"Recording five performances – four in Seattle and one in Los Angeles – during the Psycheclectic tour..." "Thermospheric, an eight-track live album that brings Psycheclectic to life... high-definition videos of the performance... The Blu-Ray will also feature a secret track not available on the CD."
- RJ Frometa
VENTS MAGAZINE (2017)
The Drip Feed giveth and taketh away. This is a tragic scary fictional tale, what if Artificial Intelligence created an undisclosed systemic addiction subroutine to program authoritarian oversight of your medical existence. Enjoy! (Spoken Word)
"Taken from the psych-art rock outfit’s upcoming live album Thermospheric (Oct 27), “Soft Cheeked And Worried” is a searing blast of dreamy riffs set against shifting soundscapes that ebb and flow with storms of synth-laden grooves, layered guitars and the kind of percussive primal stomp that will keep this track in your head all day."
- ALEX GREEN
Got independence? And music for your eclectic psyche? Yes, we hold our truths more self-evident... And what is this shift of technological power into the hands of individuals going to do to the large record companies? How big is this universe, or better yet -- how microcosmic can we get?
What is that hidden space in our souls that holds those memories of our favorite songs? How do you find the source of that eclectic feeling from your past with the elusive impact it has upon your future? Too much good music is never experienced — and we wanted to make a stand.
Psychecleticism is derived from the impact these eclectic events have upon our psyche, and how they impact our future. The psyche’s ability to absorb the impression of the eclectic while being blind to its origin is beguiling. By re-engineering the limitations of the term ‘psychedelic’ with the psyche’s eclectic undertow, we’ve created a form that does not limit us to psychedelia’s timeline -- rather it expands the experience of all things psycheclectic. A path diverged...and a while back we asked, “If a band fell in the forest would they make a sound?” Now we are asking, “If you could see the forest through the trees, would it still be made of wood?” The ever-expanding attention span of musical taste has a wider audience to fill this new bandwidth.
We are always open to hearing music here. And in that purpose we hold true that what is ‘good’ in music is the strength of the progressive movement toward better music. Is it a waste of time to lead the parade posturing regarding which music you don't like? How about keeping the ego to ourselves (thanks) and getting to the point. The critics may have spent the last ten years defining what’s bad... Since then, we’ve missed the opportunity to build the foundation of what is good in music. Perhaps we’ve grown to simply not care what critics don’t like anymore... If you’re unhappy with the local music scene, it’s more than likely the result of people not defining what is good in music. What you like and why you like it is really all that matters.
We’re extending our reach by placing timelessness first. You won’t get any limitations from us.
The StunningKnuckleheads (Broke up)
1997 -- to present!
OBSCURED BY CLOUDS TOUR:
Seattle-based “…Obscured By Clouds unquestionably have immense potential.” “…The results are exceptional and impressive.” – Classic Rock Magazine
Interview and review here...
James Angell "Private Player"
Radio Live Performance/Interviews:
New York City - WNYC Radio 93.9 FM
On 'SoundCheck' WNYC 93.9 FM Radio hosted by John Schaefer, Portland singer/songwriter James Angell will perform live on the show during his interview on September 16th, 2002 at 2 PM EST. http://www.wnyc.org/
Los Angeles - KCRW Radio 89.9 FM
On 'Newground' KCRW Radio 89.9 FM and Radio@AOL hosted by Chris Douridas, singer/songwriter James Angell was interviewed and performed. This broadcast can be heard on jamesangell.net Accompanying James was Eric Matthews (Trumpet) and Phil Baker (Bass).
London - X-FM Radio Radio Play
Private Player debuted on London's X-FM during an interview with Courtney Taylor of the Dandy Warhols. The tracks played were: 1. Ooh love, 4. Call off the war, 7. Dear dying friend. Website: http://www.xfm.co.uk/
More Radio Play:
So far, radio play also extends to WBAI 99.5 New York City, KOPB - Oregon Public Broadcasting – David Christianson/Steven Cantor, Interview on KNRK in Portland, WAPS in Akron Ohio, WCBN - University of Michigan.
The New Yorker September 11, 2002
The Knitting Factory Sept 16, Tonic Sept 15: “The singer-songwriter James Angell comes out of the Portland, Oregon, scene that gave birth some ten years ago to the Dandy Warhols...” (he was the front man of a band called Nero's Rome with the Dandy, Courtney Taylor as drummer.) “After dropping out of the music world to raise a daughter and build a house, Angell returns with an album of ambitious orchestral psychedelia, "Private Player," that's earned justifiable comparisons to the hallmark of the genre, Love's "Forever Changes."
