Released on August 23rd 2010 via Young God Records, All Is Falling was recorded, mixed and mastered by John Hannon and James Blackshaw at No Recording Studio, December 2009 – January 2010 and is his first foray into the realm of the electric 12 string guitar. Blackshaw also features on piano, glockenspiel, voice, and percussion aided by Charlotte Glasson who contributes violin, flute, alto saxophone, and glockenspiel; Fran Bury providing violin and voice and cellist Daniel Madav.
In support of this release, The James Blackshaw Ensemble (featuring James Blackshaw – 12 string guitar, piano, Charlotte Glasson – flute, alto sax, glockenspiel, Daniel Madav – cello, Joolie Wood (from Current 93) – violin, tenor recorder and Fran Bury – violin) have also confirmed a headline show at London’s Bush Hall on 2nd September. Support for this show comes from Frank Fairfield and Ryan Francesconi (from the Joanna Newsom band). James will also be performing as special guest on the highly anticipated SWANS shows in October. Full UK dates are listed below.
With his ninth album All Is Falling, the ultra savant of 12 string mantra cycles, James Blackshaw expands further into cinematic, orchestral glory – an orgy of organic, deeply felt and exquisitely played pathways to the sublime. Stretching his intuitive compositional acumen to the max – the album is essentially one slowly evolving, shifting piece of music: “All Is Falling” Parts 1-8. Replete with swirling string cycles and wind instruments augmenting Blackshaw’s extended pointillist flurries with clouds of sound, sometimes adding delicate counter melodies, but just as often feeding the implicit waves of overtones until they cascade in an ever-expanding and all-enveloping onslaught. Listeners willing to close their eyes and surrender will be rewarded with a pure stream of devotional, relentlessly searching, sonic incantation.
The seeds of this project were sown while James was serving as guitarist in a stripped down live incarnation of Current 93. This was the first time he’d played electric guitar in nearly a decade. Blackshaw got unexpected pleasure and inspiration from the sheer volume involved, the way the different old valve amps he’d rent for each show would perform, and having to be more pro-active in his fretting; he noted that while a 12-string acoustic guitar “sings” or “plays itself,” that an electric guitar needs a lot more coaxing. James became curious as to how a 12-string electric guitar might sound in his own work and bought an Italia Rimini and a little Fender Superchamp.
The slimmer neck and the lighter string tension allowing him to play faster and to reach finger positions he’d previously found awkward. At the same time, James acquired a home-recording set up which allowed him to experiment with the arrangements for other instruments, and this became integral to how he wrote the piece with guitar taking a smaller role in the overall picture as a result. Both factors had a huge impact on the new music he was composing as well as the influence of post-No Wave maximalist guitar composers Glenn Branca and Rhys Chatham. Cont…
James used to be in punk bands in England, but then he started listening to people like John Fahey, Robbie Basho etc, and soon locked himself in a room for 12 hours a day for several years and just played his guitar constantly. It takes intense discipline and a religious commitment to get to the place where he’s at with his instrument – his soulful and kaleidoscopic ever-shifting mantra cycles are incredibly beautiful. It takes a rare and single-minded courage and commitment to make music with such a powerfully positive force at its heart, especially in these troubled times.
UK DATES CONFIRMED
02-Sept London Bush Hall (The James Blackshaw Ensemble + Frank Fairfield + Ryan Francesconi) 7.30pm £9.00
21-Oct Cork Cyprus Avenue / with Swans
22-Oct Dublin Button Factory / with Swans
23-Oct Cardiff SWN @Millennium Music Hall / with Swans
24-Oct Birmingham Supersonic Festival / with Swans
25-Oct Glasgow Arches / with Swans
27-Oct Brighton Concorde 2 / with Swans
28-Oct London Koko Theatre / with Swans
29-Oct Leeds Uni Stylus / with Swans
30-Oct Manchester Academy / with Swans