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Posts Tagged ‘The Sparkle

Step Right Up: Allred & Broderick

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Interview with David Allred & Peter Broderick.

 It feels good to simply play music with another person away from the cables.”

—David Allred

Words: Mark Carry

david allred

Earlier this year, the new duo collaborative project between American musicians Peter Broderick and David Allred (appropriately christened Allred & Broderick) was unveiled in the form of lead single ‘The Ways’: a beautiful acapella folk ballad about “the world in which we live” and how we as individuals will eventually find our way. The gorgeously constructed music video – with handmade signs created by Erased Tapes long time collaborator Peter Liversidge and directed by label founder Robert Raths – was (in many ways) a celebration of the prestigious Erased Tapes label’s 10th anniversary year. The exciting new debut project between these two special souls represents yet another milestone in the label’s far-reaching, genre-defying musical journey thus far.

The pair first collaborated together on Allred’s stunning solo full-length ‘Midstory’ (released on German imprint Oscarson). Full of layered voices and a wide range of pristine instrumentation, the masterful song cycles ranged from intimate acappella laments to compelling avant pop gems. Forward a few years and the collaborative project of Allred & Broderick have dropped their debut record ‘Find The Ways’. Recorded in Broderick’s home studio the Sparkle along the Oregon coast, the ten tracks emit a delicate beauty and honesty that orbits the sound world of folk traditions, jazz flourishes and the modern-classical sphere.

Armed with just their voices, violin (Peter) and upright bass (David), the gifted duo generate endless possibilities with the minimalist framework posed. Some of their finest songs can be found on part A with Broderick’s penned ‘The Wise One’ and Allred’s ‘Hey Stranger’ interspersed between the string duet ‘Two Otters’.  On ‘Finding The Ways’ the pair wanted (in the words of Broderick) “to make something raw which is an honest document of what we are capable of doing together at once, with just two acoustic instruments and our voice”. Allred & Broderick is a marvellous new chapter from two unique musical voices.

‘Find The Ways’ is out now on Erased Tapes.

https://www.erasedtapes.com/

https://www.facebook.com/erasedtapes/

peter b

Interview with David Allred & Peter Broderick.

 

Before we discuss the new record, I would love for you to recount your memories of first crossing paths with one another and how you feel your own musical paths cross over (and complement one another) so naturally?

David Allred: Peter and I had a few email exchanges before we met in person back in 2013. I initially emailed him with a sheet music transcription I made of his piano song called ‘Pulling The Rain’ and asked him if it looked accurate. Peter responded very well to my email which turned into more conversations. I always loved how well he responded to my questions, especially considering that I was a complete stranger to him at the time. There was another time I wrote him an email out of the blue (which was about a week before I was planning to move to Portland) and Peter ended his replied email by saying “best wishes from Portland” – I immediately wrote him back and told him that I was coincidentally about to move to Portland and wanted to know if he was living there or visiting (since he had been living in Berlin for years up to that time) and he replied confirming that he re-located to Portland and that we should meet up when I get there! We did in fact meet one day in 2013 and have been good friends/musical collaborators since.

Please take me back to the recording sessions in your home studio of The Sparkle. I am sure this was an extremely fun and liberating project to be involved in, particularly having just voices, violin and double bass? One of the great hallmarks of the record is just how much you achieve in terms of depth and emotion from a minimal framework. 

DA: Thank you! Yes, Peter and I set out to record this album live without any overdubs or edits aside from general mixing. It was a bit challenging to make a full length record with the limitations that we gave ourselves but in the end we were very happy with the results. It was very refreshing to make an album that was captured exactly the way play the music without needing to layer other instruments or effects. We also enjoy being able to re-create our album in our live performances.

I think that sense of adventure and spark of creativity is always present in both your own solo works and obviously this comes flooding into the recordings contained here on ‘Finding the Ways’. I wonder to what degree were these songs mapped out prior to the recording sessions? I can imagine some happy accidents and spontaneous moments found their way on the final tapes?

DA: I would say most of the record was planned out but there ended up being some spontaneous moments. Peter did the mixing and mastering on this release and we had a fair amount of funny moments when we were talking or reacting to the music and some of which ended up on the final version of the album.

‘The Wise One’ is one of the defining moments of part A. I would love to gain an insight into the background and inspiration behind this particular tour-de-force? (I presume this is Peter’s song?!) The way the double-bass arrives in later and how these intricate components coalesce so wonderfully makes for such a cinematic voyage.

Peter Broderick: Yep, this one is my song, and was the last song added to the collection for this record. In fact, to this day this remains the last song I’ve written with words! The lyrics are about diving within yourself in a meditative way, to consult yourself from deep within, with the objective of gaining guidance and/or insight. During the time that David and I were working on the music for this album, I was practicing this kind of meditation daily. I had such a powerful, profound experience, I felt the impulse to turn that experience into a song.

‘Hey Stranger’ is another deeply heartfelt and poignant moment (which I presume is a song by David?) I would love to gain an insight into the writing and formation of this particular song and your memories of seeing it come to full bloom? 

DA: ‘Hey Stranger’ was written about an old friend who mysteriously disappeared years ago. I have been referring to this individual in press as J, who was one of my closest friends from my childhood to early adulthood but I always felt that it was a bit difficult to connect with him as he was always confronting the intense topics of life that most people try to avoid in most social circumstances. I’ve always thought he was an incredibly good person deep down and perhaps that his ways of living and thinking were just either too far ahead of his time or just simply too much for others to digest. He has no online presence as far as I can tell or any clear indication that he is still out there in the world. I was recently getting the feeling like J might pop up on the street when I least expect it and I just couldn’t figure out why this was on my mind. I wrote this song in an attempt to make peace within myself since I felt the situation was too unresolved for me to move on from it.

As the record is completely performed live in single takes, please discuss the live set-up in the Sparkle and your conversations and concerns from the outset concerning the overall feel and sound you wanted to create? I presume the record ‘Midstory’ (David’s solo LP) provided a nice template and perspective when it came to returning together then as an official duo project (in this particular regard)?

PB: Believe or not, David and I actually recorded this whole album twice! Our original idea was to have someone else record it, with only one microphone. We went to Type Foundry studio in Portland, Oregon and recorded all 10 songs in a day . . . but we quickly realized we weren’t happy with the sound . . . partially due to the fact that we didn’t bother to listen back to the recording at all whilst working on it, and afterwards discovered that we weren’t happy with the volume balance between the two of us. So we resolved to re-record the whole thing out at my studio on the Oregon coast (The Sparkle). This time we set up two microphones, one for David’s voice and bass, one for my voice and violin. Again we recorded all 10 songs in a day, and then the next day mixed and mastered all the songs, all at The Sparkle. When mixing the album, we tried to keep it as dry and unaffected as possible, although both David and I have a soft spot for the Roland Chorus Echo out at The Sparkle, and couldn’t help ourselves from using this machine to add some subtle color to the sound. It’s true that David and I had already worked together on his album Midstory, so we were both quite comfortable working together in my studio . . . although the processes for these two records were vastly different.

DA: I started playing electric bass in middle school which eventually led to double bass when I was in high school/college. I am self-taught on the double bass so I definitely lack some proper techniques with the instrument but I still love to play it. The Allred & Broderick project was the first time I ever dedicated a whole project using the double bass, and it was also the first project that Peter fully dedicated himself to the violin, and we both very much enjoyed taking this approach. Capturing this music live with our voices and chosen string instruments was exceptionally enjoyable and refreshing especially after we both have been heavily invested in the technological side of music. It feels good to simply play music with another person away from the cables.

