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Anthony Joseph & The Spasm Band - Rubber Orchestras - out on Heavenly Sweetness

Anthony Joseph and the Spasm Band Rubber Orchestras
Anthony Joseph & The Spasm Band - Rubber Orchestras
(CD/2xLP/Digital) Heavenly Sweetness/Naïve HS048, 2011-09-12

"The griot is the sound of universal culture." The opening words of his third album (after Leggo de Lion on Kindred Spirits in 2007 and Bird Head son in 2009) introduces us to the universe of Anthony Joseph. Born in Trinidad and based in UK since 20 years, Anthony is one of the UK's most exciting and innovative voices, poet, novelist, musician and lecturer. Anthony has called on the talents of producer Malcolm Catto, drummer and lead singer with The Heliocentrics. The decisive presence of the producer isn't the only new ingredient in the retro-futurist blend, which combines raw jazz and deep soul, black rock and Afrobeat, soca funk and free swing... This is no backward-looking revival or sterile fusion; this grand mix gives a new and modern perspective to all these musical styles. There are other guests on Rubber Orchestras, as the singer Jasnett Lindo but also Jerry Dammers, the legendary founder of The Specials took to the controls to arrange and enhance a visionary and revolutionary poem, the iconic suite called Generations. To announce this new fantastic and unique album, Anthony Joseph is back on Paris DJs with a new podcast - and you can still download his Roots & Influences one hour mix from late 2008...

"One of the deeply essential rare groove releases of 2011!!" - Djouls/Paris DJs"
"Rubber Orchestras is simply a grand album. Very impressive." - Nicolas Ragonneau/Paris DJs

Anthony Joseph and the Spasm Band Rubber Orchestras
Anthony Joseph & The Spasm Band - Rubber Orchestras
(CD/2xLP/Digital) Heavenly Sweetness/Naïve HS048, 2011-09-12

Anthony Joseph 'Griot' (Long Radio Edit) by heavenlysweetness

Anthony Joseph And The Spasm Band 'Money Satan' by Music Is Life PR

Tracklisting :
01. Griot 6:57
02. Started off as a dancer 6:06
03. She is the sea 8:09
04. Cobra 5:44
05. Tanty Lynn 6:11
06. Bullet in the rocks 4:49
07. Money Satan 8:36 | Go download MP3
08. Speak the name 8:01
09. Damballah 7:35
10. Generations 12:44

Note : Anthony Joseph will be playing on september 15th in Paris (Le New Morning) and september 30th in Marseille (Festival Marsatac).

Links :
Anthony Joseph : officialdiscogsfacebookmyspace | parisdjs | soundcloud | twitter | wikipedia | youtube
Malcom Catto : discogsmyspace | parisdjs | stonesthrow
Heavenly Sweetness : blogspotdiscogs | ebayfacebookmyspace | parisdjs | soundcloud | twitter

Anthony Joseph & The Spasm Band - She is the sea
Directed by Julien Bittner for Bridges Films

Press Release (english) :
Anthony Joseph, the Creole griot

"The griot is the sound of universal culture." The opening words of his new album are key to understanding the universe of Anthony Joseph, a poet and musician born in Port of Spain on 12th November 1966 - the day of the Hindu festival of Diwali, which celebrates the passage from darkness into light. This anecdote sheds some light on the life of this preacher-soothsayer inhabited by a vision of the world as a cosmic whole where music creates an organic communion. He grew up on an island full of troubadours, oral legends and carnival convulsions before setting out across the Atlantic and arriving in Great Britain in 1989. He soon became a city man, but never forgot his country roots. A record collector and lover of Great Black Music, from blues roots to deep house, the Londoner soon made his mark on the 'black rock' scene, then in the spoken word movement, all the while refining his writing, as can be seen from his first poetry collection, 'Desafinado', in 1994, followed four years later by 'Teragaton'. Anthony Joseph cultivated a distinctive style, Creole in nature, drawing on every form of artistic expression. In 2004 he was selected as one of 50 black and asian authors who have made major contributions to contemporary British literature to pose for the photo 'A Great Day in London', which mirrored the famous jazz picture taken in Harlem in 1958. That was the moment things really started to take off for this wizard of sound and sense as he girded his passions into a single project.