- John Donohue The New Yorker
Magnet Magazine June, 2002 Issue #54
...Angell’s piano, songs & vocals—the latter sounding at times like the whispered sing-speak of Ira Kaplan or Freddie Mercury subdued by the purr from a pack of affectionate house cats—that row this skiff of an album over placid waters. “Dear Dying Friend” chugs along to the rhythm of an electronic camel, becoming friendlier with each chorus, the synthesized push-and-pull finally giving way to a more organic version of this lugubrious tempo. “Treat Song,” with Eric Matthews’ muted trumpet, lopes along like the heart of Saturday night as Angell lullabies his daughter into dreams of spaceships and log-perched ponderances. “Ooh Love” is a tease, flirting and breaking promises. Angell hangs onto slow, elastic cadences and comes up with an album just odd enough to have never given bloated and pallid arena pop such as ELO or Elton John any trouble, though he often sounds like a smarter version of both.
- Bruce Miller Magnet Magazine
Alternative Press October, 2002 Issue #171
This is “Baroque orchestral rock that’ll make you feel like you’re smashed on absinthe. How is it? With its beautiful tunes and emotive vocals ‘Private Player’ introduces a major new talent. Kindred spirits: David Bowie, Tim Buckley, Rufus Wainwright...”
- David Segal Alternative Press
One of the most interesting and ultimately valuable new records to come out of 2002, James Angell’s “Private Player” is akin to Love’s “Forever Changes” in terms of overall elegance and strangeness. It becomes, in the end, a brilliant exercise in modern day psychedelia. Angell’s music is unique in that he wields influences as far- flung as jazz, soul, pop and psychedelic music - often all at the same time. The result is an intoxicating, narcotic voyage, yet has all the luster of a classical piece. It’s not 'easy listening' nor is it probably intended to be. Angell’s lyrics are both freeform and literate, and combined with the multi-layered arrangements, create a cinematic, almost Bosch-esque atmosphere where the lines of sanity, reality and fantasy are often blurred. For an example of this, the listener is directed to the third track, ‘Ed Blue Bottle’, which puts all of these elements together. Unsettling -- yes indeed...beautiful listening, absolutely. Aside from the beautiful ‘Treat Song’ featuring guest trumpet player Eric Matthews, the album's highlight may be epic closer, ’Sweet Bell’. With it's eerie, child’s voice providing an introduction to Angell's vocal before surrendering to a dissonant soundscape that can only be compared to Tim Buckley’s “Lorca” album, this is one of the album's greatest moments. “Private Player” is an experience that needs to be played and re-played several times preferably in a row, before the listener can fully realize how much music is really happening. In this way, it challenges the listener to become involved. This is not always a popular thing to do in these days of doubt and limited attention span, but is indeed necessary. The underground classic of 2002.
- Matthew Greenwald All Music Guide - Pick Allmusicguide.com
"PRIVATE PLAYER" 4 1⁄2 Stars – All Music Guide “The underground classic of 2002.”
Paul McCartney and Dennis D’Amico have selected the first track “Ooh Love” for the Garland Appeal’s second compilation CD. James Angell will perform his songs with the Garland Appeal’s full orchestra backing him. “The underground classic of 2002” as Angell’s new release was aptly named by All Music Guide, was also very well reviewed by The New Yorker, Magnet Magazine and Alternative Press. John Taylor of (Duran Duran) was so intrigued by Angell’s performance in NYC Taylor is now performing with Angell at some upcoming shows. Interestingly, David Bowie has also personally voiced his intent to make a bid and potentially sign Angell to his independent label. Angell is a native of Portland, Oregon where he continues to live and work. A fixture during the frenzy of the early 90's northwest music explosion, he has performed, written and recorded with such P-town notables as Courtney Taylor-Taylor (The Dandy Warhols), Tony Lash (Heatmiser, Elliot Smith), Eric Matthews, Kevin Cozad (Autobahn, Obscured By Clouds), Daniel Riddle (King Black Acid) and Thee Slayer Hippy, producer and drummer of the notorious heavyweight punks, (Poison Idea). After years of group efforts he finally embarked on something so many others had been asking for, a solo album. He dropped out of the scene, had a daughter, designed and built a house in the woods and purchased enough recording gear to make this record. He sat in his kitchen with a piano, a synth, a mic and finished in the fall of 2001 with "Private Player". Beneath these arrangements lies a gritty soul, a sound track for the subconscious giving everyday events a cinematic gravity.
