littlebow, the London-based duo of multi-instrumentalists Katie English and Keiron Phelan, first broke ground in 2011 with their debut album on Second Language, The Edge Blown Aerophone – its title an explicit reference to the varied flutes and woodwinds which characterized the record, alongside vestigial flavours of classical minimalism, Krautrock and a soupcon of esoteric, pastoral prog-rock.
Having established their template, Pi Magpie sees littlebow expanding their brief considerably – their signature flutes now part of a broader sonic palate in which tremulous keyboards, spidery guitars, cyclical drums and sonorous Eastern percussion ebb and flow with equal consequence.
The title Pi Magpie is apt, denoting as it does, the notion of ‘intelligent, mischievous theft’, thus indicating littlebow’s appropriation and synthesis of numerous musical styles. Not that this is an album merely of postmodern collage: palpable human warmth, generous melody and a jazzy freedom of expression are the true hallmarks of Pi Magpie. So, even as ‘For the Song’ evokes Philip Glass gone be-bop, the up-tempo ‘Devil’s Interval’ summons Zuckerzeit-period Cluster, ‘Part Time Blind’ suggests breezy quasi-‘60s instrumental exotica and ‘Hosianna Raft’ recalls the sun kissed optimism of Can’s Future Days, this remains first and foremost music predicated on originality, seductive timbre and timeless art-pop accessibility. Which remains the case even when you learn that ‘Pin Point Night’ is based squarely on Stravinsky harmonies, or that all of the album’s bass parts are played on duo pizzicato cellos and structured on complex gamelan rhythms – Katie English being a regular performer in London gamelan orchestras.
Indeed, both Katie and Keiron are practiced luminaries of leftfield music – the former in her much-vaunted, Home Normal championed, guise as electronic sound sculptor Isnaj Dui and a host of recondite collaborations including Hybernation, Memory Drawings and The Doomed Bird Of Providence, the latter as co-founder of cult Millennial post-rockers State River Widening and critically lauded joint-originator of albums for the likes of Leaf and Static Caravan as Phelan/Sheppard and Smile Down Upon Us. They currently play principal roles in the Orla Wren sound art collective.
The antithesis of bucolic, faux-romantic, post-ambient noodle, Pi Magpie is a crucible of innovation and charm, deliberately glinting with urban textures, delivered by musicians with street smarts. As Keiron puts it, “We’re city people, and I think the music reflects that. Our green spaces are surrounded by speeding traffic – and the Magpie is a bird of urban stripe…”
Pi Magpie comes packaged as a 8 panel concertina sleeve with artwork by Malcolm English and design by Jonathan Lees.
Second Language subscribers will also receive a bonus disc, Five White Feathers, featuring 5 remixes of tracks from the album by Memory Drawings, Oliver Cherer, Thaiseeds, USRNM and Weave.
1. Pi Mapie
2. The Devil’s Interval
3. For The Song
4. Wearside Rat Catcher
5. Hosianna Raft
6. Joe Caligula
7. How The Moon Got Its Light
8. Part Time Blind
9. The Pin Point Night
10. Faking Halos
Listen to ‘The Devil's Interval‘ from the album here :
The name Ghost Stations (Geisterbahnhöfe in German) refers to the abandoned metro stations of London and Berlin. Those in London were shut down at various points during the 20th century and remain closed. You can see their traces – ox blood red arched facades revealed here and there at street level or phantom platforms glimpsed through the shadows as you rumble through tunnels at speed. The Berlin stations were closed during the Cold War period, keeping silent vigil in the no-mans-land between East and West before being reopened after reunification.
The music on Ghost Stations finds Dollboy conjuring the haunted spirit of these stations, basing his atmospherically charged compositions on field recordings captured at sites on both the U-bahn and the London Underground. As he says in the accompanying notes: “I have tried to imagine the spirits of those that might have passed through: commuters, revellers, spies, worshipers and the decaying remnants of ghostly dance orchestras.”
