Saturday 26 January 2019, 7.30pm
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.
New album 'Throne', out on Editions Mego, is a suite of heartbleed ballads cauterised with burning riffs. After the rawness of its precursor I Abused Animal, Throne is a record of late night Americana and heavy femininity; intimate love songs smoked in sensuality. The songs on Throne are woozy, gorgeous and uncomfortable, smothered in thick layers of bass but lifted by multitracked vocals. These are rich song forms that stand in contrast to the stripped down steel in her duo with Peter Brotzmann. It is an album of cosmic echoes, abstractions and introspection, of characters and stories that make up Leigh's first best pop record, its melodies and hooks set alight with the fiery core of her unique and distinctive pedal steel.
From child actor to teenage pop idol, from self-confessed “extreme sound freak” to acclaimed solo recording artist, Simon Fisher’s career has been nothing if not varied. His early acting credits included film and TV roles from ‘Black Beauty’ to ‘The Big Sleep’ (re-made with Robert Mitchum). At the same time he was fronting various 70s pop acts, and at the age of 17 was signed to Jonathan King’s UK Records, releasing his first solo album in 1969. After that precocious start, Simon followed an often eccentric, sometimes outlandish musical path. He operated on the fringes of punk; performed briely with The The; became Musician in Residence at the ICA in 1980; released two albums as one half of a fictional French female duo know as Deux Filles. But through all this Simon was developing a deep and abiding interest in the stuff of sound, accumulating a vast library of collected sounds from daily life. It is this interest which now forms the basis of his improvisatory, eclectic approach to music making, and is manifest on his most recent solo albums on the Mute label (his discography comprises some 30 solo albums to date). From trite pop to extreme sound-freakery, the mature SFT (as he now styles himself) has arrived at a mesmeric originality. Simon’s life as a film composer stems from his association with Derek Jarman in the 1980s and 1990s. His scoring credits for Jarman included ‘Caravaggio’, ‘The Last of England’, ‘The Garden’ and ‘Edward II’. His final film for Jarman was the powerful, poignant ‘Blue’, where a soundscape recorded by Simon at Eno’s country house, together with Jarman’s AIDs-inspired spoken words, stood in for visuals - only a blue screen was projected. The film won a Michael Powell Award. His work with films has continued unabated since Jarman’s death. simonfisherturner.com
Jennifer Lucy Allan is a writer and researcher. She is currently working on a PhD at CRiSAP (UAL) on the social and cultural history of the foghorn, and is also a freelance music journalist specialising in underground and experimental music. Previously she was online editor for The Wire, and now freelances for The Wire, The Quietus, The Guardian and others. She runs the reissues label Arc Light Editions with James Ginzburg, and is a core member of Laura Cannell’s Modern Ritual Collective. She has recently guested on BBC3’s Late Junction, and written a series on life living in a lighthouse for Caught By The River.