Piano Magic’s final album, ‘Closure,’ is out now courtesy of Second Language Music and available worldwide on CD, 180gm vinyl and digital download formats. The record marks the band’s 20th anniversary.
Recorded in London between April and August 2016, ‘Closure,’ features guest appearances from Peter Milton Walsh of The Apartments, Audrey Riley (go-to cellist for The Go-Betweens, Nick Cave, Virginia Astley and many more), Josh Hight (Irons) and Oliver Cherer (Dollboy). For this final album, the nucleus of Piano Magic was Glen Johnson, Jerome Tcherneyan, Franck Alba, Alasdair Steer and Paul Tornbohm. Cover photography for the album is by Martin Andersen/Andersen M Studio. All other photography by Nieves Mingueza. Layout by Jeff Teader. Concept by Glen Johnson.
‘Closure’ is available to order from all good retailers including :
Praise for ‘Closure’ :
“a gutsy conclusion with a characteristically indefinable collection guaranteed to please … recalls the art-rock of 4AD acts such as Pale Saints … Go-Betweens-style melancholy … intricate guitar lines recall Television’s”. – 8/10 UNCUT
“The group’s final album ranks with their best” 4 stars – MOJO
“As fitting endings go, it’s absolutely the kitten’s whiskers…” TERRASCOPE
“What a ceremony. What a lovely way to conclude a love story.” MAGIC RPM (FR)
“…an emotional fresco, a truly extraordinary farewell, worthy the class of a truly unique band.” Album Of The Month - ROCKERILLA (IT)
“...a matchless, masterful album..." SUBJECTIVISTEN (NL)
“A perfectly calm, spare yet quietly thrilling marriage of electronica, guitar and vocals. It may be the end but what a way to start 2017.” GOD IS IN THE TV
“A reliably contrarian, brutally honest and uncompromising human album…” DELUSIONS OF ADEQUACY
“What a way to bow out” 4 stars -THE SKINNY
“Broods like Brando hatching eggs. Their restrained angst will be missed.” PROG
“ As near perfect as any Piano Magic suite can be” MONOLITH COCKTAIL
“Smooth, finely crafted and very songwriterly affair (with echoes of Talk Talk, The Auteurs and Roy Harper)” THE WIRE
“These masters of dark wave have certainly left an indelible mark” 4 stars – Songwriting Mag
“Their final album finds them in rude artistic health. If you want to know what you’ve missed, Closure provides an excellent hint.” SHINDIG!
“Late, late in the day it seems Piano Magic have hit their high water mark. What a way to go out.” Norman Records
“This is to be the last album from this band but at the very least they’re going out on a high note.” 8/10 Americana-uk.com
“They’ve left it late but this deserves your attention” FLIPSIDE
Watch the videos for 'Exile' and 'Attention To Life' below.
Richard Moult is a composer, painter and poet based on the Outer Hebrides. He has had numerous solo works released over the past ten years alongside contributions to recordings by Alison O'Donnell, Raising Holy Sparks, Momick and Orchestra Noir. He also currently writes and records as a member of the Irish psych-folk collective United Bible Studies.
‘Sjóraust,' Richard's third album for Second Language, following on from 'Yclypt' (2012) and 'Celestial King For A Year' (2011), evokes the beautiful, remote, ancient islands off the west coast of mainland Scotland.
"When Glen asked me to record an album for Second Language documenting the landscapes of the Outer Hebrides, I initially spent a brief time walking the beaches where I live, thinking how best to approach this project. Eventually, as I looked out into the abyssal Atlantic, time dropped away, and all that then seemed to possess my consciousness was the voice of the sea ... From that moment on, I needed only that voice to dictate the music.
And so this six movement work was quickly born from the tides, the songs of birds, and the chants of the saints who lie beneath the machair. It was not only important to me that the Gaelic culture was represented in these pieces, but also that of the Norse peoples, who considerably shaped the face of these islands. Thus the "new" word "Sjóraust": a conjoining of two Old Norse words, meaning SeaVoice."
Sjóraust was recorded at Tur Chliamainn and Hùisinis, Isle Of Harris; Dail Mòr and Teampall Mholuaidh, Isle Of Lewis; Staffin, Isle Of Skye during Autumn 2015. The work contains texts from Carmina Gaedlica, the mathematical tract Rim II (after a description by Alfraganus), and the traditional Gaelic song Chuir iad mise dh'eilean leam fhìn.
‘Sjóraust' comes in a 4 panel reverse board Remus sleeve designed by Jeff Teader based on a painting of the same name by Richard.
1. Sjóraust I
2. Sjóraust II
3. Sjóraust III
4. Sjóraust IV
5. Sjóraust V
6. Sjóraust VI
Kristina Pulejkova is a London-based Macedonian multimedia artist whose works engage with science. In her art pieces, she builds a subjective narrative taken from principles and data from science fields such as astronomy, physics, geography and ecology. Her main subjects of interest are time, temporality, ecosystems and mechanisms, looking for connections between man and machine, the organic and mechanical.
Combining the organic and the mechanical/digital is a key aspect of her art practice echoed through the interdisciplinary approach to her subjects. Her recent works deal with the complexity of ecological systems and mechanisms, further exploring the intersections of moving image and painting. Her latest body of work relates to time perception and timelessness, where stellar and particle sonifications are used in order to propose a new non-anthropocentric temporal narrative.
Glen Johnson is the founder and only surviving original member of the London-based 'ghost rock' group, Piano Magic, whose eclectic oeuvre, since its formation in 1996, has included collusions with Vashti Bunyan, John Grant, Low and Tarwater amongst full-blown post-rock, isolationist electronica and pastoral psych-folk.
