The 4AD Update
It's been a long-time, but welcome to a new 4AD update. Since you last received one of these, Kristin Hersh has released, "Sunny Border Blue", one of the finest records of her career - and there's been a lot of activity behind the scenes, too, of which more below.
This edition of the update sees us welcome some new signings as well as good news from some of 4AD's longer serving artists...
For more information, please visit 4ad.com's news section and message board !
His Name Is Alive "Someday My Blues Will Cover The Earth" CAD 2101
Although it's been subject to a semi-mythical series of delays, His Name Is Alive's new album is worth the wait. Even by the mercurial standards of Warn Defever's unique, decade-long project, "Someday My Blues Will Cover The Earth" is a bolt from the blue.
Despite being the most sonically conservative entry in the HNIA catalogue, the album condenses years of hands-on studio skills and thousands of hours of smitten listening into ten songs (and three interludes) of hushed and heartbreaking stillness. "Someday My Blues" is built around the instinctive and bewitching vocals of Lovetta Pippen, a Detroit runaway whose tangled and traumatic life story lies just below the surface of the songs. And the songs - quietly intense, skeletal laments drawing on the purest blues, jazz and soul - fuse harmonic sophistication with minimalist- inspired spareness of structure. The production is intimate, spacious, and sparkling with the kind of state-of-the-art leftfield touches that animate the finest examples of contemporary urban R&B.
Which is not to say that "Someday..." is some kind of sterile studio creature. The album is emotionally forthright throughout, while Lovetta's voice is never less than sensuous, even at its most sorrowful - this is "simple, make-out R&B", as Defever wryly notes. And the arrangements, for all their crystalline clarity, could only have sprung from session after session of intuitive ensemble playing in the Time Stereo basement - the violin, cello, Fender Rhodes and upright bass combine to offer a breathy warmth to even the most desolate moments.
So there it is. "Someday My Blues Will Cover The Earth" is a genuine one-off, wonderfully coherent, flawlessly beautiful and unlike anything that either artist or label has released before. Sometimes unexpected gifts are the most precious of all.
With beautiful artwork designed by Vaughan Oliver, the album is released on July 9th 2001 in Europe and July 17th 2001 in the USA. The tracklisting is :
Nothing Special Interlude Happy Blues Solitude Write My Name In The Groove Your Cheating Heart Our Last Affair One Year Interlude Karin's Blues Are We Still Married ? Someday My Blues Will Cover The Earth Last Time
His Name Is Alive will be playing on both sides of the Atlantic to support the release of the album - more news as those dates are confirmed.
There are also two limited promo 12"s in circulation, which carry the catalogue numbers HNIA 5 and HNIA 6 :
HNIA 5 "Nothing Special" His Name Is Alive original version "Nothing Special" Burnt Friedman remix "Nothing Special" Hermann And Kleine remix
HNIA 6 "Happy Blues" His Name Is Alive original version "Happy Blues" Susumu Yokota remix "One Year" Minotaur Shock remix "One Year" Four Tet remix
Piano Magic "Son De Mar" MAD 2105
As an introduction to 4AD's new relationship with Piano Magic, this summer sees the release of the band's soundtrack to the film "Son De Mar".
Spain's best (and, after Almodovar, second best-known) film director, Bigas Luna, asked Piano Magic to score his new film, "Son De Mar" after he'd walked into a Barcelona record store last year and heard a track from their 1998 album "Low Birth Weight." The director of 18 films including "Jamon Jamon" and "The Tit & The Moon" recognised that Piano Magic were making music for films that existed only in flickers at the back of the listener's mind and decided to give them a "real film" to work on. "Son De Mar" translates as "the sound of the sea" but also carries the sense "born of the sea". The movie, starring Jordi Molla, Leonor Watling and Eduard Fernandez, is a visually ambient tale of love found, love lost, love regained, love lost, spiced with Luna's trademark eroticism, all against the backdrop of a beautiful Valencian Summer. It's released in Spain in June and around the rest of the world during the course of the rest of the year.
The soundtrack was recorded (as was Piano Magic's last album, "Artist's Rifles") over 5 days at Woodbine Street Studios, Leamington Spa with John Rivers - once the favoured recording location of Dead Can Dance. One of the many attractions of Piano Magic's career to date has been a continuing interest in collaboration - previous releases have seen a wide range guests including Darren Hayman (Hefner), Simon Rivers (Bitter Springs), Pete Astor (The Wisdom Of Harry) and David Shepphard (State River Widening). "Son De Mar", however, was features just the band's permanent core members - Glen Johnson, Miguel Marin, Jerome Tcherneyan - together with James Topham (Whistler) on viola.
"Son De Mar" is divided into 6 untitled sections, with a running time of just under 40 minutes. And, as the MAD prefix indicates, it will be on sale at a special price point between mid-price and full-price. It's released on August 6th 2001.
Piano Magic are currently working on a new album, for release on 4AD later in 2001.
After two extensive mixing stints in Boston during March and April, Tanya Donelly's new record - her first since "Lovesongs For Underdogs" in 1997 - is finished. The final versions of the twelve songs arrived in the 4AD office this week, and they sound fantastic. Artwork is being designed and plans are being hatched at the moment - more news, and a title for the record, when we have it !
Also nearing completion is Neil Halstead's first solo record, which he has been working on since Christmas. Anyone who saw Neil touring with Kathryn Williams late last year will have an insight into parts of the record - hushed, acoustic melodies and murmuring vocals - but the remainder might come as something of a surprise - analogue synths, strings and layers of guitars all contribute to make a record which is as much about texture and slow-building grooves as it is about emotion. As with Tanya's record, an Autumn release is currently being scheduled - more definitive news to follow...
Following a string of secret and not-so-secret live appearances in Los Angeles, Kim Deal and the band have relocated to Chicago and are currently in the Electric Audio studio with producer Steve Albini. The aim is for the album to be completed over the summer.
Sybarite is Xian Hawkins, a Brooklyn-based composer and producer whose "Music For A Film" CD on the Temporary Residence label caused something of a stir in the 4AD office last year. So much so that we asked him to make a record for us - we're expecting delivery later in the summer.
Kristin Hersh US Tour
Some of you will have been at the Throwing Muses Gut Pageant in San Francisco last weekend - Kristin's never-ending journey continues through June and into July as follows :
06/06/01 Davis CA The Palms Playhouse 06/08/01 Los Angeles CA Knitting Factory 06/09/01 Tempe AZ Nita's Hideaway 06/14/01 Englewood CO Gothic Theatre 06/19/01 Minneapolis MN First Avenue 06/20/01 Madison WI The Press House 06/21/01 Chicago IL Schuba's Tavern 06/22/01 Chicago IL Schuba's Tavern 06/24/01 Ann Arbor MI Blind Pig 06/25/01 Toronto ONT Horseshoe Tavern 06/26/01 Cleveland OH BeachlandBallroom 06/28/01 Pittsburgh PA Rosebud 06/29/01 Philadelphia PA Tin Angel 06/30/01 Philadelphia PA Tin Angel 07/01/01 New Haven CT Tune-Inn Lounge