The son of two classical musicians, Christopher was drawn so persuasively to indie and alternative music and playing in school bands as a teen that he added guitar, bass guitar and drums to his existing repertoire of viola and piano, studying all five instruments at the same time. His debut LP for FatCat is full of achingly personal songcraft that's been recognized by NME, BBC Music, The Gurardian, Stereogum and most recently nominated for the UK's Mercury Prize.
Architect showcases a huge breadth in Christopher Duncan's songwriting abilities. Lead singles 'Say' and 'For' are characterized by their gentleness and warmth, while 'Garden' is bright, sunny and irrepressible, while 'By' and 'Novices' draw more overtly from Christopher's interest in electronic music and modern composition. He references The Knife and Arvo Part as willingly as Burt Bacharach and The Carpenters. Add to that shades of Talk Talk, Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear, The Ink Spots and the classical and choral compositions of Maurice Ravel and Gabriel Faure, and a picture of the record collection that informs Christopher's music starts to become clear.
Samana inhabit a musical space somewhere between Weyes Blood, Nico, Beach House and PJ Harvey, yet they possess a unique spirit born out of their nomadic existence. Each song is written with its own distinct weight and significance, born from the interpretation of dreams, the philosophies of ancient rituals and personal experience of love, loss and death.
Between themselves, Rebecca Rose Harris and Franklin Mockett are multi-disciplinary artists. Franklin crafts the instrumentation, recording, and production of the music to tape, while Rebecca Rose is the visionary behind the conceptual imagery, artwork, lyrics and film. The process by which all works are recorded is of great importance to Samana, who compose their art in their analogue recording studio and darkroom in the remote mountains of Wales. The album offers ruminations of solitude on the isolation of nature. Each song is a meditation laid to tape, forming an album of a natural order of thought and feeling to take us to great heights.
Recorded during several candle-burning stints at London's Fish Factory studios in the winter of 2016, Stina and Cat were joined by acclaimed producer James Dring, whose work with the likes of Jamie T and Gorillaz made him an intriguing choice for the Scottish duo. Make no mistake though, 'Babes...' doesn't sound like anyone else but Honeyblood. The urgent lo-fi charm that defined their debut still pulses from its core. The band that burst forth from Glasgow's DIY underground scene just a few years ago, recording cassette tape releases in their bathrooms and hosting ad-hoc parties in disused hairdressers is still in tact; however, the evolution that's taken place is undeniable. An epically road-tested band and a dose of production finesse create a formidable combination.
Stina's songwriting truly has found a bright new spotlight on her band's second outing. 'Babes...' is resplendent in the kind of effortless chant-a-long hooks that one by one will all soon become their own mantras. For a while now Honeyblood have been talked about as one of the most exciting new UK bands, but with 'Babes...' you just get the feeling that before long they'll be simply be known as one of the most important bands around, period.
'Centres' is the stunning new album from Vancouver-based vocalist / composer Ian William Craig, and his first release for FatCat (Max Richter, Hauschka, Dustin O'Halloran, Johann Johannsson, etc) following two critically lauded back to back albums for Recital Program. Ian William Craig is a trained operatic vocalist who combines his voice with analogue synthesizers, reel-to-reel machines, and faulty tape decks to create sublime cascades of unpredictable decay and beauty.
The songs were created manipulating tape loops through two or three decks at once to create strange deteriorating delays with different colors. Craig would then circuit-bend the bias to create odd kinds of distortion, or bend the sound back into itself so it feeds back in unpredictable ways. 'Centeres' is a stunning album that stands with a similarly unique sense of vision and integrity as the likes of William Basinski or Colin Stetson.
Following nearly three years of silence, FatCat's 130701 imprint is reactivated, with several new signings lined up ahead of next year's fifteenth anniversary of the label that played a pioneering role in the development of today's vibrant post-classical scene. The first of these signings, Dmitry Evgrafov is a hugely talented young Moscow based pianist/ composer/ multiinstrumentalist.
