Paradise Of Bachelors
£11.99"Jim is a great guitarist and a tremendous, empathetic listener." Richard ThompsonVisit product page →
Drawing from British folk, avant-rock, and jazz traditions alike, Wintres Woma-- Old English for "the sound of winter"-- is James Elkington's debut solo record, but you've likely heard his masterful guitar playing and arranging, even if you didn't realize it.
Elkington (an Englishman living in Chicago) is an inveterate collaborator who brings his lyrical compositional and improvisational sensibilities to any group. He has toured, recorded, and/or collaborated with Jeff Tweedy, Richard Thompson, Steve Gunn, Michael Chapman, Joan Shelley, Nathan Salsburg and Brokeback, to name just a few of his many enthusiastic admirers.
His assured album, recorded at Wilco's Loft, is baroquely detailed and beautifully constructed, featuring both his baritone vocals and some of Chicago's finest, including Tomeka Reid. Elkington was brought up in England during the '70s and '80s'a time when traditional and acoustic music was largely shunned in favor of the new wave (to which his largely-destroyed copy of The Fall's Perverted By Language will attest)'but found after his first forays into songwriting that some semblance of the folk music vernacular had crept in and wouldn't leave. Elkington's music, however, is anything if retroactive, and anything if folk music: 'It's not folk music,' he asserts. 'I may use the mechanics of folk music to put across my own ideas at times, but it really doesn't fall into any specific community or songwriterly tradition.
The album's lyrics do seem to have a preoccupation with unseen powers at work and other dimensions, both of which seem to show up in traditional English music, but it's based on my own experience and understanding, not anyone else's.' Wintres Woma was recorded at Wilco's studio, The Loft, in a five-day sprawl with engineer Mark Greenberg.
Elkington played and arranged all the instruments, with the exception of upright bass from Nick Macri, percussion from Tim Daisy, and string performances from Macie Stewart and Tomeka Reid, all of whom are veterans of Chicago's collaborative improvised music milieu. At times the results conjure Kevin Ayers delivering a Dylan Thomas or Gerard Manley Hopkins poem over a Bert Jansch song, all the while speaking in Elkington's singular voice, and shot with indelible melodies.
Each of these songs wrangles with memory, and even prophecy, in its knotty language and elegant, unpredictable progressions, drawing on the uncertain past'both personal and historical'in order to negotiate the uncertain future. In that sense, despite James'protestations, perhaps it is folk music.
RIYL: Steve Gunn, Michael Chapman, Kevin Ayers, Bert Jansch, Ryley Walker, Jim O'Rourke, Scott Walker, Talk Talk.
1. Make It Up
2. Hollow in Your House
3. Wading the Vapors
4. Grief Is Not Coming
5. When I Am Slow
6. The Parting Glass
7. The Hermit Census
8. Greatness Yet to Come
9. Sister of Mine
10. My Trade in Sun Tears
11. Any Afternoon
Paradise Of Bachelors
£11.99A master guitarist and songwriter - ¦ The godfather of experimental rock guitar' MOJOVisit product page →
'A world-class songwriter. Terrifically unpredictable - ¦ beyond any genre tag' Pitchfork.
After five decades of recording and touring, veteran British songwriter and guitar sage Michael Chapman has finally made what he calls his "American record," and the aptly titled 50 now stands as his late career masterwork, a moving legacy statement by a legend.
Backed by a collaborative group of friends and acolytes - Steve Gunn (who also produced), Nathan Bowles (Pelt, Black Twig Pickers), James Elkington (Jeff Tweedy, Richard Thompson), Jason Meagher (No-Neck Blues Band), Jimy SeiTang (Rhyton), and fellow UK songwriting luminary Bridget St John - Chapman tears into both bold renderings of new songs and radical reinterpretations of material from his revered catalog, the crack band adeptly scaling the same rarefied sonic heights of classic Harvest albums like Fully Qualified Survivor, guided by a true survivor's instinct, wit, and wisdom.
The result is a sublime chiaroscuro self-portrait, more shadow than light, as an invigorated Chapman wrestles with weighty themes of t ravel, memory, mortality, and redemption, his world-weary whispers assuming the incandescent power of prophecy.
