Julia Holter – Aviary

And they say the album format is dead…

It may well be on a monetary level but needless to say, it does not stop artists like Julia Holter from using the album format to make her statement.

And quite an artistic statement is Aviary.

Clocking at just under 90 minutes, the record is a experimental odyssey with so much depth and beauty, it is initially overwhelming. Similarly to the first time I heard Kate Bush’s ‘The Dreaming’ or Radiohead’s ‘Kid A’, the album reveals its’ magic and gradually blossoms with repeated listens.

The title is inspired by Lebanese American writers Etel Adnan quote ‘I found myself in an aviary full of shrieking birds’. Such a sound collage can be blissful, peaceful, quietly unsettling. Julia achieves this in fifteen tracks that don’t have a distinct structure as such but dive into experimental explorations, build in tension and widen up a panoramic canvas of sounds consisting of piano, strings, drums, trumpets and even bagpipes; as well as Julia’s typically layered and ambient vocals.

This is demonstrated in ‘I Shall Love 2’, the first track to be released. There is not too much more needed to be said about the music as it is far better for it to be experienced. That being said, the noticeable trait of Julia as shown in her previous works is her evocative ambiguity. Julia didn’t really know how to articulate herself when I saw her live, she appears introverted and coy on social media. Ultimately, her goal is to get lost in the Music. There is no conventional structure, no direct meaning to the songs she does, instead there is an internal dialogue, a collection of sounds and words that may at times be on a lyrical level non sensical, outright bizarre but ultimately so satisfying.

And when so much Music out there is so formulaic, so lacking in it’s risk taking and no more than chewing gum for the ears; this record is a breath of fresh air. I have listened to this record with headphones on by a beach, I have listened to this record whilst turning the lights off in my apartment with dimly lit candles. Whatever way I have enjoyed discovering this record, ‘Aviary’ is truly an exhilarating musical experience.

The best records for me have been released by three women this year, Janelle Monae’s ‘Dirty Computer’, Natalie Prass’ ‘The Future and The Past’ and now Julia Holter’s ‘Aviary’. All of which showcase in their own way a defiance to the current chaotic climate we find ourselves dealing with in 2018. They are a celebration of opening up to vulnerability, love and truth…and that is when Music becomes so powerful.

‘That is all’.

 

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Journey of The Effervescent by Kinky Wizzards

Over the last year, me and the brothers have been busy planning new things for the Kinky Wizzards.

Simultaneously, the boys decided to put a new live Music video together by themselves where they explored some of the older material.

It is safe to say after watching this video of the brothers do their thing, the song title says it all. Vivacious and enthusiastic.

I look forward to joining them for our string of shows this summer.

Ryan

Ex factor

Lauryn Hill’s Ex factor is a class in it’s own right. The track fuses styles of RnB, Hip Hop and Neo Soul and the lyrics are masterful in outlining the heartbreak of a toxic relationship and a perpetual wheel of trying to hold everything together. When done as well as this, it is the type of song that everyone can take their own meaning and experiences from.

That is just about the listeners though. Some musicians may identify with such a song that they are able to open up another dimension of it, and never have I heard a rendition of a song so remarkably done than Mara Carlyle’s cover of ‘Ex Factor’.

I first heard this cover when I saw Mara supporting Goldfrapp at the Royal Albert Hall in late 2014. I was enraptured.

All of a sudden, the well known Neo Soul track known for grooving your blues away is much more contemplative and spacious affair. Mara arguably gives the song a more melancholic shade as she leads and a church organ accompanies and the delicate emergence of a choir.

How can the same song be done so differently? I love both versions, but I think Mara’s desperately needs to be heard by more people.

 

Eden Shadow Album 2 Drum Recording Sessions

The latter part of 2014 and all of 2015 has seen me making gradual progress with the second Eden Shadow album. There is no doubt that this has been a tremendously ambitious and difficult album to make and I can’t wait to share it with you all.

Last month, I reached a monumental milestone in getting the drums recorded. It was an intense, incredible weekend.  This album will be featuring Aled Lloyd on drums, who is known for playing with Japanese Metal Band, Cyclamen. Onwards with the rest of the production process!

Here are some photos taken by Bethan Miller

Ryan Elliott Eden Shadow Aled Lloyd Ryan Elliott Eden Shadow Eden Shadow Aled Lloyd Eden Shadow Aled Lloyd Aled Lloyd Eden Shadow Eden Shadow Aled Lloyd Ryan Elliott Eden Shadow Eden Shadow Ryan Elliott

Creative Inconveniences

The more I lead this utterly crazy life of creating music, the more I realise that for the most part, your best ideas will come at completely inconvenient times and that you have just got to deal with it.

I cycle across the west coast of Wales, between Cardigan and Abaraeron. A musical phrase enters my head, syncopated and an odd time feel, my head continuously runs through the idea as my legs keep pedalling. I have another 400 miles and five days of cycling before I can lay my hands onto a guitar to process that idea. Besides the delirium of burning 9000 calories a day and cycling almost the entire perimeter of Wales, this idea ceases to leave my head.

I queue up for a coffee in my student town, an opening of a song comes in my head, and I frantically write it into the notes of my phone before I order a cappuccino, to which the caffeine adds to more frantic stream of ideas that are trying to pass through somewhere other than my neurological system.

A three-hour train journey, and yet another musical phrase sets itself in my brain and is wishing to be unleashed. Fortunately, I was savvy enough to take manuscript with me on my venture but alas, a baby persistently cries within the carriage and I must persist through the piercing sound frequencies that imperatively grasps the attention from a child’s parents and forge my own frequencies that are trying to express something entirely different.

And finally I have the time to sit down and pursue these ideas in my studio space when all of a sudden a light bulb sparks itself in my head and says ‘Hello there! I am a bright new idea…I’m all sparkly and stuff’ and I retort by saying ‘Go away, I’m busy, could you have just waited a week or two?’ (I could do with a cup of tea; shall I opt for the smokiness of Lapsang Souchong or the lemon zestiness of Earl grey??? Oh, that reminds me, I haven’t eaten for nearly 24 hours as I have been too busy mixing!)

As I venture through this creative wonderland, excited yet perturbed, happy yet miserable (***The Tortured artist may well be NOT a myth, we are indeed pitiful souls…read all about it http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christopher-zara/tortured-artists_b_1605509.html). I shall eventually create such a bizarre catalogue of music that most ordinary people will deem it the product of a crazed loony toon, and suitably conclude that it will fit in none other vicinity than Willy Wonka’s Chocalate Factory, only kept alive by loyal audience members that somehow see them isolated and estranged selves within this bohemian mirror.

Maybe one day, it will all subside and the endless lament of writer’s block shall instead vex me, and I shall disappear for five years (maybe grow a vineyard, or venture into carpentry, or buy a yacht). Then one day, inspiration will once strike me again, and I shall scheme a remarkable return to which I will alienate everyone by releasing my equivalent of Radiohead’s Tree Fingers.

Would I have it any other way though?

Nope.