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BARBAROSSA

Barbarossa

Love Here Listen

    New album from Barbarossa, a.k.a. British singer-songwriter and producer James Mathé via Memphis Industries. Produced by Ghost Culture (Daniel Avery, Kelly Lee Owens, Falle Nioke), “Love Here Listen” is Mathé’s sixth album since his debut, “Sea Like Blood”, released on the Fence Collective back in 2006, since which time he’s joined Jose Gonzales live show, become a member of Junip, toured with POLICA and This is the Kit and morphed from acoustic troubadoury to electronic song smithery all the while seemingly searching for an elusive balance between hopefulness and melancholy. On “Love Here Listen”, it feels like he has found it.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Always Free
    2. Iris2Iris
    3. Recliner
    4. Cellular
    5. Intuit
    6. Make It Through
    7. Long Wave
    8. Awakeners Awaken Us
    9. Hide
    10. Love Here Listen

    Barbarossa

    Lier

      Since the release of his last record, ‘Imager’, in 2015, a lot has changed for London-born James Mathé AKA Barbarossa. Most importantly, he’s become a father for the first time and made the hugely liberating move from London, the city that had for so long defined him and his sound, to Margate.

      ‘Lier’, Mathé’s brand new album, is the perfect sonic story to accompany these big life changes and as a result, his most personal record to date. Across the 10 tracks, ‘Lier’ is a hugely uplifting and cathartic record that takes you from the depths of his intricate and wonderful creative mind to the wider wonderful emotions that come with becoming a father.

      Picking up where 2015’s ‘Imager’ left off, ‘Lier’ is further electronic wizardry from Barbarossa - one of the UK’s finest song writing talents. This time, his vocal is at the forefront on some of the most accessible pop songs he’s ever written.

      ‘Don’t Enter Fear’ is the perfect way to introduce the record. Written on the piano in his parent’s house, it encapsulates everything that the whole album represents and is ultimately a reminder to himself not to be scared of the seismic changes in both his own life and the political world around him.

      ‘Lier’ was written and recorded with Mathé’s producer friend Ghost Culture in Margate with percussion and drumming skills supplied by Joel Wästberg AKA Sir Was and artwork by fellow Margate dweller Tom Vek. The album is focused on the theme of geographic and personal change - ‘Cyclone’, the album opener for example, focuses on the move from city to sea and the calm and space that can bring, whilst album title track ‘Lier’ was inspired by swimming in the Walpole Bay tidal pool.

      Inspiration comes from everywhere - ‘Aluminium Skies’ was written in Gothenburg, Sweden whilst James was on the road with José Gonzalez (he plays in the José Gonzalez live band), whilst ‘Thickening Air’ was inspired by the classic songwriters that Mathé obsesses over - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Brian Wilson and Joni Mitchell.

      What unites the songs on ‘Lier’ are central themes of loss, love and confronting who you are as time moves on and things change within and out of your control. By the end of the record you are left with the feeling that when things are simplified, they are at their most beautiful.

      TRACK LISTING

      Cyclone
      Aluminium Skies
      Broken Beauty
      Griptide
      Don’t Enter Fear
      Ancient Light
      Thickening Air
      Lier
      Shells
      Feel My Sins

      Barbarossa

      Imager

        “Melds blue-eyed soul and electronica to addictive effect… exquisite” - The Times

        “A great example of someone following their musical instincts into new areas and finding success” - Drowned in Sound

        “Mathé employs his soft soul falsetto over juddering beats, double-time drum claps and a synth riff… a revelation” - The Guardian

        Barbarossa, the nom de plume of Londoner James Mathé, follows 2013 album ‘Bloodlines’ with ‘Imager’ on Memphis Industries. ‘Imager’ is a cerebral, slow-burning album, tinged with melancholy and an alluring humanism.

        Mathé’s musical journey started with folk-tinged balladry that saw him become part of the Fence Collective and subsequently a band member for the likes of José González, Johnny Flynn and Junip. With ‘Bloodlines’ Mathé started to infuse his songwriting with electronic flourishes and now, with ‘Imager’, he completes his transformation into fully fledged electronic soul pioneer.

        Working with co-producer Ash Workman (Metronomy, Summer Camp) Mathé builds on the foundations provided by his organic approach to songwriting, to build elegiac electronic anthems that are filled with a simple, poignant immediacy.

        ‘Imager’ is pervaded with a sense of disquiet, perhaps driven subconsciously by the fact that the spaces where creativity and culture flourish in London are rapidly disappearing; that the artistic communities that Mathé grew up with are being driven out of London due to financial pressures and, as a result, something vital is being lost. Yet while the album deals in displacement and heartbreak, a sense that everything is in flux, there are redemptive moments to stir the soul.

        ‘Silent Island’ is perhaps the best example of this. Its melancholic refrain “this city holds no beauty for me” giving way to a blissful yet propulsive chorus that suggests creativity will always find a way.

        Elsewhere, ‘Settle’ is the sound of dislocation in the big city, a questioning of how to respond to your surroundings as they become increasingly alien.

        The languid ‘Home’, which features a guest vocal from José González, is the light to ‘Settles’ shade; its phrase “you’re one of the lucky ones...” providing reassurance and redemption.

        ‘Imager’ is the sound of Barbarossa stepping out of the shadows and into the limelight as a talent to be reckoned with in his own right, questioning his surroundings, his own creativity and coming up with answers that are compelling, affecting and thoughtful.

        TRACK LISTING

        Imager
        Home
        Solid Soul
        Settle
        Nevada
        Dark Hopes
        Silent Island
        Muted
        Human Feel
        The Wall

        Barbarossa

        Bloodlines

          “Melds blue-eyed soul and electronica to addictive effect.” - Sunday Times · There were plenty of reasons for Londoner James Mathé to simply keep course after the release of his well received debut album, ‘Chemical Campfires’, in 2008 on Fence Records - a flourishing reputation as one of Britain’s most exciting acoustic troubadours, a prominent spot in Johnny Flynn and Jose Gonzales’ backing bands, the roar of applause from the audience at a sold-out show at New York’s Bowery Ballroom still ringing in his ears… but Mathé had other ideas: “I loved the acoustic scene, but knew it was not all I was about,” he remembers. “So I dug out all my old Casiotone keyboards, drum machines and analogue synths and just started writing.”

          From the sultry ache of opener ‘Bloodline’ (a nod to Massive Attack’s ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ “about not picking up the bad habits of the generation before you”, says Mathé), to the Pharrell Williams-inspired urban crunch of ‘Turbine’, all the way to ‘The Load’ (written when Mathé was indulging in his love of Jurassic 5 era 90s hip hop), ‘Bloodlines’ is a brilliantly varied listen that pulls and paws at your heartstrings.

          If there’s a gloriously loose, tenebrous feel to songs like the blue-eyed electro-soul ‘Pagliacco’, it might have something to do with the Londoner’s organic approach to song writing. “I just sit down with my dictaphone and make sense of what comes out afterwards. The best stuff usually comes when I’m hungover or not really thinking. The minute I try to be clever with words, it just sounds sh*t,” Mathé laughs. Instead, the album’s lyrics burn with a simple, poignant immediacy and Mathé sings them with touching, soulful grace.


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