December 16, 2015 § Leave a comment
It’s been a pleasure and a surprise for me to see Captain of None turning up in so many best albums of the year lists! So far: New York Times, NPR Music, NPR Music 10 best electronic albums, BBCRadio 6 Music Gideon Coe album of the year, Uncut, The Quietus, Mondosonoro, Vinyl Factory, CKUT (McGill University’s radio), Rough trade, Piccadilly records… and it was also chosen by Low’s Alan Sparhawk as his favorite album of the year in Magnet magazine!
What about a future album? Well, I’m finally back to work and it means so much to me, not just for artistic reasons…
As I mentioned briefly when I posted my last mix on November 4th, my autumn has been a very sad one because of very difficult circumstances in my family. In November I was finally starting to feel I was ready physically and psychologically to go back to making music, but before that I went to visit my parents, who live in my hometown, south of Paris. I needed to spend a bit of time in Paris on the way back to Spain in order to leave my viola bow for repair at a luthier’s, and I decided to also spend the night there with some friends. This was only the second night of the year I spent in Paris, as I don’t like spending time there anymore (the other night was when I played my show in April), and the day was 13th November. In the afternoon I was at one of the very spots of the shootings as the luthier happened to be in that area, but in the evening, thankfully, I was safe in the home of my friends. After a sleepless night I went back to Spain, and spent the next weeks with an even gloomier feeling of doom than the one I was in already before the attacks. Sometimes, it becomes painfully obvious that the “ideal” circumstances for going back to work are just not going to materialize, and that the best thing to do for oneself is to go back to creating, no matter how awful the world in your private and international sphere seems to become. And even though everything seems futile in the face of death, I’m more grateful than ever for the existence of beauty and being given the chance to create.
Just as I was going back to work, I had the great pleasure of doing an audio interview for the She does podcast, talking about the past present and future of my music and life in general: it’s one of the longest audio interviews I’ve done in a long time and the folks at Shedoes are really deserving of your support, so head over to their website or listen to the show on Itunes!
I also did a short interview in Spanish for Basque clothes brand Loreak mendian after they chose my music to illustrate their Winter campaign (that’s me walking on the Zurriola beach, on a strangely warm day, of the kind we’re having right now – more than 20ºC!).
Thrill Jockey have got the last remaining copies of the original limited tape edition of Everyone Alive Wants Answers here, the others are in the hands of Midheaven, and the second and last edition with a black shell is available exclusively from Beacon Sound.
I will have a couple of concerts coming up in Spring 2016, including 7 April for the Stansermusiktage festival in Stans, Switzerland.
As always thanks for your kind attention and support for what I do, and if I don’t have any other news before then, well I’m wishing you a most beautiful end of year :-)))
November 4, 2015 § 1 Comment
You can now listen to a guest mix I made for Klankschap, a mix that means a lot to me: I made it last month in the midst of very sad personal circumstances, and felt naturally drawn towards sadder music for the first time in a long time. I picked some old and more recent favourites and added music from films I saw recently, straight from the films themselves, in particular from the 1960 Indian film “The Cloud-Capped Star”: the soundtrack is really striking and at times so experimental that it sounds way ahead of it time, and in some ways it reminded me of my first album, which kind of loops the loop since the album is being reissued. I do hope you’ll like this mix and if you’re in a rough spot, that listening to it will be like having a loved one holding your hand…
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
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
Talking of the Everyone Alive Wants Answers reissues, the tape sold out really fast, but a few copies are still available via Midheaven, and Beacon Sound are doing a second 100-copy limited edition, this time with a black shell – this will be the final edition and available only via Beacon Sound, so don’t miss it if you want one! The vinyl is available here.
I’ve also had the pleasure of writing about my adoptive town of San Sebastián and sharing photos of some of my favorite spots for the newly launched Long Way From Home. And yes, kittens hiding among the rocks with the sea in the background are among the best things of the place!
As always thanks for your ears and your support! :-)))
Everyone Alive Wants Answers back on vinyl and for the first time on tape + Low listening to Captain of None!
October 18, 2015 § Leave a comment
I have been keeping quiet these past couple of months, resting and exploring nature, but am soon going to start working on a new album, and in the meantime I do have some exciting reissue news courtesy of The Leaf Label and Beacon Sound. Leaf is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a massive boxset that includes a white vinyl reissue of my first album from 2003 Everyone Alive Wants Answers. The album will also be available on black vinyl early next year, and you can preorder either of these here.