Piano Magic’s final album, ‘Closure,’ will be released in 2016 on Second Language to commemorate the band’s 20th anniversary. Johnson’s own solo work utilises a unique dark ambient sonic palette to create hallucinogenic, often unsettling ectopian soundscapes.
‘My Heart Has Run Out Of Breath’ is accompanied by a film of the same name, conceived and animated by Pulejkova, with music by Johnson. Familiar images from the movies of Stanley Kubrick and Andrei Tarkovsky are transformed into new, otherworldly entities.
Watch the film here : http://www.tinyurl.com/slardok
For the album, Johnson’s lyrics are rendered in English (by Johnson and Pulejkova), in Turkish (by Yasemin Barlas), in Macedonian (Pulejkova), in German (by Anne Boradshiewa) and in Italian (by Tullia Benedicta and Serena Manzoli). Benedicta’s own album, ‘Anteros,’ was recently released on Second Language.
‘My Heart Has Run Out Of Breath’ comes in an 8 panel concertina sleeve designed by Pulejkova.
Watch Filippo Maria's sensual shibari-themed video for Tullia Benedicta's 'Devotion' (from her debut album, 'Anteros,' out now on Second Language). Order the album here.
Tullia Benedicta D'Aquino Canestraro (born 5 April 1990) is an Italian singer-songwriter and producer, originally from Ravenna, now based in London.
In 2012, whilst studying digital design, Tullia formed the post-rock/shoe-gaze band, Grace, one of whose primary influences was the cult Anglo-French London band, Piano Magic. It was following Piano Magic's concert in Ravenna in 2012, that Tullia first met frontman Glen Johnson and after the dissolution of Grace in 2013, she moved to London, quickly contacting Glen for his thoughts on her new solo music. After less than a year in the metropolis, her debut album, 'Anteros' was born and now sees the light of day on Johnson's own Second Language Music label.
Initial recordings were made by Tullia in her North London home with a microphone, MIDI controller and laptop. The album, never shying of sexual, fetish and BDSM themes (see Filippo Maria's gorgeous shibari-based video for 'Devotion') includes snatches of corrupted, heavily processed private telephone recordings and even porn videos.
'Anteros' was co-produced by Jerome Tcherneyan of Piano Magic at his Ark Of Noise studio in Hackney Wick, London and features guitar from Frank Alba, also of the band. The album concludes with a "warehouse" remix of Beats Or Silence by Tcherneyan.
The album title, 'Anteros,' evokes the greek god of requited love, literally "love returned" or "counter-love" and also the avenger of unrequited love. Additionally, 'Anteros' is the subject of the Shaftesbury Memorial in Piccadilly Circus, London, - something Tullia was particular drawn to and deeply inspired by.
Tullia's musical influences include Bjork, James Blake, Owen Pallett, Pan Sonic, NIN, Einsturzende Neubauten and classical and avant-garde music including Ravel, Arvo Part and Philip Glass.
'Anteros' comes in an 8 panel concertina sleeve designed by Tullia Benedicta, featuring photography by Josh Hight. Lay-out by Jeff Teader.
Anteros tracklisting :
2. Beats Or Silence
6. Edge Of Life
8. Beats Or Silence (Piano Magic Warehouse Mix)
There's not just a brutalism about Cumbernauld, the Scottish "new town" in North Lanarkshire, developed ostensibly to catch the population overspill from neighbouring Glasgow in the 1950's but also a melancholy, almost tangible banalism. According to brothers Phillip and Peter Walker, collectively operating under the moniker of P60, the lack of any discernible activity, cultural or otherwise, has resulted in a "blank society" which practically revels in its stagnance. "If you Google images on Cumbernauld," says Phillip, "you'll notice a distinct dearth of people in the photos. Everyone just stays at home watching tv." But look very closely and you'll notice that something is happening behind the concrete and steel facade.
“We got into this by default," says Peter. “Our uncle Jim, died about 5 years ago and they found all these old synths and stuff in his attic which obviously, he’d never used. Some of them were wrapped up in bin liners and bits of carpet so the rain wouldn’t get at them. Nobody wanted them so at first I thought let's just stick them on eBay or something." Phillip, however, had other ideas. “I used to be in a band (the equally reclusive Glasgow post-punk outfit, Knives Replace Air) which was all guitars but I knew we could do something if we applied ourselves. It’s taken 2 years to actually start making tunes we’re happy with. Before, it was just press a key, twist some knobs and see what comes out. We’re still not exactly Depeche Mode.”
It’s this rudimental, even naïve approach to their somewhat rusty analogue palette that makes P60 stand out. As Phil says, “Most people with a few synths and a drum-machine would go, ‘Let’s make dance music’ but between us, we literally have no interest in club culture. We’re much more interested in the voice of the instruments."
But why P60? “Both our names start with P obviously but in one of the binbags with all these synths was a little black box held together with duct tape and someone’s Dymo’ed ‘P60’ on it. There’s an input and an output and we’ve had it apart but we’ve still got no idea what it does! It’s literally a little black box that does nothing. It seemed very apt. We aren't going to play live or have our photos taken. We want to stay anonymous. In the current celeb-obsessed climate, that's about as punk as I can imagine.”
P60 'Models' comes in a semi-transparent glassine envelope with postcard, sanding disc, tachograph, hand-stamped litmus paper and electrical resistor. Limited edition of 300 copies.
Models tracklisting :
01 The Reception
02 Broken and Unbroken
03 Kronecker Product
04 Deco Nude
07 I Got You In, Now Get Me Out
08 Ways Of Seeing
10 A Nutshell Study
11 Think Of A Number
12 Upper Silesian
13 Dorataspis Diodon
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 :
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