Last Harbour are a Manchester collective playing rustic, cinematically atmospheric songs that rattle and loom, at once epic and intimate, harsh and beautiful. Using instrumentation that might traditionally be associated with folk music, the band instead hammer and sculpt their music into unusual and beguiling forms. This is music with a strong emotional content, both bitter and beautiful.
The band effectively operate as a collective of like-minded musicians, all of whom are involved in other artistic work including music, photography, film-making and recording. There have been several Last Harbour records to date, all of them highly acclaimed. The newest of these is their second full-length album 'Hold Fast, Pioneer', released on February 21st 2005 on Tongue Master Records.
instrumentation and heartfelt vocals...bewitching."
late night balladry and rustic instrumental explorations. File under Tindersticks,
Tom Waits, Sixteen Horsepower, Songs: Ohia and Johnny Cash."
Harbour combine doomed romanticism with Godspeed-esque strings and Palace
Brothers skewed country. Their new record 'Hold Fast, Pioneer' will haunt
you to your very bones."
THE SCENE IS NOW is a legendary New York band. Despite being critically acclaimed by the almost everyone in the Village scene, not much is actually known about this very mysterious outfit. We are trying to compile a biography of sorts in the near future. In the meantime you can check out the comprehensive interview band member Phil Dray gave back in 2001 about THE SCENE IS NOW. Just click on: http://www.furious.com/perfect/sceneisnow.html
AKIS BOYATZIS, founder and main nucleus of SIGMATROPIC, marked his musical presence in his native Greece for the first time in the early 80's with local bands CAPTAIN NEFOS and LIBIDO BLUME. CAPTAIN NEFOS (a tongue in cheek moniker & loosely translated as "Captain Smog" as a tribute to the menacing & hovering Athens pollution cloud) were a clear cut and poppy New Wave outfit. Together with LIBIDO BLUME AKIS BOYATZIS appeared on several singles on a couple of albums therefore making an early successful mark on the Greek music scene as an English singing artist. In the late Eighties he moved to the US Midwest & started a band called HUM with American musicians.
Upon returning to Greece in 1990, after a short-lived reunion of CAPTAIN NEFOS he founded the ephemeral DEKA METRA DENDRA (Ten Meter Trees) but with no official recording output. After a period of playing as session musician AKIS BOYATZIS reemerged in 1997 as a new revolving outfit called SIGMATROPIC. Aptly named after a chemical reaction, it soon blossomed from a single person home-studio project into an exciting full blown live band. Meshing breezy Mediterranean flavoured beats with ice chilled Electronica SIGMATROPIC soon dished out some excellent material. Together with the wizardry of highly respected musician Antonis Livieratos, SIGMATROPIC released a single "Air" & an album "Random Walk", both on cool Greek indie label Hitch Hyke. In 1999 the EP "If You Were Me" helped to enhance their profile with a heavy airplay rotation. The same year they were invited to perform at the great Athens summer ROCKWAVE festival as a local band sharing the same stage with the likes of Blur, Prodigy, Patti Smith & Placebo. Despite a raised profile and critical success in Greece, AKIS BOYATZIS remains far removed from the overall music scene. As an elusive master technician he only emerges to occasional dazzle audiences with a live set.
In 2002 SIGMATROPIC released to an unsuspecting public the Greek original version of "Sixteen Haiku And Other Stories" which was based on the poetry of the late great Nobel laureate George Seferis. This album had the decisive production of COTI K and contained a sprawling musical & literary odyssey with outstanding results. The extensive praise underlined spellbinding soundtrack like music with the sophisticated vocalisation of the Haiku poetry. The next instalment by SIGMATROPIC will be the international version of "16 Haiku And Other Stories", produced by Antonis Livieratos and Akis Boyatzis. This highly anticipated project is the English version of the album featuring 18 guest vocalists from both sides of the Atlantic. An astonishing list of cult musicians graces this enhanced version, delivering their own vocal interpretation to an English translated poetry over the same music.
