Posts Tagged ‘Hannah Peel’

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The latest album from the veteran singer-songwriter and style icon is an eclectic mix of electronica, psychedelia, pop, balladry and orchestral music. On the album, Paul Weller is aided by his regular cohorts Ben Gordelier, Andy Croft’s and Steve Cradock as well as his old Style Council partner, Mick Talbot, who contributes his Hammond organ mastery to three songs. Singer songwriter Hannah Peel did the string arrangements for the album, and The Paraorchestra perform on four tracks. In addition, other guests perform on individual songs. The album opens with the experimental “Mirror Ball,” a track recorded during the sessions for True Meanings, Weller’s previous studio album. It sounds like bits of different songs pieced together but is quite effective. It is followed by “Baptiste,” a smooth and soulful tune with a strong vocal by Weller. The strings and organ add a great deal to it.

Some of the tracks on the album have Weller looking back on the past with the wisdom and insight of his six decades. “Old Father Tyme” is one of those songs. It’s quite delightful, and Weller sounds like he’s having a blast singing it. The title track is another of the songs that takes a glance to the past. Weller was inspired to write the song when visiting his son in Los Angeles and spending some time on Sunset Boulevard, where he had stayed when he first came to the City of Angels in 1977 on The Jam’s first American tour. It’s an easy going song that flows quite nicely. “More” is something of an off -kilter track that features a verse sung by the French singer Julie Gros of the band Le Superhomard as well as guitar work from Josh McClorey from Irish rockers The Strypes. The strings, flute and horns add lushness to it.

The jaunty “Equanimity” sounds like it could be a Madness song. It includes a measured vocal by Weller and violin by Jim Lea, formerly of Slade. The album’s lead single, “Earth Beat,” looks forward and not to the past. The American singer Coltrane, who Weller met through his daughter, is a guest vocalist on the track. On Sunset is a solid and fascinating piece of work, particularly for an artist 43 years into his recording career. Weller has delivered an interesting and enjoyable album with quite a few standout tracks.

Paul Weller shows few signs of slowing down, fewer still of resorting to lazy repetition. A staggering 43 years since The Jam‘s In The City heralded the beginning of a career that now spans 15 widely diverse solo albums, he retains a restlessness that has seen recent outings make forays into acoustic folk, krautrock, exploratory electronica and music concrete.

Yet a new unlikely theme is beginning to cement itself in Weller’s work, one of mindful domestic contentment. On Sunset witnesses a man who has over the past decade given up the booze and drugs casting a misty eye over one of the most illustrious and varied careers in the British music history. Reflections on his past aren’t new to the 62-year-old, of course. There was much of that on the sonically varied pairing of Saturns Pattern and A Kind Revolution and 2018’s acoustic folk collection True Meanings. What is new is how irrepressibly upbeat, at peace and downright happy the famously spiky one-time king of mod sounds here.

“A lot of the lyrics are about looking back, from the point of view of a 60-something man, not with regret or sadness, but with huge optimism,” Weller explains.

Opening track Mirror Ball has a hopelessly romantic sentiment. It’s Weller’s ode to the timeless joy of the dancefloor, from 1920s ballrooms through Wigan Casino and the Twisted Wheel to present-day techno clubs. It also underlines emphatically Weller’s commitment to experimentation across nearly eight minutes, with a full minute of ambient instrumental sound-scaping housed in its mid-section.

Originally destined to be a B-side for True Meanings, Weller included the song here after friends advised him it was too strong to be thrown away. His weathered voice resembles, not for the last time on this record, David Bowie’s as pulsing synths and a snatch of Spanish guitar open out into a shimmering disco groove, with a devilish octaved guitar riff making ostentatious interjections.

There are more familiar moments to be found, with “soulful” the predominant mood. Several of the songs on Weller’s 15th solo album were written with a diverse set of singers in mind – notably Bobby Womack and Pharrell Williams.

On Baptiste, a song Weller calls “a celebration of soul music’s universality” the inspiration is Bobby Bland. The New Orleans-style stomp positively glows with analogue warmth, Weller and Steve Cradock’s rootsy playing backed up by parping horns as the singer emotes “from the mountains high to the valleys low”.

Across On Sunset‘s 10 tracks, the palette is fuller and more colourful than on True Meanings – Games Of Thrones composer Hannah Peel’s orchestrations melding with Weller’s regular sidemen Cradock, bassist Andy Crofts, Tom Van Heel on keys and drummer and additional guitarist Steve Pilgrim. Indie-folk trio The Staves also contribute backing vocals.

On Old Father Tyme, the air is thick with nostalgia and fond reflection. “Time will become you, you will become time,” Weller acknowledges, piano chords, horns and acoustic guitar fusing with electronic percussion and gurgling synth textures, Weller at once glancing in his rear-view mirror and striding into the future.

Style Council mate Mick Talbot adds Hammond organ to the wistful Village, co-written with producer Jan ‘Stan’ Kybert. With an ample dose of wah in the mix, Weller brims with contentment, “heaven in my sights”, recognising that utopia can be the people and places closest to home. He sighs blithely, “Not a thing I’d change if I could/ I’m happy here in my neighbourhood.” It is ever so slightly cloying.

