequences: The Story of The Moles’ contains the band’s two studio albums; debut full-length ‘Untune The Sky’ (originally released in 1991) and follow-up ‘Instinct’ (the latter was heralded by The Sea And Cake’s Archer Prewitt as being “as close to perfection as any Beatles or Beach Boys record and it stands on its own as a classic in my book”) and a whole plethora of b-sides and rarities, culled from various EP’s and singles. Led by Richard Davies (who later would join Eric Mathews and form Cardinal), The Moles were formed in Sydney in the late 80’s and unleashed a resolutely unique songbook which would prove hugely influential on a whole host of diverse bands (The Flaming Lips, The Sea And Cake). The original band line-up consisted of Glenn Fredericks, Richard Davies, Warren Armstrong and Carl Zadra, friends from law school who were fans of Flying Nun, The Fall and The Go Betweens, drawing their name from a reference to ‘Wind In The Willows’ and spy novels (John Le Carré and Graham Greene).

What’s most apparent on this defining release is that the truly unique vision (in both Davies’s songwriting and The Moles’ music) deserves to be known — and embraced — the world over. “It’s always an adventure. There’s an element of a well that never runs dry,” Richard Davies told us earlier in the year, on discussing The Moles. It’s a sentiment which could not be more true for The Moles and their utterly visionary and absolutely essential music.



‘Flashbacks And Dream Sequences: The Story Of The Moles’ is available now on Fire Records.

[Richard Davies Facebook Page]



Lewis ‘L’Amour’ (Light In The Attic)

When Light In The Attic Records reissued the much-fabled, timeless cult-classic ‘L’Amour’ by Lewis (originally released in 1983 on the unknown label R.A.W.) not much was known about the whereabouts of its esteemed author, not least the actual identity of “Lewis”, for that matter. The sense of mystery only deepened when consulting the album’s liner notes: Was Lewis still alive? What has he been doing in the intervening years? What other musical treasures are lying around only awaiting to be discovered written by this elusive figure? Crucially, without even beginning to dig any further into biographical detail (or absence thereof), it’s clear that, on listening to ‘L’Amour’, Lewis created nothing short of a bona-fide masterpiece. Heartbreak is immediately evident from Lewis’s lonesome, brooding, ghostly baritone from album opener ‘Things Just Happen That Way’ (“I took her hand / She took my heart”) while a sparse set-up of whispered voice together with only piano, synthesizer (or an occasional plucked guitar) remains throughout — recalling Waits or Springsteen at their most hushed and introspective best — creating a defining album of heartbreak — and love — in the process.

And what about the biographical gaps? Indeed Lewis was, as it turned out, a pseudonym. Lewis’s true identity has proved to be that of Randall Wulff (as confirmed by famed L.A. photographer Ed Colver, who had shot the über-cool cover-shoot for L’Amour’s album sleeve). However, for the purposes of the Light In The Attic liner notes, the mystery remained unsolved (after a long two-and-a-half year search). That is, until August 2014, when the real-life Randall Wulff was found (read Light In The Attic’s amazing article HERE) — alive and well and still quietly making his own masterful music — in what must have been the year’s most enchanting and heart-warming of stories.



L’Amour’ is available now on Light In The Attic.



One Of You ‘One Of You’ (Little Axe)

One of the most stunning re-issues of recent times came this year via the Portland, Oregon-based label Little Axe Records (a label founded when Mississippi Records split into two labels in 2011), with it’s issuing of a self-titled LP by One Of You. The author’s name and identity remains anonymous but we do know this startling collection was made by a Czech immigrant to Canada who set up her own Scarab label in the early ‘80’s, releasing music under the pseudonyms One of You and The Triffids. Having fled her homeland in the late sixties to emigrate to Canada for hopes of a better future and life there, One Of You’s music would be imbued with a prevailing sense of loss, regret and much hardships. The music itself, written in both Czech and English, and arranged in typically minimal fashion (synthesizer, guitar, organ) touches upon outsider folk, folk-psych, Eastern European folk and minimalist music traditions. One Of You’s deeply affecting, timeless music yields moments of powerful intensity while a whole spectrum of emotions, images and textures are unleashed beautifully upon the listener all at once.



‘One Of You’ is available now on Little Axe.



K. Leimer ‘A Period of Review (Original Recordings: 1975-1983)’ (RVNG Intl)

RVNG Intl. is a Brooklyn-based music institution that operates on few but heavily fortified principles, dealing with forward-reaching artists that ceaselessly push the sonic envelope. From visionary luminaries such as Julia Holter, Holly Herndon, Blondes, Maxmillion Dunbar et al, RVNG Intl. has consistently delivered some of the most adventurous, enthralling and breathtaking records this past decade. One of the label’s cornerstones has become the awe-inspiring archival series which has featured (and celebrated) musical pioneers Craig Leon, Ariel Kalma and K. Leimer. The third installment of the archival series — released earlier this year — was Seattle-based sound sculptor, K. Leimer and a vast treasure of ambient voyages entitled ‘A Period of Review (Original Recordings: 1975-1983)’. I simply cannot think of a more special musical document to have graced my life this past year than Kerry Leimer’s resolutely unique and deeply human canon of pioneering ambient music.