The deluxe LP package includes tip-on jacket, printed inner sleeve, lyrics, and download card with two bonus tracks; the CD features a gatefold jacket, lyrics, and two non-LP bonus tracks.
The album includes both radical reinterpretations of obscure material from Michael's catalog as well as three new compositions: 'Sometimes You Just Drive,' 'Money Trouble,' and 'Rosh Pina.' A longstanding but freshly urgent preoccupation with (as Michael sings in a beloved early tune) 'time past and time passing' is evident straightaway, from the album title and the first line of the first song through the final lyric of the record. Never before in his storied career has Chapman gazed so steadily into the abyss of time lost and regained; never before has he engaged so intimately with his legacy and the changing meanings of his own music over time.
That he manages to do so without succumbing to nostalgia or sentimentality bears testament to the steely fortitude of his ruminative, tough-minded songs, which survey both inscape and landscape with the same stoical detachment. With 50, Chapman faces mortality with both guitar and chainsaw in hand, and endures.
It's the unguarded sound of Orpheus descending, the snake riding the guitar down the river Styx and returning upstream to tell his story.
1. "A Spanish Incident (RamÃ"n & Durango)
2. "Sometimes You Just Drive
3. "The Mallard
4. "Memphis in Winter
1. "The Prospector
2. "Falling from Grace
3. "Money Trouble
4. "That Time of Night
Paradise Of Bachelors
£20.49The masterful follow-up to his universally celebrated 2017 album 50, Michael Chapman's True North finds the elder statesman of British song writing and guitar plumbing an even deeper deep and honing an ever keener edge to his iconic writing.Visit product page →
This authoritative set of predominantly new, and utterly devastating, songs hews to a more intimate sonic signature'more atmospheric, textural, and minimalist than 50, stately and melancholy in equal measure. Recorded in rural West Wales, True North unflinchingly surveys home and horizon, traveling from the Bahamas to Texas to the Leeds of Chapman's childhood, haunted by the mirages of memory and intimations of mortality.
Joining him on this introspective journey is a cast of old friends and new disciples: once again Steve Gunn produces and plays guitar, and fellow UK song writing hero Bridget St John sings, collaborating with cellist Sarah Smout and legendary pedal steel player BJ Cole, who has accompanied everyone from John Cale to Scott Walker, Elton John to Terry Allen, Felt to Björk.
The album begins with the gnawing regret of 'It's Too Late,' and every song Chapman sings thereafter directly references the passing of time'its blind ruthlessness, its sweet hazy delights in noirish language almost mystical in its terseness and precision. (The two transportive, gorgeous instrumentals, one per side, both have appropriately evocative'though decidedly not Northern'pastoral place names for titles: Eleuthera is an island in the Bahamas where Chapman habitually holidays every winter, and Caddo Lake straddles the border between Texas and Louisiana.)
This is Chapman at his darkest and most nocturnal, yes, but also his most elegant and subtle, squinting into the black hours with an unseen smile. By the time True North is out in the world, Chapman will be seventy-eight years old and will have released nearly as many records, a staggering achievement. True North represents the most nakedly personal album of his career, his most authoritative, unguarded, and emotionally devastating statement.
His universally celebrated full-band 2017 album 50 flirted with much-deserved triumphalism, offering a retrospective of his illustrious career, revisited in the company of the fellow UK song writing hero Bridget St John and a rowdy gang of younger acolytes including Steve Gunn, James Elkington, and Nathan Bowles.
The production hearkens back to Chapman's classic Millstone Grit (1973), as well as recalling Bob Dylan's Time Out of Mind (1997); True North shares something of that album's spectral gloaming, midnight heartache, and sly, self-knowing winks.
Compared to 50, these recordings feel narrower in range, less overtly narrative and dynamic and more impressionistic and restrained, but they are correspondingly more piercing and arrow-like in their rending impact, more concerned with an archer's deadeye aim than pyrotechnics.
