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, the roar of applause from the audience at a sold-out show at New York's Bowery Ballroom.
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.
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.
Tender yet triumphant, Bloodlines marks Barbarossa as one of Britain's most versatile and adventurous artists. Out on August 8 with Memphis Industries. A highlight of the album, "Turbine," is a minimalist, Pharrell Williams-inspired urban crunch of a track. Check it out now at Spin!
Following support slots with Junip and label mates POLIÇA, Barbarossa will be performing live across the summer including festival slots at Glastonbury and Bestival. Full dates below.
05/29 Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour *#
05/30 Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour *#
05/31 Santa Cruz, CA - Rio Theatre *#
06/01 San Francisco, CA - Bimbos 365 Club *#
06/02 Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge *#
06/03 Bellingham, WA - Wild Buffalo *
06/04 Vancouver, BC - The Rio Theatre *#
06/05 Seattle, WA - Neumos *#
06/08 Minneapolis, MN - Cedar Cultural Center *
06/09 Chicago, IL - Lincoln Hall *
06/10 Toronto, ON - The Great Hall *
06/12 Boston, MA - Brighton Music Hall *^
06/13 New York, NY - Highline Ballroom *^
06/15 Washington DC - 9:30 Club *^
06/16 Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer *^
06/20 New York, NY Mercury Lounge $
* = w/ Junip
# = w/ ON AN ON
^ = w/ Quadron
$ = w/ Pacific Air
The BBC drama starring Aidan Turner returns to BBC One on September 4th.