Leo Abrahams, Jon Hopkins and Brian Eno have teamed up most recently for Eno's Warp Records debut, Small Craft On A Milk Sea, an album of fifteen dark and dreamlike instrumentals born out of a two-week period of improvisation. Released this month, the album has already been hailed as one of Eno's finest collaborations. You can see the three of them playing together on the New York Times website
Leo is a hugely respected musician and one of the most sought after guitar players around. He has a proven track record playing live, both solo and as a guitarist / multi instrumentalist for many artists including Vashti Bunyan, Eliza Carthy, Kathryn Williams and June Tabor on the ‘Daughters of Albion’ shows and the Sea Shanty project ‘Rogues’ Gallery’ with Richard Thompson, Martin Carthy and James Cooke. He has recently performed successful solo shows in across Europe, Russia and the US.
In the studio he has worked with a huge array of artists as both a producer and instrumentalist, including Brian Eno, Paul Simon, Florence & The Machine, King Creosote, David Holmes, Roxy Music, Nick Cave, Jarvis Cocker, Marianne Faithfull and recently produced the acclaimed album by new folk act Smoke Fairies and throughout the Hollywood blockbustersOcean's Eleven, Twelve and Twelve .
Leo's impressive debut album, HONEYTRAP is innovative, diverse, sophisticated and uncompromising, demonstrating Leo's understanding of the guitar and his ability to push the instrument to new levels to achieve different sounds.
‘Subtle, imaginative and sometimes intoxicatingly lovely. He's built a series of beguiling tone poems mostly from guitars and ethnic percussion that are by turns exotic, atmospheric and bucolic.’ BBC.co.uk ‘A stunning instrumental album. Honeytrap is a wonderfully ambient offering which soothes the soul…and will bring you back time and again. Superbly played.’ Guitar Techniques “A stunning album that is more than capable of seducing the listener, an album designed to display the art of writing music, this it achieves. it won’t get any better than this.’ Gigwise.com ‘Honeytrap is an exercise in incredible self-restraint and control. It is often beautiful, and rarely (if ever) self indulgent. The spaces between the notes often have as much impact as the notes themselves. The music is left to speak for itself, and it does so with heartfelt honesty and beauty throughout. It’s both touching and majestic. ’ MusicOMH.com
An uncompromising musician and writer Leo wanted all the sounds on HONEYTRAP to be 'real', rejecting traditional techniques such as sampling, sequencing, computer effects and even keyboards instead relying on ambient sounds generated exclusively by guitars. The idea was to create an album of pure music unaffected by commercial considerations and with no agenda.
The task of describing the album musically is best left to the artist himself: 'Abstract and expressive; atmospheric and melodic. Most of the pieces are just like songs, but with instruments taking the tunes instead of a voice. Stylistically it's pretty diverse, there are tinges of folk, ambience, classical, electronica and even world music, but it's tied together by the instrumentation and the melodies.'
His second album, The Grape and The Grain sees Leo exploring instrumental English Folk music in this collection of tender and melodic pieces, featuring mainly guitar, but with added instrumentation, including a Hurdy Gurdy which Leo learnt to play specially for this record.
“Leo conjures up more images through his fingers than any painter could” Ed Harcourt “Undoubtedly one of the most versatile, creative and exciting musicians I’ve had the pleasure to work with” David Homes
“Abrahams is pushing boundaries that most guitarists haven't even thoughtabout” Guitarist “A musician of amazing ability and perception. Unmissable” Glasswerk
It was classical music which first inspired Leo and armed with his earlier ambition of becoming a classical composer he attended The Royal Academy of Music, studying alongside Steve Martland and Nick Ingman , before realising that he 'wasn't terribly good at it and wasn't learning a lot'. It was around that time that Imogen Heap invited Leo to go on tour, an offer which proved too tempting so Leo left the Academy and became a bonafide professional musician. After the tour Leo went on to work with Nik Kershaw and Ed Harcourt , whom Leo has worked with for the last five years, and has remained in constant demand ever since.
Leo is such a talented musician that he was famously approached by Brian Eno in a music shop, having overheard Leo trying out a new guitar, Eno was so impressed by this 'unassuming guy just quietly playing the most beautiful guitar in the corner' that he took Leo's number and invited him to his studio and they have since worked together on a number of live and studio projects leading on to further sessions for Leo with the likes of Paul Simon, Grace Jones and Nick Cave .
As for Leo's hopes for his own music - 'I have this producer friend who always asks a new artist: "What is your music for? Do you want people to dance to it, eat to it, f*** to it?" It sounds stupid, but I just want people to listen to it!' Official Leo Abrahams website Leo's MySpace