PB: Well, the violin was my first instrument. I started taking lessons at age seven I believe. But aside from a few pieces here and there over the years, the violin has never really been the central instrument to the music I’ve created. I always thought it would be great to one day work on a project in which the violin is the only instrument I use . . . so I was really happy to be able to do that with this project, especially having the low end of David’s bass to balance out the sound . . . not to mention his incredible musicality!

‘Find The Ways’ is out now on Erased Tapes.

https://www.erasedtapes.com/

https://www.facebook.com/erasedtapes/

 

Written by admin

July 4, 2017 at 8:36 pm

Step Right Up: Brumes

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Interview with Brumes.

“I only recently began to write music with more intention – before I had little control or awareness of what was spilling out of me, my hands would physically ache to play music.

— Desireé Rousseau

Words: Mark Carry

brumes 1

If ever a single piece of music serves to embody an album’s enriching journey it is the achingly beautiful instrumental ‘The Color of Light and Shadow’ wherein a gorgeous tapestry of harp notes and cosmic violin melodies grace the atmosphere. The album in question is ‘Soundings in Fathoms’ by Portland Oregon-based three piece Brumes. A soft whisper uttering “Wow!” can be heard on tape as the divine music gradually fades into oblivion; somehow reflecting the transcendent nature of this remarkable record. A deeply personal creation, the seven sublime tracks contained on ‘Soundings in Fathoms’ infinitely heightens with the passing of time.

Brumes comprises of Desireé Rousseau, Dalton Long and Nico Bartulski. The band’s album was recorded by renowned producer (musician/composer) Peter Broderick at his home studio The Sparkle along the Oregon coast. The immaculate instrumentation of voice, harp, keys, guitar, drums and percussion evokes timeless sounds of ambient-infused-drone soundscapes, ethereal folk laments, neo-classical explorations and cinematic dream-wave creations. Rousseau’s delicate dream-like folk gems navigates the heart’s depths that draws striking parallels with Grouper’s Liz Harris such is the unfathomable beauty created.

The slow-burning ambient folk lament ‘Stay Low’ comprises Rousseau’s fragile voice melded with warm percussion, keys and brooding, hyopnotic guitar lines. The gorgeous ambient pulses of ‘I Heard You’ captures a myriad of feelings: yearning, fear, anguish, hope and dreams are all dotted across the canvas of sacred sounds. The sparse folk ballad ‘Snow’ drifts majestically in the ether that invites you to wrap your troubles up in dreams. The refrain of “Let’s Go Home” is sung over uplifting instrumentation of synths, guitar and drums that masterfully emits a radiance and light of hope. The windswept beauty of Rousseau’s vocal delivery on ‘I Unfold’ is one of the record’s defining moments, particularly as the crescendo of guitars and drums comes crashing in like ocean waves.

The intimacy and immediacy of Rousseau’s penned songs is one of the striking aspects of Brumes’s magical spell, forever traversing light and dark, akin to a lunar eclipse as the earth’s shadow blocks the sun (as depicted on the album cover). ‘Oh, Zia’ is one of those songs that reduces you to tears in mere moments with each aching harp note and poetic prose uttered by Rousseau’s achingly beautiful voice. This resolutely unique and deeply contemplative album invites the listener “to dream alone” and as the cosmic whirlwind of the stunning closer ‘Whirlpooling’ fades into the night, I feel music’s undeniable power to transcend and illuminate wash over the moonlit skies.

‘Soundings in Fathoms’ is available now on limited edition cassette and download:

http://brumes.bandcamp.com/

Interview with Desireé Rousseau, Dalton Long & Nico Bartulski (Brumes) and Peter Broderick.

Congratulations on the stunning new album, ‘Soundings In Fathoms’. The many intricate layers of strings, voice, keys, drums, percussion and guitar renders a captivating sound and ethereal atmosphere. Please take me back to the recording sessions at The Sparkle with Peter Broderick and talk me through this particular space in time when ‘Soundings In Fathoms’ was created? 

Dalton Long: The Sparkle was a wonderful surprise. Peter invited us through a mutual friend, Mariano, so we had no idea what to expect from the weekend. Desireé had been disappointed by previous recording sessions with others, but I believe the opportunity for an escape to the coast gave her hope. We drove through thick rain and dark forests to meet Peter for the first time at The Sparkle. It’s hard to describe how we felt getting to know Peter and spending more time with Mariano.

Desireé Rousseau: It felt so familiar, like remembering something long forgotten.

DL: The next day, after a cosy breakfast, we quickly recorded a few tracks and took a break to enjoy the beach and roast some mallows. Upon returning, we all decided to play with some of Peter’s beautiful instruments, which led to “Whirlpooling.” The rest of the weekend was spent over good food and loud card games. It felt like a weekend with old friends, and for me the recordings seem like a side note to the whole experience. I think the whole weekend can be heard in those recordings.

I love the ambient/drone dimension these stunningly beautiful songs effortlessly reside in. For example, the ambient pulses of ‘I Heard You’ is one of the record’s (many) defining moments. Please discuss this ambient world you clearly gravitate towards and the techniques/instrumentation utilized to create such beguiling soundscapes? Luminaries such as Julianna Barwick, Grouper et al come into sharp focus such is the windswept beauty of Brumes’ music.

DR: A difficult time in my early 20’s inspired this entire project, soft swelling and distant impressions of sounds were my only refuge and the outlet for all of my confused energy. I only recently began to write music with more intention – before I had little control or awareness of what was spilling out of me, my hands would physically ache to play music. All of my original songs were improvised and recorded on the spot and therefore ended up with an organic and honest quality to them. Now when I feel a song growing I usually loop different textured bases of keys, harp, vocals, and guitar; and then sort it out from there.

Brumes, in recent times have evolved into a core trio. I would love for you to discuss how you all first met and crossed paths with one another? Please discuss the influence of Portland and the music community there has had on the development of your music? I can imagine being at the coast, especially along the Oregon coast would somehow help shape the music in some way?

DR: Brumes has been a solo project of mine with contributing members for years now.  Most recently though, I have felt very ready to move on and create something bigger. Dalton (drums) moved into the house I was living in 2 years ago and Nico (keys) was a friend of his – and now we are all currently living together. Neither of them had much of a musical background but our simple compatibility and their aptitude made teaching them from scratch fairly easy and completely worth it.

Brumes began solely as a recording project and I never intended on playing shows but once I began to share my recordings I was asked to share my music in a live setting. Eventually I was adopted by the ambient-noise scene here in Portland. Our sound is growing more rhythmic and orchestrated (less ambient and improvised) and I have felt nervous that our fan base is from a different genre background. It feels like I’m leaving the nest into uncharted territory now that our sound is evolving.

DL: When I moved to Portland from the east coast a couple of years ago I ended up subletting a space in Desireé’s house. I remember the first week I was there Desireé invited me to a Brumes show. It was in an old candlelit church with only a handful of people, it was there that I immediately fell in love with Brumes. Desireé ended up becoming my closest friend and a little bit of a music mentor as I started playing keyboard for the first time. It was around this time that I became close friends with Nico and we ended up introducing one another to some good music. I knew Nico shared a similar longing to create music, so once I started playing drums I knew they would be willing to take over my parts on keyboard.

Brumes is Desireé’s baby and I was pretty nervous to contribute to a project that I thought was great as a solo project. But Desireé is the type of person that knows what she wants and I think after we started adding drums and writing for a three-piece we were excited with what was happening.

Nico Bartulski: I met Desireé a couple of times in her home – the one that Dalton initially moved into. She was a mystery and appropriately intimidating. Dalton had been inviting me to Desireé’s shows for a month or so and I was finally able to make it out to one. That night when Desireé played she weaved the audience gently into each of her songs as she was called into her own sound. Months later Dalton approached me with an invitation to join what had by then become a duo – I was surprised and instantly said yes. Desireé’s music and what is slowly becoming our music resonates with me. I so often get lost in its dreaminess and catch myself in the way it balances light and dark.