This was the Spasm Band, a band of variable geography and geometry. "For me poetry is music. It has to be chanted, sung and declaimed." After publishing a novel entitled 'The African Origins of UFOs', Anthony Joseph recorded 'Leggo de Lion' in 2006, an album that made his international reputation. On it he played "the soundtrack of a place where all the black diasporas come together". Mixing congo punk and voodoo funk, esoteric jazz, calypso, soca and rock, his syncretic approach set stages ablaze. Three years and many a fiery gig later, he brought out a second album called 'Bird Head Son', an allusion to his nickname as a kid. Another couple of freethinkers were added to the mix, such as trombone player Joe Bowie and the guitarist Keziah Jones, without losing any of the nuclear energy that fuelled the originality of the Spasm Band, a name derived from the spasms triggered by Spiritual Baptist chants . The same could be said of the group's irradiating performances.

After one such long European tour, Anthony Joseph and the Spasm Band 'locked' themselves away for a few weeks during the bleak London winter of 2011 to cook up some of the blazing grooves that light up 'Rubber Orchestras', his new album. The band may have changed - drummer Michel Castellanos and conga player Oscar Martinez have joined saxophonist and flautist Colin Webster, bassist Andrew John and guitarist Christian Arcucci - but the alchemic formula is still the same, as are the intentions that ring out between the lines of the title. "The idea for 'Rubber Orchestras' was inspired by some lines by the surrealist poet Ted Joans. A spark went off inside my head when I read them. I knew immediately that this poem summed up everything I wanted to do with my poetry - a kind of flexible meaning, a mutant style based on spontaneous language. Like rubber!" It also refers to the range of different atmospheres and grooves on this album, on which new Cuban rhythms give a more 'calypso rock' overlay to the 'voodoo funk' base. "Even if the Caribbean sounds and the jazz are still there, this album comes across a bit rockier and the sound is heavier because of the drummer and guitarist. We've also tried to concentrate more on the songs. It's a natural shift - to try and harness the band's energy by really structuring the songs." As they mine this rich seam, the lyrics grow increasingly political. "A book' will be coming out in November; it's called 'Rubber Orchestras' too. Not autobiographical like the previous one, but a far more experimental text in three parts. It tackles the Caribbean's colonial past, its Amerindian legacy and the African past and how it all ties together. The language is more surrealistic and the text is more political." But fans of the groove need not fear, for there'll be plenty of talk of music, jazz, calypso and much more.

Let's say more about the music first. To tackle this change of direction, Anthony Joseph has called on the talents of producer Malcolm Catto, drummer and lead singer with The Heliocentrics, relying on his knowledge of analogue sound and his ability to listen. "We recorded in his studio in Dalston. Having a producer around means there's a fresh pair of ears to come up with some different ideas, especially as he's a musician and likes the same music as me, starting with the sounds of the 70s. It wasn't certain to work because it meant leaving the decisions to someone else, but in the end Malcolm won our trust and we created something we both were happy with" The decisive presence of the producer isn't the only new ingredient in the retro-futurist blend, which combines raw jazz and deep soul, black rock and Afrobeat, soca funk and free swing. This is no backward-looking revival or sterile fusion; this grand mix gives a new and modern perspective to all these musical styles.

