Leo Abrahams — Daylight
(Lo Records, 2015, CD)
by Jon Davis, 2016-01-24:
Much of the music that appears on the pop charts these days should probably be credited to the producer(s) rather than the singer whose picture is on the cover. The sounds heard are assembled on hard drives, copied and pasted, processed, filtered, and manipulated in ways that were never possible in the days of bands gathering in a studio and banging out tunes live. Like any technological development, this can be good or bad, and the dividing line is highly subjective. Leo Abrahams is an artist who has taken hold of the reins of the process for his own ends, with Daylight applying the technology to his own music, which serves to blur the lines between performance and production. There are live drums, and Abrahams himself plays guitar, but the parts are often mangled in ways that couldn’t possibly be performed on stage by a live band. But in this case, I’m willing to accept the artificiality as art – I find the result sonically fascinating. Sonically, it’s not too foreign from Brian Eno’s later song-oriented albums, some of which Abrahams was involved with, though somewhat more processed. In some cases, the vocals, which are processed and vocoded (or whatever), seem to function more as additional instruments than as means of conveying lyrics. For me, the bottom line is that the melodies are good, and all the production tricks work as ear-candy in a fluffy way. There’s nothing difficult or dissonant, no jarring odd meters, though there are times when the choppy editing results in a rhythm of its own. While Daylight may be a bit too pop-oriented for some listeners, or too ADHD for lovers of traditional songcraft, it’s an interesting entry into the exploration of what today’s technology means in music.
by Henry Schneider, 2016-01-24:
I did not know what to expect from this new album by producer and guitarist Leo Abrahams. Over the years he has worked with artists such as Brian Eno, Pulp, Roxy Music, and Anthony and the Johnsons. On his previous solo albums, he explored folk, art rock, ambient electronica, and songs. So I approached Daylight with an open mind. On Daylight Abrahams takes his music in a completely new direction. While not exactly an academic approach to music and songwriting, Daylight consists of 11 experiments in song deconstruction. Leo deliberately introduced elements of chaos into several of his tracks, as well as noise, cutting things up, and reassembling them. In some sense it is akin to viewing a landscape through a venetian blind. You gain an idea of the whole but there are interfering factors. Vocoded vocals drift in and out of the electronic rhythms along with Leo’s guitar. Just when you think you have figured things out he blindsides you with a new element. I am not at all sure where he is going with this album. Is he indulging himself? Is this purely an introspective effort? And after its 45 minutes I am left puzzled. The sole aspect uniting the songs is the electronic rhythm. I only found one track worthy of my attention, “Chain.” “Chain” is the closest to what we normally think of as a song and it features Brian Eno on vocals. The adventurous listener may find something of note here, but the album failed to engage me.
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more
Mythology Bullfinch - The Age of Chivalry & Songs from the Age of Fable – This oddly entitled outfit seems to get their influences as much from classic and psychedelic rock as progressive rock. The Age of Chivalry is mostly a guitar, bass, and drums affair, with frequent... (2001) » Read more