Happy new year! A quick post as I ease myself into 2020 after a break from the internet. I’ve updated my gigs page with my dates for January to March and it’s dominated by MoonMot: the Swiss/UK sextet is back on the road in February and March, touring in the UK and mainland Europe as well as releasing its debut album ‘Going Down The Well’ on 14th February via Swiss label Unit Records. In the mean time, you can have a listen to a couple of tracks and pre-order the album (in LP, CD and digital form) on the MoonMot Bandcamp site.
The new Sloth Racket album is released today! You can now stream the whole album on Bandcamp, and order CDs and zines to be shipped straight away. Check it out!
You can pre-order your copy of the fourth Sloth Racket album ‘Dismantle Yourself’ today from Luminous! I’m so happy with how this album album sounds and it’s great to get it out there…
As well as the CD edition with hand-printed sleeve, for this release I’ve created a companion zine to go with the album. The 20-page, A6 zines were printed by Footprint Workers Co-operative in Leeds with bright blue ink on recycled paper. The words and graphics inside came out of my process of going through the studio sessions to pick the final album tracks and give them titles: my listening notes always include these things, and this time I decided to work on them a bit to make finished pieces of writing. When laying out the text for the zine pages I incorporated graphics similar to the ones in my scores for Sloth Racket and Favourite Animals compositions.
The CD sleeves come in five different colour inks – randomly selected when I ship albums, or you can take your pick when buying from the merch table.
It’s in the album thanks list, but I should say here once again how grateful I am for the support of the Fenton Arts Trust and the Oppenheim-John Downes Memorial Trust. I was able to get grants from them to support the album recording: a two-day session in February at The Chairworks studio in Yorkshire. After three albums made in single day sessions, the aim was to have more time to work on the music in the relaxed setting of a residential studio. With more time for experimentation, the focus of the recording was the exploration and development of the new material, collectively improvising the composed starting points into finished pieces. Of course, all that will be straight out of the window as soon as we set off on tour in September and get our teeth into the music on the road!
Sloth Racket is hitting the road this Autumn and releasing a new album! After a huge amount of work and multiple grant applications, I’m incredibly happy to announce this run of nine live dates around the UK. Touring is where we can really get into the music, and I can’t wait to get stuck in. I love playing with this band! Check the flyer below for all the dates, and you can find all the info about venues, who will be sharing the bill with us, how you can buy tickets and everything else tour-related at slothracket.co.uk/tour.
The new album ‘Dismantle Yourself’ will be available to pre-order from Luminous on 12th August, and is released on 2nd September. I’ll post here when pre-orders are up too.
See you somewhere out there in September!The tour is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
Out today is something I’m really happy to be involved with: Boundaries, an LP on the new multi.modal label. Based at SPARC (Sound Practice and Research @ City), a research centre at the Music Department of City, University of London, multi.modal is run by Tullis Rennie and Claudia Molitor. In their own words:
‘multi.modal is a new London based record label that muddies the borders between improvisation, field recording and composition. Each release on the label will triangulate these artistic spaces and reflect contemporary music practices, which tend to be collaborative and multimodal.’
I was lucky enough to be invited to work with City University Experimental Ensemble in April 2017, making a new graphic score, March Of The Egos, for them as well as playing my piece Off-World (as heard on the Favourite Animals album). We performed the two pieces at IKLECTIK, and it’s this recording that you can hear on side B of ‘Boundaries’.
The title of the release refers to side A of the LP: two interpretations of Chieko Shiomi’s Boundary Music. This 1963 text score reads: ‘Make the faintest possible sound to a boundary condition whether the sound is given birth to as a sound or not. At the performance, instruments, human bodies, electronic apparatus or anything else may be used.’
The Boundaries album is distributed by NMC Recordings and can be ordered from their website. I also have a couple of copies that I’ll be selling at gigs, so come and find me on a merch table somewhere soon!
Lastly I should mentioned the beautiful design work by Alexander Rennie. Look at the gorgeous cover!