Many guests were invited to play in this multi-layered game. The studio-hardened members of The Heliocentrics naturally came in on this creative trance, and the deep, warm vocals of singer Jasnett Lindo underscore this new, more melodic direction. "I met her four years ago at a reading in a bar in London. An a capella voice cut through the noise of the audience. Beautiful, soulful, strong, delicate. It was Jasnett. I thought of her straight away when we were looking for a vocalist for the album. She adds real depth to our sound." Her contribution is proof - if any were needed - of Anthony Joseph's natural curiosity, ever ready to invite new guests to his native lunch. Last but not least, Jerry Dammers (with whom Anthony Joseph has been playing for years in a project called The Spatial AKA), has also come to the banquet. The legendary founder of The Specials, one of the most important UK bands of the 80s, took to the controls to arrange and enhance a visionary and revolutionary poem, the iconic suite called 'Generations', which distils the essence of the songwriter's message. "Those lyrics, which talk about my relationship to my land and its history through my ancestors, they struck a chord with Jerry. He definitely wanted to be part of it and it was an honour for me to have such a genius and visionary mind helping us. What's more, it's the meeting of two generations who look towards the future while still having a keen sense of the past."

Communiqué de Presse (français) :
Anthony Joseph, créole griot

"The griot is the sound of universal culture." Cette phrase d'ouverture de son nouvel album donne la clef d'accès à l'univers d'Anthony Joseph, poète et musicien né le 12 novembre 1966 à Port Of Spain en 1966. Le jour de la fête de diwali, un rituel hindou qui célèbre le passage de l'obscurité à la lumière. L'anecdote éclaire la suite de l'histoire de ce preacher illuminé par une vision du monde, un tout cosmique dont la musique n'est qu'une communion organique. C'est dans cette île peuplée de troubadours, de légendes orales et des soubresauts du carnaval, qu'il va grandir, avant de traverser l'Atlantique. En 1989, il atterrit en Grande-Bretagne. Il va bientôt devenir un homme de la grande ville, sans oublier ses racines rurales. Collectionneur de vinyles, esthète de la Great Black Music, du blues roots à la deep house, le Londonien s'illustre vite sur la scène "black rock" puis dans les réseaux du spoken word. Tout en peaufinant une écriture, dont atteste un premier recueil poétique "Desafinado" en 1994, suivi quatre ans plus tard de "Teragaton". Anthony Joseph cultive ainsi la différence de son style, créolisé par nature et ouvert à toutes les expressions artistiques. En 2004, il sera sélectionné pour être l'un des cinquante auteurs originaires des communautés de l'ex-empire pour la photo "The Great Day", qui renvoie au fameux cliché jazz pris à Harlem en 1958. Dès lors l'histoire s'accélère pour ce sorcier des sons et des sens, qui va pouvoir réunir toutes ces passions en un projet.

Ce sera le Spasm Band, un groupe à géographie et géométrie variables. "Pour moi, la poésie est musique. Elle se doit d'être scandée, chantée, déclamée." Alors qu'il publie un essai intitulé "The African Origins Of UFOs", Anthony Joseph enregistre en 2006 "Llego De Lion", un album qui le hisse au niveau international. Il y joue "la bande-son d'un territoire où toutes les diasporas noires se retrouvent ensemble" Congo punk et voodoo funk, jazz ésotérique et reggae atypique, sa démarche syncrétique enflamme les scènes. Trois ans et bien des shows bouillants plus tard, il signe un second opus, l'autobiographique "Bird Head Son", référence au surnom dont il était affublé gamin. La formule s'enrichit d'électrons libres, dont le tromboniste Joe Bowie et le guitariste Keziah Jones, sans perdre l'énergie nucléaire qui fondait l'originalité du Spasm Band, un nom qui rappelle les spasmes provoqués par les psalmodies baptistes. On pourrait en dire tout autant des performances irradiantes de ce groupe.

