Ellis Island Sound free London gig and tour

To celebrate the February 19th release of full debut album The Good Seed, Ellis Island Sound announce a London album launch date at 93 Feet East on Monday March 5th, supported by Humble and Dan Mayfield.
It’s FREE, plus the first 93 people through the door get an exclusive, gratis EIS CD. Oh yes!
Also announced is a Norwich date in April.

MARCH
5th London 93 Feet East !FREE!

APRIL
20th Norwich Arts Centre

LONDON LINE UP
8.30 – 9.00 – Lowery
9.10 – 9.40 – Sefarina
09.50 – 10.20 Dan Mayfield
10.30 – 11.00 Ellis Island Sound

Human, affecting and packed to the gills with warm, timeless melody, The Good Seed draws on the spirit of Harmonia, The Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Boards Of Canada, Wim Wenders 70s film soundtracks, various folk forms and much else besides – all of it teased and manipulated into something preternaturally English which ultimately sounds unlike any other record.

ELLIS ISLAND SOUND

Sometimes a change is as good as a rest. So it proved for Ellis Island Sounds Pete Astor and David Sheppard, whose records (together as EIS and in their various alternative guises such as the Wisdom Of Harry, Phelan Sheppard and State River Widening) have generally been cooked up in London Town, slotted in amid a mass of life commitments and innumerable, intertwining creative projects. This time the duo determined to change the environment, turning their back on the capital and heading out to the country to cut what would become The Good Seed – the first full album proper from a combo whose almost decade-long existence has played out across a miscellany of EPs, mini albums and singles (though Heavenly/EMI released a beautifully realised assemblage of EIS singles and remixes back in 2003).

With no label yet in place, the pair were free to pursue pastures new, unhampered by expectations of any kind. Having rented a tiny converted chapel in lonely countryside right on the Norfolk/Suffolk border (it satisfied the duos key criteria of being dirt cheap and as far away from any neighbours as we could find,) the pair packed a station wagon with supplies and every acoustic instrument they owned – everything from parlour guitars to ukuleles, harmoniums, dulcimers and goat skin drums – and, as the summer burned its last, headed east. Also in the car were a Fostex R- 8 reel-to-reel machine, a microphone, several boxes of magnetic tape, a borrowed Casio SK8 mini sampler, a stylophone, a copy of Captain Beefhearts Trout Mask Replica and a pair of bicycles.

Installed in their country locale, overlooked by a field of cows and the occasional B52 bomber from a nearby US Air Force base, Astor and Sheppard quickly set about a disciplined but agreeable regime – cutting tracks after breakfast, in the afternoon and late into the night, interspersing the work with bike excursions to local village pubs, churchyards and abandoned Second World War gun emplacements. Duly enlivened, a body of brief, fragile but instantly involving pieces began rapidly emerging, with the duo playing all the instruments in the time honoured way, using no editing or drop-ins. That is to say they played from start to finish on every track, while tape rolled – unheard of in the age of computers, micro-editing, Pro-tools etc. Hence short tracks with no extended filler sections – no fat only lean.  With the songs – and an instantly evocative sound – in place, they invited their friend Josh Hillman (from the Willard Grant Experience) to come by and bow some violin, viola and saw. He picked up on the special atmosphere immediately and slotted right in.

The location and circumstance of the recording made palpable impact on the music in several ways. There is no bass drum on The Good Seed, for instance, simply because they couldnt fit one in the car! There were less pragmatic influences too. The unexpectedly star-spangled majesty of the rural East Anglian night was reflected in the awed atmospheres of Starlight Madrigal; while the hymnal Auction Of Promises was named after a poster spied outside a local church. Tracks like Angels Way, Dark Lane and Cuckoo Hill all take inspiration from evocatively named nearby localities, while the rustic, beguiling but ever-so-slightly sinister The Villagers needs no further explanation.

An unfettered rural quality permeates much of the record; but like the vintage bombers droning low over the fieldscapes, there is retro-modernist technology hovering amid The Good Seeds analogue innocence. A pulsating Bentley Rhythm Ace drum machine lends a motorik underpinning to the melodious, life-affirming Building A Table and the wearily lovely The Waveney Waltz, while the initially pastoral Density Ratio (named after a crop rotation diagram) soon takes wing in a formation of stylophones, rhythm generators and overdriven harmoniums. The Casio SK-8, meanwhile, helped provide the murmuring incantations beneath Count The Cars poignant reverie and the after-hours, free-Jazz mantras of Summoning The Pharaoh.

Remarkably, The Good Seeds twenty songs were completed in seven miraculous September days – testament to the productivity of concentrated music making and the instrumental versatility of Messrs Sheppard and Astor.  A good deal more than a simple case of getting their shit together in the country, The Good Seed is a document of a time and a place, closer in many ways to location film-making than run-of-the-mill recording. One listen to a clutch of rough mixes was all it took to have Peacefrog (home of Jose Gonzalez and Nouvelle Vague) proffering contracts.

Human, affecting and packed to the gills with warm, timeless melody, The Good Seed draws on the spirit of Harmonia, The Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Boards Of Canada, Wim Wenders 70s film soundtracks, various folk forms and much else besides – all of it teased and manipulated into something preternaturally English which ultimately sounds unlike any other record.

http://ellisislandsound.free.fr
www.myspace.com/ellisislandsound

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