The results are nothing less than sublime; the music (actually a melting together of 12 individual tracks, each inspired by one or other of the titular stations) unfurling in one long, dream-like ‘train ride’ suite through the psycho-geography of two cities whose ambiguous histories remain immutably bound up with notions of ‘the underground’. It’s a curious but compellingly procession through an echoing mosaic of half-heard parlour pianos, gauzy electronics, mournful trumpets, preternatural throbs and even a baroque fragment of The Rolling Stones’ She’s A Rainbow, blown into our ears through tunnels of yesteryear. It’s eerily beautiful in the subtle, yet emotionally charged manner of Gavin Bryars’ The Sinking of the Titanic or Brian Eno’s On Land, yet, for all that, a unique and compelling sound world that’s all its own.
Dollboy is the alias of London-based musical polymath Oliver Cherer who has released five albums (of both electronic music and more orthodox song-based material) under that moniker for the likes of Different Drummer, Arable and Static Caravan, as well as a host of other collaborations and projects.
‘Ghost Stations / Geisterbahnhöfe,' originally released in different artwork by Second Language in 2010, now comes packaged as a 6 panel concertina sleeve designed by Oliver Cherer.
Second Language subscribers will also receive a semi-transparent bonus disc, Sidings, featuring remixes of tracks from the album by Cédric Pin, Blood On The Snare, The Home Current and Silent Tape. A train ticket commemorating Dollboy’s recent live performance of the album at the Brunel Museum, Rotherhithe is also included.
South Kentish Town
Bull & Bush
Unter Den Linden
Listen to ‘Jannowitzbrucke‘ from the album here :
Out today (Sunday 22nd Sept 2013), 'Solar/Stellar - Colleen Remixed' digital EP featuring incredible remixes from Colleen's widely-acclaimed 'The Weighing Of The Heart' album by The Home Current and Comma Period.
The Home Current is the recording moniker of Second Language co-founder Martin Holm. 'Mizieb EP' out now featuring remixes of Theme From Mizieb plus 2 new original tracks featuring Sarah Kemp of brave timbers / Lanterns On The Lake and Anna Rose Carter of Moon Ate The Dark.
Inspired by DIY punk ethics, Comma Period designs abstract yet playful soundscapes around Colleen's dreamlike voices, enhancing the music's otherworldliness and taking you on a journey where the next pattern is not what it should be. Expect moonlit skies & some seashells to be found on the way. Comma Period, ex-bass player & ex-radio dj, now a specialist of French cinema from the thirties, lives in Paris, France.
1. Colleen - Breaking Up The Earth (The Home Current Remix)
2. Colleen - Moonlit Sky (Comma Period Remix)
3. Colleen - Ursa Major Find (Comma Period Remix)
Buy from our friends at Boomkat : https://boomkat.com/downloads/797933-colleen-solar-stellar
Video by Sougwen Chung
Colleen also plays a mini-tour of France during October :
11 October 2013 Le Mans, France, La Peniche Excelsior
14 October 2013 Poitiers, France, Festival Le Circuit / Le Dietrich – 4 pm
16 October 2013 Rennes, France, Festival Maintenant – 12.30 pm
18 October 2013 Nantes, France, Le Lieu Unique – Les Soirées Curieuses – 8.30 pm
Way back in 2010, Second Language released a compilation album called Music and Migration, which proffered exclusive sonic wares by artists including Vashti Bunyan, Xela, Hauschka, Leyland Kirby and Peter Broderick. Themed around issues of avian migration, and the many man-made threats to international ‘flyways’ as highlighted by the nature conservation organization, BirdLife International’s Born to Travel campaign, the album proved to be both an artistic and critical ‘hit’, selling out its limited edition almost immediately.
Encouraged by its success, Second Language went on to release a second volume in 2011, the aptly-titled, Music and Migration II, this time in support of BirdLife Malta and their efforts to secure avian migratory routes across the islands. Artists included Marissa Nadler, Piano Magic, Sophie Hutchings and James Brewster.
