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Upcoming shows: Ariel Sharratt & Mathias Kom... Giant Sand... Melanie Baker... Sophie Hutchings... Jerron Paxton... Ghostly Kisses... Sounds From The Other City 2024... Francis of Delirium... The Buffalo Skinners... The Handsome Family... Robbie Cavanagh... Memorial... His Lordship... Florry... Bad Bad Hats... Dana Gavanski... Caoilfhionn Rose... The Lovely Eggs... James Yorkston... Rain Parade... Matthew and the Atlas... Gratis: Makushin... Lightheaded + Mt. Misery... Jake Xerxes Fussell... Andrew Wasylyk & Tommy Perman... Charlie Parr... Ryley Walker... Terry Reid... Erland Cooper... Skinny Lister...

When: 7.30pm on Friday 31 May 2024
Where: Hallé at St Michael’s, 36-38 George Leigh Street, Ancoats, Manchester M4 5DG

We’re delighted to be helping Caoilfhionn Rose launch her new album – with special guests Lemoncello!

With her third Gondwana album, Constellation, Manchester’s Caoilfhionn Rose has come of age as an artist, digging deep to find experimental new ways of expressing her wonder at nature’s beauty, her love of music in all its diversity, and her belief in the restorative powers that both afford in the troubled post-covid world.

Vigorous, searching and ever-curious, Caoilfhionn (say ‘Keelin’) has found a voice at once ancient and modern, intrepidly exploring contemporary technology to transform traditional songcraft for the mid-2020s.

The ten tracks on Constellation feel rooted in a knowledge of folk, jazz and all the twentieth century’s classic tunesmiths, and yet they seem to create a magical, otherworldly space of her own imagining, blending Caoilfhionn’s core piano with synths, and pitting a live rhythm section and saxophone embellishments against ambient samples and future-facing production techniques.

Confident, exploratory and often jaw-droppingly sublime, this incredible album properly announces Caoilfhionn Rose’s arrival as a fresh creative force for 2024.

Caoilfhionn has always pursued music with a fierce commitment. When a period of illness in her late teens caused a delay in starting a Music degree at Newcastle University she used the time constructively. She took a diploma in Music Production and Audio Engineering at Manchester Midi School (now School of Electronic Music), which leant heavily towards electronic music, imbuing her with a progressive outlook towards sound manipulation. ‘It was the best decision,’ she says, ‘because I got to learn how to use Logic, from the very basics into exploration, and some live sound recording as well. It was a course for DJs really, but I started to try melding electronics with my background in more folky, traditional stuff.’

Studying music at university in Newcastle, she’d mess around making sound experiments and field recordings, posting tracks online under the alias Audrey Daydreamer, and eventually an EP, under her own name on Soundcloud and Bandcamp. ‘That was how I got involved with Gondwana,’ she explains, ‘because Matthew [Halsall, label boss] found the EP, and realised I was now based in Didsbury near where he lives. He came to see me play at a café called The Art of Tea, and afterwards he asked if I’d like to record for Gondwana.’

Constellation features contributions from Matthew Halsall’s rhythm section, drummer Alan Taylor and bassist Gavin Barras, as well as Jordan Smart from Mammal Hands, whose supple sax exquisitely colours the fringes of most of its songs. Also guesting: John Ellis, former member of The Cinematic Orchestra, beatifically tinkling the ivories at the end of Fall Into Place, and producer Aaron Wood via a raft of ambient samples adding textured loveliness throughout Rainfall.

‘I love being open to collaboration,’ Rose enthuses, ‘and the record’s a collage, knitting together all these influences, sounds and players, and just really going for it with the experimentation in the production.’

For this outing, Rose herself returned to her first instrument, the piano, weaving numerous catchy melodies through the mix. Again, loathing to see time wasted, she deployed some dead weeks of covid lockdown isolation on a Masters degree at the Royal Northern College of Music, much of it obviously carried out online.

Constellation sees her broaden the range of her singing, from the pure natural expression of her earlier records, to using it more as an instrument, sometimes more as abstract sound than as conventional verbal delivery. ‘It’s all playful and experimental,’ she summarises, ‘seeing what we could come up with that’s imaginative.’ And she has learnt to use ‘her artistic license just to let the words be as they are’, to write in a momentary, impressionistic, almost painterly way. One example was how the word ‘constellation’ just fell into her head – ‘like, out of the cosmos’ – while recording that song, so in it went. It also seemed emblematic of many aspects of the album – the theme of connectedness, her little cluster of Gondwana family musicians, and a pervasive feel of stargazing awe in the music. It obviously made a fitting album title, too.

And so, Caoilfhionn Rose’s collage of differing influences and inspirations, players and processes, cohered into a miraculous and quietly powerful body of work, which stands as a testament to artistic adventure, to both improvisation and hard work, to trusting our connection to nature, other people and music itself. As such, Constellation surely deserves to put her on a much bigger stage by the year’s end.

Special guests are Lemoncello. Laura Quirke and Claire Kinsella’s collaboration charms audiences into a world of intimate observations and uncomfortable questions with irresistible chemistry, charisma, and humour. ‘Why are all the good men, too old, taken or dead?’

The rare alchemy of the duo’s voices together cuts through a minimal and dramatic soundscape; coloured by the warmth and grit of Kinsella’s Cello, and distinctly underpinned by Quirke’s cyclical, trance-like guitar playing. While embedded in Irish and Folk roots, Lemoncello’s sound embraces the freedom of carving out its own song structures, entwined with a love of off-kilter Indie Pop, Jazz extemporisation and Romantic and Contemporary Classical music.

‘They write like Wet Leg and sing like Laura Marling’ – Joshua Burnside

This will be one of the first public concerts in St Michael’s since its recent re-opening, having been closed since 2004. The Roman Catholic church was founded in 1859 and became the heart of the Little Italy Community in Ancoats.

Age restriction: 14+. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.

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