The album artwork is beautiful as is the wonderful photo booklet, both serve to further heighten the accompanying music. Please talk me through these special photograph series and indeed the cover artwork? The album title, ‘Soundings In Fathoms’ also fits the music so perfectly. I wonder at which point in the music-making process was this title conceived?

DR: I wanted to include as many aspects of personal creation in this whole release and it became a culmination of mediums that I take part in; music, writing and photography. The booklet is a stand in for a CD (it comes with a mp3 code) and I like that it’s two art forms in one package. The photographs are mostly 35mm, a few medium format, taken with a camera I found in a free pile the summer before I first left for what would become a six month tour of Europe. I left the descriptions for the photographs as minimal as possible so the viewer wouldn’t be distracted and could create their own narrative. Each photograph has its own story which I am happy to tell anyone who is interested.

The very moment I found Soundings and Fathoms” was on an old map in a church, on an island off the coast of Washington. I knew it to be a measurement but it felt like more than that to me; contemplative, representing fluidity and the Pacific Northwest where I was raised. The tendrils of this album had begun to grow already; this was a year or two before I met Dalton and Nico.

DL: The cover art was actually our second choice, but I’m glad we went with the image we did. The cover is a re-creation of an old print we came across that illustrates a lunar eclipse. I am a huge fan of space and I like how this print reinforces the theme of distance while conflicting with the idea of sound and measurement in space. Also, a key part of our release was the individuality of each tape. We hand printed each cover with a stamp I made, so each cover is a little different. I think there’s something to be said for taking the time to package every tape one by one and retaining some of that DIY ethos.

brumes

The dialogue between harp and violin on ‘The Colour of Light and Shadow’ represents the album’s towering centrepiece. Can you recount your memories of writing this breathtaking instrumental? 

DR: This song has long been a favourite of mine and I wanted to create an updated version of it for the new record since contributing members had shifted.

Peter Broderick: The original version of this piece was comprised of harp and voice, as opposed to harp and violin. I remember vividly the first time I heard the original version, and being so stunned by the simple vocal melody and how it weaved around the harp. I was thrilled when Desireé proposed that we try and record a version with the violin. I think we both had the feeling that it would work quite effortlessly, and indeed it did. The version that’s on the album is only the second time we ever played the piece together . . . and actually we would have used the first take but I made a mistake while trying to record it and didn’t realize until after we finished that it hadn’t been recording. I actually started tearing up while making the mix down of this track. Something about it just really, really gets me.

The placing of dreamwave, ethereal pop gems such as ‘Stay Low’, ‘I Unfold’ and ‘Snow’ alongside more lengthy drone pieces creates such a spellbinding force and other-worldly atmosphere. Did it prove challenging to come up with the final track-list for the record? 

PB: From what I recall the track order came very easily. I knew the long piece (‘Whirlpooling’) should go at the end, and I wanted to space out the more band oriented tracks (‘Stay Low’, ‘Snow’ and ‘I Unfold’) . . . Plus, since the album was being created to go on cassette tape, we wanted to have the two sides as even in length as possible, as not to have too much blank space at the end of either side. I felt a tiny triumph in being able to make each side exactly 17.5 minutes!

Please take me back to your earliest musical memories and the beginnings with your fascination with sound? At which point did the narrative of Brumes begin?

DR: My earliest inclinations toward music aren’t my own memories but my Grandmothers. For my first birthday I received Fantasia which I was apparently captivated by and have watched consistently my entire life. My Grandmothers partner was a drummer and she told me that I used to sneak into the practice space as a toddler, go crazy playing the drums and carefully put the drum sticks right where I found them so no one would know. My first memory of being moved by sound is a little embarrassing but so clear: when I saw Titanic in second grade I became obsessed with Celine Dion’s “My heart will go on”. I taught it to myself on the piano and the recorder and would record myself singing into our outgoing message on the answering machine. I received a small organ when I was 9 and played violin as a child as well. As a teenager I wasn’t as interested in music and didn’t play from age 15-19. “Stay low” is actually my oldest song and one of the first that I wrote when I began to play music again.

DL: My family was never musically involved, so I don’t think my fascination with sound, or at least music, arrived until I was 11 or 12. For me these formative years were spent in the outskirts of a hardcore scene. Who knows how or why the harsh sounds and intense energy resonated with me but I loved the music. For some reason I never really made friends with the kids who called that scene their own. I think because I ended up being so solitary that I avoided playing music for a long time while all my friends fell into bands with other people.

NB: I have always been intimidated by musical instruments and swore off learning any after I quit my piano lessons when I was eight years old. But my older siblings were always musically talented whether it was playing the piano or clarinet on my sister’s end or my older brother using digital composition programs to make his own music. My music taste is far and wide venturing to more ambient projects to oldies like Sam Cooke.

The album closer ‘Whirlpooling’ feels like a cosmic journey into the labyrinth of time. I feel like this was borne from improvisation. Would this be the case? The many nuances and textures to this slowly-building piece is a joy to behold. Please talk me through this particular track. 

DL: I believe this track encapsulates our weekend at The Sparkle with Peter. After coming back from the beach and wrapping up a few loose ends, we all sat down to tinker with a few of Peter’s beautiful instruments. I went for a slide organ that I believe Peter had used on some metal tracks he had just recorded. Desireé set up behind a mic, a celeste, and a keyboard. Our friend Mariano sat down at the drumset and Peter grabbed his violin. Then we just started playing and from there it was incredibly natural, everyone playing separately until the next thing I know we were all in sync. We just went with it and “Whirlpooling” fell out. I don’t think I’ll ever forget how I felt after we all stopped playing that night. It was beautiful. I believe the raw recording even featured some giggles and a “Wow” right as it all came to an end. That was the last thing we recorded that weekend, and I love that we were able to include it on “Soundings in Fathoms”.

What are the records you have been obsessed with most of late? Please include any films/books too.

DR: Our musical roots are bound to pop-punk which was a bonding point for us as friends. That being said I can’t stop listening to the new Title Fight album “Hyperview”. One albums  always revisit is Evan Abeele – A Choir of Empty Rooms.

DL: Diet Cig’s EP “Over Easy” has been great to yell out loud all summer. Bell Witch’s “Longing” has been on repeat since it came out in 2012. I’m also very excited for the new Deafheaven release. Outside of music I try to stay on top of a few different comic book titles too, Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s “Nameless” is quickly becoming a top choice.

NB: I have been listening to Girlpool’s self-titled album and “Before the World Was Big“, “Strange Cacti” by Angel Olsen, “Bury Me At Make Out Creek” by Mitski, and shamelessly One Direction.

I read a lot of comics and obsess over a lot of illustrators. I’m forever following the work of Yumi Sakugawa, Lindsay Watson, and Hellen Jo.

 


 

soundings

‘Soundings in Fathoms’ is available now on limited edition cassette and download:

http://brumes.bandcamp.com/

 

Written by markcarry

October 27, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Step Right Up: La Nuit

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Interview with Félicia Atkinson & Peter Broderick (La Nuit).

“The words appeared to me like this, I don’t know, I like to improvise lyrics, it’s like day dreaming, you dig in your own soul and see what you can fish there.”