The third and final instalment in the Music & Migration series Music & Migration III congratulates BirdLife International on their 20th Anniversary and particularly celebrates their important global work for migratory birds. M&MIII has a no less stellar cast, including as it does, exclusive contributions from eminent field recordist Chris Watson, Mark Fry, Colleen, Morr Music label mates ISAN and Pascal Pinon, Lisa Knapp, Memory Drawings, Frances Castle, Oliver Cherer (Dollboy), Gareth Dickson, acid-folk doyenne Sharron Kraus, Directorsound and Glen Johnson (Piano Magic).
'Music & Migration III' comes packaged as a 6 panel concertina sleeve beautifully illustrated by Frances Castle of Clay Pipe Records/The Hardy Tree.
Included with M&MIII is a free bonus disc, Mizieb EP, by The Home Current featuring remixes of Theme From Mizieb (originally released on M&MII) by the likes of The Boats, Opiate, Chronomad, El Búho and Blood On The Snare (Jerome Tcherneyan of Piano Magic). Two original tracks complete the set - Fiddien Torchlight Procession (feat. Anna Rose Carter) and A Case Of Domestic Violins (feat. Sarah Kemp of brave timbers/Lanterns On The Lake).
Even when the music stops, migratory birds will still face threats along their routes of travel. Find out how you can help here: www.birdlife.org
1. ISAN - Kirkeskov
2. Colleen - Bird Score
3. Frances Castle - Flight Of The Swans
4. Oliver Cherer - Croham Hurst
5. Directorsound - Is That The Heron?
6. Mark Fry - In Times Like These
7. Memory Drawings - Wheatfields
8. Glen Johnson - L'abandon
9. Pascal Pinon - Fuglar
10. Sharron Kraus - Birds Of The Air
11. Gareth Dickson - Amber Sky
12. Lisa Knapp - Fine Horseman
13. Chris Watson - Namaqua Moves
Listen to ‘Kirkeskov’ by ISAN from the album here :
Sharron Kraus is a singer, musician and songwriter who both defiantly recasts and tenderly cherishes the folk tradition. Her songs tell intricate tales of rootless souls, dark secrets and earthy joys, the lyrics plucked as sonorously as her acoustic guitar. Utilising voice, field recordings and sparse instrumentation, her new project, 'Pilgrim Chants & Pastoral Trails' attempts to evoke the music embodied within the landscapes of Mid Wales. In Sharron's own words :
"Driving along the Elan Valley from Rhayader to Aberystwyth one sunny day I had the overwhelming sense that there was music contained in the landscape, waiting to be discovered. I decided to move to Mid-Wales, to a quiet place just north of that valley and try to tap into that music and draw it out. Over a period of two years I walked and drove around the area, criss-crossing the landscape, stopping wherever the magic of the place was too strong to ignore. I took a minidisc recorder with me and recorded the birds, streams and waterfalls, the animals, the wind, and the jet planes that sliced through the quiet. I listened and absorbed as much as possible and then went home and recorded. My initial aim was to record a soundtrack for my own experiences, something to listen to as I drove along the winding mountain roads or walked out in the hills at night, but as the project developed and other musicians added to it, the pieces moved out of the realm of the purely personal and became soundscapes that captured something of this place, unlocked an enchanted world. Musical reference points include Eno's ambient works, Richard Skelton's landscape-inspired pieces, Mike Oldfield's 'Hergest Ridge', Popol Vuh's soundtrack to Herzog's 'Nosferatu' and the music of the Third Ear Band, Fursaxa, Plinth, the latter two being people I've collaborated with."
'Pilgrim Chants & Pastoral Trails' is number No.5 in the 2L Library Series - a highly collectable catalogue of hardback CD albums designed to be stored in your bookcase. An accompanying bonus disc, 'Night Mare,' is available free with this release to Second Language subscribers. Both the main album and the bonus disc were beautifully designed by Martin Masai Andersen/Andersen M Studio.
