Perhaps still most widely recognised for Dreaming With Alice, his 1972 psych-folk debut for RCA Italy as a 19-year-old art student-troubadour, Mark Fry has been turning his creative gaze on the world, and alchemising its elements into shimmering, quietly visionary works of art, ever since. Certainly not an artist who dances to the music of time in any conventional sense, Mark, a respected, and collected, painter, most often to be found holed up in his Normandy farmhouse studio, allowed more than three decades to glide by before recording Alice’s follow up, 2008’s Shooting The Moon. His subsequent musical activity has been frenetic by comparison.
Mark’s beguiling, Arcadian-flavoured 2011 Second Language album, I Lived In Trees, recorded in collaboration with The A. Lords – musicians from a more recent generation of psychedelic-folk experimenters – proved a major critical hit, demonstrating that Mark Fry’s musical stock lay not only in the Paisley-hued haze of his Aquarian Age youth, but also in the full glare of the postmodern, internet-facilitated present. A series of concerts in Japan and Scandinavia, and a widely reported ‘supergroup’ London showcase, featuring members of Mercury Rev, Super Furry Animals, Tunng and Lemon Jelly, further evinced the subtle but inexorable diffusion of the Mark Fry legend, something abetted by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme airing an interview with Mark in the wake of Trees’ release.
All of which brings us to Mark Fry’s latest, most exquisitely realised musical offering to date, South Wind, Clear Sky. Sung with that now familiar alloy of cool restraint and wondering innocence, and passingly reminiscent of the kind of English pastoralism associated with the likes of Kevin Ayers or Bill Fay, the album’s leanly arranged yet immersive songs are propelled by Mark’s glinting, plangent guitars and deliciously embroidered by John Parker’s double bass, Angèle David-Guillou’s piano and backing vocals and Katie Lang’s French horn, all bound together by producer Guy Fixsen (My Bloody Valentine, Stereolab) into a delightfully iridescent whole. For all its finely honed arrangements, and the translucence of its recording, South Wind, Clear Sky is still very much the work of the man who made Dreaming With Alice; the mature Mark Fry’s feeling for wonderment and magic, for the dreamlike and the innocently surreal, is just as pervasive, and persuasive here, only more focused, and etched against a more luminous, even heavenly canvas.
Where the lyrics on his last album found Mark reaching up through the summer branches toward an azure sky, here that celestial dimension provides the focus for eight shimmering chamber-folk essays whose wistful narratives of flight and fancy and empyrean romance purr and soar with a stately grace, like the ‘Aeroplanes’ of the album’s richly melodic opening track.
Partly inspired by the work of French writer, poet and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – most overtly on the chiming, French horn-decorated ‘Leave Me Where I Am’ (“They found my lightning wings in a corner of the sea / My little prince came falling down with me”) – the songs are as dreamy and gossamer as moonlit stratus clouds, but come freighted with deeper meaning, constantly oscillating between ideas of isolation and self-discovery; between flight, in every sense, and high adventure.
There is something of the latter on ‘River Kings’, which alludes to the extended periods Mark spent in the 1980s travelling the Inner Niger delta in Mali, while ‘Along The Way’ and ‘Little Flashing Light’ concern themselves with what he describes as an “intergalactic love affair”. Mark’s painterly calling, meanwhile, is reflected in the album’s title, which, perhaps suitably, given its contemplative mood, is borrowed from the title of one of Edo-period Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai's celebrated woodblock print series, Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji.
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away,” Saint-Exupéry once said. A better aphorism for the sublimely wrought South Wind, Clear Sky it is difficult to imagine.
‘South Wind, Clear Sky’ comes in 2 formats : a CD in 8 panel concertina digipak and an 180gm vinyl w/free download code of the whole album. Both designed by Jeff Teader. Subscribers to Second Language and early birds ordering the album from the Second Language website, will receive a limited edition antique jeton (or gaming chip), used in old-fashioned French bar games, collected by Mark over the years, all individual and some dating from as far back as 1900.
