Nothing in hand do I bring

A great time was had Sunday night and Monday morning in Bristol with Josie. Met up with some old friends before going onto Colston Hall to see a quite remarkable Antony & the Johnsons performance.

I’ll save my gushing praise for a couple of days, however, firstly because my nemesis has already posted his articulate and well thought out review of the evening (no doubt while I lay abed, soaking up all the luxury Premier Inns could toss my way). But also because, although I managed to make some rather fine recordings of the evenings, I’m currently having some problems wrestling said bootlegs from my battered old iRiver. I’ll sort it.

Anyway, in the meantime…

Christian Kiefer and Tom Carter

Have been enjoying immensely a new recording from Christian Kiefer. I originally wrote about Christian about 18 months ago here, going all gooey about the album he had released with Jefferson Pitcher. He got in touch with me after that and sent me some tracks from an album he’d done with Tom Carter of Charalambides. To be honest, it was a bit of a tough listen at times, and it gradually faded from my radar. But anyway, he’s now released another record with Carter, and it’s a bit of a belter, I’ll tell you.

It’s called From the American Songbook and is a series of… er… reinterpretations of classic American bluegrass songs such as “Will the Circle be Unbroken”, “Pretty Polly” and “Coo Coo Bird”. In many cases the originals are pretty much unrecognisable but still manage to retain their original spirit. The best tracks actually sound old

No free downloads that I can find, however, so you’re just gonna have to go with me on this one. Get it here. C’mon, it’s me, have I ever?

There is this, by Christian Kiefer, however, in the same sort of spirit:

Rock of Ages – Christian Kiefer

This track comes from a collection called which is available from Splice Today, a rather fine website which gathers together all sorts of titbits for the modern surfer. Actually the collection is pretty good and features one or two other artists I shall try to further acquaint myself with.

Oh and while, I’m at it, there’s this intriguing clip from YouTube about a film Kiefer seems to have taken part in which involved a group of men growing beards for six months.

I perhaps could have phrased that better, it doesn’t exactly sound like must-see TV, does it?

More later (including, I hope, that Colston Hall recording).

You recall the way her breath sounded when she came

The more I go through the Camera Obscura site, the more I find some absolute gems. Camera Obscura, I should say, is nothing to with the Glasgow Indie band from the 90s, but is an independent label passed in Australia. I’ve always been rather dismissive of Australian music but I’m going to have to give it another look, if this label is anything to go by.


The album they seem to be plugging right now is called “To All Dead Sailors” by Christian Kiefer and Jefferson Pitcher. Camera Obscura describe it thus:

“A collection of songs, instrumentals, and sonic experiments, this is an album that explores the mystery of the sea: its violence, its beauty, its grace.”

(Which now I’ve pasted it here seems a little on the pretentious side, but having heard the freebie from the site, “Carpenters and Sailors”, I’m prepared to put it down to understandable over-exuberance…)

Anyway, if these things impress you, it turns out that I’m not the only one going on about this record, as it goes, Pitchfork have posted this 7.5 review:

“To All Dead Sailors, mirroring the singers’ tone, is dense with longing. Each song seems to strain against the boundary of its simple instrumental palette, as if the depth of feeling contained inside exceeds the size of the well.”

(These things do, of course, impress me.)

Both of these guys seem to have a fairly decent collection of previous albums which I shall do some exploring of in the next few weeks, and from what I can tell most of their music is quite moody and formless (I’m struggling to avoid saying “ambient”) – sonic experiments, if you will.

Can’t find any downloads available for Jefferson Pitcher – his site seems to be a bit of a work in progress. There are, however, a couple of Christian Kiefer songs for download from Camera Obscura, (one of which I’ll put up here), which are rather ethereal-sounding but still pretty attractive.

They obviously do write ordinary songs, however, because there is one download from the joint album, which is an absolute blinder. As I’ve said, it’s called “Carpenters and Sailors”, and it’s just beautiful – the Pitchfork phrase “dense with longing” seems really appropriate, and is of course one I wish I’d coined myself. Unfortunately, the album hasn’t turned up on Emusic yet, but it’s surely only a matter of time… It’s one I shall definitely be getting.

Have a listen

Carpenters and Sailors – Kiefer-Pitcher

Kalmykov (Poppies) – Christian Kiefer