PILGRIM CHANTS & PASTORAL TRAILS
3. Cadair Idris
4. Candlemaas Moon
5. Winding Road
6. Dark Pool
7. Y Fari Lwyd
Listen to ‘Winding Road’ from the album here :
Read more : www.sharronkraus.com/
As 2001's Seasonally Affective archived Piano Magic's first five years of existence, Heart Machinery assembles the subsequent, no less prolific, eight for easy filing. The full EPs, singles and compilation tracks here navigate a ley line between the London-based group's roots in experimental, lo-fi electronica and their excursions into raw, full-blown rock-outs and back again. Maybe it's the restlessness of this Anglo-French unit that has not only kept fans on their toes but perhaps denied them more than a few seconds in the limelight. Not that it matters, Piano Magic's aim was always for the heart and they rarely missed.
It's a giant sidestep from the prose-heavy, 4-track improvisations of 2001's I Came to Your Party Dressed as a Shadow EP to 2003's Speed The Road, Rush The Lights. By then, Piano Magic had established itself on the stage, regularly touring Continental Europe, now armed with standard issue rock 'n' roll armoury - drums, bass and fx-infused guitars. Even so, contrary to the core, not only did 2003's Saint Marie EP feature the crystal-voiced, then fresh from obscurity '70s folk-pop doyenne, Vashti Bunyan, as well as Low frontman, Alan Sparhawk, it also saw the band's palette extend to include tambura (courtesy of Cornershop's Ben Ayres), Spanish guitar, Durutti Column-esque drum machinery, viola, harp, hand-claps.
Two years later, the band threw another curve-ball. Recording in the grimy, often freezing backstreet studios of East London, they once again retreated into icy synths, skittery beats and glacial voices. It's here that the band's claim to being the world's premier (perhaps only) 'ghost rock' group makes perfect sense.
Heart Machinery includes several ultra-rare cuts, notably 'The Inquest of My Youth' - originally recorded for cult American psych/experimental Dream Magazine. Similarly, 'A Fist In The Air (A Tear In The Eye)' was, until now, only to be found on Randall (Fuxa) Nieman's excellent Mind Expansion label compilation (2006), while 'What Does Not Destroy Me,' is plucked from a split 7" single with Klima, on the French label, Monopsone (2003).
Heart Machinery is number No.2 in the new 2L Library Series - a highly collectable catalogue of hardback CD albums designed to be stored in your bookcase.
An accompanying bonus disc, Never It Will Be The Same Again (originally released as a ltd edition vinyl-only EP in 2006 as part of the EN/OF Series), is available free with this release to those buying Heart Machinery from the Second Language website.
This is SL021.
1. I Came To Your Party Dressed As A Shadow
2. Blood & Snow
3. The Drowning Of St Christopher
4. Speed the Road, Rush The Lights
6. Luxembourg Gardens
7. What Does Not Destroy Me
8. Saint Marie
9. Fantasia On Old English Airs
10. Dark Ages
12. Wrong Turn
13. Kind Theme
1. Echoes On Ice
2. The Journal Of A Disappointed Man
3. I Didn't Get Where I Am Today
4. This Heart Machinery
5. The Inquest Of My Youth
6. A Fist In The Air (A Tear In The Eye)
8. I Have Moved Into The Shadow
9. Giant Mirror To Light Up Village
10. Lights Come On At 3
11. Dark Horses
14. A Book I Should Not Read
Second Language’s new Library Series continues apace with the release of a new album by Áine O'Dwyer, multi-instrumentalist and singer, best known for her lyrical harp playing on collaborations with Mark Fry and The A. Lords, United Bible Studies, Piano Magic and Richard Moult, among a host of others.
Effectively the follow-up to her 2011 album of improvised organ etudes, Music for Church Cleaners, the vivid, aptly titled Anything bright or startling? is Áine’s first album with vocals. With its glinting, bucolic air, offset by detours into shadowy introspection, and rolling, freeform architecture, the album pitches up close to Nico at her most reflective (The Marble Index might be a partial signpost, as might the transcendent tenor of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks).
Anything bright or startling? comes as a 9 track CD album in a hardback book-size format designed by Andersen M Studio.
