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Upcoming shows: Memorial... His Lordship... Florry + Memorial... 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... Mock Tudors... Dominie Hooper... Ryley Walker... Terry Reid... Chime School... The Courettes... Tusks... Roddy Woomble... Myriam Gendron... Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra... Kris Drever... Erland Cooper... Pokey LaFarge... Skinny Lister... The Unthanks in Winter... Emily Barker...

When: 7pm on Wednesday 25 October 2023
Where: New Century, Mayes Street, Manchester M60 4ES

We’re excited to welcome Hania Rani back – this time, to New Century!

Hania Rani has announced details of her new album, Ghosts, bringing her songwriting and beautiful vocals to the fore and featuring special guests Patrick Watson, Ólafur Arnalds and Duncan Bellamy (Portico Quartet).

When Rani reintroduced herself this spring with Hello, the preliminary taster for her then unannounced new album, Ghosts, it most likely startled many who’ve come to love her work. Otherworldly yet upbeat, its mischievous melody, eloquent Rhodes piano, sparkling synths and nimble rhythms offered little indication of the New Classical style with which she is sometimes associated. But then anyone who has seen Rani live in the last two years can testify Rani’s art is constantly evolving, and, just as the album’s title suggests Rani passes repeatedly and gracefully between musical worlds: as composer, singer, songwriter, and producer.

Ghosts then is the sound of an artist finding her own voice, finding new stories to tell and perhaps sharing her music as intended for the first time. It builds on her earlier successes Esja and Home with an expanded yet still minimal setup of piano, keyboards, synths (most importantly her Prophet) and features more of her mysterious, bewitching voice. As the name suggests it’s sometimes eerie, even haunted, these qualities underlined by Icelandic arranger / Hjaltalín member Viktor Orri Árnason (Jóhann Jóhannsson, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Hauschka) and mixing engineer Greg Freeman (Peter Gabriel, Goldfrapp, Portico Quartet). But its spirit is warm, beckoning one into an ambitious double album that unfolds at an exquisite pace, informed by revelatory, exploratory live performances like 2022’s livestream from Paris’ prestigious Les Invalides, which has earned 3.7 million views to date. ‘I love long albums,’ says Rani, ‘and I would love people to listen to this as a concert because it’s actually shaped in this way.’

Ghosts is also an album of collaborations as Rani is joined sometimes by bassist and Moog player Ziemowit Klimek, who also appeared on Home. Patrick Watson breathes unearthly life into the ethereal Dancing with Ghosts and Portico Quartet’s Duncan Bellamy contributes vital loops to the intricately constructed Don’t Break My Heart, as well as the poised Thin Line. Whispering House, too – written and recorded with her friend, Ólafur Arnalds – casts a peaceful, ineluctable spell, as does the faintly baroque Nostalgia, while The Boat conjures up the unfolding ambience of Nils Frahm’s Music For Animals and Komeda a love for Pink Floyd. Then there’s the richly textured Moans and the elegantly swelling Utrata, while the quietly dramatic A Day in Never boasts sombre yet enchanting A Moon Shaped Pool strings and the largely improvised 24.03 ripples with endlessly refracting synths.

The lyrics are, partially inspired by a two-month residency in a small studio in Switzerland’s mountains, where Rani was working on a soundtrack – released earlier this year as On Giacometti – for a documentary about Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti. ‘Where I stayed was once an old sanatorium in an area which used to be very popular, but now there are huge abandoned hotels where the locals say ghosts live. I mean, it’s kind of a local belief system – these ghosts even have names! – but once you’re deep into nature or some abandoned place, your imagination starts working on a different level. Things definitely happened that were maybe a little uncomfortable: glasses breaking and stuff like that.’

Rani grew up in a Catholic country where ‘a lot of rituals and traditions still go on in the countryside and some people believe that ghosts are people not ready to die’. Her setting encouraged her to investigate such themes further, and turning away from her own life, she began imagining other people’s, using Ghosts’ elusive figures to illustrate her concepts. Dancing with Ghosts, for example, examines ideas of being absent in one’s own world, and Hello addresses the liminal state between wakefulness and sleep, while Utrata touches upon the mystical emergence of music itself and A Day in Never the nature of time.

‘The edge of life and death,’ Rani summarises, ‘and what actually happens in between: this was what really interested me. Even singing the word “death” was quite a shock. It’s such a weird word to say out loud, and people are afraid of it, which I found extremely interesting. Most of the songs probably still talk about love and things like that, but Ghosts is more me thinking about having to face some kind of end.’

If Rani’s debut Esja was about exploiting her principal instrument, and Home saw her take steps towards a fuller expression of her art, Ghosts is where she unites her varied interests on what might even be considered her first ‘real’ album. Drawing upon a fondness for diverse artists like Enya, The Smile, James Blake and Pink Floyd – not to mention her admiration for her guests – and evoking Stina Nordenstam’s delicacy, Keith Jarrett’s flair, Kate Bush’s artistry and Pink Floyd’s probing inclinations, it combines a lifetime’s musical experience in one miraculous, cosmic world. Say hello, then, to something quite unlike anything you’ve ever heard. It’s the sound of Hania Rani.

Special guest is Caoilfhionn Rose. Caoilfhionn Rose (pronounced Keelin) is a singer, songwriter and producer who was born in Manchester, England, with family roots in Northern Ireland and Yorkshire (UK). Emerging from a diverse music scene, she ties together remnants of Manchester’s musical past with its evolving present. She has collaborated with musicians from around the world and is perhaps best known for her work with Vini Reilly of The Durutti Column collaborating on four songs on the Chronicle LX: XL.

Caoilfhionn released her long-awaited sophomore album Truly on Gondwana Records, which was co-produced by Keir Stewart of The Durutti Column. It moves through a tapestry of curious musical inflections; nods towards folk, jazz, ambient, electronica and even a subtle influence of psychedelia. Rose’s song writing draws from a diverse palette of influences, including Building Instrument, Rachel Sermanni, Alabaster DePlume and Broadcast. Rose also professes to a love for beautiful, stripped back, piano based music, such as Dustin O’Halloran and label mate Hania Rani.

Age restriction: This is a 14+ show. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.

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