Shackleton works up a hypnotic group energy alongside avant-goddess Heather Leigh, percussionist Takumi Motokawa, and mallet player Raphael Meinhart in their debut as Tunes Of Negation for Shapednoise’s label; Cosmo Rhythmatic. Reach The Endless Sea is a heady blast of lysergic, chromatic color, and syncopated rhythms that partly imagines an alternative musical timeline where the Hawkwind and Ash Ra Tempel fans, proto-Humanoid types, and new age travelers who made up the UK’s rave vanguard prevailed against the law to enact a freely psychedelic dance music. The album follows in the vein of Shackleton’s previous trio of vocal-focused trips for Honest Jon’s and his Woe To The Septic Heart! label to find the mystic pied piper’s spirit bolstered and tempered by a collaborative, multi-directional flow of energies. Gushing in five durational parts running between 10-15 minutes each — or long enough to draw listeners into their dilated temporality — the music comes in waves of pointed, timeless intensity, and illusory suggestion, subtly shifting pattern with an acid-dosed logic. Following her triumphant Throne LP in 2018 (EMEGO 257CD/LP), Heather Leigh provides sacral vocals to the canto couplet of “The World Is A Stage” and “Reach The Endless Sea”, providing an elevated constant between its moiré of possessed vibes and lilting rhythms, before the trio of instrumentalists take the reins on a mazy trajectory between the harmonic lather of “Tundra Erotic”, through the sanguine meditation of “Nowhere Ending Sky”, and an epic, 15-minute invocation of ancient Indian raga traditions and mountaintop kosmiche in “Ruckschlag Rising Then Resonant”, before they all come down together in the Amazonian delta flow and oozing sprawl of “The Time Has Come”. While no single description will sum up the potency and conviction of Tunes Of Negation, their mission can be summed in a line from a poem by 13th C. mystic Jalalu’I-Din Rumi which inspired the album’s title, stating that Reach The Endless Sea strives to “aid transmutation and enter into the light.” Artwork by Zeke Clough. Mastered by Rashad Becker at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin. Gatefold sleeve.
Comes in a heavy, ’60s style tip-on cover. Sparrow Nights is the first studio album from the furious duo of pedal steel player Heather Leigh and saxophone legend Peter Brötzmann. Their collaboration has quickly gained a well-earned reputation for their cutting-edge music and frenetic but sensuous playing. Recorded and mastered in Vienna by Martin Siewert. Features artwork by Brötzmann.
“There is complexity in simplicity, and Sparrow Nights is Brötzmann and Leigh’s most enduring record to date. A series of emotionally rich and boldly elucidated tonal and timbral exchanges played like compositions on pedal steel and reeds, the tracks (released as a six-track LP and ten- track CD) are cold-forged minimalist blues motifs dragged from instrumental laments. After three years playing together Brötzmann and Leigh’s connection and understanding is by now both cerebral and deeply invested in the physical and sensory possibilities of their combined sound, while retaining a melancholic distance. Within this duo there is fluidity – neither is the anchor – and these recordings sound with as much variety as the sea. At times Sparrow Nights carries the clarity and poeticism of still water and open horizon (“This Word Love”), and at others it contains the elemental and ferocious roar of white water breakers on black rocks (“This Time Around”). On their previous three live albums (Ears Are Filled With Wonder (TROST 147LP, 2016), Sex Tape (TROST 163CD, 2017), and Crowmoon(2018)), the duo have developed an intimate and intense language that manifests here as a focus on power and control, where figures blasted of unnecessary decoration are drawn from the shadows and smoke of collapse. The studio setting also allows Brötzmann to bring a broader range of reeds than in live scenarios: where previously he has played primarily tenor, clarinet and tarogato with Leigh, here he delivers the heat of alto and the low pressure of bass saxophone and clarinet. Brötzmann’s duo with Leigh continues to trace a fresh new arc in his trajectory, and this release also falls at a time when Leigh releases Throne (EMEGO 257CD/LP), her most song-based record to date. Here as a studio duo they play a new-old blues for times of complexity, noise and chaos, continuing to redefine and re-sound possibilities for improvised music.”–JLA.
On Throne, Heather Leigh takes her place as queen of pedal steel with a suite of heart-rending ballads cauterized with burning riffs. After the rawness of its precursor I Abused Animal (SOMA 023LP, 2015), Throne is a record of late night Americana and heavy femininity; intimate love songs smoked in sensuality. The songs on Throne are woozy, gorgeous and uncomfortable, smothered in thick layers of bass but lifted by multi-tracked vocals. These are rich song forms that stand in contrast to the stripped down steel in her duo with Peter Brotzmann. “Prelude To Goddess” sashays in wearing leopard-print jeans under the twinkling fluorescent illuminations of the British seaside, like Brighton Rock with extra bass. It is followed in by “Lena” -arguably Leigh’s “Jolene” – a perverse love song soaked in a subversive sexuality, weighed down with a heavy pulse. “Soft Seasons” is anchored with sunken beats shrouded in wailing, growling steel and an earwormy melody. “Gold Teeth”, the longest track on the record, crests and breaks in waves; ecstatic peaks balanced and echoed by melancholic troughs. It soars on an updraft, and from cosmic heights dives seaward into a gnarly and riotous pedal steel breakdown, before catching the breeze again. “Days Without You” and “Scorpio & Androzani” are shorter, intimate songs; in the latter the synths seethe and the steel bows and bends as Leigh’s voice falters above a Greek chorus of shadows and reflections. But this isn’t autobiography, and Throne departs on “Days Without You”, a confrontationally unfinished romantic song, anxious with half-thoughts and missed connections. It glides into the night on stilettos leaving unanswered questions, in a fugue of psychic disturbance and lovesick sensuality. Leigh’s artwork (which she photographed and designed) is a visual mirror of the songs on Throne. It is an album of cosmic echoes, abstractions and introspection, of characters and stories that make up Leigh’s first best pop record, its melodies and hooks set alight with the fiery core of her unique and distinctive pedal steel. Additional instrumentation by John Hannon (violin, synthesizer) and David Keenan (electric bass). Recorded and engineered by John Hannon, Rayleigh, Essex, March 2018. Photographs and design: Heather Leigh.