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.
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more