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Phosphene and Friends

"When I started making music as Phosphene in 2000, there was me, an odd assortment of instruments, and a multi-track possibility of making it sound like a band. However, my aim was towards collaborations, with the idea that these would lead the music down unexpected avenues. Even with that in mind, I could never have envisaged quite how much adventure and fun would be involved in making this single. Bridget St John’s voice has long held a special place in my life, so it was a great thrill when she said she wanted to sing one of my songs. Having been in touch by letter and e-mail for some time, we eventually met and recorded when I visited the US in 2004. Her voice has lost none of the quality it possessed when her first LP appeared on John Peel's Dandelion label in 1969, and working with her was a joy. Fellow Bridget fans Isobel Campbell and Bill Wells added cello and Farfisa compact duo organ parts, respectively, to 'See a Sign Defined'. 'Ask Me No Questions' is the title track of Bridget St John's debut album, and the version which you find here features three of my favourite people – Hanna Tuulikki, Chris Hladowski and Aby Vulliamy – who unite to form one of my favourite bands, Nalle. I suggested that this side would be more accurately billed as 'Nalle and Friends', but they generously said it should appear as another 'Phosphene and Friends' release... and so it does!" [John Cavanagh, Phosphene]

Phosphene is the electronic/acoustic music project created by Glasgow-based John Cavanagh, after four years as a member of the duo Electroscope. Phosphene has released three full-length albums, featuring collaborations with Lol Coxhill, Raymond McDonald and John McKeown (1990s/Yummy Fur), amongst others. John is also a sometime radio presenter, having presented everything from experimental rock on BBC Radio 1, opera on Radio 3, and documentaries for the BBC's World Service. He also hosts a weekly music show on Radio Six International, and has written a book on the Pink Floyd album, 'The Piper at the Gates of Dawn' as part of a series on classic albums published by Continuum in 2003.

Bridget St John was a stalwart of the John Peel show in the late 60's and early 70's, with a voice like an English-accented Nico. Her 'To Be Without a Hitch' /'Autumn Lullaby' (1969) was one of the first 2 singles released by John Peel's Dandelion label. 'Ask Me No Questions' was the label's first LP. The follow-up - the highly regarded 'Songs for the Gentle Man', was produced by Ron Geesin. Commercial success did not follow critical acclaim, and St John lay low for some time in New York, re-emerging in the nineties and (as of 2004) continues to perform. Aside from work under her own name, St John has also recorded with Mike Oldfield (on Amarok), Kevin Ayres and Robin Frederick. Several of St John's earlier LPs were released as CDs in the 1990s by See For Miles Records, and more recently on Cherry Red. Bridget has recently performed live in the US with Devendra Banhart.

Bill Wells is a Glasgow-based jazz musician and composer. Best known for his group, the Bill Wells Octet, he has also performed and recorded in a wide range of settings, including collaborations with The Pastels, Maher Shalal Hash Baz, Future Pilot A.K.A., Lol Coxhill and Isobel Campbell.

Isobel Campbell was a founder member of Belle & Sebastian, for whom she performed cello, backing vocals, and occasionally lead vocal. She also co-wrote their top-20 UK single 'Legal Man'. Her own band, The Gentle Waves, released two albums: 'The Green Fields of Foreverland' and 'Swansong for You', on Jeepster in 1999 and 2000. In 2002, she collaborated with Bill Wells on a collection of Billie Holiday songs (Creeping Bent), and has subsequently released two solo albums, 'Amorino' and 'Milkwhite Sheets', and a collaboration album with Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees, Queens of the Stone Age), for which she was Mercury Music Prize nominated in 2006.

Nalle are the Glasgow-based trio of Hanna Tuulikki (vocals, kantele, flutes), Aby Vulliamy (viola) and Chris Hladowski (bouzouki, clarinet). They make primitivist psychedelia that resonates with African, Middle Eastern and Northern European folk traditions. Their critically acclaimed debut album 'By Chance Upon Waking' was released by Pickled Egg in 2006. All three group members have performed with the free-folk/jazz ensemble, Scatter (also released on Pickled Egg), and Chris and Aby also play in The One Ensemble of Daniel Padden, and the Glasgow Improvisors Orchestra. Their second album will be released by Locust Music in August 2007.


'I See a Sign Defined' 7"
(Pickled Egg Records, Egg 63)

"Glasgow's John Cavanagh (aka Phosphene) continues delving into the ranks of John Peel's Dandelion label with this new release (previously he has recorded with Lol Coxhill). Now he has connected with Dandelion's resident chanteuse, Bridget St John, for a lovely and fascinating set of tunes. On 'I See a Sign Defined', Bridget takes the lead vocal and her dark voice wraps elegantly around Cavanagh's arrangements.The flip features Glasgow trio, Nalle, singing one of Bridget's signature tunes to near communal effect. What a nice pairing" [John Dale, The Wire]

"Like uncovering a rarefied and precious heirloom from a forgotten age hidden in cobwebs, dust and shyly hiding in the shadows of an old attic, ’See a sign defined’ is a beautifully bleak baroque folk styled nugget wrapped in oddly affecting Farfisa (courtesy of Bill Wells) signatures and playfully crafted nursery room accents that hypnotically combine to numbing pastel hued grandeur. Invested with a deep sense of introspection brought about by St John’s trembling timbre, it informs an eerie spectral majesty eliciting a message of hope a bit like a less cosmically inclined and bruised on the inside Stereolab seeking solace and relocating their space age bachelor pad to the homely and cosy confines of a tumble down woodshed. Replete with dream like soft psyche undercurrents and a tingling noire-esque classicism, brought to bear by Isobel Campbell’s cello arrangements ’See a Sign Defined’ is all at once tearfully touching, tender and timeless - to be handled with care. Over on the flip the favour is repaid in kind as members of Nalle shimmy up to Cavanagh for a deliciously crooked retread of Bridget St John’s ’Ask Me No Questions’. A gorgeously disorientating slice of freeform campfire folk that creaks, caresses, ebbs and flows with a particular fetching and distractive air tripped tenderly with wafts of harmonic interplays overlain across flurries of shimmering acoustics which we suspect fans of both the Virgin Passages and Animal Collective will no doubt lap up by the bucket load" [Mark Barton, Losing Today]

UK: £3.00

EU: €5.50

US: $8.50



Phosphene's Myspace
Phosphene's own website
Nalle's website

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