Collage' sees a clear shift from Dmitry's previous releases, each of which was marked by self-imposed restrictions. His first EP, 'Lying On Your Shoulder', adhered to an extremely minimalistic approach, using just string trio and piano; while on 'Pereehali', Dmitry confined himself to a single instrument, a Petrof upright piano, and a specific recording location. Feeling somewhat unsatisfied, Dmitry decided to take a break in order to rethink his approach to composing. He began a job as a sound designer, writing bespoke music for videos, commercials, audiovisual installations and scores. Working to set briefs under stricter conditions and with less time for introspection, the experience turned out to be liberating.
A must-hear for fans of fellow 130701 alumni Max Richter, Johann Johannsson, Dustin O'Halloran and Hauschka, Comprehension... marks Dmitry's first ever vinyl release and offers a genuinely rich, deep and rewarding listening experience. A wonderfully conceived and realized work, its narrative conceptually clear and moving with the emotional power and precise logic of a great film score. Forged in a very focused period of composition through late 2016 until early 2017, the writing process of 'Comprehension of Light' differed markedly from Dmitry's previous releases.
Comprehension... acts as a predominantly bleak sound-world. Eschewing the lyrical, piano-based impressionism that was becoming his hallmark, it instead unveils a constellation of heavy drones; low register brass and string swells; percussive rumbling / clacking; and sparse string composition. A stunningly conceived and executed album, Comprehension Of Light traces a redemptive narrative arc and bears witness to a rising young talent in the field of modern composition. It feels like a major step forward.
Shopping are propulsive basslines, primitive disco-not-disco drums and guitar lines sharp as broken glass. The band was formed in 2012 by members Rachel Aggs (guitar), Billy Easter (bass) and Andrew Milk (drums), who've all done time in a plethora of notable UK DIY bands including Trash Kit and Wet Dog. They pull from a well of 70's post-punk with a voraciousness seldom seen these days, bringing to mind the jagged aggression of Gang of Four, the voracious yelp of The Slits and the dance inducing thrust of Delta 5 and ESG.
The band released a 7-inch single shortly after forming, which sold out within a week. The band's self-released debut LP, put out via their own MILK records in the UK has received whole-hearted acclaim, selling out their 1000 piece run in just a few months by hand delivering them to top-tier UK shops, who couldn't seem to get enough of their groove riding, tough talking, life-loving post-punk funk. Now the band have signed on to FatCat, with a new LP on the way later in 2015 and to introduce the band stateside we're making their self-released album available here for the first time.
FatCat Records' 130701 imprint has played a pioneering role in the development of today's vibrant post-classical scene. It has introduced the likes of Max Richter, Hauschka, and Set Fire To Flames, and has been home to Sylvain Chauveau, Johann Johannsson, and Dustin O'Halloran. With its fifteenth anniversary approaching on 13th July 2016, 130701 is celebrating with the release of a compilation featuring eleven exclusive tracks - one from each of the artists to have graced the roster over the past fifteen years, plus three new signings - Ian William Craig, Olivier Alary and Resina - whose first 130701 albums are each set to appear this year. Curated and compiled by 130701's David Howell, none of these tracks has previously seen a physical release.
Dusseldorf-based pianist and composer Volker Bertelmann has taken a brilliant step forward with his fourth full-length release as Hauschka. Where his previous album comprised primarily solo recordings of Bertelmann and his “prepared” piano (with a few electronic and instrumental overdubs), Ferndorf is a more expansive and fully-realized effort. At once nostalgic, optimistic, and weighty, with deft melody sparkling among percussion and drive, Ferndorf carries an evocative richness and depth throughout its quick-paced, often light-hearted compositions.
