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Four years after the unexpected and exquisite treat that was Philip Selway’s debut album Familial, the man formerly known only as the drummer of Radiohead returns with his sophomore record, Weatherhouse. At ten tracks and 38 minutes, the album is as concise in shape as it is expansive in mood and assured in execution, mining a generally darker, fuller sound than its gentler, more acoustic-based predecessor and reflecting the band-centred nature of its construction and its creator’s growth in confidence.
Weatherhouse was made in collaboration with Adem Ilhan and Quinta; artists in their own right who had previously performed in Philip’s backing band. “From the outset,” Selway recalls, “we wanted the album to be the three of us, and we covered a lot of instruments between us. With a studio full of inspiring gear and a great-sounding desk, we felt like a band. Different musicians stretch you, and I felt stretched on Weatherhouse, but very enjoyably so.” Working mostly out of Radiohead’s studio in Oxfordshire, Adem also produced and engineered Weatherhouse, while Quinta played an equally integral role in the arrangements. The album was mixed by David Wrench.
Album opener ‘Coming Up For Air’ sets the scene with its brooding, spectral mood, mantra-like pattern and Selway’s simmering, reverb-drenched vocal exploring the album’s dominant theme. “It’s very much about taking stock of my life. I wanted to convey a sense of release and affirmation,” he says. “This was the first song that we recorded. Immediately it felt in a very different space from Familial.”
The album’s talismanic qualities explore a world of hope and plans, connection and disconnection – between family, friends and self – and dreams and fears: “I love records that you can almost live in, where the songs become talismans that you take to heart. That’s what I was trying to create in Weatherhouse.” With its emotional frankness, haunting melodies and gripping tension, Selway has made a great artistic leap and created something that even the most experienced singer-songwriters would be proud of.
Adem’s debut solo album Homesongs was released in 2004 to huge critical acclaim – a homemade masterpiece of warmth and universal truth set to a bed of interesting instrumentation and subtle production. His follow up album, the cosmic Love and Other Planets examined the detail of love, loss and everyday emotions from above, way above, using the universe and its ways as a metaphore for life, comparing the largest and tiniest of things. This album saw Adem stretching himself and the genre that people had assumed him part of, setting him apart once again.
Adem’s honest vocal delivery and beguiling song structures present his tightly wrought musical vision with great style. Adem produced all three of his albums. He started and curates the Homefires festival in London and the Assembly mass improvisation group. He is founder member of Fridge.
Adem’s third album came out on Domino in May 2008. Called simply Takes, is a stunning and evocative collection of Adem’s interpretations of tracks that were released in the decade from 1991 to 2001, music that inspired and informed Adem while he was growing up. With 12 tracks ranging from covers of Bjork, Smashing Pumpkins and Yo La Tengo through to Tortoise and Aphex Twin, Takes, recorded at The Pool and Exchange studios, sees Adem step up from home-based to studio recording and sees him producing and playing every instrument himself.
Describing Takes, Adem has the following to say: “Making a covers record is like making a mixtape – how much time, love, effort and heartache is invested into side A alone? How to go about selecting the right message, the right combination, the new, the old, and the breadth of music? It’s a chance to show your influences and give people an idea of where your taste comes from. I’ve had to ignore entire genres and decades of music that should be on here; it’s just a glimpse – I hope you enjoy the view.” “I’d been playing other peoples songs in my live shows for some time; they were stripped-down to basics, always me and a single instrument. On tour I’d been constantly asked for recordings of the tracks, of which I had none. At the start of 2007 I decided to go into the studio to try to document them. I wanted to capture the simplicity and atmosphere of the versions that I had been performing.” “After having recorded these first few tracks, I decided to continue and make a full album, expanded, with more production. I enjoyed working quickly and instinctively – decisions that I would normally think important enough to consider over a couple of days were being made instantly, and constantly. Listening for gaps, I would arrange each track as it went along, its shape being gradually moulded and revealed. Whilst recording the double bass, I’d imagine a glockenspiel line, then a part for wood block or harmonium and I’d be hearing more as I recorded those. Layer followed layer. Takes, indeed.”
“At this point I decided to focus the remit of the record and only include music that was released from 1991 to 2001 – pretty informative years for me. It was difficult to pass over some of the tracks I’d been working on, but I felt that the record would be more focused and relevant. There’s no drum kit on this record, a floor tom and a legion of shaky and bangy things make up for it. I play a lot of instruments I’ve not featured before – Grand piano, vibraphone, an ebow (on loads of instruments it’s not designed for), a wurlitzer electric piano, appalachian dulcimer, violins among others. They all fit nicely with the usual acoustic guitars, double bass, hamoniums, glockenspiels, backpacker guitar, ukulele, banjolele, autoharp, bells and miscellaneous found stuff like cups and bike locks. I’m not brilliant at them all, but just good enough to not have to wait for someone else to come and then wait some more while I explain how I imagine it to be and then wait for them to do it…”
“In making this record I wanted to reference a specific portion of some of the music that has influenced me and that I’d loved and to present it in such a way that joined the dots between the original and my music. It was incredibly difficult to select tracks and in some cases I decided to combine a couple of my favourites by the same artist -Bedside Table ends with the end section of another Bedhead song from a later record, The Aphex Twin track combines the music of one track with the singing from a second. For these and other alterations I had to get permission from the various artists, all of who were very considerate and helpful. Thanks to all the bands and songwriters featured on this record from whose songs and music I’ve taken.”
Adem official site
Adem on Domino
Adem on Wikipedia