Distilled Stuart McCallum
- 1dR Doctor05:22
- 2Hillcrest Part i03:43
- 3Hillcrest Part ii04:39
- 4La Cigale08:31
- 5Fokey Dokey05:42
- 6Vital Space05:33
- 7Lament For Levenshulme06:48
- 9Part 304:34
Info for Distilled
Manchester guitarist and composer Stuart McCallum is best known for his work with Cinematic Orchestra. The distinctive, ethereal and atmospheric sound of his guitar has been at the heart of their sound since 2004, including on the albums 'Ma Fleur' and 'Live At The Royal Albert Hall' and the award winning soundtrack ‘The Crimson Wing'. His own music influenced by jazz and DJ Culture is a distillation of many influences, creating a sound that is concentrated and distinctive. McCallum who admits to influences from Wes Montgomery to Bjork, Flying Lotus to Bon Iver and James Blake to Bill Frisell, as well as modern art, eschews over complicated harmonic and rhythmical structures in favour of a rich mix of electronica and improvisation enriched by elegant orchestral writing.
Distilled, McCallum's brilliant third album, and first for new label Naim, is a culmination of the music he has written over the last few year and the idea of ‘distillation' is right at the heart of how the record was written. McCallum ‘sampled' the best bits of his compositions, using them as the basis for further writing, before again sampling the results, and so on, until arriving at the perfectly distilled version of what he wanted to say. The result is a sublime slice of ambient-jazz-electonica with beautiful melodies and gorgeous soundscapes. But it isn't just the process, McCallum's own music is ‘distilled': simple, memorable and melodic, minimalist and repetitive like modern dance music. His music owes as much to dance music as it does jazz. McCallum's music thrives in the spaces between genres and on Distilled the improvisation is part of the compositional process. But it's his use of technology that helps give the music its unique sound, be it looped instruments, samples, or his ethereal guitar McCallum utilises technology to create unique soundscapes, that are in equal part performance, composition and improvisation.
Distilled's arguable ‘super-group' features McCallum on guitars and sampler alongside fabled New York jazz bassist Ira Coleman and Zero 7's Robin Mullarkey, harpist Rachel Gladwin (best known in the jazz world for her work with Matthew Halsall), drummer Dave Walsh (often found on tour with Tom McCrae), legendary Manchester based percussionist Chris Manis and Iain Dixon on woodwinds. Amongst the albums key tracks are Part 3, part of a suite that McCallum wrote for John Surman after a commission from Manchester Jazz festival. There are samples of the music from this suite in the tracks Lament for Levenshume and dR Doctor but it here that we here the most intact version of the original written music. The soaring Inflight was written on a flight to Australia and perfectly captures the sprit of motion. La Cigale, named after the venue in Paris, features a sample of a string quartet movement that McCallum wrote while sitting in a tour bus outside the venue. But it is dR Doctor, the opening track, which presents the clearest statement of what the album is about. Simple and melodic, with a catchy bass line and drum beat, the sampled strings are from the suite McCallum wrote for Surman and the rest of the track grew around the sample, a perfect example of how McCallum has distilled his music and which like a great Scotch proves that in the hands of an artist the perfect blend is one Distilled.
