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Posts Tagged ‘Warren Ellis

Mixtape: Fractured Air – June 2020

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June’s mix features the hugely anticipated debut solo LP by Grizzly Bear’s Chris Bear. Released under the American drummer and multi-instrumentalist’s Fools moniker, “Fools’ Harp Vol. 1” is available via the forever dependable Music From Memory label. What’s immediately apparent on listening to the album’s thirteen tracks (more will be made available shortly, via a cassette edition with bonus tracks) is the considerable gestation period these compositions undertook (Bear plays every instrument himself) before bearing fruition as a fully formed record. Recorded in between Grizzly Bear tours, the album took it’s final shape over a six week period in summer 2019, the results are a breathtaking insight into this truly independent and wholly creative spirit whose technical ability and improvisational spirit shines throughout his Fools’ debut.

Another masterful drummer in the contemporary independent music scene is the ever-prolific New York-based artist Greg Fox. “Contact” is released by the hugely influential RVNG Intl label and sees Fox traverse even further sonic boundaries – always tirelessly seeking to push the envelope further with each subsequent work – creating one of the year’s most defining records in the process.

Other 2020 gems included here are courtesy of the celebrated cellist and multi-instrumentalist Rebecca Foon (the Saltland composer releases her first album via her own name, once again via Constellation); extraordinary South Korean cellist Okkyung Lee releases the majestic “Yeo-Neun” (Shelter Press); Julianna Barwick returns with the magnificent “Inspirit” from her much anticipated “Healing Is a Miracle” album (Ninja Tune); world renowned drummer Jim White (Dirty Three, Xylouris White) joins acclaimed American guitarist Marisa Anderson for the breathtaking collaborative album “The Quickening” (Thrill Jockey).


Fractured Air – June 2020 Mix

01. Yasuaki Shimizu“Seiko 3” (Light In The Attic)
02. Yoshiaki Ochi“Ear Dreamin’” (Light In The Attic)
03. Inventions“Spirit Refinement Exploder” (Temporary Residence)
04. Hiroshi Yoshimura“Creek” (Light In The Attic)
05. Nicolas Jaar“Gocce” (Other People)
06. 2814“恢复” (Dream Catalogue)
07. Giuseppe Ielasi“8” (12k)
08. DJ Python“oooophi” (Incienso)
09. Minor Science“Polyglottal” (Whities)
10. Jamie xx“Idontknow” (Young Turks)
11. Four Tet“Insect Near Piha Beach” (Text)
12. Hood“They Removed All Trace That Anything Had Ever Happened Here” (Domino)
13. Warren Ellis“Time to Run, Time to Drive” (Mustang OST, Milan)
14. Bill Callahan“Circles” (Drag City)
15. Jim White and Marisa Anderson “The Quickening” (Thrill Jockey)
16. Xylouris White“Inland” (Drag City)
17. Batsumi“Moving Along” (R & T)
18. El Wali“The People of El Aaiun” (Sahel Sounds)
19. Hailu Mergia, Dahlak Band“Embuwa Bey Lamitu” (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
20. Fools“Nnuunn” (Music From Memory)
21. Greg Fox“Ill Being” (RVNG Intl)
22. Julia Kent“Imbalance” (The Leaf Label)
23. Hildur Guðnadóttir“Fólk fær andlit” (Deutsche Grammophon)
24. Okkyung Lee – “The Yellow Porcelain Bird” (Shelter Press)
25. Daniel Ögren“Levi” (Sing a Song Fighter)
26. Julianna Barwick“Inspirit” (Ninja Tune)
27. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds“Leviathan” (Ghosteen Ltd.)
28. Jóhann Jóhannsson“The Navigators” (Last And First Men OST, Deutsche Grammophon)
29. Arvo Pärt, Paul Hillier “My Heart Is In The Highlands” (perf. Else Torp, Christopher Bowers-Broadbent) (Harmonia Mundi)
30. Rebecca Foon – “Another Realm” (Constellation)


Mixtape: Fractured Air – May 2020

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Featured in May’s mix are a number of 2020 gems, some reissues, film scores & old favourites.

We’re really happy to share an exclusive track from the hugely anticipated new album by beloved Irish songwriter Brigid Mae Power. “You Have A Quiet Power” is taken from the Fire Records album Head Above The Water (out 5th June), recorded at Glasgow’s The Green Door and co-produced by Power, Peter Broderick and Alasdair Roberts. “Head Above The Water” is yet another masterful and soul-stirring album by the Galway-born artist, destined to be among the top of many end-of-year lists for 2020.

As always, much gems surface on the wonderful Bandcamp, and this month’s mix features the fascinating Anticlines Outtakes”  by Europe-based, Colombian-born artist Lucrecia Dalt, comprising the stripped back sketches and outtakes to her breathtaking “Anticlines” full-length from 2018 (released on the legendary RVNG label). The intimate 7-track e.p. provides a fascinating insight into the aesthetics and practice of one of independent music’s true treasures.