Félicia Atkinson

Words: Mark Carry, Photographs: Félicia Atkinson 

fa pb

The music of Félicia Atkinson and Peter Broderick both surfaced to my attention around the same space in time, during 2008. John Xela’s Type imprint served the most trusted sources for independent music discoveries and two composers from the label’s roster particularly forged an indelible imprint, namely Peter Broderick and Sylvain Chauveau. ‘Float’s utterly captivating neo-classical-based compositions served a gateway into Broderick’s soaring songbook – that soon would follow with the gifted Portland musician’s ‘Home’ and ‘4-Track Songs’ full-lengths – and across the years, any project conceived by Broderick (or shares his involvement in any way) has become a trusted musical companion; one which only heightens with the passing of time.

Similarly, the works of French composer Sylvain Chauveau casts a magical spell upon the listener. The sublime cinematic works of ‘Nuage’ (a glorious collection of film soundtrack work) and ‘The Black Book of Capitalism’ (a remastered reissue of Chauveau’s incredible debut) were huge musical discoveries and it was through Chauveau’s work that French artist Félicia Atkinson’s unique voice would come into full-focus. ‘Roman Anglais’ was a collaborative album crafted by Atkinson and Chauveau in which Atkinson’s mesmerising spoken word passages melded effortlessly with Chauveau’s beautiful instrumental backdrop. A track like ‘Aberdeen’ I found myself happily immersed in for hours on end. Forward to 2015 and the collaborative project of Peter Broderick and Félicia Atkinson, appropriately titled La Nuit feels a lovely parallel to those special works unleashed in 2008.

Desert Television’s divine sound world of drone-infused ambient soundscapes, dub echoes, mesmeric spoken word passages, and compelling instrumentation (rhodes, violin, voice, found sounds, percussion) unfolds a beguiling atmosphere and ethereal dimension from the opening ambient pulses of ‘Feu Pale’ to the gorgeous string arrangements of epic closing track, ‘The Sun Is Folded in Eight’. ‘Feu Pale’s drifting tones of rhodes, guitar, harmonies and soft percussion meld wonderfully with the captivating spoken word passages of Atkinson evoking a seascape of forgotten dreams.

The utterly transcendent ‘Road Snakes’ contains a Lynchian utopia (‘Lost Highway’ comes to mind) and sense of euphoria and nostalgia. Certain words and phrases uttered by Atkinson are embellished within the neon-lit musical backdrop of synths and luminescent beats. Atkinson asks “What’s the weather today?/What’s the time?/Where are we going?” on a later verse that feels like a stream of consciousness, somewhere between Kerouac’s beat poetry and Kafka’s visionary novels. This tour-de-force feels as if Serge Gainsbourg is transplanted onto a sprawling canvas of contemporary electronic sounds (a la Nils Frahm, Greg Gives Peter Space and Rival Consoles). A timeless feel permeates every inch of ‘Road Snake’s towering road-trip, comprising “one road and many cars”.

The celestial harmonies and blissful ambient pulses of ‘Blind Sights Of The Diamond’ conjures up the timeless sound of Efterklang circa ‘Parades’. Psychedelic flourishes ascend into the forefront of the mix as the song’s elements become more pronounced as the sonic creation lengthens and expands. The album’s penultimate track, ‘The Blue Path’ sees Broderick’s backdrop of strings coalesce with Atkinson’s spoken word (taken from her book of poetry ‘The Twenties Are Gone’). ‘The Sun Is Folded In Eight’ is ‘Desert Television’s epic (over thirteen minutes in duration) drone-infused psych folk lament of stunning beauty and eerie, searching moods. La Nuit represents a deeply meaningful and utterly enthralling musical voyage from two unique and formidable artists.

 

the sparkle

‘Desert Television’ (edition of 300 on red vinyl) is now on Beacon Sound.

http://www.wearebeaconsound.com/shop/la-nuit-desert-television-lp
http://www.peterbroderick.net/
http://feliciaatkinson.tumblr.com/

 

Interview with Félicia Atkinson & Peter Broderick (La Nuit).

 

Congratulations on the stunning collaborative project, La Nuit and the enthralling sonic voyage of ‘Desert Television’. Firstly before discussing the record, please recount for me your memories of first crossing paths with one another and indeed first discovering each other’s marvellous artistic works?

Félicia Atkinson: I discovered Peter’s music through is record ‘Home’ that was released on the label Type at that time, and remember that I found it really inspiring and moving.
Then I guess we met in Montreuil at Instant Chavires: he was playing there, touring with Nils Frahm and I was playing with a band I was involved in at the time (2008? 2009?) called Louisville. Then we became penpals and friends.

Peter Broderick: I first learned about Félicia through her collaborative album with Sylvain Chauveau in 2008 or so. I was already a big fan of Sylvain’s work, and on this album he made the music and Félicia spoke over the top. I fell in love with the album and not too long after that Félicia began to release a steady stream of solo material, which I followed very closely. We met in 2009 when we played a concert together in Paris. She was performing with a band she played in at the time called Louisville (I recently learned this was the only show that band ever played!), and I have vivid memories of her sitting on the floor of the stage with pages of writing scattered around her, speaking into the microphone while a band of guys played music around her. I loved it. Félicia was very warm and open towards me from the moment we met, and this only enhanced my love for her work.

Please take me back to the recording sessions at The Sparkle for the La Nuit project? What sort of routine or work practices did the pair of you utilize during this period of time? I love the fact that some of the lyrics come from Felicia’s book of poetry, ‘Twenties Are Gone’ so in this regard, there is this gorgeous spark of spontaneity radiating from the beguiling soundscapes and musical backdrop.

FA: Well, this record was I must say completely improvised from the beginning until the end, which is often the way I am used to work. Improvising is my thing! I just finished touring in Canada with Sun Araw and me and my boyfriend (Bartolomé, whith whom I run Shelter Press) decided to relax for a couple of weeks in Portland, Oregon. We had a wonderful time with Peter and Andy in Portland and other friends (Andy who runs Beacon Sound) and Peter invited us to visit him at Woods, near Pacific City in the Oregon Coast.

The place is great, has a wonderful energy. One day Peter asked me if we could record something and we recorded the DESERT TELEVISION in a day! I guess I was filled with the energy of the tour in Canada, the music I heard, the people I’ve met, the roads, the landscapes I’ve seen from the Lake Louise along the Oregon Coast, and the studio session was the just the best way to share all this energy.

Twenties are Gone’ is a book I wrote when Bartolomé and I were doing an artist residency in Finland, in the middle of the woods in 2012. During that time a lot of memories from Oregon appeared melt with Finnish forest and lands. So somehow it made sense to bring back the reading of the book to Oregon!

PB: We only spent one day in the studio together, and it was quite possibly the most fun and freedom I’ve ever felt in the studio. We didn’t ever really pause to think about what to do next . . . We just kept playing and creating sounds in a very intuitive way. Actually, only the short piece “The Blue Path” uses text from Twenties Are Gone . . . All the other songs are just Félicia freestyling into the microphone, completely unedited, and always in just one take.

The cinematic opener ‘Feu Pale’ serves the fitting introductory hymn to ‘Desert Television’s sprawling canvas and striking narrative. An ethereal dimension is effortlessly tapped into here and the drifting tones of rhodes, guitar and harmonies meld wonderfully with the captivating spoken word passages. Please talk me through this particular song and your memories of the song blossoming into glittering life? It feels this served the gateway into the rest of the record.

FA: Well, I love the Rhodes keyboard, it always have been one of my favourite instrument. I used it already for another record I recorded in one day, O-RE-GON (Home Normal) in Portland in 2010 at Type Foundry’s studio after actually Peter’s advice. So when I saw Peter has a Rhodes in his lovely studio, The Sparkle, I knew right away I wanted to improvise with it. Also, the place felt magical at first sight. I wanted to play music there with Peter!