Montreal-based Frenchman Olivier Alary is a highly talented composer, who has previously collaborated with Bjork and released albums on FatCat and Aphex Twin's Rephlex label under the name Ensemble, Over the past five or six years Olivier has moved away from that song-based project to focus on composing material for a stream of films and artistic collaborations. In 2007, Olivier's director friend Yung Chang asked him to score his feature-length debut, 'Up the Yangtze' which premiered at Sundance. The film was critically acclaimed and became a reference in the field, opening up a natural transition into film music for Olivier.
Since then he has soundtracked more than twenty feature-length fiction films and documentaries, several of which have received prestigious awards and screenings worldwide (Cannes, Berlinale, Sundance, TIFF, Locarno). As the album title alludes, 'Fiction / Non-Fiction' is a compilation of this film music, dating from from the past five years, none of which has been previously released. Olivier's material here might sit somewhere among the likes of Johann Johannsson, A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Stars Of The Lid, and Set Fire To Flames, while having the same masterly ear for sonic detail as Oneohtrix Point Never or Tim Hecker, but throughout the tracks are imprinted with Olivier's own, signature sound.
C Duncan's highly anticipated third album, following his Mercury Prize nominated debut and the critically acclaimed The Midnight Sun sees the Scottish multi-instrumentalist ditch his bedroom studio and work with other producers, engineers and musicians for the first time. Navigating themes of love, anxiety and sexuality, Health is a deeply personal record that delves into a world Duncan had previously felt uneasy exploring. Warm and harmonically rich, Duncan delightfully juxtaposes the vibrant and wholesome aesthetic of the album with an often darker lyrical undertone, pushing himself to refine and explore new ways of writing. As the sole protagonist of his self-carved niche, Health sees Duncan evolve and expand its parameters in mesmerizing fashion. Chiming with rippling enchantment, Duncan's vocal harmonies are executed with acute precision. Health has added even more layers while remaining thematically and lyrically laid very bare. Written around the time of the anti-gay purges in Chechnya, 'He Came From The Sun' sees Duncan slow things down and contemplate his own life and experience of coming out. Stuck Here With You' keeps the pace going before 'Care' wraps things up, the undulating heartbreak ballad a gentle and sombre end to an album packed with fresh ideas and buzzing with invention.
Shida Shahabi is a Swedish-Iranian pianist / composer, currently based in Stockholm. The beautiful, intimate and homespun piano of 'Homes' marks Shida's debut release. Each of the album's eight pieces were played on her J.G. Malmsjo piano - a very heavy and good quality Swedish upright from the turn of the 1900s, that had spent the majority of its life stationed in a church in central Stockholm, and was in fantastic shape for its age. There are no whistles and bells attached here, no big name guest performers or hired studio hands. Absolutely beautifully played and composed, it is a deeply charming record that exudes a confident warmth and an emotional depth and honesty in every note. Its production eschews the prioritizing of cleanliness, with a warm, fuzzy noise floor audible from the very first track immediately immersing the listener into this sublime yet imperfect reality - as though the whole existed beneath a layer of dust. It posits comfort over obsessive cleanliness. Living comfortably with traces of wear and decay, the recording makes audible intimate acoustic details and imperfections - creaking and hissing; tiny distortions; the pressure exerted by fingers and feet against the piano's pedals and keys.
Emerging from a damp, airless basement, rife with decay and broken equipment, Best Friends set about inflicting their warped idea of garage pop onto the public back in 2011, hell-bent on taking music back to a time when three minute pop songs transported you from your miserable maggot existence to a blissful state of nirvana, guitar tones fried your brain and hygiene was a dirty word.
'Hot. Reckless. Totally Insane' was birthed from early Best Friends recordings that produced tangible swathes of fuzz pierced with melody as the band sought to aurally emulate the workings of the Navajo rug makers, known for purposely weaving mistakes into their unique and complex patterns to remind us all that only the divine can achieve perfection. Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of WWF, a full set of achievements on Mario Kart and several crates of beer, the band have been delving deep to reach your most primal instincts ever since. The album was recorded at Unwound Recordings (London) and mixed and produced by Adam Jaffrey. Early singles, "Fake Spit" and "Shred Til You're Dead" have been garnering shouts in NME Magazine and DIY Magazine, amongst a host of others.
