|Adam Stafford — Fire Behind the Curtain (27th April, 2018)|
Adam Stafford — Fire Behind the Curtain ► Skladatel skutečné hloubky, bohatý na porozumění a melodickou virtuozitu. Jeho práce graduje postupně do impozantního katalogu, jaký vlastní pouze hrdinové doby.
Born: 24 February 1982, Sunderland, England
Occupation: Film director, musician
Album release: 27th April, 2018
Record Label: Song, by Toad
01. An Abacus Designed to Calculate Infinity 7:44
02. Zero Disruption 4:44
03. Sails Cutting Through an Autumn Night 5:39
04. River Search Into the Night 5:03
05. Strangers Care When You Burn 1:35
06. The Witch Hunt 9:00
07. Penshaw Monument 10:42
08. Invade They Say Fine 5:44
09. Museum of Grinding Dicks 5:48
10. Holographic Tulsa Mezzanine 4:04
11. I’m You Last Week 4:29
12. Fanfare For the Morning Tallow 5:49
13. I Dreamed I Was a Murderer 10:02
⦿ Adam Stafford: Electric guitar, acoustic guitar, slide guitar, voice, piano, EHX Mel9, percussion, glockenspiel
⦿ Robbie Lesiuk: Bass, organ, keyboards, drums, drum machine, piano, acoustic guitar, percussion
⦿ String arrangements by Pete Harvey (www.pumpkinfield.co.uk)
Strings Performed by The Pumpkinseeds:
⦿ Simon Graham — Violin
⦿ Kate Miguda — Violin
⦿ Liam Lynch — Viola
⦿ Pete Harvey — Cello
Choir (Arranged by Stafford):
⦿ Jen Anderson
⦿ Hayley Grogan
⦿ Lilly Higham
⦿ Hannah Johnson
⦿ Duncan Killin
⦿ Gillian McCoustra
⦿ Dominic Venditozzi
⦿ Alexandra Walker
⦿ Additional Vocals on The Witch Hunt and Holographic Tulsa Mezzanine by Jo Foster.
⦿ Cover illustration and portrait by Paul Ryding. Label photography by Jon McCall and Stafford.
⦿ Design and layout by Matthew Young and Stafford.
Special thanks to Gylla Stafford (for tying up loose ends), Alan Morrison & Creative Scotland, Adam Donaldson (Choir logistics), Katherine Young, Jon McCall (for the song title), Fawn MV Stafford, Paddy Berry, Andy Loban, people who listened, nodded and said nice things.
⦿ This album recording was made possible with help from Creative Scotland’s Open Project funding scheme.
⦿ Dedicated to anyone who has ever been hungover, down~and~out, running from themselves, running for their life, trapped in prisons internal/external.
⦿ Written by Adam Stafford.
⦿ Produced by Robbie Lesiuk and Adam Stafford. Recorded and engineered by Lesiuk at The Happiness Hotel, Leith October 10th — 23rd 2017. Mixed by Lesiuk/Stafford in Falkirk October 24th — 27th.
⦿ Assistant Engineer for Strings: Pete Harvey.
⦿ Mastered by Reuben Taylor.
⦿ “Yet again, Adam Stafford has created one of the best albums of the year.” — The National (on ‘Taser Revelations’)
⦿ “A songwriter of real depth, rich in understanding, in melodic virtuosity, his work has gradually built up into an imposing, heroic catalogue.” — CLASH Magazine
⦿ “Stafford approaches musical ideas like a meditator treats thoughts, allowing them to linger only briefly before setting them free and welcoming in the next.” — ★★★★ — The Skinny
Album Review by Ryan Drever | 30 Apr 2018 | Score: ★★★★★
► Adam Stafford’s new album is a rich and haunting record of intelligence, beauty, depth and darkness — it’s a monumental piece of work.
► Adam Stafford has long produced engaging and interesting music of the highest calibre. From remarkable solo shows where he would build up tender vocal loops into maniacal danceathons while cutting shapes in a shirt and tie like Ian Curtis at an office party, to his effortless ability to create brilliant, affecting guitar pop — and all sorts of weirdness and wonder in between.
► But Fire Behind The Curtain is a work of monumental brilliance. Written over the course of an eight~year period darkened by Stafford’s personal struggles with anxiety and depression, this double~length LP eschews more conventional lyrical expression for a rich and utterly haunting body of work that is mostly instrumental — save for a few spoken words and choral howls.
► There are familiar elements at play here to anyone already clued up, such as his aforementioned and extraordinary use of looping, patterns and repetition to weave disparate components into beautifully layered, synergetic symphonies. There is, of course, his unique turn of phrase and gallows humour (Museum of Grinding Dicks is surely contender for best song title of 2018). Yet this album sees Stafford go full composer, taking us on a musical journey of cinematic proportions.
► Opener An Abacus To Calculate Infinity with its shimmering, musical ripples slowly turning in smooth waves, and The Witch Hunt with its almost tribal crescendo, are but two examples of a collection which instantly and constantly inspires a sense of drama and colour that practically begs to be set to imagery. Maybe that isn’t much of a surprise given his background in film/scoring.
► Chiming guitars, birdlike whistles, rousing choirs, indefinable vocal textures, plaintive piano and more are all used by Stafford to thrilling effect and tied together with truly breathtaking string arrangements from Pete Harvey (Modern Studies). The result is an album of intelligence and beauty, depth and darkness, and ultimately, catharsis. Take the time to absorb it and it will linger in your bones.