South Wind, Clear Sky tracklisting (both formats) :
2. Along The Way
3. Leave Me Where I Am
4. Little Flashing Light
5. River Kings
6. Fall Like A Stone
7. Dials For Home
8. Long Way Down
Mark launches the album on Tues 30th Sept 2014 in the beautiful St Marys Church, Rotherhithe, London. Support from Oliver Cherer. Tickets available here : https://www.wegottickets.com/event/285965
Listen to ‘Aeroplanes' from the album here :
In 2010, the then-fledgling Second Language label invited its artists to assemble in Soup Studios (then beneath the Duke Of Uke ukelele shop) on Hanbury St in Shoreditch, London with a view to recording an album - the only "rules" being that all the music should be improvised from scratch and once an hour had passed, they should move on to the next song.
Within the first 8 hour session, the assembled cast of Katie English (Isnaj Dui), Oliver Cherer (Dollboy), Angèle David-Guillou (Klima), David Sheppard (Ellis Island Sound), Glen Johnson and Jerome Tcherneyan (both of Piano Magic) birthed 8 very rough new sketches. Utilising Soup's wide palette of archaic drum-machines, guitars, keyboards, drums and whatever else was lying around, the Silver Servants (as they quickly tagged themselves; a misheard "Civil Servants" if you must) had fashioned a random, yet, somehow cohesive blend of psych-folk, krautrock, minimalist electronica, baroque and post-rock. (Post-psych baroquetronic folk music, should you be a record store worried about where to file it).
Content with their day's hard labour, the Servants adjourned to the nearest pub and for the next year, the recordings gathered dust.
In 2012, another session was mooted, yet more layers were added to the existing blueprints and yet more songs were whisked up from the ether. New members appeared : Zizi Kanaan of The Eyes In The Heat, Sharron Kraus, Aine O'Dwyer, Nick Palmer aka Directorsound, Mark and Roxy Fry, Robin Saville (ISAN), Frances Castle (The Hardy Tree) and Nick Franglen (Lemon Jelly), all contributing their individual unique talents to this rich (then still only instrumental) tapestry.
Again, the recordings were left to the dust for another year until finally, lyrics were written (truth be told, in Second Language tradition, with a hefty emphasis on our feathered friends), vocals were added and at last, something resembling an album appeared. Cut to 2014 when Oliver Cherer and Glen Johnson finally tweaked and snipped and polished off the 12 recordings that would form 'Silver Servants' by Silver Servants (a late addition being an inspired take on William Blake/Sir Hubert Parry's 'Jerusalem,' brought to them by Keiron Phelan of littlebow and featuring Anna Brønsted of Our Broken Garden).
The result is, as intended, something of an uncut jewel, an inspired, protean collection of modern pop songs by a disparate cast of characters on the outer margins of electro-acoustic experimentation.
An accompanying bonus disc, Cold Lazarus, is available free ONLY to Second Language subscribers with this release.
Silver Servants tracklisting :
2. A Crow Will Remember Your Face
3. Still Small Voice
5. Quam Quod Non Currant
6. Far Below
7. Murmurations (Reprise)
8. Spalling Farrows
10. The Moment Returns
11. File Under Bankrupt
12. Your Endless Woman
Cold Lazarus tracklisting :
1. Cold Lazarus
2. Ludwig und Gudden
3. See The Light
4. Cold Lazarus (Reprise)
Listen to ‘A Crow Will Remember Your Face' from the album here :
Oliver Cherer steps out from his Dollboy moniker, after 5 albums and numerous singles/eps/split releases (not least the recent re-issue of his evocative isolationist masterpiece, 'Ghost Stations/Geisterbahnhöfe' on Second Language), to present a new set of sweet and tender recordings, 'Sir Ollife Leigh & Other Ghosts.'
Retaining an attractive blend of organic instrumentation, unsettling electronic soundscapes and tender, intimate harmonies that have become his trademark over the years, Cherer has produced an album of beautiful, pastoral reminisces and uneasy nostalgia on the subject of loss.
Recorded in his studio in St Leonards-On-Sea, East Sussex and including contributions from Riz Maslen (Neotropic) on backing vocals, recorders and flute, Jack Hayter (Hefner) on viola and banjo and Alistair Strachan (Crayola Lecturn) supplying horns, '...Other Ghosts' is a wonderful addition to an impressive back catalogue.