After the international success of 'Sixteen Haiku & Other Stories' AKIS BOYATZIS collaborated on CARLA TORGERSON’S (Walkabouts) first solo album 'Saint Stranger' (Glitterhouse/2004), having a major part in the musical composition. This was a fluid affair, removed from many Country Folk stereotypes, with some awesome Can / Stereolab–like licks & grooves & 2 great Laura Veirs & Pearls Before Swine covers. The 'Sixteen Haiku & Other Stories' promotion was also enhanced with PINKIE MACLURE, JIM SCLAVUNOS (Bad Seeds) & CARLA TORGERSON (Walkabouts) joining SIGMATROPIC on stage during various gig events, culminating with a SIGMATROPIC support slot to NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS massive Greek gigs (December 2004).
SIGMATROPIC now have an additional friend in the line up, ANNA KARAKALOU who shares the singing duties with AKIS BOYATZIS. The lengthy wait is over & the new album 'Dark Outside' is pencilled in for an autumn 2007 release.
Simon Joyner is living and working in the midwestern city of Omaha, Nebraska but he originally came from Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. His songs then are imbued with the mystery and some of the haunting themes associated with his birthplace, the South.
He began writing and performing his songs in 1990, releasing a few cassette recordings of his first songs to a growing local audience before his first vinyl-only LP "The Cowardly Traveller Pays His Toll" brought him international attention in 1994.
He has since released six LPs, a 12" ep and three singles as well as many compilation appearances over the last decade on many labels, U.S. and European. He is a favorite of John Peel who gave him his first radio play outside the U.S.
Simon is often compared to the great 60s and 70s singer-songwriters like Leonard Cohen, Townes Van Zandt, Jackson C. Frank and Bob Dylan for his obvious devotion to the song and for his symbolist, often allegorical storytelling which challenges his audience.
Famously reticent, he performs rarely outside of the U.S. He has a new full-length album, "Lost with the Lights On," due for release this summer.
After coming into contact with songs of the blood chilling calibre of "Ive Been A Mess", or "Mission Rock Resort", by Mark Eitzel, something astonishing tends to happen. It makes little difference whether a loved one has worn you down over months insisting you "Must hear this guy!" or the epiphany blossoms after an impulse buy, because the moment Eitzels music has lifted one foot up towards your threshold, his feet are under the table for life.
On the other hand...
The great music buying public hasnt quite seen it like that.
After a turbulent twelve year, seven album affair with his band American Music Club and nine solo offerings, including a self-released trio, the "1991 Rolling Stone Songwriter Of The Year" still holds captive a devoted, if mostly static, fan base. Its an enduring mystery why AMC never attained the lofty heights of "next big thing," despite every move receiving almost hysterical outpourings of devotion across broad sections of the music press. Big thing? Even "average sized thing" would have meant noticeably increased record sales and more radio play, the general lack of which has been lazily attributed over the years to the "depressing" content of Eitzels output. A more honest explanation has to do with his discomforting knack of getting closer to the bone than any streetwise butchers dog.
But where did this proclivity come from?
By way of explaining Mark Eitzels capacity for dissecting the fortitude and failings of humanity, it would be more than apt to reveal him as the product of a city back street birth, cherished by hookers before graduating to dealers errand boy by the time he could sprint, but no.
John Mark Eitzel entered this world in 1959 to join elder sister Renee at their parents home in Walnut Creek, San Francisco. His mother, of French descent, worked as a teacher but it was his fathers nomadic career that would have a lasting negative effect on the lad. A trained marine engineer, Eitzel senior worked as a civilian with the US Army which would pressgang he and his family to wherever the work was, be it Japan, Taiwan or England. An itinerant, almost rootless childhood saw the boy appear at a new school almost every year, leading the growing Eitzel to become increasingly insecure in social situations although dearly wanting to engage with his peers. The many hours spent in his own company led to a self confessed preoccupation with dark subjects, an unsought for resource to be plumbed years later. Often writing from a wincingly personal perspective, when asked how it felt to lay his soul bare in this way, he once replied "Who gives a shit. Im garbage."
It is more than enough to create songs that can glare such brilliant light into our deepest shadows but when combined with Eitzels voice that can personify all the despair of the world, before drying its eyes then its backside, the whole experience can become too heady for definitive words. But it wasnt always this way.