The words appeared to me like this, I don’t know, I like to improvise lyrics, it’s like day dreaming, you dig in your own soul and see what you can fish there. I pictured the desert (for example a trip in Joshua Tree I did the winter before) and the mental landscape helped me to build my parts.
Peter understood right away the spirit of the song so we build the song like we were painting a kind of desert wall painting or something.

PB: This was the first song we recorded. The song has a fade-in, and that’s because Félicia was already playing when I hit record. I’m not even sure she was aware that I started recording. So the first track on the album literally begins at the first moment I pressed record when we were in the studio. Félicia was playing the fender rhodes, and I was running it through a tape delay, effecting the sound as she played, and also singing along and playing percussion from the other side of the room. You can hear me singing quietly in the background and playing percussion, and this was just me playing along far away from the microphone.

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The monumental tour-de-force of ‘Road Snakes’ contains this Lynchian utopia and sense of euphoria and nostalgia. I just love how certain words and phrases are embellished within the neon-lit musical backdrop and take on a life of their own. (For example, “Where do we go?”) A road trip. A travelogue. Did the music come after the spoken word passages or was it created at the same moment in time?

FA: I think Peter did the keyboard while I was doing the voice and then we added layers of instruments. We wanted to something a bit dubby, and the image of the car race in the Sahara appeared to me. I just finished that recent book also, ‘The Flame Throwers’ by Rachel Kushner about a young artist who is also a biker in the 60-70’s in Italy and the USA and I thought about her while improvising the words, as well as the film ‘Two Lane Black Top’ (1971) by Monte Hellman.

For the voice I thought also about Serge Gainsbourg, and his way of pronouncing the “T“ in ‘Melody Nelson’ for example. That was what I had in mind at this time. It just popped up like this while I was improvising. I love the keyboard dryness Peter uses for this song, it gives an 80’s feeling that is very special I think.

PB: For this song (and for most of them actually), we created the music first and then added Félicia’s voice at the very end. And once again, Félicia just freestyled the vocals in one take. Upon listening back later, it really sounds to me like she’s kind of rapping! I love it so much. And as she was recording the vocals, I was effecting them live through tape delays. In this way, there was very little sitting around and waiting from either of us. If one person was recording an instrument, the other was always free to play along or add effects. Also, I’d like to add that the synthesizer stab sound in “Road Snakes” comes from a little toy casio keyboard! I love how huge and almost aggressive it sounds for being a toy.

The eclectic sound and dynamic range contained on ‘Desert Television’ is another aspect particularly significant to La Nuit’s compelling journey. I think this echoes in each of your own solo (and collaborative) work over the years so this really comes as no surprise. After the recording was complete, I wonder was there a challenge to retain (or embellish) these special moments that were captured during the recording sessions? I would love to know the processes utilized during the production and mixing stages?

FA: Well, we didn’t changed that much. Peter did the mixing and the mastering and I feel like the record sounds incredible. Peter added also those beautiful strings for ‘The Blue Path’. The post production didn’t radically change the record, we wanted to keep it fresh. It was more like making some parts a bit more glossy, or dense, or eerie or with more perspective in it.

PB: For the most part, the core of all the songs was completed in that one day. I did add some other instrumentation and mixing effects after Félicia left, but I was only embellishing what was already there, rather than trying to add new elements. I used a lot of tape delays in a ‘dub’ style, adding echoes and tape saturation to the recordings.

sparkle portland

The epic closer ‘The Sun Is Folded in Eight’ unfolds a cosmic and magical odyssey that feels like a gradual sunrise or sunset across the desert floor’s vast plains. Was this melody written from a different space in time or was it formed from a spontaneous reaction to Felicia’s words? I just love this symbiosis that exists between words and music, the poetic prose and accompanying canvas of colour and textures. It must have felt very special to witness this chemistry become translated into the music?

FA: Again, it was completely improvised. Peter was playing the guitar and I just said the words that came to my mind. I was thinking of Areski’s voice in the early Brigitte Fontaine and Areski’s records, Peter’s voice reminded me a bit of this.

PB: My nylon string guitar and vocal were the first seed of this song, and after composing a small theme with Félicia sitting write there, I recorded a long stretched out take, improvising upon the small idea I had, with Félicia sitting silently just a few feet away from me. This was the last piece we recorded, and we knew we wanted to make something longer and more patient. Félicia then added her voice with a single improvised take, and after she left, I added strings and synthesizers, but only doubling melodies that were already within my guitar and vocal parts.

Lastly, please shed some light on your forthcoming plans and projects?

FA: Well, we are very happy to release DESERT TELEVISION on August 28th on Beacon Sound!

Also, I am taking part to the Copenhagen Art Festival by the end of August, showing an installation in the Overgarden Museum. I’ll be Playing in Prague at the Film Centre with wonderful films by Man Ray in October. I have a collaboration with Jefre Cantu coming up for 2016 and as well as my new solo album for the end of 2016 on Shelter Press. And of course, with Shelter Press, my music label and publishing house, we are having new exciting releases on their way for September and after!

PB: Lately I’ve been keeping most busy recorded lots of different artists at The Sparkle. There are a lot of records by other musicians which I’ve been recording lately, and I’m looking forward to share a lot more info about all of this very soon! I’ve also been organizing a choir in Portland, and I hope to make an album with them at some point.

 


 

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‘Desert Television’ (edition of 300 on red vinyl) is out now on Beacon Sound.

http://www.wearebeaconsound.com/shop/la-nuit-desert-television-lp
http://www.peterbroderick.net/
http://feliciaatkinson.tumblr.com/

 

 

Written by markcarry

August 27, 2015 at 2:41 pm

Step Right Up: Heather Woods Broderick

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Interview with Heather Woods Broderick.

“Many times I see things, whether it’s a passing scene out of a window, or a combination of colours on a wall, that conjure up memories for me. So sometimes I use these images to help depict or frame a feeling.”

— Heather Woods Broderick

Words: Mark Carry

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Glider’ is the highly anticipated sophomore full-length –and follow-up to the formidable 2009 solo debut ‘From The Ground’ – from gifted multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, Heather Woods Broderick. The Brooklyn-based and Portland-raised musician has long been synonymous with some of the most breath-taking musical explorations of recent times, having closely collaborated with Portand’s Horse Feathers, Danish group Efterklang and is currently an integral member in U.S singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten’s band.

The nine immaculate sonic creations captured on ‘Glider’ unfolds a fragile beauty and striking emotional depth that inhabits an ethereal dimension from the opening dream-like atmosphere of ‘Up In The Pine’ to the closing country gem ‘All For A Love’. ‘Glider’s bewitching sonic canvas possesses a transient quality with each song cycle capturing a myriad of fleeting moments. The gorgeous vocal harmonies, pristine production and rich instrumentation serves the fitting backdrop for Broderick’s deeply affecting songs to flourish. For example, ‘Mama Shelter’ evolves into an infectious dub-infused groove which is masterfully inter-woven with Broderick’s richly soulful vocal delivery. The piano-based ballads of ‘Fall Hard’ (which could be taken from Marissa Nadler’s latest record ‘July’), ‘The Sentiments’ and the album’s title-rack ‘Glider’ serve the album’s most poignant and soul-stirring moments as the rich tapestry of vocal harmonies and piano notes drift majestically in the ether.

A Call For Distance’ epitomises the evocative production masterfully dotted across ‘Glider’ as timeless dreamwave sounds of This Mortal Coil and Cocteau Twins comes to the fore. The joyous sounds of ‘All For A Love’ with its jazz leanings (thanks in part to David Allred’s trumpet part) contains gorgeous clean guitar tones, upbeat harmonies and warm percussion akin to a marvelous sunset on a summer’s night. “There is a lot to live for” is a lyric that resonates powerfully and marks the album’s over-arching theme of perseverance through life’s difficulties and therein the strength to find one’s inner voice.

