January 24, 2021 § Leave a comment

This mix retrospective coupled with pics of my past live shows ends at the perfect moment: the future will soon be my present. What do I mean with this sentence, which kept cropping up in my mind yesterday? As with most of us, my life has been partially put on hold with Covid, but releasing my 7th album was on my mind long before Covid got here, and the thought that within less than 2 weeks the album will finally start its life at Thrill Jockey Records in spite of current circumstances fills me with deep gratitude and a sense of hope that this won’t last forever.

This last mix: October 2015, I had some bad news in my close family and was filled with worry and sadness, which is reflected in this mix, which takes its name from a beautiful 1960 Bengali film, “The cloud-capped star”, with an amazing soundtrack interspersed throughout this mix, with old favourites and an African ending.

That show, Moogfest, Durham, NC, 20th May 2017: my last show playing Captain of None live, the first in which I played an excerpt from the yet-to-be-released A flame my love, a frequency. Two days earlier, I was playing in San Diego: I had a blast birdwatching, was disappointed with the show, then spent the scariest hour of my life in an Uber on the way back to my hotel in Del Mar – literally *the* scariest hour of my life, worthy of a David Lynch film, in which I thought I would die – and I honestly think it’s a miracle I did get back to my hotel safely (I vowed to never to take an Uber again – hadn’t been my choice in the first place – and have stuck to this decision ever since). I spent 19th May trying to recover from the shock, wondering if I was even going to be able to perform. Thankfully, by 20th May, I pulled myself together enough to realize that this was indeed my last show performing my beloved album, and perhaps somehow this horrible adventure was there to prove a point about the fragility of life and how it could all be taken away suddenly and absurdly.

Moogfest, Durham, NC, 20th May 2017, by George Etheredge for The New York Times


OST Mildred Pierce

Reuben Bell And The Casanovas – It’s Not That Easy

Nina Simone –  When I Was In My Prime

Bela Bartok – Rumanian Folk Dance

Jane And Barton – It’s A Fine Day

OST The Cloud-Capped Star 1

Denial – California Dreaming

Dark Day – The Metal Benders

OST The Cloud-Capped Star 2

Meredith Monk – Nota

Bob Lind – Black Night

Jackson C Frank – Just Like Anything

Townes Van Zandt – Waiting Around To Die (Live At The Old Quarter)

OST The Cloud-Capped Star 3

Stina Nordenstam  – Clothe Yourself For The Wind

Dominique A – Nous Marchons Sous La Neige

Grouper – Disengaged – Vital

Greg Gives Peter Space – Electric Eel River

OST Stroszek

Stefan Lakatos/Moondog – Over The Mountain

Khassonka Dunun – Traditional Music From Mali 

Bena Kazembe Balitumpa – Kalimba & Kalumbu Songs, Northern Rhodesia

Lalle – The Fulani, Niger / Northern Bénin

Taireva – Zimbabwe, The Soul Of Mbira

OST The Cloud-Capped Star 4

OST Mildred Pierce


January 15, 2021 § Leave a comment

I distinctly remember daydreaming, in early 2017, “Wouldn’t it be great if one day a gear/instrument manufacturer decided to give me something?”. I was aware that it happened to other musicians, some of them operating more or less at my “level” in terms of exposure, but had no clue how this actually “worked”. Did they do something that I did not do?

Shortly after that, a short chain of events led me to getting in touch with Moog Music Inc, which led to my visit to their Soundlab in Asheville in November 2017 and the recording of a session which I subsequently released on my Bandcamp… I left Asheville with the grin of a 6-year-old: I had been given the 3 Moogerfoogers used for the session. Subsequently I was also gifted their Grandmother synth, which you’ll hear on my new album. In case you’re wondering, there is no obligation for me to use any of those instruments. In fact, this was a loooot of new gear by my minimalist standards, and since too much gear causes me anxiety and I tend to work best by restricting parameters, I only used the Grandma and the MF Low Pass Filter. But one thing is for sure: when you are gifted something of extremely high quality, there is a burning desire to honour that gift, which in turn pushes you to go beyond what you had planned to do (I had no plan to use a synth, but having been given the Grandmother, I just had to try it, and fell in love).