Brooklyn musical institution RVNG Intl continues to deliver utterly unique and singular releases: Russian artist Kate NV’s heavenly avant pop masterwork “Room for the Moon” comes out on 12th June; Michele Mercure’s latest anthology of exceptional analogue cassette recordings is lovingly compiled on “Pictures of Echoes” and Sign Libra’s spring release “Sea to Sea” is the Latvian solo artist’s compelling fourth world infused contemporary pop sphere of exquisite sounds.

Other 2020 treasures include: Spirit Fest’s stunningly beautiful “Mirage Mirage” (Morr Music), Japan Blues’ single “Kotonoid” (Bandcamp), the brilliant “Strange To Explain” by the ever-brilliant indie kings Woods (Woodsit), The Soft Pink Truth’s “Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase?” (Thrill Jockey), Inventions“Continuous Portrait” (Temporary Residence), Golden Retriever & Chuck Johnson’s “Rain Shadow” (Thrill Jockey), Christina Vantzou and John Also Bennett’s marvellous sonic odyssey continues (under CV & JAB) with “Landscape Architecture” (Bandcamp).

Also featuring film scores by Warren Ellis; Mica Levi and Colin Stetson.

Fractured Air – May 2020 Mix

01. Warren Ellis – “This Train I Ride” (This Train I Ride OST, Invada Records)
02. Mica Levi “Monos” (Monos OST, Invada Records)
03. Colin Stetson“Friday’s Child” (Age Out OST, 52Hz)
04. Brian Eno & Jon Hassell “Chemistry” (Virgin Records)
05. Lucrecia Dalt – “Let My Touch” (Anticlines Outtakes, Bandcamp)
06. Sign Libra – “Sea of Islands” (RVNG Intl)
07. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – “The Steady Heart” (Ghostly)
08. Bitchin Bajas – “Angels and Demons at Play” (Drag City)
09. The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band – “Shifting Sands” (Reprise Records)
10. Woods – “Strange to Explain” (Woodsist)
11. Maston “Swans” (Be With Records)
12. Mankyy “Subscribe” (Unscene Music)
13. Nina Simone “Fodder In Her Wings” (Verve Records)
14. Count Ossie and the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari “Poem 1” (Dub Store Records)
15. Harry Mudie – “Full Dose of Dub” (Moods International Records)
16. Uschi Classen With Robert Owens – “Only In Your Eyes” (Nwachukwu Innervision 1) (Beats In Space)
17. Kate NV “Marafon 15” (RVNG Intl)
18. Portable – “Surrender” (feat. Lcio) (Needwant Recordings)
19. Lee Noble – “New Year” (Bandcamp)
20. Batsumi “Anishilabi” (Matsuli Music)
21. Spirit Fest – “Mirage” (Morr Music)
22. Japan Blues“Kotonoid” (Bandcamp)
23. Mdou Moctar“Ibitlan” (Sahel Sounds)
24. Michele Mercure “Rhythm Of Life” (RVNG Intl)
25. Vazz “Cast Reflections” (STROOM)
26. Benoit Pioulard“If I could be anything I’d be nothing” (Bandcamp)
27. The Soft Pink Truth “May Increase” (Thrill Jockey)
28. Clerk 5“Intro (World Premiere)” (The Unscene)
29. Inventions – “Calico” (Temporary Residence)
30. The Sea and Cake – “Lyric” (Thrill Jockey)
31. CEEYS, CONTSTANT PRESENCE, Peter Broderick, Daniel O’Sullivan “Nothing Special” (THESIS)
32. Brigid Mae Power – “You Have A Quiet Power” (Fire Records)
33. Golden Retriever and Chuck Johnson“Lupine” (Thrill Jockey)
34. Kate Tempest “Hold Your Own” (Republic Records)
35. CV & JAB“Stone Circle” (Bandcamp)
36. Lee Hazlewood – “Wait and See” (Reprise)

Chosen One: Saltland

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And that’s what I love about music is trying to transcend or get out of this reality and move yourself and channel something deeper and find emotional depth within it.”

Rebecca Foon

Words: Mark Carry

Rebecca playing cello

Rebecca Foon’s second album as Saltland unfolds a deeply moving and intense journey, which forges an indelible imprint on one’s heart and mind. ‘A Common Truth’ centers on climate change and the state of the world (issues which Foon has worked tirelessly on over the years as an activist, organizer and co-founder of Pathway To Paris and several other environmental groups). The message of ‘A Common Truth’ resonates powerfully: Humanity needs to act urgently in order to save our planet Earth.

