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STEALING SHEEP

Stealing Sheep

Wow Machine

    Wow Machine is a special commission album inspired by electronic music’s female pioneers that takes a deep dive into the realms of electronics, sampling, splicing , looping and reversing.

    This conceptual work takes the listener on a journey through serene feels, doomy landscapes, feminist sci-fi themes and robotic vocals with a contrasting mixture of analogue studio setups and modern software synths. The Sheep fluctuate between ambient flows and techno flavours in celebration of unsung women in music using the sinister sound-effects made by Delia Derbyshire during her time at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

    Due to the method's they have used to compose the music, the album is entirely self-produced, creating a visceral style with automatic and instinctive movements. The music features leitmotifs akin to 70’s TV themes, with eerie hooks reminiscent of Japanese dystopian Anime ‘Akira’ and the band site Delia Derbyshire, Laurie Anderson, Daphne Oram and Suzanne Ciani as key influences, as well as modern electronic pioneers SOPHIE and Planning to Rock.

    The album will be released on Both Sides Records as a special commission. Both Sides Records is a new label, which grew out of the work of the Manchester based charity, Brighter Sound and their innovative Both Sides Now programme, a ground-breaking gender equality initiative. Both Sides records continue to create opportunities for women and marginalised genders and celebrate music coming out of the North of England.

    Stealing Sheep And The Radiophonic Workshop

    La Planète Sauvage

      René Laloux’s celebrated 1973 sci-fi animation ‘La Planète Sauvage (Fantastic Planet)’, is overhauled with a re-imagined soundtrack by electronic modernists Stealing Sheep and legendary sound innovators The Radiophonic Workshop. This exclusive release is part of Fire Records’ re-imagined score series, and is released on Delia Derbyshire Day 2021.

      It’s a real pre-Avatar conundrum that Stealing Sheep, with the help of Bob Earland, Dick Mills and Roger Limb from the Radiophonic Workshop, unravel. Creating an ethereal excursion that’s narrated by Roger Limb; like a futuristic Martin Denny, or Dr Who gone ambient techno, with a hint of Forbidden Planet 50 years on. It’s an analogue swirl set in an off-world paradise; a field recording from the future. This is a creative, generation-spanning, union brought together to score this unique cult film.

      A must for fans of psyche electronica and Stealing Sheep’s formidable ‘Big Wows’ album.

      ‘La Planète Sauvage’ is a thing of ambient beauty punctuated with electronic earworms that switches from intensely ominous to otherworldly dream like moments.

      “No institution has had a greater impact on the development of electronic music than the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.” The Vinyl Factory

      “Stealing Sheep devour a broad range of styles, incorporating everything from the dark dance-pop of Grace Jones to the experimentations of Radiophonic Workshop pioneer Delia Derbyshire and John Carpenter soundtracks.” The Guardian.


      TRACK LISTING

      Side A
      A1 Opening Credits
      A2 The Chase
      A3 Saved/Captured
      A4 The Bracelet
      A5 Council Of Draags Pt.I
      A6 Terr & Tiwa
      A7 The Knowledge Pt.I
      Side B
      B1 The Fight
      B2 The Knowledge Pt. II
      B3 The Initiation
      B4 Escape
      B5 The Big Tree
      B6 The Ritual
      B7 The Duel
      Side C
      C1 Theft/Zarek
      C2 The Bird
      C3 The Free Oms
      C4 The Purge
      C5 The Journey To Ygam
      Side D
      D1 The City Of Free Oms
      D2 Robot Attack
      D3 The Fantastic Planet
      D4 The Final Battle
      D5 Terr C6 Council Of Draags Pt.II
      D6 End Credits

      ‘Not Real’ is the second album by Stealing Sheep, written, recorded and produced by band members Becky Hawley, Emily Lansley and Lucy Mercer at their studio in Liverpool.

      The unifying theme of ‘Not Real’ is an interplay of fact and fiction; the edge of dreams and limits of reality.

      TRACK LISTING

      Sequence
      Apparition
      Not Real
      This Time
      Greed
      Deadlock
      Evolve & Expand
      Sunk
      Love
      She

      Big Wows is heavier, harder and weirder than Stealing Sheep’s previous work. Bold neon pop songs with rave percussion, steelpans, dreamy segues and breathy experiments. The *fsszzt* sound of lemonade opens the album with a hyper-real sense of optimism that progressively reveals the cracks of dystopian irony amidst sugar–coated pop; held together by Emily Lansley’s bass guitar, Luciana Mercer’s drum kit, Rebecca Hawley’s synths, and the trio’s swooning steely vocal harmonies.