Fast forward to today, and this incredibly generous gift by Emilie Gillet, who runs one of the most respected and celebrated modular companies in the world, Mutable Instruments. Emilie not only sent me 5 modules (the 5th one is hidden on the right, because it hasn’t even been released yet!!!), but also set up the whole thing for me and even included patch cables… I am left speechless by this extra attention. And cannot wait to see how I can incorporate these jewels in a future setup.

More and more often I find myself thinking that yes, I make music on my own, but more than ever I feel surrounded by an amount of support, generosity and kindness which I couldn’t have imagined even in my wildest dreams.


January 10, 2021 § Leave a comment

When I was invited to submit a 100% vinyl mix for Vinyl Factory in 2015, I knew it’d be the perfect occasion “to go back over some favourites that I can connect to very specific periods of my life in terms of what I was listening to and where I was at in my own music-making. Some of them I discovered in the past few years, but I would like to tell you about five songs that are particularly relevant to the birth of my Colleen project back in the early 2000s.”

Read my musings on the following songs here at Vinyl Factory: Holger Czukay “Boat-Woman Song” which acts like a connecting thread throughout the mix, Wu-Tang Clan “Bells of War”, Autechre “Cipater”, Mulatu Astatke “Wubit”, Can “Vitamin C”.

Also, as you’ve probably noticed, this mix retrospective which is nearing its end also served as a live show retrospective of sorts. Here is my pedal setup in all its Captain of None glory with its 3 different sampling points.

8 May 2015 live Galeria Ze dos Bois, Lisbon, by Vera Marmelo
8 May 2015 live Galeria Ze dos Bois, Lisbon, by Vera Marmelo

Chain goes like this: Art Tube Preamp + Octabass EBS octaver + Boss Loopstation RC-30 + Line 6 DL4 + Moog MF-104 + Line 6 DL4. Sampling occurs on Loopstation (viola and voice) and the two DL4s, which are also used for delay. Art Tube preamp for treble viola da gamba, Octabass used for bass lines.

Holger Czukay – Boat-Woman-Song

Wu Tang Clan – Bells Of War

Autechre – Cipater

Holger Czukay – Boat-Woman-Song

Space Lady – Domine, Libra Nos /Showdown

Confetti – It’s Kind Of Funny

Family Fodder – Der Leiermann

The Fallout Club – The Beat Boys

Isolee – Beau Mot Plage

Reina De Cumbias – Conjunto Miramar

Can – Vitamin C

Holger Czukay – Boat-Woman-Song

Kaa Antelope – Rise Up Helicopter, Like A Bird

Mulatu Astatke – Wubit

Barong, A Balinese Musical Drama – Dance And Fight Of The Barong, Men’s Trance

Holger Czukay – Boat-Woman-Song


January 5, 2021 § Leave a comment

I waxed lyrical when FACT Magazine asked me to write a text to accompany this mix in 2015 …

“This mix includes music which has specifically influenced me in the making of my fifth album Captain of None, mostly from the point of view of song-writing, production, or just a general “feel” in the music, for lack of a better word.

No other song encapsulates how these various aspects of music-making are intertwined in Jamaican music better than Burning Spear’s “Door Peeper”: released in 1969, the combination of Burning Spear’s voice, percussion, compressed horn line, minimal instrumentation and lyrics, and dry but deep production make this song one of the most earth-shaking I’ve ever heard.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Scientist’s “Dangerous Match 1” from 1982 sounds like underwater swimming in weird waters and shows how abstract and stylized Jamaican music can be.

Tapper Zukie’s “Simpleton Badness” is a perfect example of idiosyncratic toasting, crazy tape manipulation and radical production from 1973.

The Lee Perry-produced “Long Time Ago” by Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus marvellously mixes traditional Nyabinghi drumming and intense chanting with Perry’s extremely dense production style , and I just love how the volume and intensity increase unexpectedly at the end of the song with the arrival of a killer bassline.

Noel Ellis, son of Alton, has one of my favourite voices, but I chose this track especially for the mind-blowing guitar parts featured in the dub version – guitar perfection in my opinion!

When I first heard Augustus Pablo’s “Pablo in Fine Style”, the intricacy and delicateness of the melodica reminded me of baroque music and Mozart, which are not obvious reference points when you’re listening to Jamaican music!