The silky tones of French singer Julie Gros from space-pop touring partners Le Superhomard are a pleasing counterpart to Weller’s oaky timbre on the lovely, cinematic More, the sweeping strings adding drama to an arrangement that sparkles with flute, sax and Weller and Cradock’s darting guitar runs. Lyrically, it’s a rare deviation from the convivial mood, Weller critiquing avaricious consumer culture before cutting loose on a wanton solo in the final moments.

The jaunty music hall of Equanimity is the most eye-opening moment. In Weller’s words, it’s “a bit Berlin cabaret, a bit Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band” if that’s something you can imagine, Slade’s Jim Lea contributing a sweet violin solo. Town Called Malice it ain’t.

Just as far out of Weller’s existing wheelhouse is the future-gazing funk of Earth Beat. His admirable appetite to remain current sees emerging British R&B artist Col3trane adding his hushed vocals to an upbeat electro-pop romp co-written with Jim Jupp, founder of Ghost Box Records.

On Sunset‘s high point, though, is the closing Rockets, a Bowie-esque acoustic ballad with strings and sax rising tastefully into the picture, and a stately Weller reminding us he maintains some punk fury as he rails against social injustice, poverty and corrupt power structures. “All our lives, the system all decides/ The institutions old but still in control,” he rages. It’s really rather beautiful, an affecting end that shows Weller wearing his 62 years well.

Yet it’s notable that amid all the reflective serenity and happiness this impressively multifarious album is bathed in, it’s when Paul Weller gets angry again that On Sunset is most incisive.

The bonus tracks for the deluxe CD edition of Paul Weller‘s new album On Sunset have been confirmed. The deluxe CD (which comes in hardcover book packaging rather than jewel case) will actually have FIVE bonus tracks, not three as originally thought. That takes the track count from 10 to 15. The songs are as follows: 4th Dimension, Ploughman, I’ll think of Something, On Sunset (Orchestral mix), Baptiste (instrumental version)

The Japanese version of the deluxe CD is a 16-track edition. It features the five tracks above, plus a Japan-only bonus track called ‘Failed’.

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‘Sunrise Through The Dusty Nebula’ is taken from the forthcoming album ‘Mary Casio – Journey To Cassiopeia’ from Hannah Peel.  The electronic composer’s third album is a seven-movement odyssey composed for analogue synthesizers and full, traditional 29 piece colliery brass band! With only a year following on from the release of her second album Awake But Always Dreaming to widespread acclaim (Voted Number 1 Album of the year in Electronic Sound Magazine), Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia, explores one person’s journey to outer space, by recounting the story of an unknown, elderly, pioneering, electronic musical stargazer and her lifelong dream to leave her terraced home in the mining town of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, to see Cassiopeia for herself. With artwork by Grammy award winning designer Jonathan Barnbrook (Bowie Collaborator on the albums Blackstar and The Next Day) and the complete brass band and rhythm section recorded live on location in The Barnsley Civic Theatre with Peter Gabriel’s Real World studio team, this exclusive album combines Peel’s detailed, analogue synth layered production and her expressive flair for performance with Tubular Brass, featuring the top UK championship brass band players. It’s a wholly unique, collaborative sound and seemingly, a first of it’s kind both live and on record. At the close of the album’s final song The Planet of Passed Souls, tutti brass jostle with the hiss and crackle of a 78rpm record. An emotionally charged, scratchy sample taken from a 1928 recording of Peel’s own choirboy grandfather in Manchester Cathedral leaves the listener questioning the reality of Mary’s connection with the stars… Did she ever make it to Cassiopeia? Is this all a daydream as she sits in a back garden shed tinkering with electronics and her telescope? Or maybe this is her final breath as her mind and body pass into another realm of life? Is this science or fantasy? And how much is there really a division between the two?

LP – Limited to 500 Copies in Gatefold Mirror Board Sleeve.

Hannah Peel Q&A with Wolfgang Buttress at Rough Trade Nottingham,

Entry is FREE to the conversation and Q&A at Rough Trade Nottingham on September 25th and you’re welcome to pre-order the new album (picking up a copy to get signed at the event):

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Hannah Peel‘s solo LP Awake But Always Dreaming is built around the concept of memory and in particular its vulnerability and our own inability to control our own thoughts, the record takes form around supremely affecting sound collages, distorted instrumentation, sometimes jarring sometimes beautiful, synth work. It is an all encompassing persistent listen that demands your time and invites you to be wrapped in its charms.

The concept is derived from Peel‘s personal experiences of watching her grandmother’s slow decline, suffering from the debilitating illness of dementia. The subject matter is dealt with most directly on the heart-wrenching yet achingly beautiful Conversations which sees Peel at her most stripped bare recounting the dual impact for both sufferer and carer alike. Such is its devastating rawness that Peel can’t envisage a time when she will be able to perform it live. Elsewhere the entirely instrumental Octavia charts the descent into the darkness of dementia, the analogue synths and clarinets mirroring a jumbled mind incapable of summoning any articulacy.

