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Date

July 16, 2021

These were the kind of characters I was drawn to in those early years. I saw them first and foremost…

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Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)

Donald Macleod explores the life and work of Manuel de Falla

Manuel de Falla was not well suited to the role of national musical icon. He was at his happiest, living a simple, monkish existence in his spartan Granada villa; fussing over his music in pleasant isolation or enjoying the company of a few close friends. He was generous but withdrawn, quietly and devotedly religious, and had a horror of being dragged into the violent political conflicts that wracked Spain during the first half of the twentieth century. Falla’s enormous talent and unique musical voice meant he was thrust into the very centre of cultural life, despite himself. He was compelled to navigate his way alongside some of music’s most colourful and potent characters, and through momentous historical events.

Music Featured:

La Vida breve (Intermezzo from Act 1)
Allegro de concierto
Siete canciones populares Españolas No 7 Polo
La Vida Breve (Act 2)
Nancy Fabiola Herrera, mezzo-soprano (Salud)
Cristina Faus, mezzo-soprano (La Abuela)
Aquiles Machado, tenor (Paco)
José Antonio López, baritone (Tío Sarvaor)
Raquel Lojendio, soprano (Carmela)
Josep Miquel Ramon, baritone (Manuel)
Sequndo Falcón, flamenco (El Cantaor)
Gustavo Peña, tenor (Una voz en la fraqua)
El Amor Brujo: Ritual Fire Dance (arr. Falla for piano)
El pan de Ronda que sabe a verdad
Oración de las madres que tienen a sus hijos en brazos
El corregidor y la molinera (extract)
El Amor Brujo (complete)
Noches en los jardines des España, III. En los jardines de la Sierra de Cordoba
Siete canciones populares Españolas: No 1 El paño moruno
Noches en los jardines des España, I. En el Generalife
Fantasia Bética
El sombrero de tres picos (Part II)
Harpsichord Concerto
Soneto a Córdoba
El retablo de maese Pedro
Psyche
Homenaje “Le tombeau de Debussy”
Balada de Mallorca
Atlántida: La Salve en el Mar
Homenajes
El sombrero de tres picos (Part I)

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced in Cardiff by Chris Taylor

For full track listings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Manuel de Falla (1876-1946) https://ift.tt/3B4xPa1

And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: https://ift.tt/2vwHS8q

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Henry Bruce-Jones Fact Commission: Mark Leckey shares a prayer to broken glass with To the Old World (Thank You for the Use of Your Body)

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Tom Pinnock Kings Of Convenience – Peace or Love

Kings Of Convenience

On the cover of Peace Or Love, the long-awaited fourth album by Eirik Glambek Bøe and Erlend Øye, the Norwegian duo are playing chess on a stylish piece of furniture. It’s not the first time the game has featured on their record sleeves – the art for 2004’s Riot On An Empty Street included a half-played board on the shaggy rug of a chic apartment, while 2009’s Declaration Of Dependence depicted the duo taking a break from a game on a Mexican beach.

Bøe and Øye do enjoy chess (the latter spent most of a recent quarantine playing it online), but their frequent references to it also capture something fundamental about the alliance that’s always powered Kings Of Convenience. Though their music is hushed, thoughtful, polite even, their relationship has always been fiery and competitive, the beauty and stillness of their songs fashioned from conflict.

The 12 years between Declaration Of Dependence and Peace Or Love weren’t the result of struggle and strife, however, but rather of a quest for perfection. Recording took place sporadically over five years and spanned five different cities, including Siracusa in Sicily, where Øye now lives, with the duo searching only for the right mood and feel, a kind of loose magic, rather than any technical prowess.

Their efforts seem to have paid off, for Peace Or Love is their most cohesive album yet. While it’s not a world away from their previous work, the mood is noticeably more stripped-down and melancholic – there’s nothing like Riot…’s I’d Rather Dance With You or Declaration…’s Boat Behind – perhaps informed by the last decade, which saw Øye lose his parents and Bøe suffer the breakup of his marriage to Ina Grung, the cover star of Riot… and their debut, 2000’s Quiet Is The New Loud.

