Choir of Young Believers album Grasque set for release this week (Feb 19th) via Ghostly International, Today, you can grab a listen, as Ghostly streaming the full record online now. The band have also just announced a new Rough Trade East instore show on April 7th, which is followed by a London show at Oslo on April 8th.
Grasque exhibits an array of complex influences and styles ranging from smoky jazz to experimental electronics to smouldering R&B sounds. The album’s title was in fact the name given by frontman Jannis Makrigiannis to the imaginary band he’d conjured up in his head whilst finding inspiration for the album. Though not his original intention, he soon realised that he could bring his new ideas and music together into a new COYB record.
It was the end of 2013 and Jannis Noya Makrigiannis, the frontman and principal persona behind Choir of Young Believers, was worn out. He’d been touring the band’s last record, the haunting Rhine Gold, for the better part of a year and felt confused and adrift, and didn’t feel like playing music. He was doubting the future of the band. The way he coped was to detach. He postponed writing in favor of travelling, deciding that instead of diving back into the creation of another record, he would allow himself to move in whatever direction he desired. His impulses guided his decisions; he wasn’t feeling very inspired by the guitar or the piano, so he started to fiddle around with a small pocket sampler his mother got him for Christmas, using it to make small soundscapes, beats and collages.
Those early experiments became the building blocks for Grasque, from the warped, weird choral vocals that open ‘Serious Lover’ to the breezy, breathy R&B of ‘Jeg Ser Dig,’ on which he sounds like a Scandinavian Sade. The record pulls in a host of unlikely influences: smoky jazz on the noirish ‘The Whirlpool Enigma’ , twinkling pop on ‘Gamma Moth’ and sun-bathed soul on ‘Cloud Nine.’ It’s not so much a reinvention as a redirection, maintaining all of the group’s essential elements but setting them within a new context.
“I must admit, one of the things I worried about was ‘What will people think?”” Makrigiannis says. “With almost all of these songs, I had been in doubt. Some, I felt, were too poppy, others too experimental — some didn’t even feel like songs, but more like trips, or feelings. Some even had Danish and Greek lyrics. But now, it’s all Choir of Young Believers to me, and it feels great to have pushed the walls around the band, giving it a bit more space. It’s weird for me to think about all that doubt — ”Could I do this? Could I do that? I mean, it’s my f*cking band. I can do what I want with it. Right?”
2. Serious Lover
4. Face Melting
6. Jeg Ser Dig
7. Cloud Nine
8. The Whirlpool Enigma
9. Perfect Estocada
11. Gamma Moth
12. Does It Look As If I Care
See Choir of Young Believers live:
05.04 Zurich, Switzerland @ Ziegel Oh Lac @ Rote Fabrik
06.04 Paris, France @ Pop Up Du Label
07.04 London UK @ Rough Trade East
08.04 London, UK @ Oslo
09.04 Brussels, Belgium @ Witloof Bar Botanique
10.04 Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Paradiso
11.04 Bielefeld, Germany @ Forum
12.04 Hamburg, Germany @ Aalhaus
13.04 Berlin, Germany @ Kantine am Berghain
22.04 Helsinki, Finland @ Kuudes Linja