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Listed: James Blackshaw + The Veils

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Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: James Blackshaw and The Veils.

Listed: James Blackshaw + The Veils

James Blackshaw

You would never guess James Blackshaw's age by listening to his music. The man known around the world as one of the acoustic guitar's greatest ambassadors is only 25 years old. That's less than half the age of Steffen Basho-Junghans and Glenn Jones, a decade younger than Jack Rose. His boyish looks belie the timelessness of his craft. He's released five albums so far, each one better than its predecessor and peaking with his live performance in Goteburg, Sweden, which was captured by the fine folks at Kning Disk.

Next Tuesday marks the release of his six full-length and highest profile release yet. Tompkins Square Records will release The Cloud of Unknowing on June 5, then James' earlier albums Celeste, Lost Prayers and Motionless Dances and Sunshrine sometime in August. James can also be found on "The Garden of Forking Paths," a compilation he curated for Important Records, down the road in 2007.

If you're in London, you can catch a special show by James Friday, June 8, at the ICA Bar.

In no particular order, some current top listens and some all-time favorites:

1. Michael Gordon - Decasia
Incredible score by composer and Bang On A Can member Michael Gordon, to an equally beautiful and awe inspiring film by Bill Morrison, made up of found archival footage in a natural state of advanced decay. Every time I see this film, it leaves me with a huge lump in my throat, like a ghost just entered the room. The bells; the string section's slow, continuous disintegrating glissandi; the pulsing percussion parts which fall in and out of time. Dissonance and harmony are balanced perfectly. Certainly comparable to Reich and Riley et al - it even smacks of some of Arvo Part's orchestral work now and again - but this has a magic all of its own.

2. Toshi Ichiyanagi - Opera From The Works of Tadanori Yokoo
Double LP from 1969 and still undoubtedly one of the most ambitious and original avant garde records I've ever heard. You get all kinds of stuff here: electronic noise and tape experiments interspersed with a cappella enka ballads, field-recordings and nearly two whole sides of improvised fuzz-guitar psych jams by none other than The Flowers. The whole thing came with a book of postcards by artist Tadanori Yokoo himself and is hideously expensive, so I recommend tracking down the equally attractive reissue from a couple of years back.

3. Jozef van Wissem - A Rose By Any Other Name
A collection of Renaissance lute pieces, as interpreted and played by innovative Dutch lutist Jozef van Wissem, who I was fortunate enough to meet recently and who has also contributed one of his own palindromic compositions to a compilation I've put together for Important Records. This is just really great music and there's something strangely instantly familiar about the songs themselves, despite how long ago they were written. Jozef brings to the lute what John Fahey brought to the guitar many years ago, in my opinion.

4. Kim Jung Mi - Now
I like playing this loud on a summer's day. Korean singer Kim Jung Mi has a fantastic voice and the whole thing just has a nice breezy, slightly rough around the edges, 60's psych/folk sound. My idea of perfect pop music.

5. Sonny Sharrock - Black Woman
I was a bit late in the game hearing Sonny and Linda Sharrock's records, after discovering people like Albert Ayler, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Alan Silva and Pharoah Sanders years before. This is now one of my all time favorite free-jazz records, if you can call it that, because it touches on so many different areas of music. I was asked to play some records at a friend of mine's club night recently - my first and only time to date - and must admit I felt a guilty pleasure watching some of the more straight-laced clientele get annoyed during Linda's extended shrieking at the end of the song from which this album is titled.

6. Charlemagne Palestine & Tony Conrad - An Aural Symbiotic Mystery
Charlemagne Palestine is a personal hero of mine. I love everything he's done, but really, with Palestine on Piano and Conrad on Violin, what could possibly go wrong? This is truly transcendental stuff...

7. Henryk Gorecki - Symphony #3
And so is this, as well as impossibly heartbreaking and a whole lot else besides. This piece never loses it's impact, no matter how many times I hear it.