In customary fashion, they begin with a slow, desolate song. Rumours, driven by three intertwining acoustic guitars, addresses someone facing “accusations we both know are wrong”; in close, breathy harmony, they offer support and advice, but it might be too late: “I want to tell you that I love you/But I know you can’t hear me now”.

Comb My Hair, with its fast, coiled fingerpicking, is darker still. Here, with the loss of a loved one, the protagonist is unable to get out of bed; even the stars and the warm evening air are “cold and senseless now”. Love Is A Lonely Thing, a tranquilised, echoing ballad with verses shared between Øye, Bøe and a returning Feist, and the minor-key Killers, both deal with the pain of love, of waiting interminably for someone or something to appear. Closer Washing Machine, one of the best tracks here, uses clashing guitar chords and plaintive viola to emphasise Øye’s romantic dejection and existential angst: “It’s true I’m more wise now than I was when I was 21/It’s true I’ve less time now than I had when I was 21…”

Not everything is quite as dark, though: Bøe’s Rocky Trail is a skipping, bossa nova cousin to Misread, but it twists and turns so deliciously that its chorus appears only once. Fever places electronic beats under Øye’s wry contrasting of lovesickness and actual sickness, but the effect is reassuringly subtle. Catholic Country, meanwhile, is swaying and vaguely South American, the chorus written with The Staves and beautifully delivered by Feist.

Ultimately, it’s the sparse, live interplay between the two guitars and voices that carries Peace Or Love. The arrangements were largely worked out on tour, while recording mostly took place in homes – hence the Sicilian crickets that accompany Bøe on Killers. There are mistakes here too, especially on Washing Machine, which only enhance the air of intimacy.

After a quarter of a century playing together, Kings Of Convenience seem to have discovered the purest essence of the music they create. It’s become increasingly tricky to tell who originated these songs, especially when, as on Catholic Country, Bøe is singing Øye’s lyrics over his own riff; what’s more, any frills they might have dabbled with in the past have been stripped out, leaving only the bones of the songs and whispers of the rawest feelings. Stylish moves, perfectly played.

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Louis Pattison Sleater-Kinney – Path Of Wellness

Sleater-Kinney

The post-reunion phase of a rock band’s lifespan can be a strange period to navigate. Provided the fans are on board, it is often a chance to make the sort of serious bucks that are out of reach during a band’s first flush. But a reunion often lays out an unwritten contract of expectations between band and fans; we want the nostalgia, we want the hits, do it this way, not that way.

In this respect, Sleater-Kinney have not entirely followed the letter of the deal. Their second post-reunion album, 2019’s St Vincent-produced The Center Won’t Hold, felt like a makeover of sorts, the roughness and rage of the band’s early days subsumed in a glossy, radio-friendly production that divided critics and fans alike. But the real shock came when, a month before the album’s release, drummer Janet Weiss announced she was leaving the band, citing Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker’s increasingly exclusive musical partnership: “I said, ‘Can you tell me if I am still a creative equal in the band?’ And they said no. So, I left.”

For a band often used as a byword for feminist solidarity, this sudden intrusion of personal animus came as a shock. But then, Sleater-Kinney have always been about kicking out against the expectations loaded on women. As Carrie Brownstein has it on Complex Female Characters, one of the standout tracks from their 10th album Path Of Wellness: “You’re too much of a woman now/You’re not enough of a woman now”. It’s that old story, so familiar to female musicians: damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Path Of Wellness was written and recorded in the long, hot summer of 2020 in Portland, Oregon, with Brownstein and Tucker assisted by a host of local musicians. It is the first album that Sleater-Kinney have produced entirely by themselves, although that doesn’t mean a return to the raw riot-grrrl sound of old. On the contrary, there’s a full, rich quality to the record, which is thick with Wurlitzer and Rhodes, and often echoes various genres of a ’70s vintage – country and glam, funk and hard rock. The latter, in particular, powers some of the record’s best moments. High In The Grass is an exultant summertime anthem steeped in the histrionics of ’70s rock: “We lock when the pollen’s up/We love when the party’s on”. Wilder still is Tomorrow’s Grave, a knowing tribute to Black Sabbath that makes some entertaining rock theatre out of that band’s doom-laden clang.