Renowned for a certain restrained melancholy in his songwriting, mixing low-key electronics, sublime harmonies and folksy acousticism Cherer creates a feeling of warm, historical placement with each album release. As Cherer explains :
“I used instruments I was less familiar with and tried to use them in unconventional ways. I was after the sound of an English indigenous music. It comes from being slightly obsessed with Russell Hoban’s 'Riddley Walker' so it’s meant to sound like a kind of pagan folk music from a modern dark age."
The results of this active imagination and songwriting excellence has produced consistent, compelling English psych folk of the highest standard that perhaps sits somewhere between Robert Wyatt, North Sea Radio Orchestra and Alexander Tucker.
An accompanying bonus disc, A Millying & Mor, is available free ONLY to Second Language subscribers with this release. Art direction, design and photography by Andersen M Studio.
Sir Ollife Leigh & Other Ghosts tracklisting :
1. The Dead
2. The Mentmore Waltz
3. Croham Hurst
4. Consider Darkness
5. The Charcoal Burners
7. Ladybird, Ladybird
8. Maryon Park
10. When We Shut Down
11. The Dead Return
A Millying & Mor tracklisting :
1. A Millying & Mor
2. A Brightling Pyramid
3. Poor Judy
4. Ezra's Folly
5. A Voice Like Rotting Silk
6. Dog/Man Watching
7. A Signal From The Royal Sovereign
Listen to 'Millions' from the album here :
Watch Riz Maslen's poignant video for 'When We Shut Down' here :
Robin Saville has been plying his electronic wares as one half of electronic luminaries Isan for over fifteen years. Earning a reputation for bringing an emotional dimension to music with a reputation for the cerebral, Isan have claimed to be in the business of making easy listening out of difficult sounds.
In addition to keeping his end of the Isan bargain, Robin occasionally records music under his own name, exploring more acoustic and bucolic textures (see also 2008's 'Peasgood Nonsuch' on the excellent Static Caravan label).
Robin's new solo album, 'Public Flowers', is about creating a series of soundscapes both familiar and stimulating. The music here is a canny blend of repetition and constant change, echoing the organic experimentation of the likes of American minimalist composer Steve Reich, the evocative soundtracks of Piero Milesi and the experimental/ambient work of Cluster. A keen gardener, Saville's love for the British landscape is also made apparent in the mix by the subtle use of field recordings, the music seamlessly blending into the sonic environment as if recorded in situ.
The title of the album is a quote from Edwardian children's book, 'The Story Of The Amulet,' by Fabian Society founder, Edith Nesbit. It makes reference to a utopian society based on equality and a respect for the natural world - Saville's music would seem to be the perfect soundtrack for this imagined world.
"I must not litter the beautiful street with bits of paper or things to eat; I must not pick the public flowers. They are not MINE, but they are OURS."
'Public Flowers' is number No.6 in the 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/Andersen M Studio.
An accompanying bonus disc, 'Hybrids', (SL028x), featuring remixes of tracks from 'Public Flowers' by Loscil, P.Manasseh, Dollboy, Clouds and Mugwood is available only to Second Language subscribers with this release.
Public Flowers tracklisting :
1. Bryophyte Society Annual Picnic
2. A Brief Message From Our Ancestors
3. In Konik Mokkin
4. The Long Walk From Sallowes Church
5. Hilary And Dave's Piano # 1
6. Nutmeg Saba Cinnamon
7. Hilary And Dave's Piano # 2
8. All Who Are Not On The Rock Are In The Sea
9. A Fail All Girl
Hybrids tracklisting :
1. A Fail All Girl (Loscil Flagra Flagri Mix)
2. Hilary And Dave's Piano # 2 (P. Manasseh Mix)
3. Bryophyte Society Annual Picnic (Dollboy Bones Mix)
4. All Who Are Not On The Rock Are In The Sea (Clouds Mix)
5. The Long Walk From Sallowes Church (Mugwood Hither And Zither Mix)
Listen to ‘In Konik Mokkin' from the album here :
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.'
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