1. Falcon/Egress/Coiled Eyes
3. Albion Awake/Lifeboy
4. Silent O Moyle/Truant Crier
Listen to Falcon from the album here :
Aine plays live throughout the year :
8th June – Café Oto, London (Second Language label night with Colleen and Directorsound)
19th June - The Dentist, Chatsworth Road, London
12th July - The Museum of Modern Art, New York City
27th July, The Avant Festival, Cork, Ireland
23rd - 25th August, Fano free folk festival, the island of Fano, Denmark
2nd November Triskel Arts Center, Ireland
Second Language is beside itself with joy to announce the release of a new album by Colleen on May 13th. The Weighing of the Heart is No. 4 in the highly collectible Second Language (2L) Library Series and available as:
1. 11 track CD album in 8-page hardback book-size format
2. 11 track vinyl album in gatefold sleeve with 8-page booklet and mp3 download code
The deluxe album artwork is the creation of illustrator Iker Spozio (also responsible for Mark Fry’s ‘I Lived In Trees’ sleeve).
Listen to excerpts from the album here : https://soundcloud.com/second-language/sets/colleen-the-weighing-of-the
Push the Boat Onto the Sand/Ursa Major Find/Geometría del Universo/Humming Fields/Break Away/Going Forth By Day/The Moon Like a Bell/Raven/Moonlit Sky/Breaking Up the Earth/The Weighing Of the Heart
Photo by John Barrett
Directorsound is the recording and performance alias of Nicholas Palmer, last seen in a Second Language context as a member of The A. Lords, as a key multi-instrumentalist protagonist on Mark Fry’s I Lived in Trees opus (and a major constituent of Mark’s stellar live band).
I Hunt Alone is the first Directorsound longplayer on 2L (Nick has previously recorded for Domino/Geographic and Tona Serenad). It was recorded over an intense period during the summer of 2011 as an attempt to produce “a cohesive, narrative-driven folk horror symphony”; the sounds and tone of the album inspired by a holiday in Transylvania the previous year. Unused to being abroad without a suitcase full of instruments, Nick instead captured the sounds of the locality to later feed off and incorporate into the album. Thus, field recordings of a rattling train journey across the plains into the heart of Transylvania and the bells of several church towers in the walled citadel of Sighisoara, birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, find their way into the music.
Recorded in the marginally less Gothic environs of Nick’s native Dorset (and partly in Mark Fry's rural Normandy home), the album title refers not only to the folk-horror theme but also reflects upon the sense of aloneness Nick felt as a ‘one-man-band’ touring musician “on the road with my suitcase of accordion and bells. This is where the album was born.”
I Hunt Alone features an all acoustic instrument line up, including guitar, piano, accordion, harmonium, clarinet, trumpet, recorders, bouzouki, balalaika, banjo, ukulele, autoharp, bass, belldalabra, percussion/drums and a vast collection of bells collected from around the world. Guest musicians include Chris Cole of Third Eye Foundation, Matt Elliott’s ensemble and Many Fingers, and Ian Holford of the Nectarine no.9 and The Sexual Objects.
This is SL020.
1. Pan in Paradise
2. Serpent In The Jaws Of October
3. I Hunt Alone
4. Sun Dazed and Dancing
6. Nocturne for Grace
7. La Strega E Lo Stolto
8. Turnal Cu Ceas
I Hunt Alone is number No.1 in the new 2L Library Series - a highly collectible catalogue of hardback CD albums designed to be stored in your bookcase.
Art direction, photography, design by Martin Masai Andersen and Line Lunnemann Andersen of Andersen M Studio.
An accompanying bonus disc, 'Sins Of The Leopard Suite', (SL020x) is available only to Second Language subscribers with this release.
It seems an age since we released our first Second Language spawn out into the great wide world, though in fact, Textile Ranch's 'Tombola', our debut release, only came out at the end of 2009. Since then, we've been as prolific as time has allowed, not least during 2012, releasing albums by Tyneham House, Memory Drawings, Richard Moult, Piano Magic and The Cloisters; not to mention our 11-track label sampler, 'End Of A Season.'
Early 2013 will herald the dawning of a new era in many ways, as not only will we be taking the monumental step of actually employing a regular designer, we'll also be raising the bar on the quality of our packaging. Releases in the all-new 2L Library Series will be issued in hardback book format which can be racked, side by side, in a bookcase, on a shelf, in the pantry, etc.