A glimpse into Leimer’s creative process is touched upon on the compilation’s liner notes: “The loop provided an instant structure – a sort of fatalism – the participation of the tape machine in shaping and extending the music was a key to setting self-deterministic systems in motion and held clear relationship to my interests in fine art.”

‘A Period of Review (Original Recordings: 1975-1983)’ offers the perfect entry point (across an exhaustive double-album and thirty spellbinding tracks) into the beautifully enthralling and ever-revolving world inhabited by the special soul of Mr. Kerry Leimer.



‘A Period of Review (Original Recordings: 1975-1983)’  is available now on RVNG Intl.



Fikret Kızılok ‘Anadolu’yum’ (Pharaway Sounds)

Although technically issued at the tail end of 2013, legendary Turkish folk singer Fikret Kızılok (1947-2001)’s exquisite collection of singles from 1971-75 (compiled into a 14-track set entitled ‘Anadolu’yum’ and issued by Pharaway Sounds, a subsidiary label of Light In The Attic Records) proved — like the many equally formidable Pharaway Sounds releases — a true haven for music lovers. Merging genres and fuzing styles almost at will (as evidenced by the immense musical arrangements drawing from such diverse sources as Western influences, India and his own native Turkey), Kızılok’s diverse appetite and deep appreciation for music shines through in every one of this magical compilation’s fourteen tracks. From the heavenly and beautifully forlorn Anatolian folk masterpiece ‘Anadolu’yum (1972&1975)’ to the irresistible sitar-aided ‘Gün Ola Devran Döne’ (1971), Kızılok’s musical path would be dictated by numerous external obstacles of the day (namely, the political unrest of his native Turkey throughout the 1970’s) while a pressure to conform to audience’s expectations (Kızılok was a pop phenomenon in Turkey, regularly charting instant hits) proved immense in the intervening years, while he would become most often associated with his best known love ballads from his considerable 1970’s output.



‘Anadolu’yum’  is available now on Pharaway Sounds.


All designs and artwork by Craig Carry:

With very special thanks to all the wonderful musicians and labels for the true gift of their music. And a special thank you to all our readers for reading during the year.





Chosen One: Julia Holter

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Interview with Julia Holter by Cillian Murphy.

“Leave well alone. Don’t meddle any more. Can’t you see she is far beyond us?”
She pointed to Gigi, who was resting a trusting head and the rich abundance of her hair on Lachaille’s shoulder. The happy man turned to Madame Alvarez.
“Mamita,” he said, “will you do me the honour, the favour, give me the infinite joy of bestowing on me the hand…”

(—Excerpt from Colette’s 1944 novella ‘Gigi’)

Interview: Cillian Murphy
Illustration: Craig Carry, Introduction: Mark Carry


An incomprehensible beauty forever lies at the heart of the work of L.A. based artist, Julia Holter. The latest masterpiece ‘Loud City Song’ is the gifted songwriter’s third in as many years, and is the highly anticipated follow-up to last year’s sublime ‘Ekstasis’ album. Having first heard ‘In The Same Room’ many moons ago – a single taken from ‘Ekstasis’ – the vital significance and preciousness of Holter’s art became immediately apparent to me. The swirling notes of harpsichord and keys drift slowly amidst Holter’s captivating voice, evoking a daydream sequence washed in a lifetime of distant memories: “I can’t remember your face / but I hope the ship will carry us there.” Fleeting moments of life’s unfolding mysteries are embedded in all three records – from 2011’s debut ‘Tragedy to the latest ‘Loud City Song’ – that endlessly reveal new meaning and hidden depths of truth.

‘Loud City Song’ showcases Holter’s rare gift for the creation of highly innovative and utterly breathtaking contemporary pop music. A sense of mystery and intrigue is interwoven between the tapestry of beguiling sounds and vivid colours conjured up by Holter and her ensemble of peerless musicians. At the heart of ‘Loud City Song’ is a story, inspired by the musical ‘Gigi’, whose central character – the innocent teenage girl, Gigi – someone Holter closely identified with, having watched it many times growing up. ‘Loud City Song’ has been described by Holter as a search for love and truth in a superficial society. Set in turn-of-the-century Paris, Colette’s timeless novella (first published in 1944) offers a user’s manual on how to live fearlessly and joyfully. Similarly, the sonic creations of ‘Loud City Song’ documents the hopes, dreams and fantasies of Gigi – the album’s loosely-based narrative – that creates an entirely unique world for the listener to become part of. Themes such as pressures from society, individualism, loneliness and celebrity culture are etched across the resolutely unique canvas of ‘Loud City Song’. ‘Gigi’ is merely a starting point, as the plethora of characters and multitude of emotion cast, results in a deeply enriching experience of the human condition. ‘Loud City Song’ is indeed “like an audio cinematic experience.” From the album opener ‘World’, which serves ‘Loud City Song”s enthralling prologue, to the heart wrenching ballad of Barbara Lewis’ ‘Hello Stranger’, a world of love, fantasy, “winter words” and “falling leaves” beautifully encapsulate the world of ‘Loud City Song’.

