3025 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19104
Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is all ages
Back in the dim wooden floored room. Smoky amber light. Heavy red drapes cover the walls. The old mirror that’s reflected your thousand faces throughout the years, captures your image once again, sitting on the sofa. The deep sound of the bass crawls slowly on the floor, passes between you feet. The soft notes of the guitar and vocals floating on top of it, like black velvet butterflies. Like Absinth.
Patiently crafted over 2 years in his Brooklyn studio, the new Federico Aubele Album, 5, takes you to that room. And you don’t want to leave. You want to dive into that narcotic sway and remain there. Aubele works alone, like a fisherman waiting for the tide, painstakingly, making sure every sound marries the other elements on the track.
“I like working like a painter, by myself, in my atelier. Or like a writer. Technology now a days allows you to be the producer, writer and engineer” says Aubele “It’s an intimate process for me, and I need to respect that intimacy. I can’t work If I have people around, talking. For a lot of people, making music is a social experience, and that’s fine, but it doesn’t work like that for me. The social part for me comes afterwards, when I’m on stage performing with my band, in front of a crowd”.
Aubele’s hunting signature sound, with its precise beats, scattered bandoneon samples, nylon string guitar, dark atmospherics and male and female vocal contrast give space this time also to several cinematic tripped out tango infused instrumentals. “I always loved instrumental music. From Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother, to Piazzolla’s album Pulsacion, to Baden Powell’s Afro Sambas to Boards of Canada. It grabs you in a different way than if you have vocals. When there’s no lyrics, a barrier lifts up and the music connects direct with other areas of your subconscious, often with emotions that are hard to put in words”.
The album moves at midnight tempos, with carefully written melodies, both on the songs and on the instrumentals. “The melody is what really catches your attention. It’s like a thread, like a story. I always need the melody. It guides you through the night”. The opening track “Somewhere Else,” features a collaboration by Jazz chanteuse Melody Gardot. Her smoky vocals floating on a slow but heavy beat making a natural contrast with Aubele’s low baritone, sounding like something from another era. Long time collaborator Natalia Clavier also appears on 2 songs, with her dramatic yet crystal clear voice. Mauro Refosco (Atoms for Peace) plays percussion on the slow motion tripped out-latin “Carrousel sin Fin”, and legendary NY jazz saxophonist Ilhan Ersahin plays Blade-Runner-esque lines to an obsessive dub beat on “El Mago”.
As always with Aubele, the combination of elements that would otherwise sound impossible, make sense, grabbing you and taking you back to that room, somewhere out there in space or in a dream.
Leif Vollebekk spent two years searching for perfect takes. This search took him from his home in Montreal to a studio in Manhattan, from a farmhouse in Woodstock, NY to a mansion outside Paris, and the result is a dusty, polished, new, old record called North Americana.
"I wrote the songs, I found the best band in the world, and then all I had to do was find the right studio, for the right take," he says. "And it took forever."
After his 2010 debut, Vollebekk knew the kind of album he wanted to make next: a record like the ones he loves by Gillian Welch or Ryan Adams, that feel old and familiar even when they're new. But also a record that speaks to the listener through its lyrics, with songs "that can hold up in a storm," that are packed full of perfect little mistakes.
So he started writing. Ten new songs, the best he had ever written, with lines about love and the end of love, about journeys and homecoming, about the death of friends and drinking yourself dry. Now Vollebekk laughs: "I thought the record was done when I was finished writing the songs. 'All we need to do is record it!'"
But when you're searching for the perfect take, recording is no small task. It happened only piece by piece, session by session, song by song, over the course of seasons.
The players were these: Vollebekk, singing, playing guitar and piano, harmonica, rusty fiddle on "When the Subway Comes Above the Ground"; the jazz musicians Hans Bernhard (bass) and Philippe Melanson (drums). "I wanted to be able to roam with them wherever I go," Vollebekk says. Arcade Fire's Sarah Neufeld played violin, arranging her own parts. Joe Grass played pedal steel. And Adam Kinner played tenor sax.
The heart of the songs was always recorded live, to tape. Old school, spontaneous, one real captured moment. To find these moments, they travelled. To Montreal's legendary Hotel 2 Tango studio, working with Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, Coeur de Pirate, Godspeed You! Black Emperor). To New York City, working with Tom Gloady (Ryan Adams, Sigur Rós, Patti Smith). To La Frette studios, in La Frette-sur-Seine, France. And then back to Montreal, for one song at Breakglass studios. Vollebekk even tried recording with John Simon, the producer whose credits include Music from Big Pink and Songs of Leonard Cohen. At his home in upstate New York, Simon listened to "Cairo Blues," then travelled up to Montreal to record it. "There was just not a good take," Vollebekk says. "I ended up doing it a few months later, again at the Hotel, between takes of something else – and that's just how it went."
North Americana took years. "All this time," Vollebekk says, "trying to get one take." But the result is a beautiful, alive, human – shambling ballads, noisy folk songs, vivid portraits of a 27-year-old's watercolour life. "I feel like I created a record from 1970something that no one's heard before," Vollebekk says. "I'm haggard and this record is all I got."
All Upstairs tickets are General Admission. Dining is available at World Cafe Live. Reservations are accepted for Upstairs Live, our full service restaurant; we recommend scheduling a reservation time 1½ to 2 hours before show time. For more information and to see menus, please read the Restaurant Info and Dining FAQ.
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World Cafe Live Philadelphia - Upstairs
Fri, October 21
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