Thursday 17 July 2014

EYOT & Marko Miladinović - Similarity album inspiration

Similarity, EYOT (album cover) - Marko Miladinović
 We continue our album inspiration posts with a visit to Nis, Serbia and the latest offering from EYOT. 'Similarity' is the 3rd opus from the Balkan foursome, Dejan Ilijic (Piano), Milos Vojvodic (Drums), Sladjan Milenovic (Guitar) and Marko Stojiljkovic (Bass) but this album has a distinct Bristolian weight to it. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Jim Barr at J&J Studios, Bristol, UK in November 2013. It also features two more Get The Blessing personnel in the form of Jake McMurchie (saxophone) and Pete Judge (trumpet).

Marko Miladinović
The artist who created the cover artwork for 'Similarity' is Marko Miladinović, whose broad portfolio includes forays into photography, art and design. He currently works at the Centre for Culture and Arts in his hometown of Aleksinac, Serbia where he was born in 1981. He has won several awards for his painting and photography, with over 20 international exhibitions under his belt.

Marko Miladinović - sculpture
The 'Similarity' artwork is inspired by an album of delicacy, the music talks of airiness and gentle persuasion. It straddles the genres of Jazz, traditional Balkan musical and electronic earthiness that gives the listener the space to breathe and dream. There are paths and walkways to explore within each track like second tune 'Druids'. While the evocative imagery in opener 'How shall the dust storm start' is a fertile ground for an artist like Miladinović. It epitomises many of the tunes, which are a blank canvas of possibilities for the listener to explore. 'How shall the dust storm start' for me talks of a hot European town in mid siesta, crackling with energy despite not having a denizen in sight.

Marko Miladinović
The title track 'Similarity' has a delicious complexity which works against the rest of the album, its tread is urban, where the remaining album stretches into landscape dimensions. X-rays and microwaves fizzle as creeping night-crawlers wander the streets. If it was a figurative vision then Edward Hopper would have painted it, combining the alien and the familiar in that unnerving style of his.

EYOT - Horizon
Dejan Ilijic explains why he chose Marko Miladinović's artwork to represent EYOT's latest offering, "I like the colours, they "sound" like our music and there is a small similarity with first album cover, Horizon, you can see some kind of the Horizon on it, that means we are still sailing full steam ahead"

Marko Miladinović - Landscape
Miladinović's artwork compliments the album and it creates the spaces for which the mind can dwell. Like the music there is still work for us to do, what we bring to the picture is what we get out of it.

The biggest clue to understanding how Marko Miladinović's  brain works is in his photography of the landscape. He cuts and trims what could be bland views into compositional gems, and the textures he conjures from both the small and large scale are what makes both his work and the music of EYOT worth devoting time to.

The album will be released on 1st August 2014 by Ninety and Nine Records NY and you can get your hands on a copy here - BUY Similarity   
Keep up to date with the latest EYOT gigs and news at


Tuesday 8 July 2014

Bill Mudge - Skylight - album inspiration

The original skylight drawings
Since releasing his debut album Skylight, Bill Mudge and his music have taken on an cult status. Mudge is one of the quieter members of London‘s Jazz circuit but he hasn’t gone unnoticed by discerning fans and critics alike. In 2011, the same year as his debut, he played alongside Kit Downes, Lewis Wright, Paul Booth, Tom White and Piers Green on Paul Jordanous’ debut ‘And now I know’.

He was raised in the beautiful town of Lymington, near the New Forest in Hampshire, and his compositions reflect this close relationship with nature. He now lives in London but remains true to his roots and has established a plentiful kitchen garden adjacent to his property. He is truly a renaissance man and regularly draw upon his time as an arts student in Bath, UK for his inspiration.

Bill Mudge Trio
“My main intention is to convey an emotion through each piece of music. When writing I’m generally inspired by books, films or people, using them as the subject matter to develop the idea, whilst considering how the group might play and interpret the music.“

As The Crow Flies
Bill Mudge Trio
He is active as a musician and composer despite earning a reputation as the Bobby Fisher of Jazz. His self imposed exile from many social media platforms has meant that this album doesn't receive the kind of background noise you expect nowadays. This of course means it's all the more impressive when you track it down. It's back to the days of trawling through record shops although if you get in touch with him on Twitter - @mudgery he might have one last copy in his studio.

Big Al's Story - Bill Mudge Trio
Skylight artwork
The album artwork came from a film we made together, named after the title track. I cold-called Bill in 2010 abut using his music and he kindly agreed. I started the drawings during a rain delay at the first Test Match between England and Bangladesh (Lords 2010). Instead of cricket I visited the ceiling of the courtyard at the British Museum. Bill's music inspired me to create these spiritual pyrotechnics.

The concept being - if we could send our fireworks high enough, what would the results be?

Rejected ideas
Imagery and title came together with Skylight but we also considered three other designs for 'Fenced Patrol', 'Big Al's Story' and 'As The Crow Flies'. The latter making it onto the CD body, inside and back cover.

Fenced Patrol - Bill Mudge Trio
Sleeve Notes
The personnel on Skylight are -

Bill Mudge: Hammond B3 Organ
Kevin Glasgow: Guitar
Chris Nickolls: Drums
Piers Green: Alto Sax (Tracks 4,6,8)

Bill Mudge's main thrust nowadays is his involvement with improv trio Toy Rokit alongside Chris Nickolls and Mark Rose. They have produced a series of recording in their short collaboration and you can purchase & download their debut CD at  - as well as get your hands on a physical entity.