all the heavens of the world.
Are you looking for anything?
Heaven with eyes bright green
Everyday my eyes are older,
I grow a bit closer to you.


Similar to ‘Goddess Eyes’ on previous album ‘Ekstasis’, the tour de force ‘Maxim’s’ is present on ‘Loud City Song’ as two separate versions; ‘Maxim’s I’ and ‘Maxim’s II’, providing the focal point to the album’s narrative. The song is named after the storied Maxim’s restaurant in Paris that is prominently featured in the musical, ‘Gigi’. A key scene which resonated for Holter was the scene in which Gigi enters the bustling Maxim’s only to be greeted with complete silence as the restaurant’s patrons gaze at her judgmentally. Holter sings on the chorus, “Into Maxim’s we will see them walk / Will they eat a piece of cheese or will they talk?” as the orchestra of brass and string sections create a frenzy of commotion, depicting the loudness of the superficial society that surrounds her. A parallel can be made between Colette’s early twentieth century Paris and that of Holter’s native L.A. In many ways; both societies share common celebrity culture, where the setting of ‘Loud City Song’ could easily be that of modern-day Los Angeles as much as Colette’s depiction of turn-of-the-century Paris. The frantic tempo of ‘Horns Surrounding Me’ evokes the sound of paparazzi chasing after an identified celebrity, where the sound of a marching band storms to the foreground of the mix. At the core, a feeling of pain and isolation radiates from the ‘cold night’ as Holter sings “Moon, they forget how soft heart is, unfolding over time.”

Unlike the previous two records, ‘Loud City Song’ is the first album Holter recorded outside of her bedroom. The songs were written and composed by Holter – some as far back as 2011, at the time of debut album ‘Tragedy’ – later to be worked on (mixed and co-produced) by Ariel Pink collaborator Cole Marsden Greif-Neill (who also mixed ‘Ekstasis’). Holter would join an ensemble of musicians in a professional studio in L.A. for six days to record the layers of tracks. Joining Holter (keyboards, vocals) were the brass section of Chris Speed (saxophone), Brian Allen (trombone) and Matt Barbier (trombone), violinist Andrew Tholl, cellist Christopher Votek, Ramona Gonzalez (Nite Jewel) on backing vocals, Corey Fogel on percussion, and Devin Hoff on bass. The time-staking process of mixing Holter’s vocals came later. The result is a performative record where undoubtedly the acoustic instrument of Holter’s voice provides the aesthetic that graces the divine beauty of the album’s timeless soundscapes. Other sources of inspiration came from Joni Mitchell and poet Frank O’Hara. The spirit of Mitchell is particularly evident on album closer ‘City Appearing’, a whirlwind jazz odyssey that lies somewhere between ‘Blue’ and ‘Hejira’. Holter asks on the opening lines of the second verse: “Is it the hand of love so rough / what we’re feeling for the first time?” Much like O’Hara’s poetry, which were based on his observations of New York life, many of the characters and songwriting stemmed from ‘Loud City Song’ can be seen as Holter’s observations of L.A. life, where I feel poems such as ‘1951’ and ‘A City Winter’ could find a deserved place in Holter’s audio poem-come-song cycle.

The sequencing of ‘Loud City Song’ is immaculate as one feels a sense of movement and character progression from beginning to end. Furthermore, the depths of loneliness and despair are overcome as the journey unfolds, culminating in a wave of joy as celebration prevails, as “all the birds of the world make their way over with new softer songs to sing” on album closer ‘City Appearing’. The album’s centerpiece, for me, is the cover version of Barbara Lewis’ ‘Hello Stranger’ which is engulfed in a beguiling and cinematic atmosphere of loss and longing, yet an infinite light of hope shines forth amidst the chorus of singing birds in the background. A consoling ebb and flow of strings accompanies the achingly beautiful vocals of Holter as she sings “I’m so happy that you’re here again” on the song’s close. ‘He’s Running Through My Eyes’ is one of the most beautiful songs to have graced this earth. The delicacy and fragile beauty of this piano-led ballad transcends space and time. The lyric “But when summer’s over, will he remember winter words?” resonates powerfully. The soulful pop opus of ‘This Is A True Heart’ is reminiscent of Arthur Russell, Laurie Anderson and indeed the feel of Colette and Gigi’s elegant Parisienne streets and boulevards. The rise on ‘In The Green Wild’ serves as one of the euphoric moments of ‘Loud City Song’. The peerless musicianship of Holter’s ensemble and daringly beautiful arrangements is on full display.