Last but not least, earlier this summer, I had the amazing surprise of finding out via Tweeter and then Reddit that Alan Sparhawk from Low has been listening to my last album Captain of None! It’s a great honor as I am such a fan of early Low material (their first album meant so much to me at the time I heard it back in 1994 and “Words” remains one of my favourite songs ever)… When these things happen, I feel dizzy and grateful! ;-))))
July 10, 2015 § Leave a comment
Back from the US part two…
I loved every single one of the shows on this US tour and was truly touched by the kindness and warmth of everyone who came to see me play. Special thanks also go to some of the organisers for their enthusiasm and trust – I’m thinking in particular of the great team at The Exploratorium and Resonance curator Wayne Grim, who were the first to invite me for a 2014 show that had to be cancelled due to my lack of visa at the time, of Peter Broderick and Andrew Neerman of Beacon Sound for the Seaview and Portland shows, of Ronen Givony of Wordless Music for the New York show, and King Britt in Philadelphia.
I unfortunately have few high-quality photos of the shows, but here are a few tpictures from Constellation in Chicago, where I was very excited to finally be able to meet the whole Thrill Jockey team, and pictures from one of the most special shows on the tour, the Sou’wester Lodge in Seaview, Washington.
Seaview is a tiny town on the coast of Washington, about two hours’ drive from Portland, and the Sou’Wester Lodge is a very special place indeed: a 1892 lodge surrounded by vintage trailers and trees, the sea just a few hundred metres away… The atmosphere at Seaview is so serene and everything contributed to make this a special day: Peter Broderick gave a truly beautiful opening set, Liz Harris aka Grouper did a sound installation in one of the trailers, the sound was great thanks to the Beacon Sound PA and engineer Jason Powers, and last but not least delicious food was served at the end of the show, everyone sitting at the same huge table , with the night drawing near and finally engulfing us… Here are a few pictures of the show that can give you an impression of the afternoon’s atmosphere…
Another highlight of the tour was doing a session for David Garland’s WNYC’s Spinning on Air radio show: I had recorded a session and interview with David 10 years ago and it was such a pleasure to reunite with him after all these years! You can listen to the programme here and also watch this video of me covering the song from The Night of the Hunter, “Pearl’s Dream” aka “Once upon a time there was a pretty fly”, which I now play at almost every show.
A few articles and interviews were published during the tour, including Time Out Chicago, Portland Mercury and Classicalite, and last but not least I got my first review in the New York Times for my New York show!
I’d like to end this post by sharing a drawing made by someone who attended my Portsmouth show: one of my favourite songs to play live is “This hammer breaks”, especially the ending, which until now had always brought images of some kind of nuclear alarm to my mind, but as the tour went on, nicer images came into my brain, specifically – for some reason – “Star Wars”, until in Portsmouth I actually strongly visualised some mice battling with laser swords throughout the ending of the song… I told the crowd about it and one audience member, Alyssa Grenning, did this drawing, which I just love and I think is the perfect epilogue to this tour!
Thanks so much everyone for your support and interest, as always your words and presence really mean a lot to me! Wishing you a wonderful summer :-)))
July 8, 2015 § Leave a comment
I have been back from my US tour for one week and am slowly recollecting my physical strength, my head still full of wonderful images and memories from what has proved to be my most fulfilling tour on every level – I truly do not regret the amount of time and effort that’s gone into getting the US visa and booking that tour as it’s been 100% worth it!
Life when you’re touring pretty much consists of packing and unpacking your suitcase constantly and making sure you don’t miss your plane (especially true if like me you’re travelling alone and no one is there to tell you what time you should get up and get ready to go), so I did not have time to update this website while on the road, although I did do facebook, which is faster to do. So I’ll give you an update in two or three parts on all that went on for my music in June, and there’s been a lot!
First things first, Christophe Thockler’s wonderful video for “I’m kin” was unveiled at the start of my tour.
Christophe was interviewed about the video on The Plus Paper and on The Creators Project, and you can also read Christophe’s own words on the video and see some stills on his website. Thank you so much Christophe!
I was invited by The Vinyl Factory to make a 100% vinyl mix, and after the two purely Jamaican mixes I did for Solid Steel and FACT (which were actually also 100% vinyl!), this time I decided to focus on the rest of my record collection, going back to old favourites and tying the past with the present. I hope you will love those tracks as much as I do, and you can listen and read what I wrote about the mix and some of its tracks here.
One of the highlights at the beginning of my US tour was getting to do a KEXP session in Seattle – here is the full session below, and you can check out photos taken on that day here.
More from me soon!
Ten years of Iker Spozio artwork, LSO St Luke’s photos and setlist, cover versions, Lee Perry tape, and more!