In 1976 while living in Southampton, England, a teenage Mark witnessed the birth of punk, prompting his first live performances in support of a local punk band who befriended him. Earlier experiments on guitar had been vaguely jazz based as a platform for improvised chords but the title of his big punk number, "I Love To Masturbate To Gilbert And Sullivan", takes some beating (and probably gobbing too).
Before having the chance to further himself on the scene, the Eitzel family were again on the move, this time back to the USA. While at Ohio State University, Eitzel played punk covers with his first band The Cowboys, before progressing to co-writing duties in The Naked Skinnies. A dedication to alcohol played a major part in his blossoming showmanship at this time, a predilection that would continue into maturity for all the common and unremarkable reasons. The band moved to San Francisco in 1981 where they broke up rather quickly. Eitzel remained on the West Coast where three years later, he formed American Music Club with Mark Pankler, a guitarist of weird sonic landscapes. Pankler, known better as Vudi, had been sufficiently impressed by Eitzels out of control, lunging kamikaze stage presence during a final Skinnies gig, so approached him with a view to working together someday. Thus began a marriage that was to be as full of hope, despair, drunken rage and ambivalence as any that has ever exchanged rings and vows.
The band was formed along more or less democratic lines but before long Eitzels singing, song writing and general aura pressed its way to the fore. He was the flame burning brightly both to warm and destroy: As unstable as water.
1985 brought their first album "Restless Stranger", which was at the time deprived of the title track because "It exposes our very poorly hidden love of Joy Division, so thats why I never wanted it put on the original record."
"Engine", "California" and "United Kingdom" appeared between 87 and 89 to cement foundational myths within the offices of UK music editors but little where else. Broadly based in skewed country-folk-rock with unusual chords, songs such as "Nightwatchman", "Highway 5", "Last Harbor" and the penetratingly sombre "Kathleen" displayed Eitzels lyrical flare, now increasingly honed and emotionally invasive.
"Everclear", regarded as AMCs most complete album and a work of near perfection, appeared in 1990 and with it came the prospect of artistic vindication as a signing frenzy between major labels ensued. A certain young American noted it too, then went on to form his own band with the express intent of emulating American Music Club. Ryan Adams has credited "Everclear" for the birth of Whiskeytown.
Reprise in the US, and Virgin in Europe readied themselves for a huge promotional push for their new Indie wards but holding to a mistrust of the big boys and a wayward punk ethic, Eitzel and his band came up with "Mercury", a dense almost art-house slab of plastic. Home to pre-eminent works such as "I've Been a Mess", "Apology For An Accident" and "Will You Find Me?", a few of the songs suffered as the more delicate moments were muscled out by over attentive production values. Viewed retrospectively as the clear favourite release for many, it did little at the time to endear itself to the record buying public, thus finding itself filed amongst American Music Clubs other poor selling albums.
Ever present frustrations within the band eventually toppled over when Eitzel accepted an invitation to make a live solo album at the Borderline Club in London, to the natural exclusion of his fellow band members. "Songs of Love Live" was a mostly successful attempt to capture something of Eitzels stage vitality, as well as his compelling vulnerability.
Throughout the life of American Music Club, Eitzels heavy drinking impacted stage performances whether by freeing him to communicate the awesome songs all the more vividly or to humiliate himself, and occasionally an audience member, when things would get out of control. Working relationships strained to breaking point at times, with Eitzel leaving the fold at regular intervals. Eventually in 1995 after one more dose of over-exalted commercial hopes with "San Francisco", this most cult of bands called it a day. Before long Eitzel regrouped but now as a full time solo artist, although various ex-members and associates would occasionally join him.
Eitzels first lone foray in 1996 was "60 Watt Silver Lining", a jazz tinged, intense collection that included one song carrying the name of an English working class holiday resort, "Southend-on-Sea".
"Well, thats the song that everybody hates," Eitzel has said, for no good reason. "Its about breaking up with my lover at the time. We came to England for the Big Romantic European Trip."