Another Lee Perry production, the unusual sounding “Paul Bogle” by King Burnett (NB: attribution to this singer has been debated, but that’s how it’s credited on the 7” label): slow and melancholy with a meandering  melody, it’s one more example of how Jamaican music can sound so far from the clichés it’s unfortunately too often associated with.

Niney’s “Weeping Lotion” is the opposite, a fast and frantic high-energy feast which is just amazingly mixed!

With  “Collins Sweat” by Collins Music Wheelers and Wackies Rhythm Force’s “Black Africa”, the  amazing flute bended in ways reminiscent of early BBC Radiophonic Workshop and the lilting melodica against the half-tribal half-machine-like backdrop show once again the Jamaican knack for abstraction rooted in physicality which I’ve found so inspiring.

Prince Far I’s voice and vocal treatment on “Plant Up”, Tapper Zukie’s razor-sharp “Man Ah Warrior” and Little Madness’s stirring a cappella on “Mother Country Version” are more examples of the power of the combination of voice and minimal accompaniment in Jamaican music.

The Gladiators’s classic “Bongo Red” has guitar that I’m jealous of and excellent lyrics to boot.

Black Kush (also known as Black Kish)’s “Natural Rock” is a rare example of acoustic guitar in Jamican music, and its minimal approach to percussion also struck a chord with me.

Last but not least, I just had to close with a track that I heard in my childhood: “Return of the Super Ape” is one of the many Lee Perry/Upsetters songs contained on a tape that my parents bought in the late 70s and which we played in the car on long trips. To this day I just love this track and still find it totally unique and one of a kind: you can never be sure of what it is that you’re hearing on this song: monkeys, spanners falling on the floor in a metal house, a jazz band lost in Jamaica, soap bubbles transformed into notes… before one of the best breaks and song finales of all time… “

Colleen Captain of None tour setlist by Vera Marmelo 8 May 2015, Galeria Ze Dos Bois, Lisbon, Portugal

Burning Spear – Door Peeper

Scientist – Dangerous Match 1

Tapper Zukie – Simpleton Badness

Ras Michael – Long Time Ago

Noel Ellis – Reach My Destiny

Augustus Pablo – Pablo In Fine Style

King Burnett – Paul Bogle

Niney And Observer All Stars – Weeping Lotion

Collins Music Wheelers – Collins Sweat

Wackies Rhythm Force – Black Africa

Prince Far I – Plant Up

Tapper Zukie – Man Ah Warrior

Little Madness – Mother Country Version

The Gladiators – Bongo Red

Black Kush – Natural Rock

The Upsetters – Return Of The Super Ape


January 1, 2021 § Leave a comment

Hello 2021… Here’s to better times for everyone…

My love story with Jamaican music is in three parts: first as a child in the late 70s/early 80s, when my parents bought (probably by accident) a tape containing mostly Lee Perry songs from 1976, which we would listen to on long car trips. Then in my mid-20s when I moved to Paris and bought and borrowed dozens of Jamaican reissues from the Paris music libraries – it was the first time I was listening to the music with a musician’s ear, but given my way of making music at that time (sampling from records) I ended up concentrating on other genres which could be of use as more “unrecognizable” sample-fodder. But in late 2012, just as I was recording my fourth album The Weighing of the Heart, I rediscovered the music and this time it hit me really deep – it was like my ears were finally in the right condition to really hear the music in all its amazing inventiveness, and I had also reached a point in my own way of making music where finally I could see how the Jamaican sense of freedom and experimentation could infuse my own music – and from that moment I knew in what direction I would take my next album, which became Captain of None.


Glen Brown And King Tubby – Version 78 Style

The Techniques – I’ll Be Waiting

Noel Ellis – To Hail Salassie

King Tubby’s and the Aggrovators  – A Noisy Place

Burning Spear – Ethiopians Live It Out

Glen Brown and King Tubby – Termination Dub

Tappa Zukie – Judgement Dub

Ronnie Davis – Run Around Girl (Discomix)

Alton Ellis – I’ll Be Waiting

Stranger Cole and Bullwackies All Stars – It takes Time

Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus – Jesus Christus Is The King

Rankin Devon – Change Your Folly Ground

Lee Van Cliff & Scientist – Wiser Than Solomon (discomix)

The Heptones – Sweet Talking (extended mix)

Winston Wright – Top Secret

Prince Buster – Rock & Shake

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