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Genre pick of the week Cover of Rebox 2 by Hannah Peel.
Hannah Peel releases a new seven track mini-album Rebox 2 on 20 July 2015, featuring four new music box covers and three new instrumental pieces.

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). The looped, playful ‘Let The Laughter In’ – ‘about not letting the negativity seep in’; ‘Reverie’’s piano-led daydreaming and the synthetic pulse of ‘Premonition’, which ‘looks to the future’ before segueing into ‘Heaven, How Long’. 

Back in stock Cover of Experiment In Metaphysics by Perry Leopold.

Perry Leopold

Experiment In Metaphysics

    The absolute cornerstone of Acid Folk and Psychedelic Folk, 1970’s Perry Leopold masterpiece remains today still as the one to compare with when new psych folk vintage records are discovered. Still no one beats him, and they will probably never do.

    180g vinyl, repro of a 1973 promotional flyer, and an insert with linernotes by Patrick Lundborg, newly remastered sound. First ever official vinyl reissue.

    Debut album from London based 5 piece Owl & Mouse, fronted by Australian songwriter Hannah Botting. Owl & Mouse. What’s in a name? In a just world, the seemingly bottomless talent pool that is the Botting family would be held in the same regard as the Osmonds and Jacksons thanks to their assorted attempts to charm both London and the wider world. Bill Botting, Allo Darlin's perennially pogoing, perma-grinning bassist (and, more recently, solo artist in his own right) has been winning hearts and fans for half a decade and more, but the imminent release of Owl & Mouse's forthcoming début album, ‘Departures’ marks the turn of his siblings to take a star turn in the limelight. The songwriting vehicle for talented young Brisbanite Hannah Botting, which began as a twosome with sister Jen.

    “The name was kind of silly,” says Hannah, reflecting on the band's early days. “It came from a song I wrote years ago about an owl and a mouse that go to war together. With the addition of Tom Wade (We Aeronauts) and the prolific pairing of Emma Winston and Dan Mayfield (Enderby's Room, Darren Hayman's Long Parliament). The extra additions – playing alongside star turns from Michael Collins (Allo Darlin') and Paul Rains (Allo Darlin', Tigercats) – have given Hannah's songwriting an added musical depth, complimenting the record’s overarching themes and ideas. Straight out of the same school of Australian songwriting as The Go-Betweens, Triffids and Courtney Barnett, Hannah's words follow her compatriots' ability to be widescreen and personal at once, infused with an added degree of delicacy and poignancy. “There’s definitely a theme of travel and adventure running across a lot of the songs. That feeling of being a bit lost and a bit unsure but at the same time excited, is something that sits underneath all the songs.” The results manifest themselves in an album that's both infectious and joyous – 'Misfits' and its ruminations on family; bittersweet – the brass-laden title track and its tales of airport arguments; and understatedly emotive – the turmoil of deciding whether to hold on to someone you love or not hold them back, detailed in 'Canvas Bags'; and 'Sinking Song's memories of the struggle of making friends in a new town, led by Wade's Stephin Merritt-esque baritone). In their début album they've made music which both swells the heart and conjures quiet reflection. Most of all, ‘Departures’ is, as its name suggests, music to escape into. Artwork comes courtesy of Tom Humberstone, of the New Statesman.

    Owl & Mouse press - “This is exceptionally beautiful and one that should be on everyone’s radar” Folk Radio. 

    “There’s an observational acuity in her writing that’s almost novelish and her singing is freighted with bittersweet emotion, while she builds up her songs with inspired orchestration. In that sense, she’s not another anything…. Constructed of simple but strong tunes, Owl & Mouse’s second offering is a little gem.” SoundsXP.

    “understated, delicate and minimalist, but its honest and melancholic tone and beautiful melodies certainly make it worth checking out.” For Folks Sake.

    “Botting’s delivery and subject matter are beautiful and sad in equal measure” Neon Filler.

    "In 2005, having decided to approach Gil Scott-Heron to suggest that we made a record, I stopped listening to any of his previous output. This was to avoid feeling intimidated by the weight of Gil's musical history, and by the sheer quality of the 14 studio albums he'd released since 1970.

    Part of my initial suggestion to Gil was that we recorded sparse, stripped down versions of his old songs. We both thought that might make an intriguing album. So we started off recording versions of some of Gil's repertoire, just voice and piano. But our album gradually evolved into something different - "I'm New Here", which as the title suggested, didn't touch on any of Gil's previous recordings (except for "Your Soul And Mine", which is a re-imagining of "The Vulture" from Gil's 1970 debut LP "Small Talk at 125th and Lennox").