In 97, Eitzels solo career took an unexpected detour. Instead of following "60 Watt..." with a new solo release to build upon gained ground, there came "West", a collaboration with R.E.M.s Peter Buck. A joint project that should have carried the names of both contributors strangely came out under Marks alone. The undeniable success that Buck has enjoyed with his band over the years speaks for itself but his influence on this project served only to blunt Eitzels identifiable sharp edges, so spawning a work complacently happy with the middle ground. As if to redress the balance, serious demands were made on listeners the following year with the highly charged "Caught in a Trap and I Can't Back Out 'Cause I Love You Too Much, Baby". Subjects more sinister and taxing than the customary yield made this a work to be finely appreciated through hard aural grafting.
In a fascinating endeavour to shed some light on the inner workings, love-ins and feuds, a biography was published in 99 that went a long way in piecing together fragmentary details of AMCs excruciating life span. Written by Sean Body, "Wish The World Away: Mark Eitzel and the American Music Club", told the story of a band held in almost hagiographical esteem in some quarters but cursed by a seemingly never ending catalogue of suicidal business decisions, both theirs and those of people who should have known better. Just before it hit the stores, Eitzel gave his initial reaction as "shocked!" to finding himself the subject of a book, adding that he trusted the author to tell the straight story. Eitzels work tends to draw all manner of cod-psychological analysis from writers who feel touched at the deepest of levels.
"Its fine, you know. Its my fault... I have no chin and I write sad songs."
The untimely death in 1998 of long-time friend and muse Kathleen Burns led to an extended period of reflection, writing and rebuilding. It wasnt until 2001 that a new album, "The Invisible Man", emerged and showed a notable change in direction. Wryly observant lyrics, both humorous and painful, remained but this time Pro-Tools had been included in the palette so introducing sampling to the proceedings. "Steve I Always Knew" alluded to a sexuality that had been vaguely hinted at by him before. Probably of more note was the inclusion of a bona fide single in "Proclaim Your Joy", an effervescent wordplay waterfall.
The next act in the play brought without doubt the oddest release so far within an already unusual career. 2002s album of cover versions "Music For Courage And Confidence" is nominally filed under "Mark Eitzel" but would be better listed as the producers pet project. Session musicians plus "guest vocalist" came together to reinterpret a disparate choice of songs ranging from the best-forgotten-in-the-first-place "Snowbird", originally by Anne Murray, to "Move On Up" that strayed little from the original disco classic verve of Curtis Mayfield. Acceptance amongst fans was muted. If the guest vocalist had been someone other than Eitzel, then reception may have been better but a nagging opinion continued to impress itself: Like the ghost at Macbeths banquet, Eitzels immense genius for song writing can only hi-light the comparative lack in those chosen for him to reinterpret. It was a simple no-win situation.
So we arrive at 2003. An album of new material is expected in the autumn that should carry several songs that have been a part of Eitzels tour set for the last year or two, but whats happening right now?
Tongue Master Records have just released their own Eitzel covers album but with the priceless twist that here, he revisits his very own compositions. "The Ugly American" carries incredibly inventive new arrangements of some of Eitzels greatest moments, whether with AMC or from his solo years, on a bed of traditional Greek instruments blended with those found in any modern rock band. For those not privileged to have accompanied Mark Eitzel on every step of his voyage of mutual discovery thus far, "The Ugly American" is a perfect place to board the train. For those who settled into their seats way back, open your eyes now and enjoy a new route through warmly familiar terrain.
Jane Oriel, February 2003
After the release of the critically acclaimed album - "From Memorial Crossing " the profile of Pinkie Maclure and John Wills was raised considerably. Radio 3 commissioned a live performance and broadcast from The Edinburgh Fringe Festival as well as an archived live web cast. The Mixing It programme and Late Junction both had year end listeners polls which both put Memorial Crossing in their top ten albums alongside Radiohead and David Thomas. And finally The Scottish Arts Council have commissioned ten new pieces to include atmospheres sourced from local field recordings.
A new album "In the Outlands " is due for release in October this year which is a collection of exquisite down tempo and chill out tracks containing concertinas, melodicas, exotic percussion, Hammond organ strings and sounds from beyond.