In the green wild I am gone
my hands, toes, shoulders gone
but the shoes my feet have worn still remain
and they walk toward the sea
there’s a flavor to the sound of walking
no one ever never noticed before.

(‘In The Green Wild’)

Similar to ‘Loud City Song’, Holter’s debut ‘Tragedy’ drew from literature already made, namely, Euripides’ ‘Hippolytus’. One of the songs, ‘Celebration’, centers on Hippolytus worshipping Artemis and purity. A lyric contained in this song, for me, epitomises the truly transcendent nature of Julia Holter’s sacred songbook, that serves the perfect embodiment of Holter’s utterly captivating work: “We are moved by your radiance.” This truly unique voice in today’s music world has created yet another true work of art, in the form of ‘Loud City Song’. A question is posed by the young Gigi in Colette’s novella: “What is an artistic jewel?” For someone asking the same question today, one needs to look no further than Holter’s remarkable ‘Loud City Song’.


‘Loud City Song’ is out now on Domino.



Interview with Julia Holter by Cillian Murphy.

CILLIAN MURPHY: First of all, I discovered your music through ‘Ekstasis’; a record I really, really loved and played it all the time. And then this record, I was really looking forward to it. It has completely bewitched me, I have to say, and I have listened to it a lot. You are in L.A. right? I read that L.A. is a part of the inspiration for the record or features in some of the themes of the record. Is that right?

JULIA HOLTER: Yes, sort of. Well, what it was is I basically grew up in L.A., so for me it’s one of those things where basically I was making a story, and the story was kind of inspired by ‘Gigi’ which is the music from this musical. So, I was trying to build a setting for this story, and the setting was a city – and it could be any city – and for me it’s L.A. because I know L.A. But I’m not enforcing it as L.A. It’s not called L.A. I always think you have to do what you know; you have to write about what you know, to some extent. But, obviously, I don’t know Gigi. I’m not Gigi. But it’s like, you know, you combine what you know with other things.
L.A. is what I know, so it’s the scene. Then there is also a bigger song, ‘Horns Surround Me’ where it’s specifically paparazzi chasing actors. Yeah, that’s what it is sort of in my mind, but it doesn’t have to be though for most people. But in [my] mind what it was, ‘Horns Surrounding Me’ is like a marching band chasing after me, symbolizing paparazzi or something. But that’s stuff that doesn’t happen just in L.A., but it’s definitely a big L.A. phenomenon.

CM: Well yeah, that’s for sure.

JH: And I’m sure you know way more about this than I do.

CM: Well, thankfully I’ve avoided that aspect of what I do. For the most part, I’m incredibly boring and they tend to leave me alone. I know the city just as a visitor, you know, and I always found something about the city that it’s like a public and a private L.A., and it’s a really easy city to hide in, or escape into.

JH: Yeah, exactly.

CM: And a lot of stuff goes on behind closed doors. That resonated with me when I listened to the record. I love that song ‘World’ as well. It’s such a big title for a song but I love how you reduce it down to such small mundane things. And I love that thing about always wearing a hat, and the city can’t see my eyes and stuff. I think that’s a kind of L.A. thing. It really resonated with me and I guess you can apply it to other cities but there is something about L.A. that is unique.

JH: I see what you’re saying, it’s like I think that a lot of times when I’m talking to people in interviews and they haven’t been here at all, and I’m sure you’ve been here a lot. Yeah, I think you’re right. I think it’s something I’m not even conscious of, because I always say, no it’s not just about L.A. but maybe it is specifically this private and public, like you say. I do think though that it’s easy to hide here. There is not as much hype about things like there is in New York or London. More people come out to my shows in London or New York than in L.A. People are more oblivious and everything is more mysterious, and I actually like that.

CM: Yeah, I like that too. And in terms of – you just touched on it there – the music scene in Los Angeles, I would imagine it’s a great place you know, there’s a great music scene and a lot of collaboration between musicians. Would I be right in saying that?

JH: Yeah, I think so. I mean there’s a lot of space in L.A. One thing, I think it’s sort of collaborative I guess – like I’ve done a little bit of collaborating – people can hide away and do their thing and work on it really intensely here. It feels that people can be very introspective and deep into their creative ball and feel comfortable doing that.

CM: Is that what you did, I mean the first two albums were recorded at home, in your bedroom. That’s what I read, is that right?

JH: Yeah, I was really isolated.

