Feline Friday

“Many Cats”

Many Cats is a philosophical proposition which postulates that ‘many cats’ is always, and infinitely, better than ‘no cats’ or even ‘few cats’. This theory was founded by Edwin Van Heldeger, a traveler from Germany, in 1321 as he created ‘Cat Island’; an island off the coast of Italy (now known as ‘Sicily’).

As he helped the population of Cat Island grow, Van Heldeger noticed that Many Cats was the ideal state of being.

Ancient photograph of Cat Island:

Van Heldeger died on this day in 1348, surrounded by Many Cats.

Watch: Lawrence Arabia – The Listening Times

Following excellent reviews for third album The Sparrow, including a CD of the Week in the Sunday Times, and a sold-out London Lexington show last month, everyone’s favourite dandy kiwi Lawrence Arabia has just unveiled an intriguing video to effortlessly melodic new single ‘The Listening Times’.

Director: Simon Ward
Filmed in Wellington

It’s about this kind of conversational dead end that happens at roughly 6am when you’ve been up all night partying. When the last vestiges of everyday humanity begin to ebb from the gathered personnel and they become conceited, dumb beasts, talking endlessly about being young and “living in the moment” and stuff like that… It’s a peculiarly London song, written on the steps of a lounge room where I’d experienced numerous murky instances of listening times.

Initially I’d had this idea to work with Amelia Handscomb, the photographer who did all my album artwork and promo shots. We’d got into this very pretentious realm of influences for the photos – lots of gloriously posed shots from the 20s – Man Ray and Antonin Artaud – and I was hoping that we could do something similar with this kind of imagery, moody lighting and portentous symbolism. The upshot was that Amelia was too busy with other amazing stuff to do it and I ended up working with another Wellington-based artist called Simon Ward, a filmmaker who’s made some magnificently crafted music videos.

The second idea we stumbled upon was to create the appearance some kind of live television special – I had in my mind some kind of old television special that felt like some enigmatic “no-place” – very hard to describe, and consequently I was unable to find an example of it for us to reference. But I knew my vision was kind of Eastern Bloc-ish, so eventually Simon and I found this seam of brilliant Polish pop music specials from the 1960s, all dramatically lit and ominously shot. Quite serious despite some of the fluffy musical content. So basically with the aid of a cool old VHS camera and Simon’s wonderful instincts and attention to detail, we paid homage to this lost style of pop video.

PINS – LuvU4Lyf EP // out October 1st // tour dates

PINS‘ new LuvU4Lyf 10″ EP is released this Monday October 1st on Bella Union. It is available from the Bella store.

The band will be hopping around the UK with a handful of dates, be sure to catch them…

10 October – Shipping Forecast, Liverpool
11 October – School of Art, Glasgow
12 October – Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh
13 October – Soup Kitchen, Manchester

17 October – Nation of Shopkeepers, Leeds

19 October – Louisiana, Bristol
20 October – SWN Festival, Cardiff
24 October – Sebright Arms, London

Hear the title track below –

John Grant Autumn Dates with Efterklang

John Grant will be a very special guest this October performing with Efterklang on their UK dates:

Oct 23 Gateshead ( Newcastle ), Sage
Oct 24 Edinburgh , Usher Hall
Oct 27 Coventry , Warwick Arts Centre
Oct 28 Brighton , Dome
Oct 29 Manchester , Bridgewater Hall
Oct 30 London , Barbican

Additionally, John is headlining:

Oct 20 SWN Festival, Cardiff [info]
October 25 Glasgay Arts Festival, Glasgow [info]

You can ‘like’ John Grant on Facebook.

Bella Union at the AIM Awards

We’re honored to be up for Independent Label of The Year at the AIM Awards, in such good company – the nominees are:

Bella Union
Hospital Records
Ninja Tune

And our Simon is up for Indie Entrepreneur of the Year –

Alex di Savoia – Aardvark Records
Chris Goss / Tony Colman / Tom Kelsey – Hospital Records
Louis Barabbas – Debt Records
Sam Dyson – Distiller Records
Simon Raymonde – Bella Union

For the full nominees for all the categories, head over to AIM.

Bella Union announce the release of “Road To Palios”

Bella Union records is thrilled to announce the release of Road To Palios, an exquisite cycle of instrumental duets for acoustic guitar and violin by Portland-based composer and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Francesconi and his partner Mirabai Peart.

Fans of Joanna Newsom should already be familiar with the work of Francesconi. He was a member of her ‘Ys Street Band’, the principal arranger and instrumental foil on her hugely feted triple album Have One On Me, released in 2010, and musical director for that album’s live incarnation, which Peart was also part of. But as well as a master collaborator, Francesconi is a vastly experienced soloist, performing and recording in all manner of guises.

Though Francesconi doesn’t limit himself to one sound – he spans Baroque, Americana and jazz improvisation – he admits his (and Peart’s) main obsession is Balkan folk music, mainly from Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey. “This colour seems to seep into everything I do. It’s not entirely conscious at this point… It’s my hands. It’s not me.”

The inspiration behind Road To Palios was a trip that the couple made in 2010 to the Greek island of Lesvos. The road is a real road, and Palios is a real village – “it might not be there for much longer, but we found it” – and The Road To Palios feelslike a journey, stretching out over time and distance. Some song titles show the way; “Pontic” is from the Greek “Pontus”, meaning, “sea”. “Kalamatianos” is a traditional Greek dance. “Far from Shore” and “Parallel Flights” speak for themselves.

As you would expect, Joanna Newsom is a fan, to put it mildly. Fransesconi, she says, is, “one of the most awe-inspiring musicians I’ve known. It’s nearly impossible to believe he’s picking those strings with one hand.”

Here we have seven questing tracks; sometimes meditative, other times stirring, but always flowing and compelling. Once embarked upon, it’s a unforgettable journey, into Balkan territory and the heart and soul of two extraordinary musicians.

Road To Palios by Ryan Francesconi and Mirabai Peart is released 3rd December 2012 on Bella Union records.