Following the release of their acclaimed 2012 debut, Everything Touching, Tall Ships were championed by both the BBC and NME, selling out shows across the UK and headlining the BBC Introducing Stage at Reading & Leeds Festival. Their debut earned a wealth of critical praise, with Pitchfork citing its penchant for "the more swashbuckling strains of Okkervil River and Modest Mouse, M83's downcast glimmer, and Sigur Ros' misty yawn," and BBC Music claiming, "the trio's debut displays dizzying craftsmanship."
After a patch of personal turmoil and a falling out with their record label, the band found themselves at a crossroads. Where lesser band's might have crumbled under the weight of expectation and adversity, Tall Ships regrouped and retreated to keyboardist Jamie Field's country home to re-adopt a similarly DIY recording process to that which birthed Everything Touching years earlier. As such Impressions bristles with a fresh intensity: it's a set that feels constantly on a knife edge of unpredictability, capable within a single song of being both disconcertingly tender and universal - easily the most ambitious and anthemic music the band has ever written, marking them out as one of the UK's most promising rock bands but one worn with the battle scars of doubt, fragility and lessons learned the hard way.
Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch is an award-winning French pianist / composer currently living in London. Spanning film score, bespoke composition and sound design, her work is connected by both its high quality and evocative, meticulous craft - a common sensibility of elegant, instinctual composition.
Shifting fluidly from solo piano pieces (the churning 'The Sum Of Our Flaws' and 'Six Of Swords'; the poignant delicacy of 'Hands Closed Together' or 'Strelka') to stirring chamber pieces (the formal elegance of Cotidal Lines; the expansive 'Minnesang'; the stirring sweep of 'Sublimation') and foregrounding explorative electronic enhancements (the delay-aggregation of 'Tulsi', the pulse-driven 'Persephone' and 'Scale Of Volatility'), the album is broad-ranged and playful yet cohesive and fully formed.
A gorgeously detailed and hugely impressive debut, 'Like Water Through The Sand' manages to sound at once fresh and familiar. It nestles comfortably within the contemporary cannon of post-classical producers / composers which 130701 played a formative part in helping establish (the adventurous modern landscape of Max Richter, Johann Johansson, Dustin O'Halloran, Hauschka, Nils Frahm, et al), and reveals a brilliant new voice to add to the firmament.
Following the success of their debut album release, TRAAMS have spent the last couple of years bringing their frantic, high-energy performances to various festivals and venues across Europe and the U.S., opening for the likes of Wire, Fucked Up, Parquet Courts, Royal Blood and more.
Their second album Modern Dancing captures the energy of their live performances and draws a wealth of brooding aggression and krautrock-infused-post punk. They have adapted the charisma of White Denim's experimentalism and early Modest Mouse' indie guitar pop to fit their own generation's drowsy indie ethos.
Gregory And The Hawk is the project of Meredith Godreau, a native New Yorker with a captivating voice that hovers between windchimes and churchbells, and an undeniable gift for gently insistent melodies and earnest metaphor.
Godreau’s self-released efforts have received much attention from a passionate online following: hundreds of thousands of YouTube views, millions of MySpace visits, and an endearing tendency of her fans to post their own cover versions of her poignant, memorable songs.
With a gift for emotive acoustic pop that places her squarely within the tradition upheld by artists like Susan Christie, Elliott Smith, and Regina Spektor, Gregory And The Hawk will undoubtedly meet new legions of devotees with her most accomplished group of songs yet.