    I didn't pay much attention to the acoustic versions of Gil's older repertoire that we had recorded, as I was so focused on our making an entirely new album. We didn't make the album we set out to; we made something different.

    In November 2011, six months after Gil died, I sat down to listen to the whole of Gil's back catalogue, on vinyl, album by album, chronologically. It's an incredible body of work; 13 albums between 1970 and 1982, and then 2 ("Spirits" and "I'm New Here") until Gil passed in 2011. I did this as a sort of meditative exercise, for the joy of sitting and listening to Gil, now that I was no longer getting to hear his voice down the phone from Harlem.

    I listened to these 15 albums over the course of a few weeks as a way to keep our communication going. They led me back to the acoustic piano versions of Gil's old songs that we had captured in New York and I found that they were in themselves remarkable; completely different to the originals, and full of magic in their simplicity. I realised we in fact had made the album we originally set out to, as well as "I'm New Here". We had recorded an album's worth of new, stripped down versions of some of Gil's best (but not necessarily best known) songs. We had recorded an album I thought should be called "Nothing New".

    "Nothing New" is recordings Gil and I made in New York of songs he chose from his catalogue, just voice and piano, pure Gil. I realised that each song he had chosen was from a different album of his. He had carefully curated the selection, so the album serves as an excellent introduction to his previous output.

    In our early letters, Gil had picked up on my use of the word "spartan" to describe how our record could be. The Oxford dictionary defines "spartan" as showing "indifference to comfort or luxury". Very Gil. "Nothing New" is truly spartan in that it is utterly sparse and devoid of anything that is not completely necessary. All it contains is Gil's singing and piano playing.

    You also hear excerpts of our conversations between takes; these give a sense of Gil's profound and profane nature. I believe Gil would approve of calling an album of him covering his own material "Nothing New"; the wordplay is inspired by him. Gil once expressed that he felt our album "could do with a few more yuks" - so now you can check out some of Gil's asides, and particularly the final interlude "On Bobby Blue Bland" for a glimpse of the man's playful sense of humour.

    Once I'd compiled and edited these songs, I made three acetates, and we screenprinted artwork at XL. I gave one of these three special copies to Gil's son Rumal Rackley, sent another to Gil's friend and keyboard player Kim Jordan in Washington DC, and the third went to Ms Mimi, who kept Gil's house in order. This could have been the end of the process, but Rumal felt we should share this work with people - so here it is.

    I hope you enjoy this album. It completes the set of 3 albums generated from our sessions in New York between 2005 and 2009 - the first 2 records being the main work "I'm New Here" and Jamie xx's remix album "We're New Here".

    This is "Nothing New"."

    Richard Russell, XL Recordings, London, 2014


    LP Info: Includes DVD 'Who Is Gil Scott-Heron?'.

    Various Artists

    Time Wept - Vocal Recordings From The Levant, 1906-1925

    Stunningly beautiful, poignant music from Bilād al-Shām - ‘the countries of Damascus’, known nowadays as Syria, Lebanon and Palestine - including performances from the very first recording sessions in the region. The legendary, moody Beirut singer Būlus Ṣulbān is here - some historians have him singing before Egypt’s Pasha Ibrāhīm Bāshā during his military campaign in Syria, in 1841 - and Ḥasība Moshēh, Jewish ‘nightingale of the Damascene gardens’. Thurayyā Qaddūra from Jerusalem; Yūsuf Tāj, a folk singer from Mount-Lebanon; Farjallāh Baiḍā, cousin to the founders of Baidaphon Records... Musical directors like the lutist Qāsim Abū Jamīl al-Durzī and the violinist Anṭūn al-Shawwā (followed by his son Sāmī); such virtuosi as the qanun-players Nakhleh Ilyās al-Maṭarjī and Ya‘qūb Ghazāla, and lutist Salīm ‘Awaḍ. Even at the time, notwithstanding such brilliance, public music-making was frowned upon as morally demeaning, especially for women. Musical venues were generally dodgy. Ṣulbān once cut short a wedding performance for the Beiruti posh, after just one song, he was so disgusted with his audience. ‘If I had to tell you about the catcalls,’ one commentator wrote about the musical theatre of the time, ‘the stomping of feet, the sound of sticks hitting the ground, the noise of the water-pipes, the teeth cracking watermelon seeds and pistachio nuts, the screams of the waiters, and the clinking of arak glasses on the tables, I would need to go on and on and on...’


    2xLP Info: Includes fold-out colour insert.

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