CM: Did you find that a good thing? Because I mean the albums are amazing. Did you find that a useful thing in terms of making the records?

JH: Yeah, I think it was good for me to have that experience. It was really hard because mixing your own music can be really hard and especially when there are so many layers – layers of sounds and atmosphere – and every second I wanted to adjust the atmosphere a little bit, so I’m really particular about the atmosphere at every given point. So, I think it was really hard to mix and frustrating but it was good to go and learn how to do it myself.

CM: And this record was different in that it was recorded more conventionally, in the studio with musicians. Is that right?

JH: Yeah, it’s kind of complicated because I actually do a lot of stuff at home as well. I wrote and recorded the demos for the record, maybe a year and a half before the record was recorded. They have a lot of it already planned out and then we called Greif-Neill who produced the record with me.

CM: From Ariel Pink, right?

JH: Yeah, he produced Ariel’s last record I think, and also with Nite Jewel and some friends of mine. It was really nice to work with him because he has worked with Ariel and Nite Jewel, and both of them have started as solo people and then moved on to working in the environment of a studio. Like, they started just working in their rooms, you know. So he really knows that transition. So, he heard the demos and he was really into it and he made this plan. And his plan always puts in mind that I’m always used to working in my own space and time on my own. And so he made it. So, what we did was that I arranged all the parts for the musicians first and we recorded them for six days in a professional studio with an engineer and everything and friends helping out with the engineering. The whole rest of the album was months and months of recording my vocals, which we did at Cole [Greif-Neill]’s house at home. And then he has this little studio and then recording key parts in my house, like, just myself in my house, recording it. And then mixing it. So it was really the longest part; the post-recording. Recording the instruments was the easiest part. And then it was all about creating the atmosphere and stuff.

CM: Oh wow, so all in all then, from when you wrote the demos to when you finally mixed the record to when you put it out, how long did that take?

JH: I think like writing the demos was two years ago, at least. I mean it’s complicated. While I was writing ‘Ekstasis’, there was a song that was going to be on it and it’s what’s now called ‘Maxim’s II’, and that song ‘Maxim’s’ was going to be on this record. I was like this is so weird because this doesn’t really fit on the rest of ‘Ekstasis’ and that’s how I came up with the idea of ‘Loud City Song’.

CM: I see. And that title by the way, can you elaborate on that at all?

JH: There is this loudness of society, [this] is what I was attracting. And the story of Gigi and the story that I’m bringing out – sort of the individual that is being bombarded by society in some ways, feeling the weight of society, like they’re trying to work against society in some way. And society is very loud in that way.
That’s what I was getting at. Again, the loudness of society and whether that’s pressuring people into doing something, like in ‘Gigi’ or whatever or society itself is overwhelming to the individual. I was thinking for me that how today it’s really true – not just the noise of society but the noise of the media – and when, for example, you turn on your TV and the advertisements are really loud. Sound engineers have talked about how now the commercial pop hit is way louder than it used to be, like all distorted compared to commercial pop hits of twenty years ago. So, it’s kind of like an overall general idea of loudness of society.

CM: Yeah, I mean I can’t get over the way in America, they pipe music in shopping malls but even outdoors from shopping centers. I find that extraordinary. An extraordinary assault, even when you’re outside, you know.

JH: It’s really horrible. When I was shopping the other day, and it was like, I need to leave right now, it was just so horrible how loud it is. Is this Abercrombie and Snitch or something? [laughs]

CM: I get distressed and I do not want to shop. It doesn’t put me in the mood for shopping [laughs].

JH: I know.

CM: I’m just not a good shopper, maybe. I haven’t read ‘Gigi’, but I have read some of the other of Colette’s books. Would you consider it then, you know, give it the whole “conceptual album” tag, or is that something you’re happy to embrace, or is it more something you are just inspired by, and took some ideas from?

JH: I don’t know. I’m open to either perspective because, for me, it’s really like my record ‘Tragedy’ and unlike ‘Ekastsis’. It is a unified story in a way, not necessarily that it follows a straight narrative, because it doesn’t really. But it’s a story, just like ‘Tragedy’ was a story, and both ‘Tragedy’ and ‘Loud City Song’ are inspired by stories that previously exist. So if people call it a concept album that’s fine. I know it’s kind of like a cheesy genre, people think that it’s kind of gimmicky. I guess I just think about it, like, for me, a record is, you make a record, like a book or anything, like a collection of poems, and there’s something that unites them in some way usually. Like with ‘Ekstasis’ it was all like individual songs, they weren’t united like one story. But they were all planned to be on one record and curated for that purpose, because they were meant to be together on an album but they don’t fit into one story. There is some differentiation you have to make, I guess, with a record like ‘Ekstasis’ and a record like ‘Loud City Song’. And whatever you want to call it, you know, I don’t really mind either way. I have trouble figuring out what it’s called myself. It’s a concept album, that’s fine, you know. I think of it as a story because I don’t want people to think that I have a sort of a message.