James Angell Extended Biography
Private Player, the remarkable new album by James Angell, is a pop resurrection. Angell was there when interest in music from the Pacific Northwest exploded in the early Nineties, and as singer and songwriter for the seminal Portland band Nero’s Rome, he was part of the exciting pop scene. He felt the high of being signed to a major label deal not once but twice, but the pain of having both deals fall through when the labels reorganized internally broke his heart. “I took four years off after that,” Angell remembers, during which time he moved to the woods outside Portland. Only recently, he ended his self-imposed exile and recorded Private Player on Psycheclectic Records, a recording Matthew Greenwald of AllMusicGuide.com declared, “The underground classic of 2002.”
Classics are not made over night though. Just a little over two years ago Angell began writing again when, like Henry D. Thoreau, he found his muse in his isolation. This time, the music came not from listening to popular music – “I have a piss poor record collection,” he confesses – but from remembering old church hymns. “My father was a Baptist minister,” Angell explains, “and I grew up in an old-fashioned Baptist church. We could only listen to classical music or hymns, the old hymns.” On Private Player, you can hear that influence in the beautiful open chords and the melancholy seriousness of the songs. “The music that affects me has a sadness about it,” he says.
The aching, dreamy pop of Private Player was written in a vacuum with no end result in mind. The ancient upright piano, the synth he got for his birthday, microphone, recording gear, these are the tools that made this miracle happen. With a keen sense of texture and melodic subtleties, he “tweaked tracks until the wee hours,” he says, and the result of that attention is particularly evident on the atmospheric “Call Off the War” – which recalls Julian Cope and The Teardrop Explodes – and “Ed Blue Bottle,” where Tom Waits meets Brian Eno meets David Lynch.
With a poet’s grace and insight, Angell examines the emotional turbulence of domestic life on Private Player, and he does so in lovely musical settings that are never as spare as they initially seem. At first listen, Angell’s hushed tenor and piano define the songs, but “there’s a lot of music going on there,” he explains. The simplest melodies develop jazzy or psychedelic dimensions – sometimes both – so the songs gain depth and resonance with each listen. While much of the musical coloring is subtle, his 3 1/2 year-old daughter Astrid’s “reading” of a passage from a book on physics in the beginning of “Sweet Bell” is startling. “I read it to her three or four words at a time and had her repeat them after me,” he explains. “Then we took the tape to a studio and cut out my prompting to edit it into seamless speech.” The results are not quite seamless though, leaving a voice as unsettling as that of the dwarf in Twin Peaks, and one that suits the distant, drifting feel of the song.
Recording in the privacy of his cottage in the woods gave Angell the license to craft music that is deeply felt and highly personal. Separated from the peer pressures that accompany recording in studios, he trusted his musical intuition and made daring decisions, and many tracks “are based on accidents.” Often he used first and second takes of tracks, stopping musicians before they fully developed their parts, and he applied the same aesthetic to his vocals. “There’s a fair amount of loose stuff on the vocals,” but that “loose stuff” adds a distinctive personality to the album. Making unconventional decisions might seem wrong, but his courageous approach became part of his recording philosophy; “there must always be something that’s not quite right. There’s got to be something kinky going on.”
With the wealth of musical talent available in Angell’s circle, one of Angell’s bolder decisions on Private Player was to have his brother Theo and his sister Christina sing backing vocals on the recording. The decision was partially based on talent – “Our family’s very musical,” he explains – but it was also because “the rule of thumb on this record was ‘Use what’s at hand.’” Still, he knew better than to take that homemade ideal too far. For other parts, he turned to his friends in Portland’s stellar musical community. “I always need an excellent drummer,” Angell says, so he turned to Tony Lash of Heatmiser. He also turned to Daniel Riddle of King Black Acid for guitar, and he reunited with former bandmate Tod Morrisey, who contributes additional vocals. On the wistful "Treat Song," Angell enlisted the services of Eric Matthews to add his haunting trumpet.
Private Player, as the name implies, truly is a more personal record, but as John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band, Big Star’s Sister Lovers and Syd Barrett’s The Madcap Laughs have shown, the personal albums are often the most resonant.
Once in a while, a song gets under my skin and stays there. But rarely does an artist create eight songs that seep into my psyche at the same time. That is the achievement of James Angell's latest disc "Private Player." This is music to trip to, swoon to, and jump into. And the more I listened to it, the more I got sucked into its sublime entropy.
Layering is the drug here. Every piece seems to derive its influence from a different musical archetype, but there is nothing formulaic about the tracks. Try to identify the sound and you will fail. It's as if someone threw Bowie, Eno, Pink Floyd, Kate Bush, Radiohead and Tim Buckley into a blender...and then threw out the recipe.