Notwithstanding, this the album wears its concept lightly and is remarkably subtle in its use of sonic abstractions to suggest the fragmented nature of memory and the capacity for dark thoughts to triumph over light. All the while it is held together by Peel’s often wistful, always beautiful vocals which add a peaceful sense of serenity to often confused chaos suggested by the music.

This is a substantial record that develops with each listen and is easily among the surefire contenders to be one of the albums of the year. A magnificent piece of work.

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The band Magnetic North (from left, Gawain Erland Cooper, Hannah Peel and Simon Tong).

There’s always music to give us hope. And in 2016, it came in the unlikely shape of a concept album about Skelmersdale of all places, if you were going to jump to trite and simplistic conclusions, then a record about a the birth of a “new town” from the late 1960’s, and in particular, one about Skelmersdale itself, wouldn’t necessarily fill you with unbridled joy. But this album by The Magnetic North does and continues to do so in spades the more you listen to it.

The Magnetic NorthErland Cooper (Erland & the Carnival), guitar wizard Simon Tong (ex of The Verve) and Hannah Peel (composer and arranger) – steered clear from all the clichés about Skem and in writing about the town where Tong moved to at a young age and grew up in, have produced a record that deals with dreams, hope and visions of a better world.

By assiduously researching not only Tong’s childhood but also going to Skem and speaking with people who where there at the birth of the new town, immersing themselves in the place, The Magnetic North came up with a suite of songs that will live in your memory for a very long time.

There’s a constant thread throughout the album that things should be better and can be better and will be better. Its memories of half-remembered past, of Tong’s childhood and of a world that seems half-lost in mist, but is still out there, somewhere.

It’s difficult to isolate just one or two tracks for deserve special mention as the whole thing hangs together so well, but Sandy Lane, Signs and especially Little Jerusalem, where Peel’s crystal clear and diamond sharp voice, evokes both a weariness of the present and hope for the future and melts the iciest of hearts.

Prospect of Skelmersdale is a follow-up to what was intended to be a one-off album about Elrand Cooper’s birthplace (Orkney: Symphony of The Magnetic North) and with the tantalising prospect of a new Magnetic North album dealing with Hannah Peel’s childhood in the works,

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Hannah Peel releases a new seven track mini-album ‘Rebox 2’, featuring four new music box covers and three new instrumental pieces. Hannah Peel’s first Rebox came out as an EP in 2010, when she covered the likes of Cocteau Twins, New Order and Soft Cell. Initially only available as a Ltd Edition CD and download, the songs on the new release are all from the last couple of years, starting with a version of Perfume Genius’ ‘Queen’ from 2014. John Grant’s ‘Pale Green Ghosts’ is also about self-awareness and acceptance as the singer looks back at his younger self. Peel’s version retains the epic grandeur of the original with layers of multi-tracked voices and harp-like music box, while the synths revel in the sense of experimentation that inspired Grant to write the song in the first place. A striking image also opens ‘Palace’ – ‘in detail you are even more beautiful than from afar’. The Wild Beasts’ song from 2014.  The final cover on the album is ‘Heaven, How Long’, originally written by East India Youth and arguably the centre-piece of their Total Strife Forever debut album from 2014. It’s a soaring, emotional pay-off to Peel’s new release, closing with the revealing, eternally longing line – ‘In spite of all the love inside me/There is a question I’ve been asking/Heaven, how long?’ All four songs are linked by new music written for the project by Peel and co-producer Erland Cooper (Erland & The Carnival/The Magnetic North).

Hannah Peel performing live ‘Heaven, How Long’ by East India Youth in her studio.
Hand punched music box cover (Rebox)  will support Will on his upcoming UK tour

Hannah first came to recognition with her mesmerising, hand-punched music box covers EP Rebox, in 2010. Having released her critically lauded solo debut album ‘The Broken Wave‘ a year later, Hannah Peel then formed The Magnetic North, a collaborative project with Simon Tong of The Verve and Erland Cooper (Erland & The Carnival). Her solo career continued with 2014′s ‘Fabricstate EP and she’s currently working on a new album and a second Rebox EP which will include her version of East India Youth’s ‘HEAVEN, HOW LONG‘. Hannah also recently contributed strings to tracks on CULTURE OF VOLUME

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May
27 MANCHESTER  Deaf  Institute  |  Tickets
28 GLASGOW  King Tuts  |  Tickets
30 SHEFFIELD  Plug  |  Tickets
31 NORWICH  Arts Centre  |  Tickets

June
02 BRISTOL  Exchange  |  Tickets
03 BRIGHTON  The Haunt  |  Tickets
04 LONDON Village Underground  |  Tickets / No booking fee tickets
05 RAMSGATE Ramsgate Music Hall  |  Tickets

 

 

Hannah Peel performs with her little musical box of tricks the song CARS IN THE GARDEN from the Blue Nile’s Paul Buchannan taken from the Marc Riley show on the BBC6 sessions