CM: Well, for me, the more you listen to it, the more it reveals itself. And now, to me, that’s the sign of a great album. I’m going to quote you something – and I hate when people quote me back on interviews because I never remember saying it – but “I’m basically into creating movies that are albums as opposed to albums that are like sound from movies”. Do you remember that?

JH: Oh right, because basically when people ask if it’s like a soundtrack or something.

CM: I thought that was a brilliant quote.

JH: Oh yeah, thanks. That’s something I’m really into the idea of making an audio poem or something, like an audio cinematic experience.

CM: Well, that’s what you get from it, and I think you have achieved it wonderfully. And from start to finish, your mood changes, like in a film, it elicits different emotional responses.
I went to see Björk a couple of nights ago and she was doing her ‘Biophilia’ show. I just saw the boldness in her compositions and she’s not afraid of concept either in terms of the music she makes. Particularly on ‘Maxim’s II’, it reminded me of Björk a lot, and I was just wondering what you think of her and have you been asked about that comparison before?

JH: Actually, I haven’t been asked about Björk that much. I think there’s something about my style, but I think I know what you mean. First of all, I think that she is amazing and I think she is an amazing writer and interesting, and I admire her a lot. But I’ve never seen her live show, but I’d love to. I’ve heard they’re really incredible. Like she is a totally visionary. But the thing I’ve listened to the most of hers is that soundtrack she did with a Japanese show in it. It’s like a soundtrack she made but it’s amazing. But I love her songs and I think I need to listen to more of her. I still haven’t dug in completely.

CM: I think it’s more in terms of the fearlessness she has and I think that you seem to have it in the music. What I love about your music is that it’s music you listen to, it’s not necessarily music you put on while you’re washing the dishes. I love that and I think that that’s important nowadays.

JH: That’s really cool, yeah.


(Illustration based on the Rufus Norris film “Broken”, starring Cillian Murphy, Tim Roth, and Lily James.)

CM: I just wanted to talk about two more songs on the album. ‘Hello Stranger’, I mean it’s kind of heart-stopping. I just wondered why you decided to use that tune? I don’t know if you’ll agree but it’s a unique interpretation but it’s also, I think weirdly faithful to it as well, if that isn’t a contradiction.

JH: So, I grew up listening to Barbara Lewis’ song ‘Hello Stranger’ that she wrote. And I listened to her version. I actually don’t know any other version, I only know hers. I grew up listening, it was on a compilation my mom had growing up. First of all, I covered it four years ago, like a cover in my room, playing it out loud, live. I recorded it live, like a room recording of me singing and playing on keyboard, pretty similar to the vibe on the final version. So, in ‘Gigi’, the musical, there is a scene, and a song actually called ‘I Remember It Well’ where Lachaille and Gigi’s great-aunt are meeting again, after [having] had an affair like years and years ago in their youth, and they’re having lunch together and reminiscing about it. But they can’t remember it really well. Or, at least that he keeps on messing up, “we had dinner at nine” and she is like , “we had breakfast.” She keeps correcting them. It’s kind of hokey but it’s kind of sweet, like this song.

So, it was sort of, for me, this song ‘Hello Stranger’ is sort of similar in that it’s an exploration of two people, of memory, a version of memory and the faults of memory, and how you recall things from the past but they’re either too vague or they’re inaccurate. So, with ‘Hello Stranger’, the Barbara Lewis song that she wrote, it’s very vague, there’s very little explanation of anything but you have a sense that he hurt her and she’s in love with him still and she doesn’t want to get hurt again, or whatever. So, kind of like that Janet Jackson song ‘Again’, I think, which I also love.

But in Barbara Lewis’ song, it’s like: “Please don’t hurt me”, but that’s all, there is no real detail. So, you have a real hazy sense of what happened. I think it’s the same for that moment in ‘Gigi’. A lot of the songs were inspired by taking off points from that musical, that’s what happened, and I was like, this song would be perfect for this record, even though no one will make that connection unless I tell them about that scene. It’s kind of convoluted but to me I just knew; I trusted that it would work somehow, put that song in there subliminally without people knowing why it was there.

CM: And where it sits on the record too. I don’t know, it’s so warm and it’s just so beautiful. It really is. I love it.

JH: Great.

CM: Playing this record live then and touring it, it’s got such an amazing response from everybody; everybody loves it. I just wanted to know how when you record a record and then you have to go and play those songs live. Does that change the songs and how does it feel for you playing those songs in a live setting?