Pinkie has also been asked to sing on an album of Haiku poetry by Greek laureate George Seferis and music by Sigmatropic alongside Robert Wyatt. She is also been asked to sing on an album by The Real Tuesday Weld to be released in conjunction with the book "I Lucifer ".
" John and Pinkie (working
under the name of Hello) have recorded two tracks for The Fence Collective.
One a re-interpretation of HMS Ginafore's "As summer stirred"
and the other a collaboration with OnTheFly on Pinkie and John's original
track "Sun beat down". Both tracks feature on The Fence Collective
album "Let's get this ship on the road" (fnc fc1). This was
released late October by Fence Records and is being distributed by Cargo.
Jim Sclavunos, memorably described in the pages of The Wire as an 'infamous elegant degenerate', has been a key player in Nick Cave's illustrious The Bad Seeds since 1994. Fortunately, The Bad Seeds percussionist has found time to forge his own significant musical organization, The Vanity Set. Sclavunos' acclaimed debut album, The Vanity Set, is now available in the US.
Together with fellow Bad Seed Thomas Wydler on drums and legendary guitarist Kid Congo Powers, producer Sclavunos has shaped a singular and dynamic musical cornucopia for his first compelling solo record. Recorded in over eight different studios around the globe, with most work conducted at Bad Seeds' live sound engineer Matt Crosbie's Exeter House Studio on Mt. Victoria, Australia, The Vanity Set features 11 unforgettable Sclavunos songs that appear to dwell upon such subjects as mortality, lamour fou, loss and loneliness. Yet there is definitely laughter in the dark, as throughout The Vanity Set Sclavunos trademark gallows humour just keeps on swinging.
A sardonic, psychotropic vision from the underworld, a 'Personal Hell'--this is the essence of the passionate, inventive and startling Sclavunos compositions featured on The Vanity Set. Wailing alto saxes collide with intoxicated banjos, unhinged Moog synthesizers seduce sullen violas, agitated castanets slip upon fuzz guitars, while electric screwdrivers blend with mournful accordions. If you're looking an easy genre label for The Vanity Set album then post-rock just about fits the bill; but this Sclavunos produced CD effortlessly transcends any such glib attempts at classification.
"It's a pretty eclectic record," states Sclavunos. "That was the intention when I was making it, not to be stuck in any particular style. That's why I did it on my own, rather than with a record label. That's why I recorded it over a long period of time with a dozens of different people rather than having a set band. It didn't just happen that way by accident."
New Yorker Jim Sclavunos has long been a prime mover on the city's vibrant underground music scene. The ever dapper Sclavunos helped kick start the vital No Wave revolution with Lydia Lunch, before playing with such flaming hellions as The Cramps, Sonic Youth and Tav Falco's Panther Burns.
However, Sclavunos was adamant that his first solo record would not resemble any of his previous work. In his role as producer, Sclavunos was determined that his musicians would not become self-conscious about their lines or parts, insisting that they never learn entire compositions at one time. Instead Sclavunos concentrated upon capturing moments of inspiration from his players on tape, which he would later painstakingly edit into a thrilling coherent whole.
Consequently, Vanity Set songs such as 'The Heavenly Host Are Gathered', 'Jump In the Grave', 'I'm in You' and 'Slim the Cook' are imbued with an unembellished spirit of spontaneity and adventure, skillfully manipulated and treated by the perennial nonconformist Sclavunos.
original and possessing a keen intelligence, Jim Sclavunos' The Vanity
Set demands your immediate attention.
"Straight out of the Jim Thompson book that birthed her"(Village Voice), Sally Norvell owns the stage with a poisonous finesse that betrays both her classical training and rebel punk background. In her suitcase of style and drama exists the burnt remains of Weimar Republic Berlin, the bloodstained passion of pulp fiction, the illusion of cinema, "The Blue Angel" directed by David Lynch.