‘Glider’ is available now on Western Vinyl.

http://heatherwoodsbroderick.com/
http://westernvinyl.com/

Interview with Heather Woods Broderick.

Congratulations on your sublime new record ‘Glider’. The album is nothing short of staggering where the nine sonic creations unfold a fragile beauty and striking emotional depth that leaves the listener utterly dumbfounded. Rather than a record being a snapshot in a moment of time, ‘Glider’ possesses a transient quality with each song cycle capturing a myriad of fleeting moments culled from a long period of time. Can you please talk me through the songs of ‘Glider’ and discuss the themes to ‘Glider’ and your aims from the outset?

Heather Woods Broderick: Thank you very much; I’m really happy to hear you’re enjoying the record. Most of the songs on ‘Glider’ are reflections of experiences I’ve had, or close friends or family have had. The songs were written over about a two-year period, but reference events spanning a substantial period of time in my life. The title track is the only song I wrote prior to moving to Brooklyn in the fall of 2011. Many years had passed since I released ‘From the Ground’ when I really began writing the material for ‘Glider’. I think I’d grown as a musician after playing with so many different projects, and also as a person after so much travel around the world. ‘From the Ground’ was my first attempt to write any songs with words, so there were a lot of things I wanted to do differently when writing ‘Glider’. I like to create an atmospheric landscape for songs to live in. For ‘Glider’, I still wanted this to play an important role in the sound of the record, but I spent more time fully forming songs and writing lyrics. I think all of the songs on the record are pretty self-explanatory in a lyrical sense since they are all based on real events and emotions, but I do like to utilize a bit of metaphor in songwriting to help paint a picture an allow for more imagination. Many times I see things, whether it’s a passing scene out of a window, or a combination of colours on a wall, that conjure up memories for me. So sometimes I use these images to help depict or frame a feeling.

The range of sounds masterfully sculpted across the record is something that sets ‘Glider’ apart from your formidable debut full-length ‘From The Ground’ where this time around all songs are vocal-based, reflecting a song-writing masterclass in full bloom. Please take me back to the recording sessions and the wonderful cast of musicians you were joined by, not least your brother Peter and the wonderful David Allred among several others.

HWB: Every song on the record started out as a poorly self-recorded demo. I knew that I wanted to go into the studio having all of the material prepared, so I spent a lot of time with the demos – working with the structure and arrangements of the songs. I had all the vocal ideas worked out on demos, and knew the guitar sounds I wanted to go for, etc. When it finally came time to go into the studio I asked a few friends to be a part of the process. I spent five days at Type Foundry studio, working with engineer Adam Selzer, in Portland, OR where I recorded all of my basic tracks and vocals, and also tracked 2 of the songs (Wyoming + All for a Love) live as a three-piece. During these sessions Dave Depper played bass, Peter Broderick played Drums, Birger Olsen came in to lay down the guitar solo on ‘All for a Love’, and Eric Early played some hammond on ‘Desert’. All phenomenal musicians; I was lucky to have them join me on the songs. After the five days at Type Foundry, Peter and I took all those tracks out to a home studio he has on the Oregon Coast called The Sparkle. We spent a couple of weeks out there doing the rest of the overdubs. David Allred also came out and added some upright bass and trumpet during this time. We worked with the songs a lot during this phase, filling out the arrangements more, doing all of the post production, and then mixing the record here as well.

Aesthetically, ‘Glider’ is such a triumph and revelation. The piano-based ballads such as the heartwrenching title-track, ‘Fall Hard’ and ‘The Sentiments’ are beautifully inter-woven with ethereal dreamwave creations like ‘A Call For Distance’ and stunning folk gems like ‘Desert’ and ‘All For A Love’. I wonder was it ever difficult to decide on a certain style or version of a particular song, Heather? Did any of these songs undergo a dramatic transformation (or mutation!) from your original sketch of a song to its final recorded entity? For example, I can imagine a song such as ‘A Call For Distance’ is such a thrill to perform and record with your band?

HWB: I find it almost impossible to go back and drastically change the structure or lyrics of a song once I’ve written it. So for the most part, the songs are really similar to the demos. I wasn’t really going for any particular style or anything when I was writing. ‘A Call for Distance’ was sort of my labour of love on the record. I used a lot of delays through the process of writing these songs, and I think this one in particular was really inspired by what I was hearing as I went. I had an electric guitar with a delay pedal, a vocal mic, and a basic logic setup, so I could play and listen back while writing. I wouldn’t even know how to replicate some of the sounds from the demos on this song, so we ended up flying in some of the demo tracks. I have yet to perform this one live with a band, but I really look forward to doing that, and figuring out some version of it that works in a band setting. Some fun developments did happen during the recording process though. For example, Dave Depper’s bass playing on ‘Mama Shelter’ ended up being a huge influence to the path of that song took. He came up with this dub/reggae bass part in the chorus’ that we loved, so we sort of played on that theme while adding the other instrumentation. It fit in really well with the chorus echo and space echo machines that we were using with all the other tracks as well.

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The art of collaboration has been a trusted constant in your musical path, from Horse Feathers to Efterklang and Sharon Van Etten. I would love for you to share your feelings on music as being the great collaborative art. I can imagine the sum of these experiences and journeys with all these special souls makes for such an inspiring and rewarding journey. What are the memories you most cherish from these particular collaborations?

HWB: I have been very lucky to play with so many talented musicians, and collaborating with other artists is something that I’ll always have an interest in doing, musically and beyond. I love learning other peoples’ songs as well as writing parts to accompany others’ music. I find a lot of pleasure in practice and repetition. It’s a very different experience playing with different people. Everyone approaches music in their own way, and I find that really interesting. I go through phases of wanting to work on music that’s much more structured or technical, and wanting to throw out all the rules and just play loud rock music. It’s all rewarding in different ways. I loved being able to play cello in Horse Feathers – something I haven’t done with any of the other bands I’ve played in since, at least in a live setting. I have particularly fond memories of traveling with Efterklang to places I’d never been, and haven’t been since. They were really special people to make music with. I was late in the game in hearing Sharon’s music, but I’m so glad I did. I still remember the first time we sat in my living room and sang together – a moment I’ll never forget.

Coming from a musical family – both your parents are musicians and you began piano lessons at the young age of eight – music has always been in your life. I would love if you could reflect on pivotal moments that occurred during your musical upbringing that you feel helped you in a significant way? I can only imagine you and your brother at home must have been playing music together, almost on a constant basis?

HWB: There was definitely a lot of music going on in my house growing up. My parents both played guitar and always spun records after dinner. My older brother Noah played saxophone and also electric in a grunge rock band. I took piano lessons for years, and then quit for about a year when I was 15 or 16. Probably typical of that age and not wanting to be told what to do. I came back around to it though. I found some classical pieces that I really fell in love with and contemporary bands that I heard classical crossover with (everything from Rachels to various math rock bands), and it made me excited to keep practicing, and to be able to apply what I’d learned to making music with people. My brother Peter started taking suzuki violin lessons when he was really young, but we never really played together until I was 18 or 19. We started playing in a band together then, and also went to the same school for a brief period and would write and perform pieces together for composition classes and recitals. My parents were always really supportive of whatever I wanted to do with music, and I’m sure their support encouraged me to go down my own musical path.

The tender lament ‘Desert’ is one of the album’s (many) defining moments. I love this sense of a travelogue that flickers in and out during many of your songs. The imagery and poetic prose
conjured up on ‘Desert’ resonates powerfully. Please talk me through this song and your memories of writing ‘Desert’.