JH: Yeah, live, they start a different life. One of the things I realized early on is that you can’t re-create the record live because you’re in a totally different situation, you got an audience in front of you. Even if you play back the track and sing over it, you’re not re-creating, or even if you press play – you don’t sing and you play the whole track in the room while the audience is there – there is a performance and a visual aspect, that you’re there, you’re performing for people, it’s like a totally different thing. And so I was taking this approach – performance is very different from recording though – like two separate things. So, when I perform them, I arranged the songs particularly for the live set. With this record it’s been so much easier.

Last year, what we did with ‘Ekstasis’, which I recorded all myself except for mixing, and arranged for drum and cello and me, so basically it was me re-arranging the entire record for a new ensemble. Whereas on this record, this time I’m working with the same musicians pretty much, I just have my arrangements from the recording session, notated and a lot of stuff was improvised by them on the spot or we came up with slightly different ideas, because obviously you don’t have as many layers as you do in the recording session. You have to, like, cut down and come up with ways of how to fill it in. For the most part it was a lot easier than last year. It’s been really fun and also because I have a lot more people, and I have saxophone, violin, cello, drums, and me.

CM: And do you play the album from start to finish or do you mix it up with earlier albums, or how do you go about it?

JH: I haven’t done the album from start to finish but that would be interesting. I think one day we will do it for fun.

CM: Yeah, I’d like to be there for that. Because you trained classically and you compose your stuff, and you say, you composed the parts for the other players on the record, does that mean the players themselves have to be able to read music and be reasonably classically trained or how does that work?

JH: I mean I would definitely be into working with people who didn’t and I have. But a lot of times I do like to have people who have, we can have sessions about it and it’s easy to communicate because we all have some background in theory and stuff. But definitely I don’t think it’s a requirement. Because I need people to read the arrangements and stuff for the recording, it was important.

CM: Training as a piano player, is that something you wanted to do? Were you always singing when you were playing the piano, and when did the two sort of come together?

JH: First of all, I played classical piano when I was about eight and I don’t play anymore because of college and then I stopped classical. I was never very great. I really loved it but in classical music there is so many amazing pianists and I was not one of those. I was good because I loved practicing, and I always did [practice] and I loved playing but I wasn’t really great or anything. So I quit the classical piano. In high-school, I started getting interested in the possibility of playing the songs I like and listen to. I started playing Joni Mitchell and started singing along, and I hated my voice. But I loved singing anyway.

When I was younger, even like, Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, The Beatles, Radiohead, the bands and stuff that I liked, and Billie Holliday…so, I was trying out a lot of different voices for fun. I never wrote music until I was, like, sixteen or seventeen, and that wasn’t for singing. Actually, [they were] some of the worst songs but they were from classical piano and not me. It was in classical music and I was writing in composition, and I went into composition in college at grad school, and that was my degree. It was like, I wasn’t seeing myself at all as a performer. I was like a composer who would write music for other people to perform. And I never sang much except I did start choir – because it was mandatory in college – for the first time. But then I got out of that because I didn’t like it. Then, what happened is that I discovered recording. The minute I discovered recording I felt free to try stuff with my voice and I was, like, maybe my voice isn’t that bad, it’s okay. You can mess with your voice and try different things and be poetic, and it was really fun for me, and to discover myself as a singer and a performer was a shocker, for sure. I mean, I didn’t see myself in that way at all. I never get nervous about performing unless there is a reason for me to be nervous, but I actually quite take to it and I like it.

CM: That’s very, very interesting. I identify with that because, well, I played music a bit before I became an actor – to a very low-level – but when I started acting onstage in theatre, I never got nervous. It was weird. I get nervous on film because it’s there forever, it’s indelible, whereas in theatre you can have a better show the next day. The sense of having some sort of control. And when did you reconcile yourself to your voice then because I know that John Lennon, all his life, hated it, he was always double-tracking his voice and putting it through some effect.

JH: I know. I love that effect he uses. It’s that thing, it’s really interesting. I think it’s like a really short delay effect. I think that’s a really interesting topic because I always still have trouble with my voice, listening to it pure, unless it’s really done right. And one of the things I think is that when – you’ll understand this as an actor – when you’re performing you aren’t yourself. In music as well, when I’m performing I’m neither myself – because I wouldn’t be interested in me as a subject – but I’m also not one particular persona, you know how some artists or musicians have a certain persona they always have. So, for me, I take on a different character for every song. Like, even within a record, every song has to have a different character, and for that reason I find it difficult to hear my voice clearly, as if it’s me speaking. And I think there is something that musicians really hate, certain musicians who really care about the colour and the character of every song who are like, really great songwriters, and John Lennon is one of them. They really can’t stand it if it sounds just like them because they’re trying to create something else, they’re trying to make something more otherworldly, and a new character. And that’s maybe the impulse. It’s not just like, oh I hate how my voice sounds, it’s something else, like this is still me and this has to be transcending me, and it can’t be just me, it has to be this different person, you know what I mean?

