October 12, 2017 § Leave a comment
I am beyond thrilled to let you know that you can *finally* hear my sixth album A flame my love, a frequency, on NPR First Listen! I hope you will love the album as much as I do, and I cannot tell you how excited I am to be bringing the album to US and European venues in less than 2 weeks!
October 10, 2017 § Leave a comment
I’m soooo thrilled to introduce the second excerpt from the new album with this stunning video that young film maker (and freestyle skateboarding world champion – I’m not kidding!!!) Connor Burke has made for “Winter dawn”. This is truly one of my favorite music videos ever, and I’m not talking about videos made for my own music: I mean that if this had been created for another musician, I would have been in awe! I hope you will love the poetical and powerful world Connor Burke has created as much the song itself.
If you’re curious about Connor’s process, here are his own words about the video: “Utilizing a mixture of specialized acrylics, silicone, and painting medium, I poured nearly seventy cups of the mixture onto canvases and filmed the interactions from above with a macro lens. The acrylics underwent a simple chemical reaction as the medium isolated the colors from one another.”
The world had nearly ended yet the sky was blue
And I came home with a fistful of fear
O dear soul, flesh and bones
Love alone is your home
Deep and warm, golden dawn
Shine some more of that light of yours
Deep and warm, golden dawn
Give me more of that light of yours
On the European live front, I’m playing in my beloved ZDB in Lisbon on 7th December, and at the Notwist-curated Alien Disko festival in Munich on 16th December! And on the US side, I got the amazing news this week that Sam Prekop of The Sea and Cake will open for my show at the MCA in Chicago on 3rd November – so honoured and excited at the thought of that evening in Thrill Jockey’s adopted home! And guitarist extraordinaire Shane Parish will open in Asheville on 14th November!
As always thanks for your support, and stay tuned this week because the album’s premiere is finally happening!
October 8, 2017 § Leave a comment
We’ve now reached the end of this series, with a track from my fifth album, featuring melodica. Is melodica a keyboard instrument? Well, technically it’s a wind instrument that does have a tiny keyboard, so I guess it does qualify ;-)
I’ve always loved the melodica (you can listen to my “The melodica song” from my Mort aux Vaches 2005 radio session) and have always found it a shame that it’s so often associated with a kind of “twee” vibe that makes it more akin to a toy than a real instrument. As far as I’m aware, only the late great Augustus Pablo managed to make the instrument truly shine in its own right, and he is the obvious inspiration behind this track, one of the last two that I worked on when making the album (along with “Eclipse”, the other track where the dub influence is the strongest).
I initially had doubts about including the melodica on the album, precisely because I thought I’d get too close to the original Jamaican model (something that was not an issue with the viola da gamba, as it’s so un-Jamaican). But I had this bass line which I absolutely loved and nothing came on the viola, so I thought “Why not try it?”, and it immediately felt so right that the song literally came together in an afternoon.
Its title is inspired by a truly magical place, the island of Salina, part of the Eolie archipelago north of Sicily, where the night sky is just spellbinding: because of the low light pollution and the height of part of the island, you don’t need to look up to see the stars, they are right in front of you as you look out towards the ocean. When I heard the delayed melodica, it immediately reminded me of the immensity of the Salina sky and the feeling of being part of the universe that I felt over there.
Artwork is once again by the *stellar* Iker Spozio ;-) And the album is still available on both CD and vinyl, on my Bandcamp, Thrill Jockey’s website, and many other places.
I truly hope you’ve enjoyed this series as much as I have, I normally never listen to my older music so the trip was more surprising to me than what I would have expected! TOMORROW GET READY FOR THE FIRST VIDEO FROM THE ALBUM! :-)))
October 7, 2017 § Leave a comment
The Weighing of the Heart was released in 2013 after a long hiatus from releasing albums and touring, and perhaps because of that, it’s an album in which I tried to incorporate my love for the many different types of music and instruments I’d been listening to between 2008 and 2012. By that time I had moved from Paris to Spain and started to rent the space which I still use as a studio today, enabling me to explore more options in terms of which instruments to play, since I was no longer restricted by space or neighbour problems. I started to sing and use the treble viola da gamba, bought a couple of percussion instruments, and short of having real organs at my disposal, I got an M-Audio Keystation 61ES and the Native Instruments Vintage Organs software.
I’ve loved the sound of electric organs for many years: I remember vividly, when I was about 13, hearing an organ in the basement of the school friend who had lent me the blue and red Beatles compilation tapes that became my favorite companions for the next 2 years: her dad had recently passed away and no one was supposed to play his organ, but in secret my friend played it briefly for me and – perhaps because of that secrecy and the sadness associated with it- it made such a strong impression on me.
Later on in Paris I always fantasized that I would one day find a similar organ in an antiques shop, or a harmonium – another one of my keyboard obsessions in the early 2000s. Well, I never did find an organ or a harmonium (and where to put it would have been a big problem!), and the feel of a MIDI keyboard running through software – as great as that software actually sounds – was not really what I was looking for (I don’t think I’ll *ever* be a MIDI person!), but I did use the Farfisa Compact emulation for the ending of “Moonlit sky”, and it’s one of my favorite moments on the album – I hope you like it too :-)
October 5, 2017 § 1 Comment
Even though outwardly my music is not autobiographical at all, there is always a deep connection between what I feel or would *like* to feel and the music I end up making, and if there is one album of mine that exemplifies this connection, it has to be Les ondes silencieuses.