Thursday 3 July 2014

Colourshop - Catching rainbows

Colourshop were working against the gods when they performed at Rise 46 last Friday (27/06/2014). Not only was there a throng of hard-headed commuters to fight against as we climbed up Battersea Rise in Clapham but serious train mischief which affected London's busiest intersection with devastating consequences. There were lost instruments to contend with and due to the short set-up time neither lighting nor sound were in their favour. Despite this, armed with a determined spirit and Latin panache they turned the night around.

Alfredo Salvati - guitar

Colourshop are Alfredo and Diego Salvati, brothers originally from Rome but now living the dream on London's musical merry-go-round. The elder of the two, Alfredo, held centre stage with his vocals and guitar combo. There is wildness and passion in the eyes, a whispish fuzz to his cheek like he was indeed suckled alongside Romulus and Remus by the legendary she-wolf.

The duo's tone is one of European melancholy initially, but there are melodic grooves and folk narratives too. Understandably with two performers of a young and virile bent many of the themes roll in the long grass with love. Those with longer teeth enjoyed biting on something more intellectually meaty. New composition '3pm', inspired by the Jean Paul Satre quote “Three o'clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do” was worth seasoning and devouring. It's rhythm bumped down a suitably cobbled street in one's mind.

Diego Salvati

Diego Salvati vocally took the limelight while still languishing in the darkest shadows at Rise 46. Singing the lead on the title track to their new EP, 'Chasing life' I  used a little artistic licence with my pen. Otherwise he would have been just a black blot on this page.

There was space and range amongst Alfredo's lyrics and Diego's sporadic piano, "You and me" epitomised the 'less is more' approach. The organic flavour of this composition suited it's creeping expressive lyrics. It was held together with a groove, an ebb and exposed Diego's talents in a beautiful and striking way, like a stoic Heathcliff on the bleak moors.

There is gold at the end of Colourshop's rainbow, several new tunes gave us a taste of a promising future. The most successful of these revelled in the obsessions of the human condition rather than it's golden rays.


Tuesday 1 July 2014

Shirley Smart - Melange

Shirley Smart - Cello
Sometimes a group of musicians suit their venue so well it makes the evening all the more powerful. The faded glory and peeling walls of Wilton's Music Hall played host to the flavoursome music of Melange last month (20/06/2014). Wait a minute, this 7 piece group are neither fading in their talents nor afflicted with shabbiness. It was the earthy and rooted quality of their music that sat so wonderfully at Wilton's. The grade II listed building was built in 1859 and understandably still wears it scars. It has a pock marked honesty that interior decorators often try to imitate but everything on show here had authenticity.

Like their surroundings the Melange Collective have gathered their music and narratives through an equally interesting journey. Formed by cellist Shirley Smart after returning from 10 years living, working and studying in Jerusalem they blend music from North  Africa, Turkey, Asia, Brazil and the Middle East anmongst other

Stefanos Tsourelis - Oud
Despite Smart taking centre stage it was Stefanos Tsourelis who immediately caught the eye with his oud. It is my job to translate what I hear to the sketchbook and before me was the musical equivalent. The sound of Tsourelis' pear shaped palette was light and colourful, more watercolour but with the occasional charcoal swipe. His pursed lips also gave him the air of a painter who, standing back from his canvas, squints his eyes to admire his handiwork.

Peter Michaels - Guitar
The stage lighting shot off the guitar of Peter Michaels as if he were being baked under the midday sun or trying to send Morse code via signal mirror. On his Bulgarian yogurt inspired tune his playing was fractious and bubbling. His head was bowed with the memory of the after-effects of eating the aforementioned bacterially fermented milk product.

One of the delights of this performance was the interaction between Shirley Smart and her fellow collective members. Amongst Michaels whirls and slides she was messy in the most seductive of ways. We picked through her repertoire as though she had spread it out on her bedroom floor, exotic coloured scarfs churned with postcards. There was intricate jewellery and a rich but pungent layer of foreign detritus like a gap-year student who had just returned from 6 months InterRailing. It was a delight to pick through her Turkish souvenirs in particular.

Maurizio Minardi - Accordion
Like any good collective, Melange were only as good as the sum of their parts. Lets kick fair play into the long grass though, we didn't hear enough of Maurizio Minardi. His 'This is not a Rhumba' was one of the tunes that the rest of the evening pivoted around. Wilton's Hall was so busy that I viewed just a flank of the dynamic accordionist, and amongst the further tunes we tasted his talents but were never sated.

Joe Browne - Saxophone
Joe Browne featured on selected tunes throughout the evening and he made up for his absences with a spirited performance when he did step into the spotlight. He blowed hard and fervent on soprano saxophone in particular, often his face turned a scorching puce, the commitment to the cause evident even to those in the rear seats.

Often second sets can be a disappointment after a successful first but Melange came back stronger. Michele Montolli bowing on bass, his resonance filling the high ceilinged hall. The tension as Demi Garcia Sabat worked up a lather on percussion and those glasses which slid closer and closer to the end of his nose. Fortunately never falling into his lap.

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The oud with its throaty beginning was conversational on the Iraqi tune 'Foq El-Nakhal' and Stefanos Tsourelis brought to it a humour that was thoughtful and dare I say (without sounding pretentious) philosophical. It was the playful jousting between Michaels and Minardi that brought the most joy. They teased one another with affection, like two old friends.

Demi Garcia Sabat - Percussion
Relationships were the theme for the night, of the future and the past, east and west and that between music and the atmospheric hall it flourished in. The mind and the hand which guided my pencil were happy bedfellows too. Both eye and ear would like to experience the richness of Melange again, and so shall I, for where they go I shall follow.