December 29, 2020 § Leave a comment

If like me, for personal and/or Covid reasons, the only biped you’re spending the so-called festive season with is the person you see in the mirror every morning (and in that case, I hope that also like me, you are lucky enough to share your life with a couple of furry quadrupeds), chances are you could do with more great music in your life, so without further ado… Back to the mix retrospective I had started a couple of months ago, which I had to interrupt when work on LP7 got really intense.

6 long years elapsed between my 3rd album Les ondes silencieuses and my 4th The Weighing of the heart. Sometimes it just takes time to rebuild yourself artistically.
Some of my biggest inspirations were Arthur Russell and Moondog. Also lots of non-Western strings (Brigitte Fontaine, Alain Peters, Zainidin Imanaliev, Violeta Parra), influencing my way of playing my violas.
The Gareth Williams/Mary Currie, Stina Nordenstam and Laurie Anderson songs were almost «templates» for me in terms of mixing traditional song structure with experimentation.
African Brothers Band I just love as it has that rare quality of being both melancholy and joyful at the same time, with that unimitable African groove and warm sound.
The Yabby You/Lee Perry track points to what I already felt like doing but didn’t have the time to achieve except on «Breaking up the earth», announcing the flavour of Captain of none.
Mix made for the label that released The Weighing, Second Language Music. Eternal gratitude to Glen Johnson/Textile Ranch/Piano Magic, David John Sheppard/Snow Palms and Martin Jensen/The Home Current.

Moondog – Voices Of Spring
African Brothers Band – Kyeremirekuku
Gareth Williams And Mary Currie -Generous Moon
Alain Peters – Mangé Pour Le Coeur
Laurie Anderson – Big Science
Yabby You / Lee Perry – Rally Dub
Stina Nordenstam – The World Is Saved
Brigitte Fontaine – La Fille Du Curé
Zainidin Imanaliev – Küidüm Chok
Violeta Parra – La Pericona Se Ha Muerto
The Kiwi Animal – Time Of The Leaves
The Servants – People Going Places
Arthur Russell – Place I Know/Kid Like You

Photo Electronik festival, Rennes, France, 16 10 13, by Thom.


December 13, 2020 § Leave a comment

Two days ago Antony Ryan of Red Red Paw mastering sent me the finished masters of LP7. I can’t wait to let you hear it and let you know more about it. All I can say for now is that it closes what has been one of the most challenging and rewarding years of my life, which unexpectedly gave rise to one of the strongest creative waves I’ve ever had the chance to ride.
So much so that I’ve already started to work on LP8.
But there’s another reason for this: LP7 ended up being a completely different beast to what I originally had in mind when I started working on it in the summer of 2018. I was planning to make a “weirdly danceable / weird dance” album (I got the Elka Drummer One from Soundgas just for that). But in early 2018 I was hit hard by a chronic autoimmune disease: long story short, it was first left untreated due to an incompetent doctor, and it then took almost 2 years to finally get to the point where adequate treatment gave me back my normal life: a life in which I can actually get up and have enough energy to get things done.
By the time confinement hit Spain in March of this year, I was feeling the best I had in years, but then a major “life derailment” occurred and all of a sudden, it was clear I was not going to make that “weirdly danceable” record: LP7 was restarted from scratch and became what it needed to be.
Fast forward to now, and the desire to make that danceable record is stronger than ever, so you’ll not only get LP7 in spring 2021, but also – if all goes well – LP8 in spring 2022 on Thrill Jockey Records
Talking of 2021-2022, given current Covid circumstances, it’s unfortunately clear to me that I won’t be able to tour the US at the time of release of LP7 (I’m crossing my fingers for a few shows in Europe, but only if this can be done in a responsible way). What I’m hoping to do with all my heart is touring the 2 albums in spring 2022, when hopefully the world is back to a more normal state in which hugging and being together is once again possible.

Photo by @luistorroja (gracias Luis 😃😃😃).

Clothes handmade by myself, Hadley top Grainline Studio, pants self-drafted.


November 13, 2020 § Leave a comment

I am about 2/3 of the way done on recording my new album, so yesterday I took advantage of a daytrip to see a friend in a small coastal town to “public-transport-test” (the roadtest version of people who don’t drive! 😉), then “stare-at-the-sea-test” the finished and unfinished tracks as mp3s with my Urbanears headphones.This is a ritual I’ve always had when making albums, trying to put myself in the position of an imagined listener, but since I’m still the one who created the music, I approach it with equal parts dread, equal parts excitement: by that stage I have already carefully listened and decided on final take(s) – spoiler: I haven’t managed to record every song in one take as I was hoping I would – and made a rough mix, so theoretically there shouldn’t be any terrible surprises, but these kind of listening conditions have a way of removing detail and making salient parts jump out, so it’s definitely a moment of truth.

