Includes the bonus album for download. Produced by Boris ‘Mephisto’ Wilsdorf, Einstuerzende Neubauten’s producer. Somewhere betwixt the brooding, 10 gallon groan of 16 Horsepower; the baroque drawl of Blue Ruin; the whiskey smell of Bad Livers and The Bad Seeds’ beef scented brand of western gothic hangs a wanted poster offering reward, dead or alive, for the atmospheric, detailed twang of Long Dead Sevens. Oh death and grief and sorrow and murder shine like a tin star polished with the bullets of Nick Cliff’s baritone croon. Yet deep in the black heart that lies beneath banjo, fiddle, slide guitar, piano and derringer; somewhere near the unmarked grave of the coward Robert Ford; in a place that smells of salt peter and rancid tonic, the high lonesome is joined by the growling din of collapsing new buildings. A theatrical steam-industrial moan echoes through the mesa heralding an age not quite ancient and not quite modern. Colts and Mausers unite to shoot ‘em up in this dark, enveloping, weirding wild west operetta. Yippee Ki-Yay!
Paul J. Rogers - acoustic/electric guitars, percussion, melodica, sound sculpture, backing vocals
Nick Cliff - vocals
Jennifer Hames - piano, violin, organ
Ian Turner - bass guitar, banjo, steel slide/resonator guitar, 12 string
Nick Hames - drum kit, percussion
Sarah Miller - guest backing vocals
The Long Dead Sevens has been a long time coming, an accident waiting to happen. As teenagers, vocalist Nick C. and guitarist/noise maker Paul collaborated, two artists producing music and imagery, always unusual, explorative and experimental. Originally forming an avant-garde punk band, and always interested in using song form as the expression of art and ideas, they gradually developed a strong writing partnership. Later, amongst other events, they could be found traveling the London underground, choosing random platform waiting rooms to improvise song and sound to random audiences.
Then there was silence. It was 15 years later when they met up again - the only obvious course of action was to begin making music again. One afternoon of improvisation generated most of the basic ideas that ultimately led to the creation of The White Waltz and Other Stories. Paul then began working on these fragments with Jenny, a classical pianist and composer. The two had been composing together for many years, in bands and as composers of music and sound for experimental theatre and contemporary dance.
The seeds grew, but more ingredients were needed. Paul took the work in progress to another collaborator from the past, Ian Turner. Ian had played bass guitar for Psychedeliasmith, a rock/dance band who had collaborated with Fat Boy Slim. Ian's passion for the delta blues and bluegrass music tied in nicely with The Long Dead Sevens’ deliberate referencing of American culture.
The next step was to bring in Jenny’s brother Nick H. on drum kit, bringing with him an organic, evolving percussion.
Paul carefully pieced all the elements together and produced demo versions of the completed concept, working individually with each band member until the songs for the album were complete. Remarkably, at this stage the band had never been in the same room together, some members never having even met!
In stepped Beta-lactam Ring Records who were aware of Paul and Jenny’s previous work on the arts/junk band album ‘Rubbish Music’ by the arts collective ‘Pickleherring’. Beta-lactam Ring Records offered to release The Long Dead Sevens debut album, after hearing some of the demo versions on ‘Myspace’.
The next step was to re-record final versions for the release. Paul’s inclusion of noise sculpture, found sound, junk/home-made instruments, and the aleatoric nature of some of the compositional processes was partly inspired by 20th century sonic exploration - these influences can be traced right back to Pierre Schaeffer, musique concrete, John Cage and more recently the work of leading avant-garde noise makers/ song writers Einstuerzende Neubauten (Collapsing New Buildings). With this in mind Paul cautiously approached Einstuerzende Neubauten’s producer Boris Wilsdorf to ask if he would produce the album. Boris loved the demos and immediately agreed.
Finally, the band all met together for the first time just before going into the recording studio. The final piece of the puzzle was to add backing vocalists, the chamber choir Cantemus, and Sarah Miller, also currently touring as a backing vocalist for Tony Christie!
Four rehearsals later they spent ten days recording the album in England with engineer Matt Fisher.
Paul and Nick C. then travelled to Berlin, taking all the recordings with them, and spent two weeks at ‘The Bunker’, intensively producing the tracks with Boris ‘Mephisto’ Wilsdorf, who weaved his fabulous magic. The Long Dead Sevens were born.
Review by Steve Dean On my initial listening to this theatrical and macabrely beautiful work, the first thing that struck me was the brooding atmosphere forming around me as the gothic, but not entirely humourless lyrics began to tell their dark and baroque tale. So powerful is the aura evoked, one finds themselves drawn into the music in much the same way as one becomes inextricably involved in watching a well-plotted play. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if this intriguing work finds itself being adapted for the stage at some time in the future. Written mainly by vocalist Nick Cliff, guitarist and supplier of backing vocals Paul J. Rogers and violinist/pianist Jenny Hames, but with vital contributions from bassist Ian Turner and drummer Nicolas Hames - the latter four playing other instruments besides (including a boat propellor!) - the skilfully arranged songs contain nothing but excellent musicianship. The album also features guest backing vocals by Sarah Miller and the Cantemus Chamber Choir. Baritone Nick Cliff’s compelling, almost narrative voice suiting the whole collection perfectly.. The opening number ‘Pigface’ has a ensnaringly sublime slide guitar riff from Ian Turner, also responsible for the natty banjo picking on the Country & Western influenced ‘Mother’s Son’ - a song concerning the not-oft-discussed subject of filicide - while Jenny Hames’ lugubrious violin in the creepy ‘Our Lady Damned’, pulls and tugs at the most melancholy of one’s emotions. The pair can also be found executing an exquisite duet as Nick Cliff demonstrates a superbly ballsy blues voice in ‘Seven Levels’. In the very next track, the ethereal choir towards the end of the eerie ‘Church’ seem like they are seeking to conceal the sounds of something truly terrible happening in the background; while ‘The Black Waltz/The Red Waltz’ conjures up images of wraithes dancing inches off the ground within some gigantic ruined ballroom. This album is a masterpiece and I don’t use that term lightly. Produced and mastered in Berlin by the respected Boris Wilsdorf, who has worked with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and also The Tiger Lillies, amongst others, the album is receiving well-deserved attention from radio stations across Europe and America, including XFM in England. The album is due for release around mid-May on Beta-Lactam Ring Records. Get a listen; you won’t experience anything like it anywhere else. Truly marvellous.