Track: Leo Abrahams pushes six strings into a pyroclastic flow of glitch on ‘Spiral Trem’

Leo Abrahams

GRADUATE of the esteemed Royal Academy of Music, and a man who’s collaborated musically with a host of the truly great and good – that CV including, since you ask, Brian Eno, Imogen Heap, David Byrne, Grace Jones, Regina Spektor, Jon Hopkins and Paul Simon, and that’s just a précis; on that CV Leo Abrahams also has also five solo albums to delve into, beginning in 2005 with Honeytrap.

As a solo musician, Leo is first and foremost a guitarist: but if you like your guitar served straight, no shaker, then you may will be in for a surprise. What am I saying? There truly is no ‘may’ about it.

His forthcoming solo guitar album, Scene Memory II – and when I say forthcoming, I actually mean it’s landing tomorrow – travels right out to the edges of the manipulated aural possibilities of six strings, with the instrument melded and fractured and post-processed into a friable, pyroclastic state, emerging wholly reshaped in a deeply textural glitchtronica, moving towards Jan Jelinek and others in the ~Scape roster – as you can hear on the album’s centrepiece, here for you right now, “Spiral Trem”.

Leo’s album from last year for figureight, Visitations, in pairing with label head honcho Shahzad Ismaily, was a fractured, post-nuclear blues, venturing to the very edge of the pocket: slurring, tense, dark and skeletal.

Comparing Visitations with Scene Memory II is the proverbial chalk and cheese; on the new album, only in certain moments can you identify a guitar relatively unadorned; elsewhere it’s stretched and treated and rendered cyborgian. Imagine Vini Reilly remixed by Alva Noto, and you’re in the ballpark.

The record grew out of an Ableton Live set that I built for a solo tour of Siberia in 2019,” Leo explains. “I wanted to create different sonic environments in which to improvise, generating a wide variety of sounds from a single guitar source while avoiding any looping or sequencing.

“I found the results were most inspiring when the patches had the ability to surprise me. I was seeking ambiguity and liminality in all areas: sound, genre and mood.

“A live concert was sometimes a challenging environment to explore these things, and the crowd was split every night; reactions ranged from rapt attentiveness from physics students, to outright anger from people who had been expecting ‘real’ guitar solos.

“All the pieces on the record have their seeds in that tour, but were improvised without an audience in my London studio.”

Leo Abrahams’ Scene Memory II will be released digitally by figureight on December 3rd, and may be pre-ordered from Bandcamp, here.

Connect with Leo on Instagram.

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