I was a bit worried about issues of tempo: I don’t know if it happens to a lot of composer musicians, but it’s sometimes really hard to determine what is the most fitting tempo for a song (I typically start with slower tempos when I first create songs, but that’s often because I’m actually still learning the instrument I’m using!). With this album it’s been particularly tricky as the tempo is sometimes purely marked by the way I play the keyboard with the Space Echo doing its own magic on top, which means that if I’m nervous/overexcited I do tend to go too fast (in much the same way an artist will play faster live). But the Elka Drummer One also sounds pretty different depending on speakers and headphones : obviously my Blue Sky nearfield monitors are my point of reference, but even then, because my studio is so tiny, the subwoofer placement is what it is, and moving in that tiny space hugely changes my perception of the sound, which in turn – pretty amazingly – changes the perceived tempo.

In any case, I think my face says it all: the test surpassed my hopes.

photo by Luis Torroja


November 2, 2020 § Leave a comment

2006 was a big year for me : I got my viola da gamba, recorded Colleen et les Boîtes à musique, in summer learnt that I had been granted at the last minute a one-year sabbatical from my teaching job (which led to my resignation the following year), in November went to Japan and totally fell in love with the country, and in December recorded Les ondes silencieuses! I had a big obsession at the time with John Coltrane and listened to a lot of sixties music… Saw The Innocents for the first time…As for This Heat, their first album changed my life when I first heard it in 1995 and still sounds way ahead of its time (released in 1979 and recorded even earlier than that!) …And I still love that Blue Rondos song soooo much – every single instrument sounds so right -long live Joe Meek’s legacy!!!
A big thank you to Luis J.Menendez for commissioning this mix for his La Noche Inventada radio programme!

Harry Partch – Two Studies On Ancient Greek Scales

The Innocents – O  Willow Waly 

Sibylle Baier – Tonight

Chet Baker – Grey December 

Half Asleep – Morning Dust – Soon

Anne Briggs – Fine Horseman

Medicine Head – Next Time The Sun Comes Round

The Index – Rainy Starless Nights

Mississipi John Hurt – Frankie

John Lee Hooker – Rock House Boogie 

John Coltrane – My Favorite Things

This Heat – Horizontal Hold

Broadcast – Black Cat 

Carole King – He’s A Bad Boy

The Blue Rondos – Little Baby

Photo from EME festival, Setubal, Portugal, 7th October 2006, by Rui Minderico: my first time playing the gamba live!


October 30, 2020 § Leave a comment

This fourth mix was made for the release of The Golden Morning Breaks in 2005, and it’s probably the most eclectic I’ve ever made, pointing both to my past and future music. Hip hop definitely influenced Everyone Alive Wants Answers, and I’m surprised it took me so long to feature hip hop in one of my mixes (that GZA song…). The viola da gamba piece by Carl Friedrich Abel is one of my favourite pieces for viola and influenced my decision to buy the instrument and make Les Ondes Silencieuses. African music has been crucial to the way I play my string instruments, especially my treble viola da gamba (for instance on 2013’s The Weighing of the Heart). The Gamelan Son of Lion song is part of my long-standing love for anything gamelan, and you can hear gamelan’s echoes in so much of my music… As for Lee Perry’s “Roast fish and corn bread”, it’s a very special song for me: in the early 80s, my parents miraculously bought a Jamaican compilation tape, mostly made up of some seriously weird and powerful Perry productions from his best period, and that’s how I was introduced to the best of Jamaican music at a very young age, on long road trips!!! This of course resurfaced in 2015’s Captain of None.

Gamelan Son Of Lion « Sleeping Braid » ( From The Complete Gamelan In The New World Performed By Gamelan Son Of Lion) 
Loobke « Adhd »
Magnetic Fields « Josephine »
Steffen Basho-Junghans “Smiling Penguins”
Dimi Mint Aba And Khalifa Ould Eide « Yar Allahoo »
Movietone « The Sand And The Stars »
Vashti Bunyan « Train Song »
Pg Six  « Introduction (Letter To Lilli St.Cyr) »
Bridget St John « Autumn Lullaby »
Tiémoko Sissokho « Diagha » Sénégal – Kora Malinké
Björk « Amphibian »
Roots Manuva « Movements »
Harry Partch « Two Studies On Ancient Greek Scales 1 »
East Flatbush Project « Tried By Twelve »
GZA « Liquid Swords »
Martha And The Vandellas « Jimmy Mack »
Jan Bradley « Mama Didn’t Lie »
Brenda Holloway « When I’m Gone »
Lee Perry « Roast Fish And Cornbread »
Carl Friedrich Abel “5 pieces in D minor”
Love “Alone again or”

Photo from Tanned Tin Festival, Castellón, Spain, 5th November 2005, by Zoe T Vizcaino