HWB: ‘Desert’ was one of the later songs I wrote for the record. I was on a break from touring and trying to spend some quiet time at home with my guitar in Brooklyn. I wrote the song in one afternoon in my living room there. I had recently been playing a lot of music with my dear friend and fellow musician Alela Diane in support of her record ‘About Farewell’. I was playing second guitar along with her and had been messing around with some of those finger picking patterns. The core of the lyrics are based around a conversation that I’d recently had with a former boyfriend that had left me feeling unresolved. It was also late winter in New York, and the imagery is embedded in observations of the season.

I feel the empowering piano ballads contained on ‘Glider’ serve the vital pulse to this remarkable album, reminiscent of Marissa Nadler, Grouper’s ‘Ruins’ LP and indeed, Sharon Van Etten. It feels as if these songs represent some of the earliest written songs that helped shape the rest of the record. I love the ethereal dimension the piano-based works inhabit, creating in turn, utterly transcendent moments.

HWB: Those are all lovely ladies to mention, thank you. ‘Glider‘ was the earliest track written for the record, and was written while I was still living in Berlin before moving to Brooklyn. ‘The Sentiments’ was written somewhere in the middle of that two year writing period, and ‘Fall Hard’ was actually the last song I wrote for the record. Maybe it’s appropriate that they are scattered like they are throughout the record in a sense; I hadn’t thought about that.

What records do you find yourself coming back to, time and time again? Please discuss any books/gigs/music/films you have been most impressed with lately?

HWB: My musical tastes really vary. On the classic side, I always go back to records by Kate Wolf, Neil Young, and Springsteen. These are all records I grew up listening to. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of Dawn Upshaw performing Henryk Górecki’s Symphony no. 3, Rachmaninoff’s piano concerto no. 2, or any Chet Baker record. I also love a lot of new indie bands, jazz, ambient – the list could really go on forever. I think the most memorable performances I’ve seen in the last few years was Antony and the Johnson’s performing Swanlights at Radio City Music Hall. I love seeing dance performances. ‘Drift’ by Cindy Van Acker, and a piece titled ‘Leading Light’ by Suniti Dernovsek are two of my favorites I’ve seen in the last year. I recently read ‘Light Years’ by James Salter and ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’ by Joan Didion – both beautiful books. I’d highly recommend both.

 


 

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‘Glider’ is available now on Western Vinyl.

http://heatherwoodsbroderick.com/
http://westernvinyl.com/

Chosen One: Peter Broderick

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Interview with Peter Broderick.

“As for the gift of music . . . I honestly don’t know what I would do without music. That’s impossible to imagine.”

—Peter Broderick

Words: Mark Carry

Peter-Broderick

Ukrainian pianist Lubomyr Melnyk once described to me how Nils Frahm and Peter Broderick – his Erased Tapes label-mates who collaborated closely with the legendary composer on his enchanting album ‘Corollaries’ – have an “inner vision” of the music he was creating. This inner vision and deep musical understanding has formed the cornerstone to Broderick’s sacred songbook (and indeed for Berlin-based composer Frahm) these past few years. This particular conversation with Lubomyr ascended to the forefront of my mind as I witnessed Broderick’s solo concert last November in Cork, Ireland. A fleeting magic and ceaseless wave of transcendence flooded the human space: from the opening a cappella verse of ‘Sideline’ to the achingly beautiful solo piano of ‘Pulling The Rain’. In the heart of the early winter’s night arrived the deeply affecting lament, ‘Rainy Day’ – a song written by Peter’s mother, which she would sing to her beloved children on many occasions – evoking the timeless spirit of Townes Van Zandt and Jackson C Frank that would form a lovely parallel with ‘Pop’s Song’ – an utterly transcendent moment from a previous Broderick live performance – built on a gorgeous guitar melody composed by Peter’s own father.

Elsewhere in the set, songs from the new record ‘Colours Of The Night’ ascended into the atmosphere. The album’s glorious and uplifting title-track ‘Colours Of The Night’ (the studio version shares the illuminating spark of Peter’s dub-inspired collaboration with Greg Haines–Greg Gives Peter Space), the timeless folk gem of ‘More And More’ (where the mouth trumpet conjures up the sound of an entire orchestra and sea of sadness),  and the striking intimacy of organ-based ballad ‘If I Sinned’ (which undeniably forms one of the album’s defining moments).

The unique artistry of American composer and multi-instrumentalist Peter Broderick continues to enlighten and inspire on the latest full length, ‘Colours Of The Night’, which was recently released on Bella Union. Following on from last year’s sublime ‘(Colours Of The Night) Satellite’ EP – which served as a fitting prelude to the Oregon-native’s eagerly awaited album – the new record is another collection of shape-shifting sonic creations that came to light when invited for a so-called “recording residency” in the small Swiss town of Lucerne. Broderick developed a friendship with some of the locals who eventually got the idea of inviting the American musician to be a guest of the city for three weeks while recording an album with a backing band of local musicians. At the helm of the studio was Timo Keller, a local producer and engineer known primarily for his involvement in the Swiss hip-hop scene. A richly diverse sonic palette of sounds is masterfully crafted: the celestial harmonies of endearing pop gem ‘The Reconnection’; the psychedelic groove of ‘Get On With Your Life’; the wonderfully Afrobeat-tinged ‘One Way’ and towering folk opus ‘Red Earth’ with its warm percussion, scintillating melodies and poetic prose.

If ever a lyric epitomised the spirit of an album it would be the revelatory Americana torch-lit ballad ‘Our Best’ with Broderick’s empowering message to “give it your best now”. For Broderick’s music, the personality of the artist ceaselessly shines through. ‘Colours Of The Night’ becomes a source of strength, solace and hope.

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‘Colours Of The Night’ is out now on Bella Union.

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

 

Interview with Peter Broderick.

It’s a real pleasure to ask you some questions in relation to the gorgeous new album, ‘Colours of the Night’. Firstly congratulations on creating (yet another) truly shape-shifting and deeply affecting collection of songs. This record is significant in more ways than one, not least the fact that ‘Colours of the Night’ was recorded with a backing band. Can you please take me back to the Swiss town of Lucerne where the recording sessions took place? Introduce please the formidable cast of musicians who contributed so much to your unique songbook?

Peter Broderick: Lucerne is a beautiful little city just a little bit southwest of Zurich. I first went there in 2009 while on tour with Nils Frahm, and we had a wonderful evening at a venue called Treibhaus, complete with middle of the night lake swimming after the concert. After that I went back several more times to play there, and slowly established a relationship with some of the locals. One thing led to another, and eventually I got an email from Silvio Zeder (who was a booker at the Treibhaus for a while), inviting me to come to Lucerne and stay for a few weeks. The idea was that he would find a studio and backing band for me to play with, and I would record an album there. I thought this sounding like a fabulous idea, to spend a longer stretch of time in this town I always loved, and make music with a bunch of strangers. So I arrived there in May 2014 having never met any of the musicians and three weeks later I left with a finished album. We did all the recording at Studio Vom Dach, run by Timo Keller, who produced the album and found all the musicians for the band. I had met Timo once before briefly, and I knew we had a good vibe together. The main characters in the band were Nick Furrer on bass, Roland Wäspe on guitar, and Mario Hänni on drums. All of these guys had worked with Timo on different projects at one time or another, but they had never played all together. They also all play in a variety of different bands and projects in Switzerland. And then there are also some guest appearances from several other local musicians. A few different ladies came in to record vocals, and on a few songs there is a horn section consisting of four players who all recorded together live.