Listen to: An Abacus To Calculate Infinity, The Witch Hunt, Penshaw Monument
► Adam Stafford’s new LP ‘Fire Behind the Curtain’ has been released on double gatefold vinyl on Song, By Toad in May 2018.
► Empty oil tankers. A haunted sponge cake factory. A housing estate on the edge of an industrial wasteland. Adam Stafford’s memories of his childhood home in Falkirk could easily be the premise of a coming~of~ge horror movie, or a setting for a Celtic noir drama. Perhaps not entirely surprising for an artist whose very first film picked up no fewer than seven major awards, including two Oscar~qualifying festival accolades and a Scottish BAFTA.
► But Adam’s prolific career in music and film have come out of a lifelong struggle with severe dyslexia and depression. Unable to write or read until the age of 10, he threw himself into music as a way of escaping the drudgery of lessons and bullying at school. Music was his passion and a subject he did well in despite not being able to read notation. This was also the time when Adam played in a number of punk garage bands, one of which was the ill~fated Chuck Norris Machine — an improv collective whose one and only gig in a biker’s club was so loud, it earned them a lifetime ban.
► After the trials of school years, Stafford’s film career happened by chance. A friend making a documentary asked him to write a soundtrack and offered to return the favour by producing and shooting a short film. The Shutdown was filmed in one night with the budget of £50 for petrol money. It ended up doing the festival circuit for two years.
► To date’Adam Stafford’s amassed an impressive body of work in both music and film. His numerous achievements include a Scottish Album of the Year~nominated solo album Imaginary Walls Collapse, video direction of The Twilight Sad’s ‘Seven Years of Letter’ and an experimental tape~collage Miniature Porcelain Horse Emporium.
► Famed for his mesmerising performances on stage, he’s played alongside Warpaint, The Twilight Sad, Norman Blake, King Creosote and Ela Orleans.
► Recently, Stafford has been leaning towards more experimental compositions. Reverse Drift (2017) is an art presentation comprising of 24 photographs and a single 40~minute improvised track. The same year he released jarring lo~fi synthesiser/Gamelan configurations on a 3~track EP, Torments Through Supernatural Flogging.
► Recorded in the Song, by Toad HQ, The Happiness Hotel, the latest addition to the Adam Stafford opus is Fire Behind the Curtain. The neoclassical L.P. is a “testament of hope” in his battle against depression. It was written over an eight~ year period and inspired by Adam’s love of Meredith Monk, Michael Gordon and US Minimalism. Adam gives a preview of his latest avant~garde musical expedition: “Choirs yelp and screech, beatboxing courses through cosmic k~holes and guitars sound like saxophones trapped deep in the wasp~machine.” Label: http://songbytoad.com/
By Ed Jupp · On April 27, 2018 · OVERALL SCORE: 9
► Album dedications don’t usually give you much of an idea about what to expect from an album. Then again, Adam Stafford’s new record isn’t your usual album. Even as a teetotaller, it’s easy to be swayed by the description of an album that is described as being ‘dedicated to anyone who has ever been hungover’, but also extends that dedication to the ‘down~and~out, running from themselves, running for their life, trapped in prisons internal and external.’ Eight years in the making, the album covers some intense and emotional ground, and gives the listener not only plenty to listen to, but also to think about and reflect upon.
► Having been described elsewhere as ‘a neo~classical album that deals directly with depression,’ it might seem as if this album on paper (never mind on speakers or through headphones) might be heavy~going. Let’s dismiss this right away: while it’s not easy~listening muzak, it’s actually an album to fall for without much difficulty, and to enjoy being swept away by. If there seems to be a lot going on here — not just musically, but emotionally, too — it is an inviting album, rather than one that seeks to alienate the listener. The opening track ‘An Abacus Designed To Calculate Infinity’ could suggest mathrock. While there are indeed hints within, for my money, there is also a link to Virginia Astley’s 1983 pastoral masterpiece From Gardens Where We Feel Secure. It evokes images of beautiful countryside scenes being overtaken by the arrival of the factories during the industrial revolution a fitting analogy for the struggles of the daily grind as we get older. This is a work that references the likes of American minimalist composers like Philip Glass and Steve Reich, the latter a particularly acknowledged influence on this album. Nowhere more so is this the case than on ‘Zero Disruption’ with its allusion to hallucinations.
► Stafford’s skill is such that even during a piece (‘Songs’ feels inaccurate for the music on this record) that’s short, the music can move you close to tears. The album name comes from the less than two minutes long ‘Strangers Care When You Burn’ which references his own grandfather’s funeral and the point at which the coffin disappears behind the curtain; how he believed that that was the point at which the cremation started. While some rely on lyrics to communicate their feelings and emotions, Stafford’s musical textures paint a thousand words — dismissing toxic masculinity on ‘Museum Of Grinding Dicks,’ or seventeenth century misogyny on ‘The Witch Hunt.’ Once you have the title, the music takes over.
► Stafford has been open about his battles with depression and anxiety, which stretch back to childhood. I sincerely hope that this release affords him some kind of light, because it is a very accomplished album indeed. This year marks the tenth anniversary of Song, By Toad as a label. Whilst there have been a number of excellent releases over that time, this may stand as perhaps the most stunning piece of art to have been released so far on the label. ► http://www.godisinthetvzine.co.uk/
Keira Brown | 03 May 2018 | Rating: 92%
MATT H — APRIL 1, 2018 | Rating: 9.5
|Adam Stafford — Fire Behind the Curtain (27th April, 2018)|