Friday, December 14, 2012

WRAPPING UP 2012 with Richard James

Since the first solo album from Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci co-founder Richard James in 2006, the excellent “The Seven Sleepers Den”, the interval between albums appears to have halved – “We Went Riding” in 2010 and then this year’s stripped-back “Pictures In The Morning”. However the latter was actually written in the summer of 2009 and then recorded in two houses in Cardiff with producer/engineer Iwan Morgan. “I record everything now in houses, using every area of the building. It makes it hard to do drum tracks live but you can do acoustic ones. The album is meant to be quite low key and intimate as it’s quite personal.”

However a delayed gap from writing to release date does not Mr James has been idle: not only does he curate the musical side of the Laugharne Weekend festival each April he has also established In Chapters as an umbrella for publishing and promoting a variety of musical and literary endeavours including the Pen Pastwn group he formed with Gareth ‘The Gentle Good’ Bonello and Laura J Martin.

Although a low-key and personal record, The Line Of Best Fit captured the spell that the nine track album weaves perfectly: ““Pictures in the Morning” is also an addition to one of the most overpopulated brackets in the song-writing tradition: the break-up album. Add this to the album’s blanket ban on loud look-at-me antics and its propensity for melancholy introspection, and you’d be excused for assuming we’re faced with a bona fide misery-fest. However, although regret and heartache run rife through the nine tracks, these are nevertheless tunes tailor-made for the bright, warily hopeful morning after the boozy self-pity of the night before has faded. There’s hurt aplenty here, but you can practically feel the sunshine radiating from the gentle, warm melodies that propel most of these tracks.

So a busy year for Richard James?

What I will remember most about 2012 is...
A week long trip to Sudan with the British Council in February. I took the Pen Pastwn band out there to collaborate with local musicians, play 2 shows. We swam off a reef in the Red Sea, met some great people and musicians, and was an eye-opener to that part of the world and its music.

What should be forgotten about 2012...
I can't remember....

The best gig I played was...
Green Man Festival, with a 7 piece Pen Pastwn band. [The gig in May at The Castle in Manchester was quite special too]

The best gig I saw was...
Y Niwl, The Fountain Inn, Laugharne Weekend festival in April. They were meant to play at midnight, but had a gig in Birmingham the same evening, turned up at five past, and were on by quarter past. Super charged rock 'n' roll, great set.

A record from 2012 that will be still be played in 10 years time?
'Spin That Girl Around' by Euros Childs.

Overlooked in 2012?
Depends what you mean by overlooked. If a good artist has the chance to record and release their work, play live and get it across to people, then they aren't overlooked and the view of the media is irrelevant. The almost instantaneous word of mouth and directness to music fans the internet provides means the judgement of the media is increasingly irrelevant. Radio play I would say is the most important because of revenue, and provides a more well-known and well-trodden platform to hear the music.

And what can we look forward to in 2013 from Richard James?
Hopefully a couple of records, a few gigs, working on a couple of projects I hope will come off. Plenty in the pipeline!

Halving that release time again? This can only be a good thing. In exchange for your email address there’s a five track Pen Pastwn EP over at In Chapters. And the Richard James solo albums can be tricky to track down but here is a good starting point.

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