Update: I’ve been alerted to a lovely review of this record on the Further blog, in which Mat Smith describes CUEE’s performances of my pieces as ‘a vibrant, colourful, euphorically noisy collision between noir jazz and electronics’ (Off-World) and ‘a discordant, joyously sprawling piece wherein each instrument and player seems to be vying for airtime’ (March Of The Egos). Thanks Mat!
Madwort’s Menagerie is Tom Ward’s chamber-ish sextet project, which I became a member of relatively recently. We recorded a set of Tom’s music in 2017 and the album is coming out this Spring on his new label Madwort Records. To celebrate the release, we’ll be playing at Hundred Years Gallery in Hoxton on Saturday 9th February. For this date the lineup will be:
Tom Ward – flute
Alex Bonney – cornet
Adam Spiers – cello
Andrew Woolf – bass clarinet
Cath Roberts – baritone saxophone
Tim Fairhall – double bass
The new Sloth Racket album A Glorious Monster had been making its way to the ears of various music writers this summer, and here follows a summary of their thoughts on our latest output.
Daniel Spicer in the Wire noted the album’s ‘gossamer guitar webs’, ‘free burn’ and ‘doomy plods’, while Nick Hasted in Jazzwise was struck by the ‘deconstructive graft’, ‘squawks and splutters’ and ‘thunderous force’, resassuring readers that the music was ‘less grindingly abrasive than Ripsaw Catfish’ – a relief to all concerned.
Meanwhile on the internet, Ian Mann of The Jazz Mann felt that the album was ‘Sloth Racket at their inimitable best’. Our first review from the Avant Scena blog featured ‘turbulent free improvisations’, and on the Can This Even Be Called Music blog (!!) we were described as ‘bringing forth a slow burn type of jazz, almost akin to doom music’. Gert Derkx on the ever-supportive Op Duvel blog had lots of positive things to say, if my my sketchy Dutch skills and auto-translate assistance are anything to go by, and we were also an Avant Music News pick of the week. Ken Waxman on Canadian blog Jazzword wrote that ‘the hard-hitting Sloth Racket quintet is refining its approach to Free Jazz without losing any of the power that characterized the band’s earlier music.’ Most recently, Paul Margree on We Need No Swords felt that ‘the border between group and individual blurs into an amorphous zone’ on this album, as well as highlighting the ‘mischievous alto pecking’, Johnny’s ‘octopoid wig out’ and ‘a cloud of mesmerising jitter’.
Big thanks to everyone who has supported the album so far! If you haven’t already, have a listen below and see what you think…
The third Sloth Racket studio album ‘A Glorious Monster’ is available to pre-order from Luminous! Recorded last November in Manchester, it was mixed and mastered by Alex Bonney at the beginning of this year and I’m really happy with how it sounds. Listen to a preview track and order your copy over at the Luminous Bandcamp site:
The CD edition of the album comes in a hand-printed sleeve as ever (this year I’ve been experimenting with neon ink!), and we also have super exciting 2018 Sloth Racket t-shirts on sale in either lime or charcoal, as seen in the ultra-realistic collage below:
Orders will ship out to arrive on release day, 4th June, but if you want to get your hands on one before then and you live near London, Bath, Manchester, Derby, York or Durham, they will be on sale from the merch table at all of our tour gigs. We’d love to see you there!
Apologies…..this post demanded all caps. I’ve been working on this for a LONG time, so I’m pretty ecstatic to announce that Sloth Racket will hit the road once again this year with support from Arts Council England! It’s an eight date tour taking in some new places and revisiting some familiar sloth haunts, to celebrate the release of our third studio album ‘A Glorious Monster’ on Luminous this June.
Head to the dedicated tour page on the Sloths website for all the info and to buy advance tickets…
It’s almost out there! Today I shipped out albums to all the crowdfunder backers, and pre-orders are up on the Bandcamp site. The release date is 4th December, so if you order a copy between now and then, it should drop onto your doormat on the day. Even though we only recorded this in August, I feel like I’ve been working on it for a really long time, so it’s good to get it over the line. The first track is streaming online now:
Next up, it’s all hands on deck as we finish the last of the logistics ready for the double bill Article XI/Favourite Animals UK tour. Here’s the flyer again – come out and see us if we’re in your town…