There were plenty of reasons for Londoner Barbarossa (James Mathé) to simply keep course after the release of his well received debut album, Chemical Campfires in 2008 on Fence Records: a flourishing reputation as one of Britain’s most exciting acoustic troubadours, a prominent spot in Jose Gonzales’ backing band. But Mathé had other ideas. “I loved the acoustic scene, but knew it was not all I was about,” he remembers. “So I dug out all my old Casiotone keyboards, drum machines and analogue synths and just started writing.”
Bloodlines, then, is a compelling reinvention and sees Mathé’s emotive missives from young adulthood rewired into elegiac electronic anthems, dusted with huge spectral gasps of reverb and soul-wrenching organ melodies. Unusually for such an electronic album, it was recorded on vintage analogue gear and straight to tape. “I really fancied getting back to basics,” says Mathé “I was tired of trying to iron out all the mistakes in modern production. I wanted to record live to tape, keeping all the mistakes in, warts and all.”
Recently signed to iconic London label Memphis Industries (Field Music, POLIÇA, The Go! Team, Dutch Uncles), Mathé is influenced by everything from soul men Stevie Wonder, D’Angelo and Levon Helm to Dirty Projectors and Sufjan Stevens but points to one inspiration in particular for the overall mood of Bloodlines – Vincent Gallo’s cult ’90s film Buffalo 66, a twisted romance about a tap dancer who falls for her convict kidnapper – “the end scene which features Yes’s Heart of the Sunrise and the scene with Cristina Ricci dancing to King Crimson’s Moonshine at a bowling hall especially,” he notes.
8. The Load
9. Saviour Self
10. The Endgame