If there’s such a thing as the opposite of writer’s block, Joseph Arthur has it. The Akron, Ohio-bred/Brooklyn, NY-residing singer/songwriter, who once released four EPs in the span of as many months, has demonstrated his unwavering proclivity yet again with the release of Redemption City, a 24-song double album.
Here, Arthur explains why the album sounds the way it does:
“Redemption City started out as an attempt to make a spoken word album with some minimal and mostly electronic background but wound up being a discovery of a different kind of songwriting and a playground for musical exploration.
Most of the tracks started out as electronic compositions or came from programming drum machines but evolved into tracks with real drums usually blending with the machines or coming in later to suit the arrangement. Likewise electronic or Moog bass often became Tele bass and vice versa. Also I used Moog guitar and plenty of electric and acoustic. This gave me more dynamics to play with and more options as to where the tracks could go. Many of the compositions are based around one progression with no changes so the dynamics of the songs had to come from how the instrumentation was arranged and led me to blend electronic with acoustic instruments, and which is why I was very wrong when I initially thought that it was near done in two weeks.
The whole time I worked on the record I was never sure when, if or how it would ever come out. The truth is I don’t really like spoken word albums so for the life of me I don’t know why I set out to make one, but my disdain for the form I was attempting led me to sneak choruses and singing into the mix and I think I got to something like songs. I hope you enjoy them/it and thank you for allowing me to be a part of your Society of Sound.”
The LSO Live release this month is Mahler’s 4th Symphony, perhaps the most familiar of the nine Mahler symphonies.
Though the Fourth is predominantly light in character – and famously opens with sleigh bells – Mahler finds room for dark whimsy, particularly in the second movement which features a skeleton playing a danse macabre on a violin.
The performance profits from some marvellous solos by flautist Gareth Davies and oboist Emanuel Abbühl, two of the many delightful songbirds in this Mahler forest. The soprano in this recording is the very fine Laura Claycomb, who achieves just the right balance of expressivity and innocence Mahler calls for.