Sometimes the quiet route can be the most effective.
Leo Abrahams may not be a household name, but the producer has worked on some of our favourite albums. Previously, Abrahams has hooked up with the likes of Frightened Rabbit and Karl Hyde (Underworld) while recent tour stints saw the musician hook up with majestic Britpop outfit Pulp.
Now, though, he's ready to strike out on his own. Recorded during some brief down time, 'Zero Sum' is a six track mini album which Leo Abrahams recorded in his home studio. Pat Dillett - who has worked with David Byrne, St Vincent, Mary J Blige - stepped into to oversee mixing, which took place in New York.
It's an intriguing document. Sonically, each track is exquisitely prepared with Leo Abrahams supplying a beautifully rendered sense of arrangement. Evolving, unfolding at their own pace the tracks on 'Zero Sum' are much more than hobby pieces, sketched composed by an artist on down time.
Pasted together, the tracks on 'Zero Sum' come together as a thought provoking, cohesive arc. With this in mind, Clash asked Leo Abrahams to prepare a playlist of tracks he's been working on / listening to recently which he feels have fed into the recording process.
Listen to the playlist here - read his thoughts below.
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DAVID HOLMES - 'I HEARD WONDERS'
I helped David make this in his Belfast studio, surrounded by vintage synths and with occasional contributions from his baby daughter. Recently featured in the Olympic Opening Ceremony as the soundtrack to David Beckham's speedboat outing.
DAVID BYRNE AND BRIAN ENO: 'STRANGE OVERTONES'
David was emailing me his vocals to put into the track; during the instrumental sections he sounded really happy, humming along and whistling and generally enjoying himself with the sound of cars going by outside his New York apartment. It made editing into a joyous experience.
FRIGHTENED RABBIT: 'THE WOODPILE'
At first we recorded this song too slow by mistake. Then we recorded it faster and Zane Lowe and Sara Cox have been playing it a lot on Radio 1, so everyone was happy.
CARL BARAT: 'SHE'S SOMETHING'
Carl is a wonderful songwriter and this song is a perfect example. The percussion section features chicken wire, door-slamming and a lot of spring reverb. I think some people were put off the record by the cover art, but it's one of the things I'm most proud of.
HEADLESS HEROES: 'THE NORTH WIND BLEW SOUTH'
This is Alela Diane singing. It was recorded in LA, but I wrote the string arrangement and recorded it in my basement in the East End.
SPARROW AND THE WORKSHOP: 'FADED GLORY'
Recorded and mixed in a day - a truly great band, in which each of the 3 members is irreplaceable. The drummer also build things and is a great cook.
FOREIGN OFFICE: 'THROW ME OVERBOARD'
This band have now split up, but I wish they hadn't. Recorded in the prestigious Red Bull recording studio, with passers-by on the street peering in rudely throughout.
BRETT ANDERSON: 'BRITTLE HEART'
Hearing Brett Anderson's voice coming through my studio monitors for the first time was an eerie and wonderful experience. Making this album was technically quite tricky but listening to it continues to uplift me.
Features a solo played on a completely out-of-tune toy that my mum gave me when I was 4. Thank God for auto-tune. But Jo's vocal is a single take, unedited in any way - which is something only the very greatest singers are capable of.
IARLA O'LIONAIRD: 'THE GOAT SONG'
A song his mother used to sing him. About a goat.
ASTRID WILLIAMSON: 'MIRACLE'
Features some great multi-tracked vocals and the best clap sound I ever managed to capture.
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'Zero Sum' is out on March 4th.