I recorded it in winter 2006, after learning the basics of the viola da gamba for less than a year, getting a sabbatical from my teaching job, and returning from my first Japanese tour. Prior to the sabbatical, the incompatibility between teaching and music-making on a near-professional level had become more and more glaring every day, and I felt overwhelmed most of the time. Problematically, I still felt overwhelmed even *after* the sabbatical was granted to me, since I was able to accept more offers, and was also trapped in endless administrative tasks.
The trip to Japan proved crucial to the final twist I gave the album, which I’d already half-composed earlier in the year: if my life wasn’t giving me the sense of calm I so badly needed, then I would give my music that sense of calm, in the same way that the Japanese traditional aesthetics made spaces and objects radiate with beautiful, essential simplicity.
I was obsessed with the more introspective side of Baroque music at the time, and short of being able to include a real harpsichord, I managed to locate and rent a spinet, its more modest cousin: I brought it home for a couple of weeks, learnt to get used to its rather stiff action, and recorded “Le labyrinthe” in the living-room of my Paris flat. The silence between the notes in the first section, which strikes me as extreme now, felt entirely natural then, and given the almost complete absence of electricity on that album, dominated by my bass viola da gamba, it’s only natural that the keyboard that ended up on this album should have been made only of wood and metal.
This album has been reissued on coloured and black vinyl by The Leaf Label this year (available through my Bandcamp – also available on CD) and will see its first tape release on 14th October on Beacon Sound (EU customers can order through my Bandcamp, non-EU customers please head over directly to Beacon Sound’s website here ). Both the digital and tape versions contain two unreleased bonus tracks recorded live in Japan during the aforementioned tour. The album is also available on CD.
Artwork is by Iker Spozio.
October 4, 2017 § Leave a comment
Of my three albums for Leaf, this is the one I feel closest to, perhaps because it taught me that I could just choose to do anything if I really wanted to – in this particular instance, playing about 10 different instruments on an album, all self-taught except for the guitar. Three combined factors led me to abandoning sampling: when the time came to play live, I just could not imagine myself with a computer or just a sampler on stage; sampling had become joyless/stale as a method for making a second album (I immediately saw it wasn’t working anymore); and last but not least, having become a teacher, I finally had a proper income for the first time in my life, which enabled me to move from a 17m2 studio to a 40m2 one-bedroom flat – the pinnacle of luxury for a young person in Paris! – and which led to my I-am-going-to-buy-any-instrument-I-can-lay-my-hands-on -no-matter-how-small-or-shitty period, which lasted for about two years. I also acquired the pedals which proved crucial to my live shows for many years (the Boss Loopstation in its early incarnation, the Line6 DL4, and the Akai Headrush).
One of my acquisitions was a super cheap Casio AS67, which had one decent tone only, and that’s the one I used as the basis for “The happy sea”, run through a pretty extreme plugin (I can’t remember which one, but it’s responsible for the almost wah-wah quality of the organ sound), and on top I played a newly-acquired glockenspiel and – salvaged from my childhood – a wooden recorder (lecteurs français de ma génération, je sais que vous aussi vous avez tous eu une flute! J). To this day there’s still something in this song that makes me feel really happy, perhaps it was a premonition that I would one day live by the sea :-)))
This album has been reissued on coloured and black vinyl by The Leaf Label this year (available through my Bandcamp) and will be released on tape for the first time on 14th October on Beacon Sound (EU customers can order through my Bandcamp, non-EU customers please head over directly to Beacon Sound’s website here).
A PERSONAL KEYBOARD ARCHEOLOGY – PART 3: “A SWIMMING POOL DOWN THE RAILWAY TRACK”, 2003, EVERYONE ALIVE WANTS ANSWERS
October 3, 2017 § Leave a comment
I’ll be posting every day this week to finish this series this weekend, because next week will be full of very very exciting news regarding the new record!
Around 2001, I was given the Acid software by a friend, and I discovered sampling on the computer: I could finally make my dream of making solo music beyond the confines of my guitar-based practice come true, and obsessively borrowed dozens of CDs of all music genres every week in the mediatheques of Paris, the city where I had moved in 1999 to take a master’s in English. My voracious appetite for all the types of music to which access had so far been denied to me because of my lack of money led me to this sample-based approach in a very natural way. In 2002 I finished what became my first album, Everyone alive wants answers, but interestingly enough, there is *one* track on the album that does contain music played by myself, and the instrument is… that same Bontempi organ mentioned in Parts 1 and 2!
The original instrument was recorded right after the one I posted a couple of days ago, and even though I initially preferred the very first song, it is the second organ song that ended up on the album, and I’m intrigued by the fact that of all the old recordings I could have used, the Bontempi organ came out the winner: I think it’s because somehow it already seemed ready to blend within the acoustic-meets-electronic-manipulation that I was aiming for with my sampling approach (almost all the samples were of acoustic instruments). As for the “swimming pool down the railway track”, it really did exist, and I saw it on my way to work every day as I went to teach English in a lycée in a Parisian suburb, its slight surrealism in the morning light making the early rising and long transport hours somehow more bearable.
The album has been reissued on coloured and black vinyl by The Leaf Label and on tape by Beacon Sound, head over to Bandcamp if you are curious!