As Path Of Wellness came together, the state of Oregon was in a strange flux, grappling with the pandemic, encroached on by wildfires, and gripped by protests against racial inequality that saw police suppressing crowds with batons and pepper spray. In places the album seems to address this explicitly. Favorite Neighbor is a righteous skewering of hypocrisy that accuses those “putting out fires/When your own house is burning”, while Bring Mercy finds Tucker singing, “How did we lose our city/Rifles running through our streets…”

Elsewhere, the turbulence outside seems to have brought out a reflective tone. The title track uses the language of self-help and self-care to interrogate personal insecurities, while the sleek, funky Worry With You addresses that feeling of anxiety when the shit
has hit the fan and the loved one you need is out of reach. Once upon a time, Sleater-Kinney records were righteous and declamatory. More often here, the tone is open and inquisitive, a band trying to find their bearings when the times are a-changin’.

In an interview about her departure from the band, Janet Weiss spoke of the tight relationship between Tucker and Brownstein: “I just think the two of them are so connected and they really agree on almost everything.” Listening to this new clutch of songs, you’re often reminded of this. Even as Path Of Wellness grapples with the world outside, its songs often speak the intimate language of a private conversation – the words of one friend, or lover, to another.

Fans who listened to The Center Won’t Hold and baulked at its lack of righteous rage might also find moments here wanting. But Path Of Wellness proves Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein haven’t forgotten the empowering, life-giving qualities of rock’n’roll fun. Sleater-Kinney are turning their reunion years into a reaffirmation of the importance of support and solidarity on a private, personal level. As they sing on album closer Bring Mercy: “If it’s coming for us, darlin’/Take my hand and dance me down the line”.

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Erin Osmon Rodrigo Amarante – Drama

Rodrigo Amarante

Rodrigo Amarante, it could be said, is a student of the world. A Rio de Janeiro native who now calls Los Angeles home, he’s lived in many places, and is also a dedicated reader, watcher and listener who speaks with a philosopher’s contemplation. He embraces life for all its beauty and absurdity, a binary that’s also key to his working method. “Rather than standing on top of what I believe I am, and speaking from there, I decided to discover it, to get inside it, to get dirty,” he explains. “It feels humorous, funny and ridiculous, to fiddle with the idea that I have of myself, to not embrace the mythical idea of the songwriter.”

It’s not the first time he’s shed a de facto persona. Amarante’s first band, the Rio-based rock quartet Los Hermanos, were massive in Brazil, selling out stadiums at recent reunion gigs. But rather than live a rock star’s life, by the mid-noughties Amarante pivoted his focus to the samba-focused big band Orquestra Imperial. Then, in 2008, he came to LA to begin anew as a member of the short-lived indie-rock trio Little Joy, and then as a solo artist, serenading tiny east side clubs with his ’30s-era Harmony parlour guitar. “A lot of people thought I was nuts, like, ‘What? You’re going to play bars in Echo Park now?’”
he recalls with a laugh.

Like much of Amarante’s work, his second solo album Drama continues these subtle reinventions. Dropping the needle is to glide into a sun-drenched Technicolor universe, one steeped in tradition but innovative in its unbridled spirit. Fusing a coterie of historical sounds – from African polyrhythms and Brazilian samba to cool jazz and ’60s film scores – with his in-built playfulness, the singer and songwriter has created a sophisticated yet easy-going work, one that perks up the ears with its experimentation but is also romantic, magnetic and soothing, like waves brushing over a white-sand beach. Guiding the listener through it all is Amarante’s gentle, silvery voice; oscillating between languages with a dancer’s fluidity, it recalls the slightly nasal style of bossa nova singers.