Maarja Nuut is a singer and violinist. An utterly compelling, often hypnotic performer, she was born in Rakvere, in northern Estonia. Maarja has studied classical and folk music extensively. The modal sound of the pre-Soviet, Estonian "village style" - and her constant experiments with live looping - are central to her music. Hendrik Kaljuj√§rv (aka Ruum) started making electronic music at the age of 15. Kaljuj√§rv has no academic training. His expertise in creating soundscapes was forged in Tallinn's avant-garde theatre NO99; where he worked as sound engineer and designer. Essentially the recording of two musicians' inner travels, Muunduja is a release that relies heavily on gesture and spirit. Maarja Nuut & Ruum's music often lures us into unimagined conversations with elements of our psychic selves that we may have otherwise forgotten. Whether the listener reacts through out-of-body experiences, glitches in cerebral programming, or old fashioned magic is immaterial. We experience the phenomena presented to us, and we take new insights from them.
Following a triumphant 2014 and ahead of a month of US touring, fast¬≠rising Scottish duo Honeyblood have premiered an all¬≠new recording with, 'No Big Deal'. "We had a couple of songs that I really loved, but I didn't think were quite right for the next album," explains frontwoman Stina Tweeddale. "A double¬≠A side single felt the perfect way to get them out there." The first recordings with new drummer Cat Myers, the special standalone single release comes ahead of a packed touring schedule for 2015, which sees the band spending over a month in the US, taking in co¬≠headline stints with 2:54, as well as SXSW and a support tour with legendary fellow Scots Belle And Sebastian. With details of the physical release and 'No Big Deal' to arrive soon and an epic live schedule taking them into the autumn, 2015 looks to be another action¬≠packed year for one of the most talked-about new bands around.
As well as being a statement of intent, No Grace was that opportunity to go big or go home. So PAWS went big. After discovering a mutual appreciation between themselves and bassist/producer Mark Hoppus (Blink 182/+44), PAWS enlisted his support to help push these new songs to their wildest heights and pack the heftiest punch they could muster. And from the eponymous opener and first single, 'No Grace', it's clear the two are a perfect fit. Recorded last summer between Chem 19 in Glasgow and a private studio in Somerset, it's a partnership that strikes hard through the core of the record, from the anthemic gut-punch of 'N/A' to the thrashed out madness of 'Salt Lake' and 'Complete Contempt', PAWS' third album distills the best of what came before it and builds on it with strength and confidence.
Following their stark nod to the heroes of an industrial past, No One Can Ever Know, The Twilight Sad has dug into their own past to form an album that's bracing, biting and as widescreen as anything in their canon. The band, ever ambassadors of Scottish gloom, have harnessed their dark muse once again and drawn on their prowess in the live arena to track a record that proves they can translate the power of their stage show to tape.
"We spent a lot of time at home when writing this new record, we got to hang out with old friends and get back to some sort of normality, which I think really helped me clear my mind and focus in on writing these new songs," Graham says. "I had a lot I wanted to get off my chest and I've done that with this new record." A first listen to the album confirms everything the band has said - noisy, densely layered, and deeply melodic, it wouldn't be out of line to say this may be their best yet. One thing's for sure - the Twilight Sad have still got a lot of life left in them.
Last Fall The Twilight Sad released their much-lauded return to form Nobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave. The album was a bracing, widescreen encapsulation of everything that fans have come to love and expect from the band. And while the album was a dense and dark aural journey, the songs at the heart of the album were as raw and honest as ever, buoyed by James Graham's audacious burr and his equally brittle and cutting lyrics.
It's those lyrics and songwriting that come to the forefront on The Oran Mor Sessions. Captured live at Glasgow's infamous Oran Mor, a converted 19th century church, by the band's longtime live engineer Andrew Bush, these versions strip away the sonic fury to leave the songs vulnerable in acoustic arrangements that highlight the quiet beauty that lies beneath Twilight Sad records. The result is a new look at the songs that made up Nobody Wants To Be Here... paired with an emotional cover of Arthur Russell's classic "I Couldn't Say It To Your Face". The session becomes an invaluable companion piece to their latest album and an essential entry to the catalog in its own right.