Employing the Montreal composer’s looped layers of cello and voice, stunningly beautiful cello soundscapes furl into the atmosphere as a transcendent flow of captivating strings is channelled from deep within the cosmos. An undeniable force is formed when Foon’s beguiling vocals blend with her layered cello instrumentation. On the achingly beautiful lament ‘Light Of Mercy’, Foon asks “How did we get ourselves here?” beneath mesmeric passages of brooding strings, akin to a late night vigil or desperate prayer to mother Earth. A deeply moving, meditative quality permeates throughout Foon’s otherworldly song cycles, capturing a rich intensity and raw emotion at every turn.

A striking intimacy prevails throughout ‘A Common Truth’. The hypnotic wordless vocals of album opener ‘To Allow Us All To Breathe’ flickers like stars dotted across a night sky. ‘I Only Wish This For You’ is a deeply affecting exploration that navigates the depths of human darkness where a vivid colours of hopelessness and despair engulf the utterly transporting sonic layers (bringing to mind the likes of Dirty Three, Rachel’s and Sarah Neufeld’s solo works).

A Common Truth’ features multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis (Dirty Three, The Bad Seeds) on several tracks, further heightening Foon’s divine tapestry of enchanting sounds. The renowned Australian composer’s instrumentation of violin, pump organ and loops supplies rich textures for Foon’s voice and cello; the record shares the gripping intensity of the scores penned by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, creating, in turn, a timeless journey that forever orbits an ethereal realm.

‘A Common Truth’ is out now on Constellation.



Interview with Rebecca Foon (Saltland).


Congratulations on the new Saltland album ‘A Common Truth’, it’s such a gripping and moving journey. Please discuss for me the making of the new record, Rebecca?

Rebecca Foon: Well basically, I was writing this album mostly in 2015 and at the same time I was working quite heavily on organizing with my partner Jessica Smith a concert in Paris at the lead-up to the UN climate change. I do a lot of work in Climate and Change as well so I had that on my mind a lot so it was pieces of creative expression on what was heavy on my mind at that time, and still to this day. And also, it’s a wonderful way for me to challenge myself in different musical ways with singing and writing lyrics and trying to sing on top of my cello playing with loops. And then four songs were co-written by a friend Warren Ellis and that was really a project I worked with him on those four songs and we would send files back and forth. I just really admire his playing and it was such a wonderful opportunity.

I love how the album itself the mix between the voice and instrumentals – it works so wonderfully – and how  you’re able to blend your voice with the cello instrument is amazing and how it comes back and forth throughout the record at different points.

RF: That’s so nice, thank you. It’s definitely been a fun process. It’s challenging for sure because it’s new territory for me but also really exciting and fun.

In terms of the lyrical content – you’ve already mentioned – is stemmed from the world as it is present and climate change, and the effect of these lyrics they really hit you. And more so, the message of the album is very hard-hitting, which is a good thing obviously.

RF: I’m so glad to hear that and your feedback, thank you.

Your approach to writing these pieces, how challenging must it have been to write the different layers to these compositions? It’s a process you must be getting more and more used to?

RF: Yeah it’s interesting because I wrote the lyrics before the music except for that song ‘Light Of Mercy’ which I wrote at the same time. But that song – unlike any of the other songs on the album – just came out, which was very interesting, that was probably the easiest song to write like it truly just came out of me. The other songs, the lyrics I wrote first and then wrote the music and then I would sing on top. I was writing the layers – like a cello groove happening, like a world of cello sounds – that I could then try and sing on top of and then I would flesh them out in the studio.

But because with music – like the melodies and chords –there are no words so it can take you into this trip, playing this. And that’s what I love about music is trying to transcend or get out of this reality and move yourself and channel something deeper and find emotional depth within it. And for the lyrics, writing the lyrics for me there was that poetic element but also because I was tapping into this really real, raw feeling around climate change and the state of the world with a sense of urgency. I think that’s what’s different about this album is like for me and where I’m at I really feel a strong sense of urgency, for humanity to act and I feel very compelled to channel that within my music. And so within that there is definitely a bit of a cerebral element to the lyrics like I’d find my own creativity within it and poetic feeling within that, there is almost an intellectual component to it. But then the music is quite a different experiment and then trying to bring them together was a fun challenge because it’s using two different parts of the brain in a way.

With the input of Warren Ellis as well, I wonder did you have him in mind or particular parts in mind for him before the songs were completed or was it towards the end of the process?

RF:  It was quite organic. Before writing the album, I always wanted to invite him to be part of it but I wanted this album to be very stripped down like on my first album, quite  few friends of mine play on it but this album I wanted to be much more intimate and much more of a cello vocal record. But I always had the intention of inviting Warren to be part of it and then the organic part of it is this concert I organized in Paris with my partner Jesse, Warren ended up performing at it – which was also spontaneous – and that concert was like a unique concert because it was during the UN Climate Change conference and it was really to highlight the importance of establishing the Paris Agreement. So, we had that connection then and so from there, it all came together organically.

The intimacy and just how raw the journey is really is striking. The album has a similar feel to scores by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis as the intensity really hits you.

