News: Legendary writer Neil Gaiman teams up with Australian string quartet pioneers FourPlay to announce album ‘Signs of Life’, with single ‘In Transit’ unveiled, following earlier release ‘Bloody Sunrise’.

Feature Photograph: Chris Frape

The limits to Neil Gaiman‘s creative forces know no earthly bounds – polymath author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, nonfiction, audio theatre, and films. His works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, Anansi Boys, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book.

Recently, his novels Good Omens (co-written with Terry Pratchett) and American Gods have been adapted into TV series for Amazon Prime. His revolutionary and landmark comic series, The Sandman, has been adapted for television by Netflix and Warner Bros. Television and held the #1 spot globally in Netflix streaming for several weeks

Now, Gaiman has dived deep into the world of music with his first musical album, created in collaboration with Australia’s coolest string quartet FourPlay.

Hailing from Sydney and not to be confused with the US jazz ensemble of the same name, FourPlay first took the world by storm in 1995 with their reinterpretation of rock classics arranged for strings – they are foremost a rock band using strings as instruments. They have since released a number of albums inspired by rock, pop, post-rock, jazz, klezmer, swing, folk-tronica, hip hop and more. They also continue to perform covers by a diverse array of bands, from Rage Against The Machine and Radiohead to Leonard Cohen, Robert Johnson and many, many more

This begs the question as to how these two worlds improbably collided. Gaiman says:

I’m not entirely certain when I fell in love with a string quartet. I remember our first date, though. It was a day spent in a tiny room somewhere in the backstage maze of Sydney Opera House. We played the next night on the stage of the Sydney Opera House. It was remarkable. It was so much fun we did it again. We did a tour together, but when we reached Carnegie Hall, we decided we needed something better than me reading a poem as our encore, so we stole some time from soundcheck and rehearsed a song. And then we performed our song on the stage of the Carnegie Hall, and that felt a lot like something special. We started to build a repertoire, and when I was in Australia we would make music together. These are some of the things we’ve made together. It’s been a long fallow winter, the last two and a half years. Here are signs of life.

FourPlay says of the collaboration:

Neil’s mastery of storytelling, and his crafting of words, is second to none. Among the members of FourPlay, we have been fans of Neil’s for many years, and it was a golden opportunity to work with him. Nevertheless, we could never have expected to find him to also be such a master of pacing, such a musical performer and wordsmith. We’re joyful to count him as a friend as well as a collaborator, someone we spend pleasurable time with and someone we never fail to create beautiful, glittering things with.

Recent and third single from the album, ‘In Transit’, provides a delicious taste of what’s to come. With Gaiman’s spoken words floating over the ethereal strings that pluck softly in the background – sweeping and mesmerising and slowly ascending with a major force.

Gaiman and FourPlay released an epic tragicomedy of a video, directed by famed Australian Director James Chappell, for the track ‘Bloody Sunrise’, which puts on display the lush instrumentation of the band with Gaimen’s backing vocals and main guest vocals from Lara Goodridge (who also contributes violin). A theatrical and tongue in cheek horror gothic tale, the track reveals a wry sense of humour and a grand operatic wide-screen approach like a cross between Meatloaf and Andrew Lloyd Webber, but with style and wit. A vampire searches vainly for personal connections before the night ends – a hilarious take on the plight of a frustrated vampire:

‘Bloody Sunrise is available to be downloaded and streamed here.

‘Signs of Life’ is out on 28 April 2023 and can be pre-ordered here.

Track Listing:
01) Clock
02) Möbius Strip
03) Bloody Sunrise
04) The Wreckers
05) Song of the Song
06) Credo
07) Neverwhere
08) Poem first read on January 26th 2011 at the Sydney Opera House
09) The Problem with Saints
10) In Transit
11) Signs of a Life
12) Oceanic*

  • = Digital/CD version only

Feature Photograph: Chris Frape

Cover art by Shaun Tan

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