Stuart McCallum is the accomplished Manchester-based guitarist with globetrotting ambient soundscapers Cinematic Orchestra. This is his third solo venture, an aptly named collage of samples from his own compositions mixed with synthesised orchestral effects, DJ-culture programming, and real-time input from a sextet including woodwind virtuoso Iain Dixon. The opening dR Doctor sets a prevailing tone with its slow-dripping icicles of melody over a languid backbeat, intensified by echoing broken chords and then glowing orchestral effects before fading in a shimmer of bell-like sounds. Hillcrest 2 is more jazzy, with its underlying pulse, synth-strings and glossy solo guitar suggesting the sound of a Pat Metheny Group. Acoustic-guitar meditations turn slowly into tranquil funk, Rachael Gladwin's harp ripples through the dreamy Fokey Dokey, Vital Space hints at Wes Montgomery's octave-solo sound, and the title track builds from a dancefloor hook to a swoony strings/horns sway over hip-hop drums and a Metheny-like guitar solo. It's pretty, mind-slowing music, though perhaps too trippy for jazzers. (John Fordham, The Guardian)
Stuart McCallum, Guitars & Keyboards
Dave Walsh, Drums
Chris Manis, Percussion
Robin Mullarkey, Bass
Ira Coleman, Bass (tracks 7, 8, 9, 10)
Don Goldman, Piano (tracks 1, 9)
Iain Dixon, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Saxophone and Flute
Dan Edwards, French Horn
Sam Morris, French Horn
Neil Yates, Trumpet and Flügelhorn
Richard Isles, Trumpet and Flügelhorn
Rachael Gladwin, Harp
Laura Senior, Violin
Melissa Court, Violin
Adam Robinson, Violin
James Pattinson, Violin
Matthew Batty, Violin
Raymond Lester, Viola
Josephine Goynes, Viola
Thomas Wilkes, Cello
Simon Denton, Cello
Gavin Barras, Double Bass
Stuart McCallum - Guitars, Keyboards & Electronics
From jazz beginnings to DJ culture, Stuart McCallum’s music is ‘alternative jazz’ – a distillation of influences, creating a sound that is concentrated and distinctive. Not wanting to hide behind over complicated harmonic and rhythmical structures, angular and forgettable melodies, Stuart’s music is a new hybrid of composition, production and performance. It embraces simple, memorable melodies, bass lines and drum beats, with electronica and improvisation enriched by elegant orchestral writing.
Stuart has a wealth of experience in many different musical environments and genres. After being invited to join the Cinematic Orchestra in 2004, Stuart has performed on and contributed to the writing of the band’s critically acclaimed albums, ‘Ma Fleur’ and ‘Live At The Royal Albert Hall’. In addition he has contributed to the award winning Disney nature documentary soundtrack, ‘The Crimson Wing’, and the remix of Radiohead’s ‘Exit Music For A Film’ for Radiohead’s remix compilation album, ‘Exit Music: Songs For Radio Heads’. Memorable performances with the band include The Royal Albert Hall with the Heritage Orchestra and The London Metropolitan Orchestra, headlining The Big Chill in the UK, and playing at Montreal Jazz Festival and Coachella festival in Palm Springs.
‘Distilled’, Stuart’s third solo album is the culmination of Stuart’s guitar playing, production and composition experience to date. The sonic palette of instruments and electronics used is a development from his 2 previous solo albums ‘Echo Architect’ and ‘Stuart McCallum’. Stuart’s guitar playing is the main feature of the music - the vocalist in the instrumental lineup. His interest in exploring different sounds from both electric and acoustic guitars is apparent in the music, from the innovative use of delays and filters, to hitting the guitars with hands and drumsticks! The guitar plays alongside electronic and acoustic drums, double bass, keyboards, synths, percussion, harp, celeste, strings, woodwinds and horns.
Over the past two years Stuart has worked closely with internationally acclaimed British artist Linder. ‘The Dark Monarch’, performed at Tate St Ives in 2009 has resulted in a Tate DVD and book to document the piece. The 13 hour improvised performance piece, ‘The Darktown Cakewalk’, performed at the 2010 Glasgow International Festival resulted in Stuart being awarded a nomination for ‘Best Music in Theatre in Scotland’ by the Scottish Theatre Critics Association. Stuart and Linder also collaborated to create a visual ‘soundtrack’ to Stuart’s ‘Distilled’ album launch.
In 2007 Stuart was invited to take part in the PRSF artist development scheme ‘Take Five’. A week of workshops with legendary UK saxophonist, John Surman, lead to Stuart being commissioned by Manchester Jazz Festival to write a suite of music to be performed by John and Stuart and a 10 piece chamber ensemble. The suite was performed in the beautiful setting of St Annes Church in Manchester’s City Centre and was acclaimed by both audience and critics. Stuart wrote a new suite of music for Manchester Jazz Festival in 2010, this time for a solo set which was performed live on BBC Radio 3′s flagship jazz show ‘Jazz On 3′. The music was so well received by the show that it was included in its ‘Best Of 2010′ review show.
As well as John Surman, Stuart has also performed and recorded with some of the most prominent jazz artists of today, including Kenny Wheeler, Mike Gibbs, Gwilym Simcock, Tim Garland, Laurent Robin and Laurent De Wilde.
This album contains no booklet.