RF:  I mean I’m really inspired by them and the emotional depth that they can convey in their music is very powerful. I think with the first record, it was my first time doing that world of cello and voice and writing songs from that foundation. I brought in a lot of friends for that record [‘I Thought It Was Us But It Was All Of Us’] because I really wanted to try to not hide away from anything and try to really get to the essence of what I’m trying to channel without trying to vary it in any way and not being scared of that being raw or naked or whatever it is you know. I’m glad that you find that come through; it’s rewarding to hear that.

You’re part of so many groups and bands and being part of the wonderful music scene in Montreal, I suppose all these different projects must feed into one another; as you’re finishing one thing, you’re beginning something else almost at the same time?

RF: Yeah, definitely and that’s quite beautiful because it’s all inter-connected like all the music is connected and everyone’s stories are woven together like my solo record, I would never would have created what I created if it wasn’t for everything; all the experiences that I’ve had leading up to it, which is a beautiful thing about life and the scripts of our lives, it’s so magical in a way.

Would you have memories of first learning music or discovering music in the first place?

RF: Well I started when I was eight. I had a funny story where I don’t come from a musical family. So I started playing cello because I went to a school that had a string programme and so I saw the cello and I totally fell in love with it and then I told my family that I wanted to play that instrument and they were like ‘What’s that? It’s so big’ [laughs] So, because of that experience, I really believe in public education because I never would have had the experience of playing music if I hadn’t had access to that as a kid. And playing a string instrument, it’s hard to start it when you’re older, even when I was eight that was quite old to start playing a stringed instrument so I always felt like I started way too old.

Just thinking of today and the last few years, it’s amazing too with just the cello instrument alone, how much wonderful music is being made with the cello.

RF: Totally because when I was growing up, there was not like the language of cello – it wasn’t violin even – it felt like classical was the way and anything else didn’t exist. There was no musical language outside of classical music like when I was growing up. I decided to not pursue classical music and so that was hard for me because I didn’t have a lot of reference points in the cello community but now that’s changing. It’s still not huge but there’s definitely more out there that I’m inspired by, for sure.

You’re probably touring the album ‘A Common Truth’ quite soon as well?

RF:  Yeah, I’m doing one-off shows and I’ll probably open up for Esmerine on tour. I’ll do my album launch in North America, in Montreal and New York.

Do you have favourite albums at the moment that you’re listening to?

RF: Yeah I guess for me within the Constellation/Montreal world, I’m really inspired by Matana Roberts and Colin Stetson. I love the new Bad Seeds record ‘The Skeleton Tree’, I love some other stuff on Constellation like Jerusalem In My Heart and I love listening to old albums like Mary Margaret O’ Hara ‘Miss America’, I love Marvin Gaye, Neil Young [laughs], I always go back to classic records that inspire me. But you know I have to say something about Marvin Gaye because there is this one album when you listen to his lyrics – it’s super-trippy – he references environmental degradation a lot on some of the songs. It’s interesting that you can go back to some albums from way back and it’s fixed like where we are now as a society. I love Sarah Neufeld and there’s some very interesting female solo albums put out now that makes me feel happy, who are doing things untraditionally like going for it.

There’s a lovely parallel between you and Sarah Neufeld and it shows just how much wonderful female solo artists there are making such important music.

RF: I think we inspire each other too and it keeps us engaged like seeing each other do it, inspires us to keep doing what we’re doing and it’s helpful to have friends in the community, it’s like a nice and supportive environment.

Lastly, you work so hard and well with all these issues concerning climate change, where do you see the state of the world as we are now and what do you hope for the next decade?

RF: Because I feel the urgency so strongly and because of the world right now with politics all over, I really believe – and part of me is because I am an optimist by nature – we can make it through but we can only make it through with really powerful collaboration and that needs to happen on a city level. And because federal politics are so murky right now and will probably continue to be murky for a while and we don’t have much time in order to avoid catastrophic climate change. I think what needs to happen – and this is what I’m working on with this organization that I’ve started Pathway to Paris – is really focusing on at a city level and I think that if cities can come together around the world and make commitments and action plans and implementation strategies to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by 80-100% by 2050, I think that we will be OK.

If that can happen and it’s going to take flagship cities from all around the world to really start moving on that and for governments to support cities that don’t have funds to do it and have creative funding and creative mechanisms to help cities around the world to join in that effort because it’s much harder for cities like New York for example to make those kind of commitments and implement strategies and movement forward to move towards those kinds of reductions. But I really do think that if we can do that we’ll be OK but it needs to happen fast and it needs to happen very collaboratively. It’s exciting if it does because imagining cities that are not dependent on fossil fuels like that’s a pretty cool world, you can conquer a lot of problems at the same time reinventing those cities. So, for me that’s what excites me, to work towards that goal.

