In February 2016, Shepherds of Cats performed extraordinary concert with Markus Wenninger that included premiere of Naturalinee 2 video scores by American composer Joe Pignato, video art by VJ Pietrushka and live archery. Priori to that event, the band met with Marcus in the studio over the weekend to record material for an album that awaited daylight until now. Marcus Wenninger is a German flutist and clarinettist, as well as didgeridoo and shakuhachi player and archer. Founder of The Nora Volkova Ensemble, he is orientated on unconventional and avategarde artistic collaborations. Using plethora of woodwind instruments, didgeridoo, cello, clavichord, darbuka, drum, gongs, singing bowls and daily objects, Marcus and Shepherds of Cats made improvised recordings which selection of found their way to this atmospheric album.
For me, this album is totally unique. The title itself transports me internally to the world of memories and evokes a number of pleasant connotations. I don’t know if the authors did this intentionally or not, but the melody of the words Tales and Bleached and Chameleon is completely unique. Try not to infer meanings from the words for a moment, but listen to the fleeting melody of the words: Tales from the Bleached Chameleon. It’s as if drops of water were falling from great leaves after a summer storm, or snow lit up with pixels of red in the rising sun. The recording reminds me of old radio plays, where the story takes us into some completely different world without the obtrusive literalness of what we see. Now it’s hard to imagine such a thing, but in the past emotions were evoked more by what we hear than by what we see. This album is a tribute to the word and its content, which comes into being only when it is processed by our inner ear. Shivers run down my spine. Get into this story. I really invite you to do so.
If we told you that this recording should be considered one long piece rather than 6 pieces, you would quite possibly accept this. But, similarly, if we said it is six independent pieces and not one long piece, again, probably you would accept it maybe even more readily, especially as it is separated into 6 different pieces. More at the behest of Bandcamp than us, but still… However, if one of us Shepherds says you should listen to it as one piece and another says you ought to listen to it as six different pieces, where does that leave you? But then again, don’t listen to us, listen to us.
After disappearing from ether for some time, we are coming back with new wave of tasty sounds that will twist and bend your minds. It is not that they are already twisted and bent enough by global state of affairs so our we are hoping to put you back on the track with subtle doses of pure oral nonsense. So here we come, new albums published by Fanfare Records later this year will include
Tales from the Bleached Chameleon (CDR album) contains short stories of working class magic realism by Gareth Smith with reactionary improvisations by David McLean. Here we have a story about Brexit, via the prism of viciously despised towels, hated for being non-human and a story culled from the Amazon depot, but presented via a man watching birds peck potatoes. The music, improvised responses, occasionally cycle, weaves through the words. At times dictates the pace, but then slows down and plays it straight. The instruments, sax, guitar and piano, puncture and cradle the words; for ‘drama’ hear Peter Brotzmann, for ‘I’ve got emotions too’, hear Film Noir. David McLean is label boss with Tombed Visions and is a key figure on the Manchester/Salford improvised music scene. Gareth Smith is a Manchester based artist working in various music and word based disciplines, concerned primarily with fractured narratives and ambiguity. His spoken word/electronic project, Vanishing, released their debut album in April 2017
Yashashwi Sharma & Shepherds of Cats, long awaited epic album. Going beyond modern recording standards is over one hour long improvised opera. Yashashwi is part of Liverpool based modern trip-hop collective Venusian. Together with John Pearson, they have performed in the UK and India, with their music appearing in independent movies in London and commercials on international TV. Comprising of gloomy downtempo beats with keyboards and powerful, evocative vocals, to date, Venusian have released three albums: Patterns in the Ivy (2012), The Flight of the Flamingo OST (2013) and Wolf Track Mountain (2014). Shepherds of Cats is audio visual improvising band creating sonic stories and worlds, drenched in incredulity of their own existence happily collaborating with other improvising artists. They also know for their collaboration on international project Butoh Techno.
Meantime, while awaiting for the new albums to come, we highly recommend to go out to local parks or meadows and listen to what is squeaking in the grass …
21st episode of Walking with Cats has been released.
Featuring: Maciek Piątek aka Vj Pietrushka