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Heather Leigh

The daughter of a coal miner, weaving a trail from West Virginia to Texas and now residing in Scotland, Heather Leigh furthers the vast unexplored reaches of pedal steel guitar. Her playing is as physical as it is phantom, combining spontaneous compositions with a feel for the full interaction of flesh with hallucinatory power sources. With a rare combination of sensitivity and strength, Leigh’s steel mainlines sanctified slide guitar and deforms it using hypnotic tone-implosions, juggling walls of bleeding amp tone with choral vocal constructs and wrenching single note ascensions. In recent years Leigh has been touring the world extensively as a solo artist following the release of her studio album, ‘I Abused Animal’ on Ideologic Organ/Editions Mego and in BRÖTZMANN/LEIGH, a duo with Peter Brötzmann, who have released 2 albums, ‘Ears Are Filled With Wonder’ and ‘Sex Tape’ on Trost. A new BRÖTZMANN/LEIGH studio LP/CD is forthcoming in 2018 and she’s currently working on a new solo LP for Editions Mego.

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"There is complexity in simplicity, and Sparrow Nights is Peter Brötzmann and Heather Leigh's most enduring record to date, and their first studio album. A series of emotionally rich and boldly elucidated tonal and timbral exchanges played like compositions on pedal steel and reeds, the tracks (released as a 6 track LP and 10 track CD) are cold-forged minimalist blues motifs dragged from instrumental laments.   After three years playing together Brötzmann/Leigh's connection and understanding is by now both cerebral and deeply invested in the physical and sensory possibilities of their combined sound, while retaining a melancholic distance. Within this duo there is fluidity – neither is the anchor – and these recordings sound with as much variety as the sea. At times Sparrow Nights carries the clarity and poeticism of still water and open horizon ("This Word Love"), and at others it contains the elemental and ferocious roar of white water breakers on black rocks ("This Time Around").     On their previous three live albums (Ears Are Filled With Wonder, Sex Tape, Crowmoon) the duo have developed an intimate and intense language that manifests here as a focus on power and control, where figures blasted of unnecessary decoration are drawn from the shadows and smoke of collapse. The studio setting also allows Brötzmann to bring a broader range of reeds than in live scenarios: where previously he has played primarily tenor, clarinet and tarogato with Leigh, here he delivers the heat of alto and the low pressure of bass saxophone and clarinet.  Brötzmann’s duo with Leigh continues to trace a fresh new arc in his trajectory, and this release also falls at a time when Leigh releases Throne, her most song-based record to date. Here as a studio duo they play a new-old blues for times of complexity, noise and chaos, continuing to redefine and re-sound possibilities for improvised music."   

Peter Brötzmann / Heather Leigh – Sparrow Nights

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