But I do think it requires a global effort and a global effort at this point. It’s unfortunate because with the state of the world right now with federal politics going more and more within federal boundaries and creating stronger and real walls to protect those boundaries but really the world needs to break away from all of that and think of us as a planet and think of it like a global picture to conquer this issue. And this issue is just a reflection of how we see the world, it’s showing us so strongly how we need to perceive the world but unfortunately the reaction is going in the opposite direction. But I do think there is hope there if we take another route, like the city route.

‘A Common Truth’ is out now on Constellation.

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April 4, 2017 at 6:38 pm

Chosen One: Warren Ellis

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Interview with Warren Ellis.

“I like to work and when I’m not working I find a lot of things quite difficult to deal with. And actually the more work I’ve got the better I feel in certain respects.”

—Warren Ellis

Words: Mark Carry


In W.G. Sebald’s novel ‘Austerlitz’ – the German writer’s celebrated tale of one man’s odyssey through the dark ages of European history – a central question is posed: “Why does time stand eternally still and motionless in one place, and rush headlong by in another? And is not human life in many parts of the earth governed to this day less by time than by the weather, and thus by an unquantifiable dimension which disregards linear regularity, does not progress constantly forward but moves in eddies, is marked by episodes of congestion and irruption, recurs in ever-changing form, and evolves in no one knows what direction?”

Certainly an unquantifiable dimension forever lies at the heart of Warren Ellis’s singular, sonic creations that maps the rawest of emotions and ceaselessly traverses the human space. The Australia-born, France-based musician is responsible for some of the most mesmeric and profoundly moving music of the past two decades—across the many film soundtracks scored by Ellis & Nick Cave; the life-affirming records of Australia’s Dirty Three (alongside drummer Jim White and guitarist Mick Turner) and as the longtime bandmate of The Bad Seeds (joining in 1995) and Grinderman.

The sacred songbook of Ellis reminds us that it is still possible to be outside time. Many cherished memories flicker to the forefront of my mind: witnessing the near-mythical live performance of Dirty Three—the larger than life figure of Ellis sprawled across the floor as the mournful violin melody of ‘Sue’s Last Ride’ graces the atmosphere, culminating in a sheer catharsis as an ocean of noise -and emotion – engulfs every aching heart pore. The ethereal sonic canvas to Andrew Dominik’s ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’ remains one of Ellis’s most formidable artistic achievements. Equally, the majestic looped violin motifs of ‘The Proposition’ and brooding tour-de-force of ‘The Road’ and last year’s illuminating ‘Mustang’ soundtrack represent further crowning jewels in the Australian multi-instrumentalist’s storied career.

The Australian composer’s debut solo score, ‘Mustang’, a French film directed by Deniz Gamze Ergüven, saw Ellis deservedly winning ‘Best Music’ at this year’s César Awards.

‘Mustang’ is out now on Milan Records. 



Interview with Warren Ellis.

Congratulations on your recent score, ‘Mustang’, it’s a really gorgeous film score. Please take me back to the period in time in which these pieces of music were created? It marks a departure too in the sense that it is your first solo work, which must have given you a new perspective too?

Warren Ellis: This is the first one [‘Mustang’] that I have stepped out on my own. It’s interesting because there’s obviously a lot of things I’ve developed through Nick [Cave] that I used— there are certainly aspects of the way we work together in there.  Something that I definitely noticed was the lack of another voice to bounce things off, which is one of the big positive aspects of our working relationship that we are constantly bouncing ideas off each other and questioning things—what the other person will do and that feels very healthy and fertile, at least until now. I definitely missed having that voice of question.

But I actually had that with the director [Deniz Gamze Erguven] because the score was done very quickly – it was done in six days – in my shed in the back of my house, I have a little studio. I actually said that I couldn’t do it at the time because I had a big tour coming up with Nick and I had to get prepared for that. And then I eventually changed my mind after a couple of people persuaded me to try and make an effort, which was really good for me to try and do something like that. So then I did it but it was done in like six or seven days I think in total and the director was very proactive, she was very amazing, Deniz she was really incredible because she knew what she wanted, what she didn’t want. She also knew when I sent things—if the majority of it was good but if something had bothered her – she could explain to me what she wanted to be taken out which is not a skill a lot of directors have. So she had a flexibility with the musical lexicon that I really appreciated.

I’ve since done two more scores on my own but haven’t been released yet. I’ve done a manuscript for a film on Django Reinhardt and I’ve written a manuscript that he wrote a dedication to the victims of the Holocaust; the Romanian gypsy victims and it was a piece of music that is real and did exist but it was lost after a performance (the manuscript). I was asked to re-write it so I have done that for five organs, strings and choir with Romanian Gypsy language dialect, it’s a Mass Requiem kind of thing.