June 5, 2015 § Leave a comment
I would like to start this update with a celebration of my ten years of artistic collaboration with Italian artist Iker Spozio. On 23rd May 2005, my second album The Golden Morning Breaks was released and marked the beginning of my collaboration with Iker : ever since then, I’ve had the great privilege of having Iker illustrate and design every single one of my records, gig posters and websites. We both believe in the importance of the record being a beautiful physical object and it’s been awesome to know that whatever the musical direction I was taking, Iker was going to be able to translate it into visual terms way beyond my expectations each and every single time. You can see more of Iker’s work for me on my website and more of his work in general on his website. Thank you so much Iker!!!! :-)))
Thanks so much to everyone who came to the LSO St Luke’s show in London on 24th May and to Francis Gallagher for these beautiful photos! I really had a brilliant time playing in that amazingly beautiful space!
Here’s the setlist of the show, which those of you living in the US and planning to come to the US shows starting on 11 June can have a look at if you feel like knowing what’s in store for you!
1. Holding Horses
2. I’m Kin
3. This Hammer Breaks
4. Salina Stars
6. Soul Alphabet
7. The Weighing of the heart
8. O Willow Waly (from the film The Innocents)
9. Captain of None
10. Geometría del Universo.
11. Once upon a time there was a pretty fly (from the film The Night of the
12. Breaking Up the Earth
As you can see, the set now features two cover versions of songs taken from the soundtracks to two films, The Night of the Hunter and The Innocents.
If you’re not familiar with the films and the songs, I strongly urge you to watch the films, and in the meantime, if you’re curious as to what the originals sound like, here are two excerpts from Youtube.
Speaking of music that I like, here are more things that you can have a look at and listen to.
If you’ve read and heard some of my recent interviews, you’ll have noticed I keep mentioning a reggae tape containing mostly Lee Perry productions which my parents bought when I was very little (probably 4, as the compilation’s last selections are from 1979 and I was born in 1976). To this day my parents have no recollection of when or where they bought that “Kings of Reggae” tape, my best bet being that they got it at a motorway petrol station and were probably attracted by the Bob Marley mention (they’re definitely no reggae heads! ;-)). In any case, blessed be the day of that purchase, because hearing gems such as “Roast fish and corn bread”, “Return of the super ape”, “Come along” and “Little flute chant” probably had quite an influence on my subsequent development as a musician!
American radio programme The Dinner Party Download invited me to select my ideal dinner music for their programme.
Finally, in connection with a special concert held at the Barbican in April with music influenced by Terry Riley, I was among the artists to whom the Boiler Room asked what it is about Riley’s music that we like.
On the live front, I will be flying to San Francisco on 9th June to start my US tour, I’m very excited indeed to be hitting American shores for the first time since 2008 and I’m very much looking forward to sharing the stage with musicians that I love – you can see the full details on the live page and on my Songkick.
I will also be playing my first concert in Brussels since 2007, on August 24th, courtesy of Ancienne Belgique at the Park Royale (free event).
As always, thanks for your support!
May 15, 2015 § Leave a comment
So many things happening and too much travelling for me to update this newsletter as often as I would want to! Don’t forget you can check out my Facebook page for more regular updates, even if you’re not a Facebook user.
On the live front, unfortunately my two shows at the Cappadox festival in Turkey this weekend are cancelled due to legal reasons. I apologize for any inconvenience caused.
Lots of photos were taken at my show in Lisbon’s ZDB, both here and here – some of them are truly beautiful, and I had a very special time there, thanks ZDB! Thanks also to Fractured Air for the show in Cork’s Opera House and to GNRation in Braga!
More interviews and things to listen to this week: a long interview in English on the 405 and also on Music Won’t Save you, both in English and Italian (the interview was originally published in Rockerilla last month).
I had a double page spread in the cultural supplement of Portugal’s biggest national newspaper Publico, Ipsilon, here’s the link to the full article and a nice photo below!
I had the great and unexpected pleasure of Captain of None being chosen on the Album de Minuit radio show on France Inter, so for those of you who understand French, head here to listen to the show and the mini-interview in which I was asked what is my favourite midnight album.
I made a second 100% Jamaican mix, this time for FACT Magazine, focusing on songs that have specifically influenced Captain of None. Here’s the full text I wrote about the mix, and as always, thanks for your support! :-))))
My second 100% Jamaican mix, this time for FACT Magazine, focusing on songs that have specifically influenced Captain of None. Read the full text I wrote below:
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, interpretation, 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…