There are a few places where Amarante’s spiritual exploration rings clear: on Tao, he weaves a longtime fascination with the I Ching, Zen texts and Taoism into a meditation that lyrically rotates between spiritual meta and mesa as he switches from Portuguese to English at the soft blast of a woodwind. He sings of sweeping observations (“Source of a thousand things, the Tao is an empty cup poured and never filled…”) and specific details (“and now before my eyes the Tao must be a glance of the sweetness in her smile”) over a gentle crescendo of guitar, bass, drums, percussion and saxophones, the volume and intensity of each mirroring his words.

And then there are the less obvious references, such as the opening title track, an overture that acts as a de facto mission statement, as well as a nod to the songwriter’s love of classic film. Mellotron strings meet a wave of voices, a laugh track responding to an imaginary movie, one that may only be viewed through the mind’s eye during the album’s subsequent songs. “I couldn’t help but fantasise or play with the idea that this is a story, this is a film,” Amarante says. “There was some of that in Cavalo, too. There’s a song that’s pretty much the same orchestration for the theme of Inspector Clouseau from The Pink Panther.”

But Drama is a fuller, more textural work than his 2014 debut Cavalo, one that lives up to its title’s promise, pairing vaguely dramatic ideas with intensely personal touches. Its bookends, a stirring orchestral overture and a conclusive, contemplative piano ballad, punctuate a kind of narrative arc in which each song – or scene – depicts a character who emotes a world of feeling. But if some lines occasionally read like a masterclass in casual epiphany, Amarante, never one to take himself too seriously, often subverts the sung seriousness with off-kilter sonic accents – a banjo here, a harpsichord there, whistling, Mellotron sounds – that unite to form a maximalist symphony that is rich and intricately layered but never overwhelming.

Maré (Tide) is the album’s most energetic point, but its rhythmic party vibe belies its more serious lyrical observations about the cyclical nature of life and death, gains and losses. Its accompanying video is demonstrative of Amarante’s humorous nature, a depiction of the act of song-making done up in a palette of primary colours and throwback motifs. The mellifluous groove of Tanto (So Much) melts into a swirl of strings and saxophone as Amarante sings of the sweetness of lovers’ skin, while Tango recounts literal and figurative dances over soft percussive layers and breathy backing vocals provided by frequent collaborator Cornelia Murr. Sky Beneath takes that spirit higher, its percussion popping like firecrackers amid lush brush strokes of strings and voice. “Can’t fix my love, can’t fix myself, can’t fix the world,” he sings to open the song, less a statement of defeat than an acknowledgement of human limitations.

Taken together, Drama’s cable-knit arrangements, tender singing and inventive takes on familiar sonic touchstones amount to something new – born of a dreamer’s mind and translated to very real and transformative four-minute vibrations. Brazilians are often known for blending musical styles, from the evolution of the country’s native folk music and dances into maxixe (Brazilian tango), to samba’s transformations (most famously bossa nova) and Tropicália’s subversion of traditional forms. While it would be easy to attribute Amarante’s skill for it to a genetic phenomena reserved for those from the South American country, that discounts the very personal nature of Drama, one that is singularly introspective, playful and rooted in punk rock’s DIY spirit. After all, Amarante recorded most of the album himself, and plays no less than 10 of its instruments.

If his musical strengths are readily apparent, then, Amarante is not out to prove his power on Drama. Instead, this is a thoughtful, empathetic showcase of his interests, of intense feelings translated into a dreamy sonic atmosphere. It’s an album that meets the world in its moment, where global issues and far-flung international voices are more amplified and connected than ever. But with Drama, the world is less an oyster and more a mirror, reflecting the story and vision of this citizen of the world making sonic cinema out of personal exploration.

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Rob Hughes The Flatlanders – Treasure Of Love

The Flatlanders

Beholden to no-one but themselves, The Flatlanders dogleg career is impossible to second guess. Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock first got together in 1972, but their proto-Americana – a porous blend of country, folk, rock’n’roll and western swing – fell largely on deaf ears outside their home state of Texas. They were done in a little over a year, the band taking on semi-mythic status (their aborted debut eventually landed in 1990) as each member advanced into a successful solo career.