In January I did a horror drama Australian film – a very small budget – but again I had a set of rules to work with and I wanted to see if I could so a score while I was on tour. Doing ‘Mustang’ in such a short space of time and being on such a shoestring budget really gave me a hunger to do more things outside of my usual comfort zone. So I did this other score and I had to do it on tour because I didn’t have access to a studio, so it’s been done in hotel rooms, apartments, on my laptop only and I used synthesizer and bits and pieces I had lying around and I mixed it on the airplane coming home, I’ve got a tiny speaker. I wanted to see if I could do that and I think I have. I actually enjoy the challenge of stripping it back and with limited tools and limited resources what that can do. And then I just did a score with Nick as well called ‘Comancheria’.

As you say Warren, it must be very refreshing when the limitations for you as a composer and musician that they become the liberating factors and gives you the freedom to create?

WE: I think anything that allows you to find a new way into something that you’re very familiar with has to be good and sometimes it’s about having more things at your disposal, trying to find something. I know this with records when I go in, I might have a whole lot of stuff and I’m looking for different sounds: I’m bringing in instruments I don’t know how to play but I’ll try and get something going on; I’m not playing violin this time, I’m only playing synthesizer or I might say ‘I did that with the score, I’m only going to play synthesizer’. I try and set myself things to do but that would be the way that you can find a new way hopefully back into something that does not have a lot of parts to it really.

Listening to the different pieces of music and the many scores, it’s amazing to hear the endless amount of ideas – all these little motifs and details – that are always present in the work.

WE: I approach score work like I do the music in the bands whether it’s The Bad Seeds, Grinderman or Dirty Three. I mean the last thing you have done is your launching pad and that’s what you don’t want it to sound like and then whatever has come before you try to navigate around that as well. So with the score work, I’ve done something like ‘The Proposition’ which was very lean and muscular and very atmospheric and then we did a kind of stringy score for ‘The Assassination of Jesse James’ and ‘The Road’ and to see how far we could go with that idea was appropriate. And again with film work, it’s whatever is appropriate for the image, I mean there’s not much point putting a hard rock song on something that doesn’t need it or whatever and so it’s obviously with that in mind. The approach that I have to my score work is definitely the same as I write to any music that I create, I’m looking for something different each time with the limited skills that I have.

All those John Hillcoat scores are incredible too and how the relationship between sound and the visuals work so well together. 

WE: I don’t think we’re everybody’s cup of tea to be honest. It’s not just by chance that the films that do work are by people who actually like what we do. I mean the problems we have had in the past with scores has generally been because other people involved in the film – be it producers or financers – they don’t really get the way we work.

We don’t work in the traditional sense: find the score in the studio and then put it on there. Most composers present a temp score and then they mock it up and they get to hear it and they go ‘yes I like this I like that, oh can you change this melody? etc etc’—we don’t do that and that makes a lot of people nervous. Unless they know what our potential is which John [Hillcoat] and Andrew Dominik do, they know what we can do and they like what we can do. And it actually poses a real problem I think for a lot of people outside of the directors because we don’t work in the usual way.

There are other composers that work in that way now like Trent Reznor and Jóhann Jóhannsson —I don’t know how they work but I would assume that they do a lot of stuff and they stick it to the image and they probably have surplus of music left I get that feeling as opposed to the traditional composer who just by the cue by cue has their things already in place. These days they want to hear something mocked up on a computer and all that. And just to back-track, the people that we work with is generally because they like what we do. I think that a film director who just got us based on who we were and didn’t really know what we do would be in for a rather unpleasant shock.

There’s that lovely trust between what you are creating and what John Hillcoat is creating.

WE: Yeah I mean having said that we have stepped away, John’s got a new film [‘Triple 9’] that Atticus Ross is scoring, which is really good he has a different composer on board. We’ve done ‘Loin Des Hommes’ we’ve done this new film ‘Comancheria’ with David Mackenzie who has done ‘Starred Up’ and we’ve done a lot of work with Amy Berg on documentaries and that feels good for us too to move in different circles. It’s important for us to have other projects coming up. For me, ‘Mustang’ was important: I didn’t know the director, I saw the film, I loved the film and once I engaged in it I wanted to see what I could do with it. And also not knowing the director was really good – and some of the others I didn’t know the director – and that made it instantly a different kind of world that took me out of my comfort zone.

You must always have a number of different projects going on at the same, and these different avenues you’re thinking about?

WE: I like to work and when I’m not working I find a lot of things quite difficult to deal with. And actually the more work I’ve got the better I feel in certain respects. At this point in time I have five things on the go at the moment and little things keep appearing from them and I like that they are out there slowly coming together. I mean when you play in a rock band you make one record every two years – you write twelve songs every three years – that’s not really very much, I don’t think the average rock band is very ambitious or far thinking in that respect in terms of creating music and you hear about that struggle about making it and all that.