C'est d'ailleurs à la fin d'une longue tournée européenne, qu'Anthony Joseph et le Spasm band se sont "enfermés" plusieurs semaines durant le rude hiver londonien 2011. Histoire de faire chauffer les grooves incendiaires qui irradient "Rubber Orchestras", son nouvel album. Si la formation a bel et bien changé - le batteur Michel Castellanos et le joueur de congas Oscar Martinez aux congas ont rejoint le saxophoniste/flûtiste Colin Webster, le bassiste Andrew John et le guitariste Christian Arcucci -, la formule alchimique reste la même, tout comme les intentions qui s'entendent entre les lignes du titre. "L'idée de Rubber Orchestras m'est inspirée par des vers du poète surréaliste Ted Joans. Quand je les ai lus, une étincelle a jailli dans ma tête. J'ai immédiatement su que ce poème résumait ce que j'essayais de faire avec ma poésie: une sorte de signification flexible, une écriture mutante basée sur la langue spontanée. Comme du caoutchouc !" Une prosodie qui renvoie à la variété des ambiances de cet album, où la nouvelle rythmique cubaine imprime des cadences plus "calypso rock" en surimpression de la trame "voodoo funk". "Même s'il y a toujours les Caraïbes et le jazz, cet album sonne un peu plus rock, le son est bien plus lourd de par la présence d'un batteur. De même, nous avons essayé d'être plus concentrés sur les chansons. Il s'agit d'une évolution naturelle, essayer d'harnacher l'énergie de ce groupe en construisant des chansons." Suivant ce sillon fertile, les textes s'ancrent plus profondément sur le terrain politique: "Un livre, lui aussi intitulé Rubber Orchestras, paraîtra en novembre. Rien d'autobiographique comme le précédent, mais un récit en trois parties nettement plus expérimental. J'y aborde le passé colonial des Caraïbes, l'héritage amérindien,le passé africain. La langue est plus de surréaliste et le texte plus politique." Mais que l'amateur de groove ne déchante pas, il y sera encore question de musique, de jazz et de calypso, de tout le reste...

La musique, parlons-en plus avant. Pour aborder ce nouveau virage, Anthony Joseph s'est appuyé sur les talents du producteur Malcolm Catto, batteur et leader du groupe The Heliocentrics. Sur sa science du son analogique et sa qualité d'écoute. "Nous avons enregistré à son studio à Dalston. La présence d'un producteur signifie une troisième oreille capable de suggérer d'autres idées. D'autant plus qu'il est musicien et qu'il apprécie les mêmes musiques que moi, à commencer par le son des années 70. Cela n'était pas gagné, car cela signifiait abandonner le contrôle de nos choix, mais au final Malcolm a su gagner notre confiance." Cette présence décisive n'est pas la seule nouveauté dans cette potion rétro-futuriste qui brasse tout à la fois raw jazz et deep soul, black rock et afro beat, soca funk et free swing... Loin de tout revival passéiste ou de toute fusion stérile, ce grand mix se lie à une remise en perspective résolument contemporaine.

Les invités sont nombreux dans ce jeu de multipistes: les musiciens des Heliocentrics, habitués du studio, ont bien entendu participé à la transe créative, et la voix profonde et chaleureuse de la chanteuse Jasnett Lindo souligne la nouvelle direction plus mélodique. "Je l'ai rencontrée il y a quatre ans lors d'une lecture dans un bar de Londres. Une voix a capella avait transpercée l'assistance. Belle, soulfull, forte, délicate. C'était Jasnett. C'est à elle que j'ai tout de suite lorsque nous cherchions une voix pour l'album. Elle apporte une réelle richesse au son." Cette "inconnue" est la preuve, s'il en fallait, de la curiosité naturelle Anthony Joseph, toujours prompt à inviter des convives à son festin cru. Last but not least, Jerry Dammers (avec lequel Anthony Joseph collabore depuis quelques années dans un projet baptisé The Spatial AKA) a rejoint ce banquet. L'historique fondateur de The Specials, groupe phare de l'Angleterre du début des années 80, s'est mis derrière les manettes pour arranger et sublimer un poème visionnaire et révolutionnaire, l'emblématique suite intitulée "Generations", qui concentre tout l'à-propos de son auteur-compositeur. "Ce texte, où j'évoque ma relation à ma terre, à son histoire, à travers mon grand-père, a résonné en Jerry. Il voulait absolument y être associé et pour moi, c'est un honneur d'avoir un tel génie à nos côtés. Du coup, c'est aussi une rencontre entre deux générations de Caribéens qui regardent vers l'avenir tout en ayant une conscience aigue du passé."


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