With the recent release of Sam's debut single and video 'I'm Gonna Be A Witch," we asked him what is doing the rounds on the record player at the moment. Don't forget you can listen to these tunes by subscribing to our Spotify playlist.
1. Fantomas - Der Golem
2. Nico fitz - The Trials of Sisyphus
3. Deptford Goth - Union
4. Percy Grainger's arrangement of 'Shallow Brown'
5. The Envelope - Undercover
6. Jeff Buckley - Dido's Lament
7. Choir of Young Believers - Hollow Talk
8. Iamamiwhoami - Play
9. Brontide - MFBT
10. Snarky puppy - Thing of Gold
The first single from debut album 'Blind Theatre'
"Sam Thomas revitalises the most maligned words in music: post - rock to stunning effect. Its quite possibly our favourite track of the year" - Liverpool Echo
"Its almost unthinkable that someone can do anything truly new with guitar music anymore, as 60 or 70 years of it has exhausted so many possibilities, but we've never heard anything quite like this before. A wonderful introduction" - The Sound Of Confusion
"The debut single from multi instrumentalist Sam Thomas, is a song which from its first play right through numerous others, and even now, brings a provocation to thoughts and emotions as well as opening up visions and imagination to go along with its evocative sounds and ideas...a wonderful piece of composing and realisation incorporating a rich soak of invention and thought. Sam Thomas is destined to make a major impact, his creativity transcending and inspiring so many genres and flavours, and I'm Gonna Be A Witch an impressive start" - The Ringmaster
"Hauntingly beautiful" - the Bizznizz
Will Dutta is the man who has provided us with his current playlist this week. Thanks Will :)
1. Calcutta Triangle - Soumik Datta, Bernard Schimpelsberger & Manu Delago
2. The Devil and Me - Mara Carlyle (Plaid Remix)
3. Magic Serenade - Bryan Johanson
4. Spheres - Gabriel Prokofiev
5. In Seven Days - Thomas Ades
6. Back Garden Beautiful - Olivia Chaney
7. Cello Sonata - Gyorgi Ligeti
8. Crossties - Jo Mango
9. Renaissance: The Masters Series - Mixed by Nick Warren
10. Buddy Bolden Blues - Wynton Marsalis
Subscribe to our Spotify playlist to check out the tunes.
Look out for live appearances from the band:
Check out the live video for Flying taken from the Redwall Sessions:
What is doing the Marconi Union iPod rounds currently :)
This is what we are listening to right now :)
"Awaiting the Green Morning" - Ochre
"Ruled by Strange New Laws" - Crisopa
"Over 6633" - Ametsub
"Expect" - Balam Acab
"Buildings at Night" - Christoph Berg
"Korpikansa" - Uusitalo
"Falling the Same Way" - Sandwell District
"Rapture's Coming" - Peter van Hoesen
"Clipper" - Autechre
"Modern Driveway" - Luke Abbott
Sam Thomas is the newest member to the Just Music fold. Blind Theatre, due out mid 2013, is his epic debut album, which we can't wait for you to hear. Sam took the time to talk about its recording; here is what he had to say.
The album took 2 years to record; how did it feel to finally let go and send it for mastering?
Sam: It felt amazing. I never thought it would take as long as it did to finish. We were only in the studio one day a week though so during those two years I spent most of my time waiting for that one day to come back around again. When I work on my own I work solidly and tirelessly until the job is done so I had to learn to be very patient. At times it was frustrating to say the least so it felt so good to finally have it all done and to finally start being able to think ahead. It felt very strange at the same time though; I didn't really know what to do with myself for a month or so after completion.
How long had you been sitting on the material? Was it all written around the same time?
S: The album has actually taken more like five years to finish if I go by when I first started writing parts of it. Its first incarnation was a 27-minute continuous track that I recorded myself in the studios at university, originally I wanted a folk/grime duo called iAm1 to do vocals on it but that never happened in the end. That track ended up as Ojera, Arnold's Circus, Blue Cologne and Lanterns. It was longer before but we did away with the ending. Gift, Soar Mill Cove and Isis were three I wrote during the two years recording at Cafe Music and the rest of the album was adapted from stuff I'd written for various uni projects and commissions that came to nothing.
Is there something you particularly want to convey to someone who has just listened to Blind Theatre?
S: There are a lot of general themes, feelings and ideas that my producer (Mark) and I were trying to get across. We wanted the whole album to sound like a journey involving a big old steam-punk type of machine, hand made and rough around the edges, broken but doing the job it a charming way. There are various points where we wanted the machine to be powering up and powering down. Another main theme was a nostalgia for that childlike sense of imagination, the way kids see the world through magical eyes. One way I attempted to achieve the nostalgia thing was by putting a few of the same simple notes in various different environments so that hopefully the listener gets a sense of familiarity without being quite sure why, whether it worked or not I don't know! Another example was trying to make the strings sound old and grainy like those lovely old Disney recordings. Hopefully people will come away with their own different ideas though, the things I've just mentioned are personal to me really.
How much did the experience of recording the album with Mark add to what you had already?