I actually like the idea of having too much to do so that you keep moving through it. I like the idea of making stuff. When I was younger I didn’t really but now in the last fifteen years since I’ve started doing score work, things changed for me, I really enjoy having that possibility to make music that I wouldn’t normally make in a rock band setting and to be asked to do things that was outside of what I would normally do. I really enjoy that challenge about it and I like the fact that the film score has somebody saying to you ‘Hey I don’t like that’ and you might really love it and you have to let go of it.  There’s something incredibly liberating about that and when I was younger I just would have told the person to get f**ked and walked away because I wasn’t interested in that and you need to have that attitude in a band I think to protect you from the rest of the world and to protect your idea about the band.

But I think there’s a point also too where it becomes stagnant and you stop moving and you need other things. For me, I needed other things to do and I didn’t look for it, the film stuff just came along by accident when Nick asked him to do ‘The Proposition’ with him and it just developed from there and we found we had this great way of creating things together and it was something we both really enjoyed. So actually I really cherish having those things to do.

dirty three press_web

Dirty Three are one of those truly special bands for so many people, and for me, has been my favourite band for many years. You must have so many cherished moments with Jim and Mick over the years and across the many records?

WE: I don’t tend to look back. I don’t really have a sense of nostalgia about things. We have started re-releasing the vinyl records right back to ‘Sad & Dangerous’ and they’re doing an extended issue, double-vinyl with Record Store Day coming up and that gave me a chance to look back on stuff. Unless I’m trying to remember how something went I don’t go back, I don’t listen to the stuff I do, it always feels counter-productive in a way. I do like to think of this as something moving forward so if I do have any nice ideas: probably from long ago or when we were touring America when we started our or in Europe.

But having said that, I got together recently with Dirty Three in Australia and we hadn’t played together for about three and a half years for various reasons. We did two shows in Australia – one in Sydney and one in Melbourne – and they were genuinely moving to play the songs again and to play with Jim and Mick again was genuinely really emotional and I was really happy for that because you never really know if it’s all going to kick back in again, you hope it will. I think it’s certainly the thing with that band and it’s a similar thing with the Bad Seeds too where it starts up and you just feel this thing that is outside of everybody’s control and outside of the people that’s in it. It’s the amazing thing about playing in a band that’s known each other for a long time and that has worked together for a long time and have developed this way of communicating. And you hope it’s going to kick in each time but you can’t just take it for granted. I was genuinely moved to do these shows and to play these tunes that I haven’t played for a long time; it was very moving.

Would you have moments of inspiration that you can recall from your score work, Warren?

WE: Well not so much by the end but during the process of making it there are certainly moments I can remember with each of the scores but particularly ‘The Proposition’—it was extraordinary doing that one because we didn’t really know how to make a score and we just made a load of music and started sticking it to the image. It was amazing to see when something would just work with the image and it hadn’t been even made for the image. That was genuinely thrilling to see that with ‘The Proposition’, it’s a very strong memory I have working on that one and it was done very quickly like in five days.

Also, I have strong memories with ‘Jesse James’ particularly because I do feel if there is like a finest hour in someone’s creative life that would be one of them. It felt like in respect to the film and the music that everything came into alignment with that and I am very proud of that film and my work on that and I’m very proud of the score Nick and I made for that. And I remember certain aspects of making it where it felt like we weren’t going to succeed and being terrified that we may not realize this one so I have strong memories of that one and also the turning point where it did start to work just by sheer determination.

I have in many ways probably a stronger dialogue with the soundtrack work than the band work; the band work is a collective thing and everyone comes in with what they do and then it gets spread amongst the band and it becomes this band thing. I probably have a stronger opinion about the soundtrack stuff in many ways.

Going back to ‘Jesse James’, the music was so powerful and those magical scenes of the train coming in, the trees, the lights—in terms of what you were working with in order to create those sounds, did you have the script and stuff like that?

WE: For that film, we made the time to see a cut of it and we booked a studio because that’s how we work: we start going in February, we need to cut by then and they go ‘yes we’ll have it’. So we go into the studio but we’re not very flexible because we go touring as well so we can’t just chop and change things. We got in there and they had nothing for us so we composed and we just started improvising like we would do and ended up getting a lot of the main themes, probably forty percent of the music was recorded in four days without even seeing anything. For me, my logic I have always had with film scores is that we very rarely make specific cues for certain moments, it feels like the things you discover by accident—by putting them on and seeing what they do it creates a different kind of dynamic with the image.

There’s also a sense of an accident that happens and that also creates a sense of a purpose and it creates its own meaning. I guess it’s what happens in the rock ’n’ roll world too where you think you’ve got a good idea and it’s bullet proof but it’s actually not bullet proof and it doesn’t really work. And then you have a really simple idea that you think won’t fly at all, it’s one that comes through. I think certainly from my point of view there’s too much control and there’s too much manipulating going on, it feels like they’re the kind of ideas that very rarely get through. Sitting down and making cues to image has never been appealing at all.