Whereas 50 featured two new songs among radical reinterpretations of material from Chapman's deep catalogue, True North includes twice as many new numbers among its quiver of eleven arrows''It's Too Late,' 'Eleuthera,' the fiery 'Bluesman,' and slow-rolling album centre piece 'Truck Song''confirming the exultant return of Chapman the songwriter. The other songs were selected from various obscure corners of Chapman's vast catalogue ('Youth Is Wasted on the Young' was previously recorded with Thurston Moore and Jim O'Rourke for a compilation, for example.) In these renderings they receive their definitive treatments, utterly transformed.
'A rich, haunting, collection of forlorn love songs, apocalyptic picaresques, and bewitching instrumentals that marks the latest stage in a remarkable career renaissance - ¦ by the godfather of new cosmic Americana' The Guardian
'Beatific. Haunted by memories & auguries, & communicating something of their uncanny twilight power' MOJO
'A finely tuned piece that surveys the looming thunderclouds of mortality and the biblical gloom of the times, and quietly, unshowily transcends both' Uncut
'A late-career triumph [of] mystery and weight' The Times
Paradise Of Bachelors
£33.99Mike Cooper wrote his final songwriter record, a suite of gloaming glam-rock anthems performed with a spiritual jazz trio, while living on the Costa Tropical of Granada, Spain, an era when he was considering retiring from music altogether. A chance encounter and a last-ditch record deal convinced him to make one last album, which he recorded in 1974 at Pathway Studios in London, with “The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World,” featuring the inventive South African jazz rhythm section of Louis Moholo and Harry Miller with UK saxophonist Mike Osborne.Visit product page →
This first-ever reissue includes a bonus CD of Milan Live Acoustic 2018, a previously unreleased solo set that represents Cooper’s return, after forty-four years pursuing free improvisation and electronics, to a new, deconstructed approach to singing, steel guitar, and songcraft.
The deluxe LP+CD edition also features a six-panel insert with additional artwork and an essay by the artist about both records. The deluxe 2xCD gatefold edition features an eight-panel version of the same insert.
In the wake of his magisterial triptych of early 1970s avant-folk-rock records Trout Steel (1970), Places I Know (1971), and The Machine Gun Co. (1972) the British songwriter, guitarist, and fledgling improviser Mike Cooper retreated to the Costa Tropical of Granada, Spain. With no prospects for touring or recording again, his fiery band the Machine Gun Co. had disintegrated.
Cooper sets the scene in his liner notes of the first-ever reissue of his unjustly forgotten next album Life and Death in Paradise (1974): No one came running with offers of fame and riches, and we fell apart, and I left the country and headed for the beach, disillusioned and a bit disorientated musically. I went to Almuñécar in Andalusia, a place I had been going since 1969, because a painter friend from Reading, Rowland Fade who made the collage in the gatefold of my earlier album Trout Steel had moved there in 1968.
It was in this synthetic coastal “paradise,” unmoored and adrift, considering retiring from music altogether, that he began tentatively writing new songs. A chance encounter with producer Tony Hall, who offered Cooper a last-ditch record deal on Hall’s nascent Fresh Air label, convinced him to make one last album with the stipulation that he could assemble what he called “The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World.” I told Tony that I would do it if I could hire some of my South African jazz musician friends that I had used on my Pye/Dawn albums and some friends from Reading that I still knew and admired.
I called up Harry Miller, Louis Moholo, and Mike Osborne, who were in fact a trio at the time … and several local Reading heroes, including the singer-songwriter Terry Clarke.
The result, recorded live with minimal overdubbing at Pathway Studios in London, was Life and Death in Paradise, an utterly singular suite of gloaming glam-rock anthems performed with a spiritual jazz trio comprising the inventive South African jazz rhythm section of Moholo and Miller with UK saxophonist Osborne. Unlike anything else in Cooper’s extensive catalog. Fresh Air fizzled, and Life and Death became Cooper’s final record as a songwriter, having pushed the form as far as he could.
Drifting north from Spain back to the UK, he fell into the scene of the London Musicians Collective (LMC) including Paul Burwell, David Toop, and saxophonist Lol Coxhill, Cooper’s bandmate in the Recedents and fully embraced free improvisation.