S: Hugely, indescribably. Mark completely got what I was trying to do musically and took it 10 stages further in terms of environment, mood, feeling sound etc. The obvious thing to do with my demos would have been to quickly spruce them up sonically but Mark went so much further than that. He got obsessed with 'the listener' and how they would be feeling during all the different sections. He would also constantly play devils advocate, making me justify any twiddley guitar lines or fancy drum fills for example. I suppose the wrong producer would have either let me noodle away and just focused on the technical side, or pulled back the reins so much that I just resented them. Mark got the balance just right, any debates were healthy, we're great friends and both feel very comfortable questioning what each other are doing at any time. The last thing he wanted me to sound like was 'the guy who plays all the instruments' and I couldn't have agreed more.
How important was your time at University of Westminster in your musical journey?
S: Very important. It was a good course for giving an overview of the music industry but for me, the main reason why I wanted to go there was because of the 7-day-a-week studio access. I just buried myself down in those studios and constantly badgered the technicians for help and advice. I learned far more from them than in any of the lectures, I went in knowing basically nothing about how a proper studio worked and came out with various demos, which ultimately landed me the deal with Just Music. I generally recorded what I wanted to record and then adapted whatever I had to pass the modules. I worked out that I easily made back my tuition fees with studio time; I literally spent my whole life down there.
What does 2013 look like for Sam Thomas?
S: It's hard to tell! I need to wait to see how the album is received before I can make too many plans. I'm thinking a lot about how I would play it live at the moment. That's something I would really like to do but it would be a big commitment for other musicians so I'd need a reason to do it and a budget. I think the album would lend itself really well to having a strong visual side so that's something I'd like to explore a lot. I also have a lot of new ideas in my head (maybe another album's worth) so it would be good to use some of them, writing to picture is also something I love to do so hopefully those sorts of opportunities might start coming my way. I'm now renting a flat from Mark in his studio so I'm ideally placed! At the very least I hope by 2014 I'll no longer be working in a restaurant!
On 25th Nov 2012, Marconi Union recorded a live session at Red Wall Studios. This short documentary, filmed by DOTCA, gives an insight into Marconi Union and their music.
In November 2012, Marconi Union recorded a live session at Redwall Studios in Manchester. Continue to read the transcript of what they say.
Read the transcript of what they say in the video:
Richard: The Redwall Sessions were really eye opening, because it was something we hadn't really done before. Just getting in a live room together and playing with all the other stuff going as well and making music off the cuff as it were. I know we were playing songs that we know well and that we play live, but it somehow seemed different doing it in that setting.
I'd like us to play live more. The problem is always finding the right kind of setting. The music we make doesn't always easily fit in with people's idea of what a live band should do. But I think a lot of people would be surprised if they saw us, particularly now that we’ve added Phil on drums. They’d realise that it's not just something that needs to be studio based, but actually with the visuals and all of that stuff happening all at once that it can be a pretty good experience.
Duncan: We try to write music that doesn't sound as if it’s from a particular point in time. There’ve always been composers and jazz musicians, and the cliché about sort of playing what’s not there; it’s true to certain extent. The way I play is just about finding the right notes. Sometimes we’re a little bit suspicious of music that sounds as if it has been written to showcase the talent of an individual performer. Some music that is written with that in mind can sound soulless. You'll never find a solo on a Marconi Union track.
There's a lot of ambient music which doesn’t have a musicality. What we try to do is bring a sense of music to the ambient genre if you will, but that's not all we do. I think most musicians would say that they would want listeners to be able to identify them through what they play. With Marconi Union you have to leave any sort of musical ego you have outside and just focus on what is required by the sound.
Jamie: “My first real big influence came from the punk scene. Which is ironic because I've never actually played in a punk group. I guess there are no written rules or strict formula to what we do but there's a continuity in what we end up achieving and I think that is just a natural thing in the way we think and play. I tend to play guitar in a minimal fashion. The less notes the more you concentrate on the notes you're playing.
Working with a rhythm section has been really interesting, especially in a live situation. It just feels more comfortable to have more people playing and relying less on sequencers. I'm not even sure what ambient music is anymore; I'm not too sure whether I ever knew what ambient music stood for. I think there's so much music around these days, it's really difficulty to find something that's different and unique. Maybe that's what our music is now. It’s reflective as opposed to looking towards the future.
Richard: I do like the sampling of everyday items. I like to bang things together or maybe go out with a little recorder and just record sounds in my garden or whatever. There's nothing exotic about it but then you kind of get those noises. You treat them, process them and resample them and things, and suddenly they kind of throw up pictures for you and that's the moment that really excites me. I guess one of the things that works really well between us is that we all have different areas of what we do and we all have enough respect for each other that you're willing to go with that person's judgment about what they're doing and just piece it together. Usually it just seems to work out fine.
I guess on a musical side of things I've been influenced by just loads of stuff but you wouldn't necessarily know it from listening to what we do. It's not obvious because it's kind of the spirit of something that's in there that I want to recreate rather than the individual notes and chords. We often get called enigmatic, but we are not enigmatic in the sense that people say. We're not particularly difficult, we're straightforward. We just want to do things that are only related to music and we just want to do them to the best of our ability. We’re not really happy to settle for second best. We value the Marconi Union name and we are not going to release anything that we think is substandard. We have too much respect for what we do.
The tracks that feature in the documentary are taken from the album Different Colours:
1) First Light
2) Flying (in crimson skies)
3) Always Numb