For ‘Jesse James’ a lot of that was done without ever seeing the film and then we saw the film and we started to fine tuning it. Obviously there’s a point where you’ve got to start to fine tune it, ok they need something for here so what can we do. Even then when we had done it, Andrew just changed everything around and did what he wanted with it, which was a fantastic thing about that film, you know you never really know until you go see the film in the cinema.

I love how the soundtrack work is like a document that work so well as just records so you see them as records more so than just soundtracks.

WE: I think because of the process that we do and I’ve spoken to other composers and they mention that about our scores that they actually work on their own. And they actually pointed this out to me that the problem they have is that they just do the cue and it might be a thirty second cue and they have no time to build around it whereas we make pieces and then find thirty seconds that work. So mainly the ideas that we have are fully realized and then we see if they fit with the film. So that’s why we end up having pieces that in their own right stand alone. It’s not just a bunch of incidental music joined together in the attempt to make something which a lot of soundtracks feel like that.

In terms of films and composers, would you have long term favourites that you come back to?

WE: I like Ennio Morricone; I like Popol Vuh and all the scores of Herzog like ‘Aguirre’ and ‘Nosferatu’, I really love their scores. I really like ‘Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid’ I still think it’s one of Bob Dylan’s best records. I really like John Carpenter’s scores, I think they’re just fantastic. I really like Artemiev who does the scores for Tarkovski’s films, those electronic scores—I really love those scores, I think they’re so bold and they’re so far-reaching. I love Hans Zimmer’s scores for ‘Thin Red Line’ and for the Batman films. Also, Mica Levi’s ‘Under The Skin’ soundtrack is just incredible and really blows my mind when I listen to it.

‘Mustang’ is out now on Milan Records.




Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S1E2| February mix

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Part Two of our mix series for La Blogothèque. We’ve tried to include something here from as many of our favourite labels as possible. Also included is a short excerpt from an interview we did with the legendary Los Angeles-based folk singer Linda Perhacs (to coincide with the release of her second solo LP “The Soul Of All Natural Things” on Asthmatic Kitty in 2014). February’s mix also comprises a few original scores to films (“Belladonna of Sadness”, “#HORROR”, “Mistress America” and “Mustang”) where each soundtrack certainly conveys a very singular mood and spirit for their respective subjects (and films). While it’s a little foolish to single out a particular song/artist (isn’t that the complete opposite of what a mixtape is supposed to be?) we would like to conclude by mentioning someone very special whom we only recently discovered: Tia Blake (thanks to Josh Rosenthal’s gorgeous book “The Record Store of the Mind”); her sole album was 1971’s “Folksongs And Ballads” (by “Tia Blake and her folk-group”), a most beautiful and precious thing indeed.



Fractured Air x Blogothèque – S1E2 | February mix

To Read/listen on La Blogothèque:




01. Fire!“She Bid a Meaningless Farewell” (Rune Grammofon)
02. Dawn of Midi“Ijiraq” (Erased Tapes)
03. nonkeen“chasing god through palmyra” (R&S)
04. 1115“The Drowned World I” (Alien Transistor)
05. Julia Holter“Vasquez” (Domino)
06. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – “Arthropoda” (Western Vinyl)
07. Cool Maritime“Spring” (Leaving)
08. Linda PerhacsInterview (excerpt) (Fractured Air)
09. Linda Perhacs“Parallelograms” (Kapp/Sunbeam)
10. Jóhann Jóhannsson with Hildur Guðnadóttir & Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe“End of Summer Part 4” (excerpt) (Sonic Pieces)
11. Bob Dylan“Father Of Night” (Columbia)
12. Lubomyr Melnyk “Sunshimmers” (Erased Tapes)
13. Lee Hazlewood“Hands” (MGM, Ace)
14. Masahiko Sato“Valle Incantata” (Belladonna of Sadness OST, Finders Keepers)
15. The Fabulous Luckett Brothers“Help Me to Carry On” (Honest Jon’s)
16. A Hawk And A Hacksaw“Wedding Theme (Ukraine)” (LM Dupli-Cation)
17. Calexico“When Only The Ashes Are Left” (Our Soil, Our Strength)
18. Thomas Köner“Tiento de la Luz 4” (excerpt) (Denovali)
19. Ricardo Donoso“Morning Criminal” (Denovali)
20. EMA“Amnesia Haze (Vox & Guitar Only)” (#HORROR OST, City Slang)
21. Dean Wareham & Britta Phillips“Mistress America” (Mistress America OST, Milan)
22. Alex Smoke“Fair Is Foul” (R&S)
23. Lord RAJA“Footwork” (Ghostly International)
24. Roly Porter“In System” (Tri Angle)
25. Warren Ellis“Mustang” (Mustang OST, Milan)
26. Tia Blake “The Rising of the Moon” (Water)
27. Langley Schools Music Project“Space Oddity” (Bar/None)
28. Qluster“In deinen Händen” (Bureau B)

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