He was still, however, interested in singing and lyrics, so, influenced by Tom Phillips, William Burroughs, and Brion Gysin, he began experimenting with text collage and cut-up techniques, arriving at his own hybrid compositional strategy for improvisatory songs.
The previously unreleased solo set Milan Live Acoustic 2018 represents Cooper’s return, after more than four decades pursuing free improvisation and electronics, to a new, deconstructed approach to singing, lap steel guitar, and songcraft. Presented here together with Life and Death in Paradise, the two records provide fascinating bookends to Mike Cooper’s long, mercurial, and pioneering practice as a songmaker.
1. Rocket Summer
2. Black Night Crash (including “Horry Rocker Show”)
3. O.M.M. Coda
4. Suicide De Luxe (including “Rock and Roll Hi Way”)
5. Life and Death in Paradise (including “Through a Veil,” “Beads on a String,” and “Reprise”)
6. Critical Incidents.
Milan Live Acoustic 2018:
1. Migrants Song
2. Approaching Zero
3. Industrial Hazard
4. In Moments of Reverie
5. Peach Trees
6. Sage and Thyme
7. Lord Franklin
Paradise Of Bachelors
£11.99Deluxe 140g virgin vinyl LP features heavy-duty gatefold download code.Visit product page →
'Near-religious drone. The effect is kaleidoscopic.' The Quietus
'Devotional ambient dreamscapes ... follows in the fertile footsteps of Terry Riley and Alice Coltrane.' Uncut
'Recalls the time-lapse of an epic nature documentary ... Such intention, such mindfulness, such clarity of vision.' The Observer
A twelve-faceted so nic inquiry into celestial cycles and the illuminating nature of darkness, Bellowing Sun is the majestic culmination of composer, harmoniumist, and synthesist Jaime Fennelly's immersive explorations of the natural world's sensory dimensions and the dialogues between musical traditions'acoustic and electronic, vernacular and avant-garde.
Commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago for its world premiere performance, and recorded and mixed by Fennelly with John McEntire (Tortoise), it features Janet Beveridge Bean (Freakwater), Jim Becker (Iron and Wine), and Jon Mueller (Death Blues).
A twelve-faceted sonic inquiry into celestial cycles, the rhythms of the natural world, and the illuminating nature of darkness, the accompanying album Bellowing Sun is the majestic culmination of Fennelly's immersive explorations of the natural world's sensory dimensions and the dialogues between musical traditions'acoustic and electronic, vernacular and avant-garde.
The solitary compositional genesis of the piece, and a significant portion of its early recording (before tracking and mixing sessions with John McEntire of Tortoise), occurred at Bean's home atop a dune of fine quartz 'singing sands' on the shore of Lake Michigan. Sonically, Bellowing Sun is both kaleidoscopic and telescopic in nature, offering a radiant palette of rhythmic, textural, and tonal complexity, as well as rapid shifts in scale, from the intimately corporeal to the dizzyingly cosmic.
All four J's'Jaime, Janet, Jim, and Jon'appeared together on Undying Color, but have since solidified into a formidable, cohesive unit, a true band capable of increasingly expansive arrangements. Though divided into twelve movements, or aspects'zodiacal sectors, perhaps'the piece functions as a heroic, integral whole.
The album's sequence reveals a dynamic push and pull between contemplative stasis and headlong momentum, imparting a palpably physical mass to the cataracts of sound. Bean sings on half of the tracks, including early stunner 'Matchstick Grip' and the spectacular closer 'Pause to Wonder.' Whether articulating words or intoning phonemes, her powerful, lucent voice elevates the proceedings to a devotional plane whenever it emerges from the saturated field of sound.
1. Feeding on the Flats
2. Matchstick Grip
3. A Palinopsic Wind
RIYL: Popul Vuh, Henry Flynt, Arthur Russell, CAN, La Düsseldorf, Tony Conrad & Faust, Broadcast, Terry Riley & Alice Coltrane - ¦
5. Lanterns on the Beach
6. Vermillion Pink
7. Halfway to the Zenith
8. Oculate Beings
9. Talking Knots
10. Twenty-One Falls
12. Pause to Wonder
Release Date: 06/04/2018