      Stealing Sheep describe Big Wows as “a slow rush”; taking shape over a period of nearly three years spent working out exactly what they wanted it to be and creating an album that levitated their identities as individuals as well as merging them into one unit “We’re each finding our own creative intuition,” says Bex “..and then we come together...and we back each other up" adds Lucy.

      Just as the title suggests, Big Wows is both cynical and optimistic: dreaminess and pop dance rhythms are cut With eye rolling vocal styles inflected by heartfelt lyrical messages “We hit upon this conversational-style between the vocals and have alternating lead melodies. There's a sarcastic tone to some of the music but there is always a strong wilfulness to incorporate honest integrity, which is hard to do but refreshing when it finally comes out.”

      Side one opens with a burst of shimmery synths as ‘Show Love’ and ‘Back in Time’ lead you heart first into the headier feels of ‘Jokin' Me’ and upbeat bounce of 'Why haven't I?' following into the more progressive grooves for ‘Girl’ then fading out with the narcoleptic comforts of ‘Just Dreaming’. Side two digs deeper into a dreamworld, with the manias and hallucinations of ‘Breathe’ and ‘True Colours’ as well as the gorgeous disillusionment of the title track and ending with an unexpected tropical club banger ‘Choose Like You’.

      Running through the whole record is a response to living in a tech era: “We wanted sounds to represent TVs, computers and everyday glitches” says Bex “We started to have this feeling that life is like a game and how you can malfunction when you're blasted with too much information…” As well as composing with traditional instrumentation they also started songs solely on the computer; sequencing, building sounds, drum machines and responding to that non-emotional binary world. “The big challenge,” continues Bex “is making machines sound organic, emotional, finding their flaws. That’s why Delia Derbyshire is so important to us. All the effects that she uses serve to humanise the machines.”

      Since the release of their last album, 2015’s surreal and fantastical ‘Not Real’, they’ve been in demand as multidisciplinary public artists as well as musicians – on projects including Wow Machine, which brings to life another more conceptual strand of ‘Big Wows’; in a mechanical light up stage with dancers and live music. This summer they also performed at UK festivals with a 15 strong all-female procession to celebrate the centenary of Suffrage. “Being female has become more of a theme in our work” the band say. “It's obviously always been there but now we're playing with it more conceptually and thinking about empowerment"

      This greater confidence and rock-solid aesthetic mean that Stealing Sheep can take greater risks and reap more wonderful rewards. They have a broad range of influences – St Vincent, Michael Jackson, The Knife, Kraftwerk, Drake, Little Dragon - but they remain so resolutely and richly themselves. “We try new things out and we get more confident about what we like.” says Bex. "There’s a really good thing Grayson Perry says about developing your creative intuition. You get to a level as an artist where you know on a gut level what you like and what you don’t like. It takes a long time to feel comfortable in that place, to know your palette, to know you like these drum sounds or whatever it is.”

      Lucy is working with a full drum kit now instead of just toms, Emily is playing bass guitar, Bex is making her own synth patches and they’re all using new equipment: they are developing and experimenting and moving forward together. “We wanted the machine sounds to be juxtaposed against a full kit and bass guitar, which we tracked live to feel intentionally loose in places. We like the idea of placing robotic tech next to real life energy.”

      The songs began at home or in their studio at Liverpool’s Invisible Wind Factory, laying down the main body of the tracks, then the band worked with various producers – including Marta Salogni (Bjork, MIA, Factory Floor), Andy Smith (Years & Years), Ash Workman (Christine & The Queens, Metronomy) and Joe Wills (video artist for Little Dragon) – as they’ve tried out different mixes and ideas to convey their messages. They also teamed up with 8bit video artist Pastle Castle (Emily Garner) from Leeds, who created a Karaoke video series for the whole album; exploring Stealing Sheep's digital dimension and their shifting identities amidst changing cultural moods and millennial paraphernalia. "It's a crazy time and it's challenging navigating through it, but it's like 'whatever' bring on the BIG WOWS.’


      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: I remember being slightly surprised when Dave told me I should give the new Stealing Sheep single a listen a few months ago (Dave and I have canonically opposed tastes in music), and I actually really liked it. Throbbing synths, sugary percussion and huge 80's reverbs but with perfectly precise production and more than a nod to that classic sound of Italo disco. There's no way this isn't going to be a hit, and it deserves every minute of it.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. Show Love
      2. Back In Time
      3. Joking Me
      4. Why Haven't I?
      5. Girl
      6. Just Dreaming
      7. Big Wows
      8. Breathe
      9. True Colours
      10. Choose Like You
      11. Heartbeats


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