Cate Le Bon hails from Carmarthenshire, rural West Wales and is currently a
resident of Highland Park, Los Angeles, having relocated across the pacific, coinciding
with the recording of her new album.
Towards the end of 2012, having completed extensive touring for her previous album,
Cyrk, Cate returned to Wales to write the songs that would become Mug Museum.
The album was informed by a period of taking stock after bereavement. ‘Following
the death of my maternal Grandmother I felt a very palpable shift in the roles that
we’d all become accustomed to within the female line of the family which, for the
first time, had me mulling over the importance of my placement and purpose within
this female chain’ says Le Bon. ‘The album’s theme emerged from and circulates
around these maternal familial relationships and this period of calm, lengthy, intent
consideration in turn drew other relationships into the Mug Museum.’
With Le Bon now relocated to California Mug Museum was recorded at the recently
opened Seahorse Sound studios, Los Angeles. Produced by Noah Georgeson (who is
perhaps best known for his work with Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart) and
Josiah Steinbrick. Mug Museum is an album that lets in the sunlight and space and
relocates the West Wales lilt in Le Bon’s voice to an equally apposite West Coast
setting. In the studio Le Bon assembled a band of friends from both continents.
Accompanying Le Bon on the recording are the multi instrumentalists Sweet Baboo,
H. Hawkline and Nick Murray from White Fence. ‘I flew H. Hawkline and Sweet
Baboo over from Wales who I've had the pleasure of playing alongside for years’ she
says ‘I saw White Fence play at the Troubadour last year and was mesmerised by the
whole show but especially by Nick Murray’s drumming and asked him to play on the
album immediately after the gig.’
As well as describing the personnel involved in Mug Museum, ‘Welsh – Californian’ is
a phrase that captures the album’s sound: woozily melodic, dreamily confident and
wrapped in a hazy psychedelic gauze. This is a record made with the type of clarity
that follows a change in perspective and situation. There is a directness and openness
across the ten tracks on Mug Museum that suggest everyone involved had discovered
the same lightness of touch and sense of purpose.
‘I wrote the majority of the record in the home country but a few songs were
finished out here in the run up to recording’ says Le Bon ‘I'm sure Los Angeles has
bled into the recordings somehow but exactly how I do not know. There was a calm
brutality to making decisions - It all happened very quickly and directly, as it should.’
Throughout Mug Museum Le Bon’s voice changes register to great dramatic and
emotional effect; on ‘Duke’ and ‘Cuckoo Through The Walls’ these shifts occur during
the course of the same song. Perhaps her voice is at its most startling on ‘I Wish I
Knew’, a duet with Perfume Genius, one of the album’s most atmospheric tracks and
one on which two distinctive personalities and voices combine to produce a
performance of rare alchemy. ‘Last April I toured with Perfume Genius’ says Le Bon ‘I
watched him play every single night and not once did my attention waive. I was over
the moon when he agreed to come and sing on the album.’
From the bewitching circular riff of the album’s opener ‘I Can’t Help You’ to the
closing title track that sees Le Bon accompanied by piano and the occasional burst of
double-tacked clarinet, Mug Museum’s reflective song writing weaves around a richly
detailed framework. Like all museums it is a contemplative space, a personal world
that is open to everyone. ‘A place of weighted hauntings and considered
reconciliation, where you resolve and tailor your purpose and significance within
your relationships’ is how Le Bon describes it. As these ten songs attest, Mug
Museum is also a unique and dreamlike edifice and one that has been created by an
artist at the height of their powers.
About Cate
Her first album Me Oh My was released on Gruff Rhys’s Irony Bored label in 2009
and was followed by Cyrk (OVNI/Turnstile) which was released to widespread
acclaim in 2012 and saw her play live across the world, including being invited by St
Vincent to tour the United States. Le Bon has been a frequent collaborator, she sang
the duet ‘I Lust You’ with Gruff Rhys on Neon Neon's debut album Stainless Style. ‘4
Lonely Roads’, a forthcoming track on Manic Street Preachers' Rewind The Film album
features Le Bon on lead vocals.




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