Miss Norvell met Kid Congo Powers (Nick Cave, Gun Club, Cramps) in Los Angeles at the deathbed of a mutual friend, and the group Congo Norvell was born. Both had been noticed & cast by Wim Wenders (Paris, Texas & Wings of Desire), so the marriage of noir drama and music was immediately established. After several recordings and US & European tours, the duo relocated to New York, and have been leaving their mark on the naked city from the Beacon Theatre to the Lower East Side, playing with Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Foetus, Firewater, and collaborating with Mark Eitzel in studio and on stage.
Now in these strange days, Miss Norvell has formed a tear-stained solo act, accompanied by long-time pianist Paul Wallfisch (Firewater, Botanica), and occasionally stepping out with other experimental New York cabaret artists, like Gogol Bordello (Transylvanian Avant-Hard Cabaret) and Vanity Set (another Nick Cave family offshoot).
Part of the summer of 2001 was spent by Ms. Norvell and Mr. Wallfisch in an empty concert hall, recording Norvell¹s anticipated solo CD, "Choking Victim", which is growing wings and horns in post-production.
"Norvell is the unequivical centerpiece with her powdered, breathy whispers, pouty deep moans and angry cries of passion..Beware of sultry ladies in smoky nightclubs. Sally Norvell may be just the one your mother warned you about."-- Music Connection
" she has the voice, smoky and aching but with a country belter's reserves of lung power."-- New York Times
"Norvell is the seductress -- her rich, elastic voice part Shirley Bassey siren, part Ann- Margret coquette."-- LA Times
"...poignant, frilly and alluring as (Norvell¹s) feather boas and traffic-stopping decolletage..."-- CMJ Monthly
The name is John Terlesky, (born in Easton, PA.,USA) but people have been calling him JT for as long as he can remember. BROTHER JT since the early 90s (suggested by a music writer/benefactor who felt some of his ramblings resembled those of a defrocked monk). Its not easy to write to have the blessing for an official bio as John Terlesky admits himself because he does not feel he has achieved the notoriety to warrant it. What he has done is written a lot of songs. His first group the ORIGINAL SINS (1987-1998) put out some 10 albums and the same number as BROTHER JT as of 1991 onwards. As he himself describes " To me its always been about the songs anyway. I think I only really feel in my element when Im putting melodies and rhymes together, which could account for all the time Ive spent doing it without much compensation. "
For a while when the Original Sins started it seemed like they might be going places: They got great reviews from Rolling Stone, Sounds and Creem magazines, did some tours of the US and Europe and even got a few videos played on MTVS " 120 Minutes ". But their version of Garage pop never really fit in with either the 60s purist or indie rock camps and they kind of fell through the cracks the Grunge scene created. The same could be also said for the BROTHER JT output, despite being labelled " psychedelic " or whatever, its either been a little too lo-fi and trippy for some and too poppy for others. Nevertheless it seemed just right for him at the time of writing and recording it. John Terlesky believes the reason he has never gained much acceptance is because he always " wanted to reconcile the popular with the experimental ". The music he loved most (early Stooges, John Coltrane, 13th Floor Elevators, Beach Boys, Velvet Underground) all possessed both elements: light and darkness. In a way he is still trying to come up with just the right balance.
Strangely enough, despite
the doubtful prospect of profit-making, people keep wanting to put out
his records. He would have probably just kept writing songs anyway, so
the fact that some value them enough to let them see the light of the
day makes him feel pretty successful after all.
Broken Dog formed in the
summer of 1994, when Clive Painter and Martine Roberts met and began to
record and develop their songs on a worn out reel to reel machine. Influenced
by the spirit of such American luminaries as the Grifters, Swell, Pavement,
Smog, Will Oldham and Guided By Voices, they set about recording what
became their debut album, discovering along their colourful way a penchant
for dark, brooding undertows. Big Cat Records signed them, and their critically
acclaimed self-titled album was released in November 1996. To date Broken
Dog have released four albums and five singles/eps. Clive also works on
instrumental tracks which are released on various labels under the name
" Wolf ". Clive and Martine also spend some of their time collaborating
and producing records for other bands. Most prominently, they co-wrote
with Paul Anderson for his project Tram, producing a handful of singles
and the much acclaimed debut album " Heavy Black Frame ".
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