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Saturday, 15 May 2010

Griff says; 'That's Entertainment!'

Hello all. Well, as promised in my last post, I'd like to talk a little bit more about aaahh-records wunderkind 'entertainmentforthebraindead'. This is the musical psuedonym of Julia Kotowski (pictured) currently a student at Cologne's Academy of Media Arts but, to those of us in the know, also a self-taught, lo-fi musician of breathtaking originality.

I first came across 'entertainmentforthebraindead' on myspace in 2007. At that time Julia had a collection of amazing, sparse, lullably-like yet melancholy songs which she'd recorded at home on a laptop with a USB microphone attached. Julia used guitar, ukulele, recorder and glockenspiel on her early work, all to great effect. The best feature of all though was the amazing, unconventional percussion. On these early songs Julia can be heard clapping, crumpling paper, opening and closing scissors and tapping on any household implement which comes to hand all to surprising yet artful creative effect. To my great joy, Julia released this collection of early songs as an album, called 'Hypersomnia', in Spring 2008.

Rather pleasingly, and a little smugly too perhaps, I can reveal that I am the proud possessor of a hand-made physical edition of this album complete with Julia's lovingly crafted lino-print cover. But you'll also be pleased to know that the album is still available as a free download which you can get from 'here'.
Such talent couldn't go unnoticed for long and the lovely people at aaahh-records soon picked up on Julia's work. Her next collection of songs was written, recorded and mixed and ready for public exposure in August 2008. Released as 'aaahh002', her second album was named 'Hydrophobia'

and is self-decribed as " 10 songs that mostly circle around the idea of drowning." It can be freely downloaded from the aaahh-records homepage. It has a similar gentle folk-pop sound to 'Hypersomnia' but better production values. Julia also introduces a xaphoon into the mix and, of course, the charming percussion is still evident; at one point a pepper-mill is even employed.

Julia's seemingly boundless creativity has also provided us with 'Seven (+1)' (also on aaahh-records) and 'Raw Timber'. Both were released in 2009. Today though I'd really like to talk about her latest work 'Roadkill'.

This is aaahh-records newest release and shows Julia at her creative, unconventional and frankly contrary best. You see, on this album, Julia accompanies herself almost exclusively with that most unloved of instruments....the banjo. Now, the world of lo-fi indie-folk is awash with ukulele, glockenspiel and melodica players, but banjo players are rather more thin on the ground. However, don't let that put you off, I'll let Julia explain herself:

"Sometimes a tiny, coincidental discovery can open completely new horizons. Like when you're on a crowded party and that one person you decide to talk to turns out to be the love of your life. Or when you're in a room full of instruments and for once you decide to not to pick the lute, not the weird, fascinating cello-like instrument on the wall... but the banjo.
The Roadkill EP was born from one of these discoveries. There are lots of instruments that I'd always really wished to own or be able to play, a piano, a cello, a harp, a clarinet... but I would never had expected that one day I could fall in love with a banjo.
Yet since this is exactly what happened, I decided to start exploring this instrument's versatility by recording a couple of songs equipped with nothing else but a banjo. (Well... I admit, there's a tambourine in one song..)
Over the last four months I collected those songs. They occasionally sprouted, sometimes several a day, sometimes none for weeks, and then grew and ripened. I harvested them at home, though a bit more carefully than usual. They tell little tales of friendship and failure, of discovering the world and of hiding at home, and the banjo helped tracing their contours and gave them a shape.
It brought me through a very cold winter. Now maybe it can brighten yours a bit, too?"

For those of you who still need convincing 'Streetlamp' have rather kindly provided two videos (below) of songs from 'Roadkill' for your listening pleasure. Enjoy!

Now get downloading!


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