Treasure Of Love, their first studio effort in 12 years, might not have happened at all if it hadn’t been for the pandemic. The trio began recording these tracks some time ago, only finding time to revisit them when the touring circuit shut. Co-produced by longtime collaborator and fellow Lubbock legend Lloyd Maines, it’s a wondrous celebration of the music that’s sustained them over the decades, much of it part of their stage repertoire.

The Flatlanders exude joy here. Popularised in the late ’50s by The Everly Brothers, Long Time Gone is a faultless distillation of timeless honky-tonk; Johnny Cash’s Give My Love To Rose takes on the requisite Tennessee Two chug; country licks
and pedal steel spark the engine of Leon Russell’s exuberant She Smiles Like A River. Hancock’s own Moanin’ Of The Midnight Train, revived from his ’90s solo catalogue, feels of a piece too, with its raw swing and spacious Texan groove.

The trio’s ability to fully inhabit these songs is masterful. Their take on Snowin’ On Raton, Townes Van Zandt’s cursed road hymn, manages to sound both expansive and vulnerable, its conflicted sentiments measured out in aching peals of slide guitar. Similarly, Paul Siebel’s The Ballad Of Honest Sam is reconfigured into something that Hank Williams might have deemed worthy of cutting for MGM. But the indomitable spirit of Treasure Of Love is best captured on the Mississippi Sheiks’ Sittin’ On Top Of The World, a rollicking live favourite that feels like a paean to lasting friendship.

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Will Richards Paul Morley to write new biography on Factory Records head Tony Wilson

Tony Wilson factory records biography

A new biography of Factory Records head Tony Wilson has been announced, written by author and journalist Paul Morley.

From Manchester With Love: The Life and Opinions of Tony Wilson is due out later this year, and an announcement said it was Wilson’s wish for Morley to write a book about him.

The book, which will be released by Faber on October 21, is described in a synopsis as “the biography of a man who became eponymous with his city, of the music he championed and the myths he made, of love and hate, of life and death”.

“To write about Tony Wilson, aka Anthony H. Wilson, is to write about a number of public and private characters and personalities, a clique of unreliable narrators, constantly changing shape and form,” the announcement added.

“At the helm of Factory Records and the Haçienda, Wilson unleashed landmark acts such as Joy Division and New Order into the world as he pursued myriad other creative endeavours, appointing himself a custodian of Manchester’s legacy of innovation and change.”

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To celebrate the arrival of the book, Morley will appear at the Manchester Literature Festival on October 9 to discuss his friendship with Wilson and the process of writing the new book. Tickets will go on sale in mid-August here.

Tony Wilson died from a heart attack in 2007.

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Sam Moore Morrissey announces special reissue of Bona Drag for HMV’s 100th anniversary series

Morrissey

Morrissey has announced a special reissue of his 1990 compilation Bona Drag.

The release comes as part of HMV’s 100th anniversary celebrations, with the music and entertainment high street chain reissuing a number of records on vinyl for their 1921 Centenary Edition series.

Bona Drag, which was originally released on the HMV label in October 1990, featured a number of solo singles that were released by Morrissey following his 1988 solo debut album Viva Hate.

Limited to just 750 copies, HMV’s reissue of Bona Drag will be pressed on transparent green vinyl for their 1921 Centenary Edition series. Each record also comes with a poster, as well as photographs that were taken by Linder Sterling in London’s Hoxton Square.

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HMV’s special reissue of Bona Drag will go on sale, along with a number of other records, exclusively in HMV stores on July 24, while an online sale will also commence on the same day at 4pm.

Records by the likes of Kate Bush, The National, Lou Reed, Pixies, The Libertines, The xx and The Prodigy are also set to be reissued by HMV as part of their 1921 Centenary Edition series. You can find the full range here.

The post Morrissey announces special reissue of Bona Drag for HMV’s 100th anniversary series appeared first on UNCUT.

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