8. Go Hirano - Reflection of Dreams
I remember hearing the name Go Hirano for a little while and reading some nice descriptions of his music. While I was playing in Tokyo last year, I visited the Modern Music shop and asked the guy at the counter if he could play this CD to me. What can I say? Really beautiful, gentle, intimate recordings for piano, sometimes vocals, melodica and chimes. There's something about Go Hirano's music which feels totally pure and untainted to me. So I bought this and "Corridor of Daylights" and am still kicking myself that I didn't get hold of his first, hard to find LP on PSF there and then. "This is very different," the guy told me, after pulling it out from a huge stack of stuff beneath the counter, "Very different, very... Dark." Just one of many things I wish I'd bought in Japan, but I'd already inflicted some serious wallet-damage already and well, any excuse to go back, I guess...

9. Kyoto Imperial Court Music Orchestra - Gagaku: The Imperial Court Music Of Japan
I was staying with a nice guy called Magnus (who also makes lovely music under the name Sheriff)after playing a show in Stockholm, Sweden. It seemed we had a mutual appreciation for South Asian traditional music and as we were talking about old Nonesuch and Lyrichord LPs over breakfast (nerds), Magnus insisted I listen to this record that he had. After a few moments, it struck me that we were both sitting there in complete silence. I don't know how to describe it, except that there's something really haunting and powerful about this music: it almost makes you feel sick, the way the pitch of the reed instruments bend. Very intense. A few weeks later, I managed to find the exact same CD in a shop in Brooklyn and it became "driving music" for the tour, having similar effects on my tour mates Sharron Kraus and Jesse Sparhawk.

10. Peter Wright - Desolation Beauty Violence
Ambient drone noise bliss, at it's best. Peter is a friend of mine and this is one of my favorite recordings of his to date.


The Veils are a New Zealand band based in London, fronted by English lead singer/songwriter, Finn Andrews. The Veils sound has been likened to artists as diverse as Jeff Buckley, The Birthday Party, The Smiths & Joy Division. Their live shows have become famed for their emotional intensity and Finn's often scarily possessed stage presence (Wikipedia). Their latest album, Nux Vomica, was recently release and the band will be touring the US soon.

1. Roy Orbison - "In Dreams"
Probably the dreamiest pop song ever written, and definitely the scariest. He has THE most beautiful voice and he was a very cleaver man too.

2. Rage Against The Machine - "Killing In The Name"
I just can't help but lose my head when someone puts this on. Zach de la Rocha is a really underrated singer, I think, and the band is just a fucking-monster-sex-freight-train.

3. Tom Waits - "Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis"
The whole song is a Christmas card! Awesome! Waits is the best and this is just one of the many songs of his that has helped me out over and over again through the years. He is the king.

4. Bob Dylan - "Changing Of The Guards"
I can't make any sense of this song. It's Dylan at his most extra-terrestrial, living proof that it's entirely possible he knows everything. Patti Smith does a really great version of it on "12".

5. The Pogues - "Bottle Of Smoke"
We play this as the outro music for a lot of our shows. It is hands down the greatest drinking song of all time. I think it's about horse racing, but who can be sure...

6. REM - "Losing My Religion"
I just think this just such a glorious song - I went to see them play in New Zealand a few years ago and have never had such an epic singalong in my life. Them and Nirvana were kind of THE bands of my teens, I guess. More pop songs like this please.

7. Jeff Buckley - "Yeh Jo Halka Halka Saroor Hai"
This is on the big Sin E compilation they released a couple of years ago. He's talking about Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan between songs and then just launches into this. He sings the whole song in Arabic and blows the roof off the place.

8. Low - "That's How You Sing Amazing Grace"
I've seen Low live like 6 times in the last year. They have the 2 most conjoined voices I've ever heard. I actually can't deal with how good they are. I want them to adopt me.

9. Leonard Cohen - "Avalanche"
I feel like I'm not well-equipped enough to talk about this song. Seriously, it's too big and I am just a little fleck of dust in its presence. It's one of my favorite poems too, and it's not often you get to say that.

10. Einst├╝rzende Neubauten - "Sabrina"
This was another band I discovered at ATP. I'd heard all kinds of stories about them - that they were impossible to listen to, that they were actually in-human. I find them to be quite the opposite and you should totally check them out.

11. Van Morrison - "TB Sheets"
I want to be a singer, Daddy.

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