As a result of this luxurious upgrade, the individual retail cost of buying an album from the Library Series will rise slightly in early 2013, but if you subscribe before the next release (SL020), you'll receive the ensuing five albums at our current subscription price (works out at about £10 per album + p&p).
Given that we have at least seven new albums already in production, it looks like 2013 will be our most industrious year yet.
You probably don't need reminding, but if you subscribe to Second Language, you'll receive collectible bonus material that's available exclusively to subscribers - this often extends to additional full-length albums. You can take a look at our subscription offer here.
Thank you for supporting us throughout 2012.
A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.
Glen, David and Martin
Martin, David and Glen's annual best of 2012 selections can be found here.
Dorset-based Michael Tanner is a protean musician with a rare facility for releasing albums and other miscellaneous sonic projects (under his own name, in various guises that include Plinth, Thalassing, Taskerlands and Cat Lady, or as part of the duo The A. Lords, or the improvisatory ensemble United Bible Studies) with a jaw-dropping frequency whose quantity is, impressively, always matched by artistic quality.
Michael’s predilection for abstracted, psycho-geographic English folk-soundscapes, for dreamlike Mellotron woodwinds, plangent string drones, lambent field recordings and eerie Victorian dulcimers (not to mention the odd heavily deconstructed Fleetwood Mac song…) has inexorably evolved into a distinctive musical vocabulary. Much of his constantly expanding body of work will already be familiar to Second Language devotees.
The debut album by The Cloisters is another fine addition to that imposing oeuvre. Featuring Aine O’Dwyer (United Bible Studies) on harp, Daniel Merrill (Dead Rat Orchestra) on viola, Aaron Martin on cello and Hanna Tuulikki on church harmonium, The Cloisters takes us on a four-leg journey through a pastoral but shaded landscape, pregnant with mystery and nostalgia. Although the album has no core concept, it is a record, Michael explains, partially inspired by childhood memory. “It was recorded in some of the places I grew up in – Symonds Yat, in Herefordshire, and a few Welsh border towns… and was heavily influenced by re-reading Susan Cooper’s Dark Is Rising series of pagan children’s books, with their tales of billowing mists rolling down Welsh mountains.”
Suitably evocative, vérité recordings of genuine rural mystique punctuate the exquisitely elusive music, everything from cooing wood pigeons to distant poachers “firing their guns in the woods during rainfall at midnight.” To similar atmospheric ‘real world’ effect, Hanna Tuulikki’s numinous keyboards were recorded in the smallest church in England, at Lullington, Sussex. Another leitmotiv is Mooch, Michael’s pet cat, who appears at the start and (unexpectedly) at the end of the record. Sadly, she passed away just after the album was mastered.
The Cloisters, Michael reveals, was conceived during a time of deep personal dissatisfaction with the drone/ambient/classical minimalist ‘scene’ – one seemingly populated by “the same 30 blokes, making the same music in Ableton [loop-based music software], more often than not sporting the same beard. It was made under an awareness that I was lumped in with them, and internalising if/how I was really so different. It became an attempt to see if I could retain the style of music I’ve been making for 12 years now, but still try and get out of the box, so to speak.”
At the very least a hugely successful box-evading exercise, The Cloisters will especially delight those who revelled in the Plinth album Music for Smalls Lighthouse, originally released, in a lavish book format, by Second Language in 2010 – an album whose economic sonic palette was used to similarly poignant affect.
2. The Lock Keeper
3. Freohyll Nocturne/Hymn
4. A Pelagic Recital
The Cloisters 'S/T' comes as a 4 track, 41 minutes+ CD album in beautiful concertina sleeve. NOTE : Second Language subscribers will also receive a 6 track, 34 minutes+ CDR of bonus material, 'Little Summer/Little Winter.'
© 2013 Second Language Music
The content of this website, including all text and imagery, is copyrighted by Second Language Music. The use of any material contained herein without permission constitutes copyright infringement. Please ask first!