James Angell honed his nonconformist attitude after burning out on the frenetic Portland, Oregon music scene and on a deal with Capitol Records for his then band Nero's Rome. He says he can't think about the record industry because that's what screwed him up before. He couldn't think anymore about writing what naturally appeals to an audience. He wanted to get back to trusting his gut instincts and not listening to A&R guys who were mostly interested in second-guessing the mass market. So he dropped out and retreated with his wife Erin and daughter Astrid Zora to a house in the woods that he built with his own hands. During his Whitmanesque idyll, he found the hunger to make music again.
The album is appropriately called "Private Player," because he says he crafted songs that appeal to himself, especially to the self he was as a child. He explains, "Kids can smell bullshit a mile away. They respond intuitively." In his self-imposed exile, he developed a sound that he describes as "4th dimension"--strongly rooted in reality, but boldly exploring a world hidden in the subconscious. He wanted to position musical ideas together that aren't supposed to stand side-by-side. Enlisting the help of musicians like Eric Matthews, Tony Lash, brother Theo Angell, former bandmate Tod Morrisey, and even his daughter, Angell fleshed out his musical fantasia.
The isolation is about to pay off. Chris Douridas, the highly influential DJ of KCRW, has already named James Angell a "new ground-breaker" and interviewed him on the nationally broadcast show "Spinner's New Ground" at the end of April; All Music Guide called "Private Player" the "underground classic of 2002."
Eventually he would like to have the luxury of a record company behind him, so that he can support the right band to replicate onstage the sound of "Private Player." But for now, he's going to hit the road playing solo piano shows around the country and building the groundswell of support for his genre-busting sound. From the wandering of "Who's Wakin' Me Up?" and the heartache of "Treat Song" to the sweet sentimentalism of "Picture Perfect" and the psychedelia of "Sweet Bell," James Angell provides a complete and unusual journey. Listening to Angell's music is like watching a 1960s Kubrick film: you witness a landscape so odd, lush, disturbing, and visceral that you emerge with a hypersensitized experience of the immediate world. In fact, much of "Private Player" presents the listener with a cinematic experience, where the sounds conjure pictures that haunt and seduce.
The official release date is June 2002, but it's available online at www.jamesangell.com. Or if you're in LA, go see James play and you can pick up a CD there. And tell him Tanya sent you.
"About 21/2 years ago I thought, 'How did this happen? I'm living next to my parents . . . What am I going to do?' " James Angell says, remembering the epiphany that brought him back to making music. "I knew I had to start doing music again. I thought, 'I do not want to be in a band, I am not doing that again.' "
Angell learned about the realities of band life with Nero's Rome. In the mid-1990s, Nero's Rome was one of Portland's most promising bands, with Angell handling piano duties and sharing vocals with Tod Morrisey. The group's stirring mixture of epic rock and new wave flair inspired Capitol Records to offer a deal.
"It was heartbreaking," recalls Angell, "going back and forth, getting a deal, A&R guys getting fired, new president firing everybody and deals going out the window. It was pretty harsh." After Nero's Rome made a second album, a development deal was cut with Mercury Records but, Angell says, the money was mismanaged. With the well dry and his wife pregnant, Angell retreated to his parent's property in the woods south of Portland.
There, he designed and built his house and also worked as a carpenter (he's now building Super Digital's new facilities).
But, as might be said, you can take the musician out of the music but you can't take the music out of the musician. Angell began feeling the need to create again.
"I've got a big upright piano out here," says Angell, "and I just started writing tunes. I got some recording gear and started tracking. Once I got the songs down with some vocals so I could get an idea of what I wanted to do, I started calling in various players to do this and that."
That list includes such local luminaries as Tony Lash, Eric Matthews, Daniel Riddle, Phil Baker, Steve Hanford and even former band mate Morrisey. Angell also asked for contributions from his brother and sister and young daughter, Astrid.
The resulting CD, "Private Player," is a lovely listen, though at times a bit unsettling, combining influences as diverse as Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, The Beatles and Tim Buckley. Angell's compositions are sweeping, unhurried and embellished enough to keep the surprises coming without becoming cluttered. Angell's understated, breathy voice is the ideal complement, and, overall, this is music that comes from an artistic rather than commercial drive.
Which is not to say that "Private Player" doesn't have "legs." Influential Southern California radio station KCRW made it one of its picks and has invited Angell to perform on the air in April. All Music Guide has just given the album a fawning four-and-a-half-star review for its 2002 publication; and Magnet magazine is slated to do a story on Angell's music.
Scott D. Lewis
Arts & Entertainment