In huge contrast to recording music alone and being in a sort of insular world – developing ideas and recording them to tape – how was the experience of bringing songs to the table (so to speak) and allowing the songs travel in a direction that is (at times, at least) out of your control? In terms of the recording sessions, I would love for you to discuss the routine of these particular sessions and any particularly memorable moments that occurred (that in turn found its way on the final album)?

PB: I arrived in Lucerne feeling very open about the whole project. I was curious about the process of sending these songs of mine through the filter of these other people. My goal was to let everyone involved be as free as possible. I didn’t want to be too controlling. And once I heard the musicians play, it was really easy to trust them all. They’re all such great players. And since I’d never tried working with a band like that before, I was in awe of how it felt to have all these other people playing along on my songs. That said, there were definitely moments when I wanted to hear something specific and had to give a little direction, but I really tried to do it in a suggestive manner rather than saying it had to be a certain way. For most of the songs I simply started playing my guitar parts and singing and the guys would just start playing along. I remember when I played them the song ‘Colours Of The Night’, and Mario immediately jumped in with this shuffling African-style rhythm, and I just yelled out, “Yes!!!” What he did immediately changed the way I heard the song, in a really awesome way. I had to adapt the way I played the guitar part in order to fit his rhythm, and I found the whole process super exciting. For the most part we recorded all the basic tracks (drums, guitars and bass) live, playing all together, and on the last song, “More And More” we actually did the whole thing live, with the horns and everything.

I must ask you about the producer and engineer, Timo Keller who was at the helm for the ‘Colours of the Night’ sessions. This experience must have been very rewarding. Were there certain techniques or processes utilized by Timo that struck you? Looking over the album’s ten songs, I wonder did some songs undergo significant changes from the original sketches you first brought to the studio?

PB: I’ve been in countless different studios and worked with a lot of different engineers and producers, and it really is fascinating to witness all the different approaches. When Timo set me up to record vocals, he put a microphone in front of me and said, “Christina Aguilera sings into this same mic.” Haha! I wasn’t sure how to feel about that. But I really came to admire his production style. Certainly different from my own or someone like Nils Frahm who I worked with on my last album. Timo has spent most of his studio time working on hip-hop, so he spends a lot of time finessing drum sounds and likes things to sound really crisp and tight. There are a couple of songs on the album which Timo changed completely, most notably “On Time“, which began as a shuffling guitar-based song, and evolved into this strange cinematic synthy thing. One day Timo just completely changed the structure of it before I got to the studio. I was never quite sure how I felt about his version of the song, and actually the bass player thought the song had been ruined, but in my effort of giving up control and letting the songs turn into something else, I trusted Timo and went with his version.

The album’s title-track, ‘Colours of the Night’ is an old song, I recall you mentioning in the past. I love the various versions of this song, for example Greg Haines’ dub remix and indeed your own solo version in the recent past. Can you reminisce for me please your memories of writing this song and how it developed over the passing seasons and subsequent years? The final version is a truly uplifting and powerful tour-de-force, which really embodies the entire album.

PB: Indeed, that song has been around for a while, and perhaps that’s why I found it so refreshing when it changed so much during the recording process in Lucerne. I like to think of songs as entities that are alive, which grow and mutate through time and place. And this song in particular is one that never got old to me. I always enjoyed playing it, and I think that’s a really good sign. As for the writing of it, it’s all kind of jumble in my mind. It was kind of pieced together over time, so I can’t quite remember how and when some of the lyrics came about. The main guitar part is really old. I wrote that when I was 17 or 18. But at that time it was a completely different song with different words and vocal melodies. I always loved that guitar part though, and I was happy to be able to recycle it into a different song that I enjoy performing.

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Being back home in America and your hometown of Oregon, it must be a lovely feeling to finally return to your roots. I feel themes such as perseverance through difficult times where an inner flame radiates throughout with this strength to overcome and indeed, to get on with your life. I would love for you to discuss the importance of home and indeed the invaluable meaning and significance the eternal gift of music gives you, Peter?

PB: Moving back to Oregon was so necessary for me. When I first moved to Europe in 2007, I thought I would never return to the states, but over time I really started to feel something was wrong, and it took me a long time to admit to myself that maybe I needed to go home for a while. And being back home hasn’t been all sunshine . . . there have been some difficult things I’ve had to face . . . but I really needed to face those things so that I could start to feel that real sense of home again. I really cherish my community of friends and family in Oregon, and I love being able to speak my mother-tongue freely and talk with strangers. It’s amazing how much more often I meet new people since I’ve moved back here. As for the gift of music . . . I honestly don’t know what I would do without music. That’s impossible to imagine. Yet at the same time, I’ve worked on broadening my interests over the last years. There are other great things in life too! Like making fires and cooking, walking around in nature, letting your inner child come out and being in awe of everything around you.

I feel ‘Red Earth’ is one of the most stunningly beautiful songs you have recorded to tape. The heavenly harmonies, poetic prose, rich instrumentation, and sheer emotional depth leaves you dumbfounded. Please talk me through the construction of ‘Red Earth’ please, and it’s meaning for you? I feel it’s the fitting prologue to ‘Colours of the Night’’s striking narrative.

PB: I’m so happy you like that song! That was one of the last songs we recorded, and it was the only song that I wrote while I was there in Switzerland. I spent several nights up at an old farmhouse called Rotebode (which translates to ‘red earth’ or ‘red ground’) about 30 minutes outside of Lucerne, and that song was written there. The first sound you hear on the album is the sound of the creek that runs outside of that farmhouse, which I was hearing as I wrote the song. One of guys who lives up there is a painter, and the second time I stayed there he gave me a painting he made with a character looking out over a landscape, seemingly about to take flight. I asked him if the character was a dragon, and he said, “Yeah, or a bird, or a man, or something…” So that’s how those first lines of the song came about. (Got a picture of a dragon bird man / Guess it was waiting for me.) I know Timo was especially happy with that song too. From a production standpoint, that song encapsulates a lot of what he was aiming for with this project.

As ever, a myriad of ideas is effortlessly embedded in the music. I love the wide range of compelling sounds: recalling the vocal experiments of ‘These Walls Of Mine’, the endearing warmth of ‘Home’, the dub-infused grooves of Greg Gives Peter Space and beyond. What lies next in the musical narrative, Peter? Please shed some light on any forthcoming projects and plans.

PB: Well, I do plan to play some concerts this year in support of the album. Mostly in Europe, but also a few in America and maybe also Asia later in the year. These days I am primarily busy running a little studio called The Sparkle out of my home in a tiny little town on the Oregon coast. There will be a lot of records coming out this year which were produced here, including a new album by my sister, Heather Woods Broderick, an album by one of my new favourite musicians named David Allred, a collaboration between myself and one of my most beloved artists in the world, Félicia Atkinson. Our project together is called La Nuit and I’m incredibly excited about that! Other artists with albums that I recently worked on which will be out relatively soon include Chantal Acda, Corrina Repp, Shelley Short, Maymay, and a 7″ by Rauelsson. Another thing I’d like to mention is that I recently started a choir in Portland. We rehearse on Sunday mornings, and it’s very loose. We do a lot of improvisation and also try to write songs all together. We are slowly collecting recordings with the aim of releasing and album one day. That’s been a really invigorating project.

I generally only work with people I get a good feeling from on a personal level. I’m less concerned about what kind of music we’ll be making and more concerned about whether we’ll have a good time together. It’s truly rewarding to work on music with a vast array of different musicians. Everyone has a different approach, and I always learn something new from each different artist.


 

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‘Colours Of The Night’ is out now on Bella Union.

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

Written by markcarry

April 29, 2015 at 11:10 pm