CM: I do and it’s like using it as an instrument that’s not you, and it seems to me that it does sound different on each track, and even on the three records, you know. But I mean I love that, it’s a brilliant thing and you wouldn’t be able to identify with that immediately necessarily. It’s still amazing on each track. Speaking of that, in terms of the three albums, do you see that as a kind of series in any way? You were saying ‘Ekstasis’ is separate in terms of it’s not thematically like the others. But do you see them as separate or connected?

JH: I see them as pretty separate. I think they could be united by an era in my life or something, at this point my musical life has been short so it’s hard to know. But now, I would see them as being very separate. I think ‘Tragedy’ and ‘Loud City Song’ have similar goals in terms of a similar approach, let me put it that way, in that they’re inspired by a story. But I’m not necessarily going to stop doing that. Sometimes I like doing that, sometimes not, sometimes I like to assemble a collection of songs like ‘Ekstasis’. I think that I’m always going to be doing different things and that every project I take very seriously as a project in itself. But it’s definitely something that some people will see them united in some way that I can’t see because my perspective is pretty flawed of what I do. It’s always hard to judge what you’re doing to a certain extent, and you, kind of, just have to go for it. With this record, ‘Loud City Song’, I was conscious of what I was doing at the beginning, like, I was going to make a bunch of songs that are inspired by moments of this musical basically.

In the interim I kept watching that musical – I don’t generally watch that much musicals ever – but because it was engrained in me from a very young age, like I knew it so well and I could relate to the characters so easily, I just had to do it. And I went into it really blindly, like I wasn’t ever thinking twice about any one song, and I wrote it pretty quickly in a way, without any real trouble. Then I came up with things and went with my instincts and that’s kind of my approach and I’m probably never going to strategize one approach across multiple records. I’m going to just let myself go with each project, generally with a set of limits from the start, and see where it takes me.

CM: Yeah, I think that’s got to be the best. I mean it’s the impulse to do it. If the impulse is there, you just have to follow it I think, and try not to question it too much. I liked what you said as well about the stuff that people read into in records and songs with people, it’s extraordinary and I love that.
Are you touring loads now? Are you in the middle of a tour?

JH: I have a one and a half weeks break, or two weeks break and then we’re going on a shortish U.S tour and then we’re back in L.A. again, and then we go back to Europe.

CM: Are you doing festivals or is that gone now?

JH: We’re doing some festivals but it’s mostly shows this time, which will be really nice because I like shows.

CM: I would imagine your music demands attention, like I said. I’d imagine certain venues are better than others.

JH: Yeah, like some festivals are awesome, like there’s this great one in Poland called the Off Festival. Sometimes the people are most exciting [part] to a festival because there are so many of them and I love when there is a lot of people in the audience. It’s nice fun and [there’s] the energy of people. Like, we opened for Sigur Rós and that was the most exciting thing for me because there was so many people, even if they weren’t all listening, it’s okay. I know there is a lot of them and I don’t judge them for that [laughs]. But I think, in general, it’s nice to have a show where people are focused and listening and generally they are the non-festival ones.

CM: Are you constantly writing? Do you practice the piano? Are you constantly thinking about the next project even while you’re touring this record or how does that work?

JH: Yes, I think about it. I have trouble writing on tour. I have to have, like, a calm atmosphere but I can get ideas and concepts and stuff while we’re in a van for hours, and I can think of something. It’s been a bit tricky right now. I am writing this piece for the L.A. Philharmonic – due in like a month – and I’m going on tour in a week and it’s like really rough because I haven’t had a lot of time to think about it. It turns out that it takes a long time to do promotion for your record. It takes a lot of work. I’ve basically curated my record in all ways, from the artwork to the ways it’s being promoted and everything. I’m basically micro-managing everything, which is cool that Domino are letting me do that and that’s why I love that label, but it’s also a lot of work. It’s funny how much doing interviews and doing all this promotion actually takes time. It’s really scary, so we’ll see. I’m writing right now in my off-time from tour and I hope it’s going to be okay because I grew up thinking the L.A. Philharmonic is like a dream. We’ll see how it turns out.

CM: When is that going to be premiered?

JH: That’s on December 3rd I think.

CM: Well, good luck with that.

JH: Thanks.

CM: I’m sure it will be incredible. Thank you so much for taking the time, I love chatting with musicians, it’s so fascinating. I appreciate it a lot.


Cillian Murphy stars in ‘Peaky Blinders’, the new gangster drama (see preview clips here and hereset in 1920’s Birmingham, the six-part series debuts this Thursday 12th September on BBC Two. 

‘Loud City Song’ is out now on Domino. Julia Holter will tour the US this September and Europe this October and November. For full dates click here


To follow Fractured Air, you can do so on Facebook here, and on Twitter here.

Special thanks to Julia, Cillian, Robin and Colleen. 


Written by admin

September 10, 2013 at 10:57 am