LEAH KARDOS

Stylophonika reviewed in Electronic Sound mag and Electricity Club

"Stylophonika is a fine tribute to the instrument that also explores its strange future possibilities with love and affection. If you love the Stylophone, then you will adore this album." – Chi Ling Mai's review of Stylophonika for Electricity Club

"
… one of the most heartwarming feelgood albums of the year" - Bob Fischer's review in issue 84 of Electronic Sound magazine

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Blackstar Theory book launch and Bowie disco - 12th Feb 2022

BT–book-launch-feb2022

To celebrate the UK release of the book, published by Bloomsbury, we’re having a launch party at London’s “private members’ club for the surrealistically distinguished” – Vout-O-Reenees! There’ll be readings and a Q&A with the author, conducted by Arsalan Mohammad (creator of the podcast David Bowie: Album to Album), a signing of the book and a Bowie disco where you can dance the rest of the night away (the venue is open til 1.30am).

The event is free, but spaces are limited so RSVP is essential. You can also purchase a book (£20) with your ticket and collect it on the night.

Tickets available here

UPDATE: Holy heck the tickets sold out in 48 hours of announcing. Wow! Thanks to everyone out there who is supporting this thing! xx
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Stylophonika, stylophones & more stylophones...

stylophonika–cosmicswirl
The big news is that my stylophone orchestra is releasing their debut album Stylophonika on limited edition vinyl on the 28th of January 2022, and the album is available now to pre-order and stream via Bandcamp. It's joyful and buzzy and queer and epic and I’m so proud of this group and what they’ve achieved! Also one of the tracks was produced by Tony Visconti, like what? And just look at this beautiful artwork designed by Eric Adrian Lee. Safe to say I'm feeling pretty chuffed about how this thing has turned out.



The vinyl is available in two colour variants - blue/pink 'cosmic swirl' and 'protein pills' in opaque purple. You can order your copy from Spun Out of Control's Bandcamp page. There, you can also read more about how the project came to be.

kusomay2021

In other stylophone news, I was very happy to be involved in the development of Dubreq's limited edition Bowie-themed Stylophone.

bowiestylo


I was appreciative to be given the chance to write the narrative in the booklet, and include some tabs so people can play along. I insisted on the full tab for 'No Plan' because it just felt appropriate, for a project like this, to mark endings as much as beginnings.

noplantab

The last bit of stylophone-related news (which was actually a while back now) is that I made a guest appearance playing the lovely instruments on
Annie Fish's amazing and heroic whole-album cover of Diamond Dogs. My stylophone freakout was performed on a new-model analogue S1 and a Stylophone GenX-1. You can check it out below, though if you knew what was good you'd purchase and listen to the whole dang thing.


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Sparrow



Some new music that's also sort of old music (of mine), this lovely collaboration I was privileged to be part of, where Aussie producer/artist
Tim Shiel took an old piano composition of mine ('Contact Mic') and refashioned it into something new with the beautifully talented vocalist Kaitlin Keegan. So admittedly I didn't do much other than say 'yes' to make this happen, but I'm feeling proud of the results nonetheless.

The track was released as a single from Tim's latest album
Distractions One, which dropped in late October. There is also a piano-only version that appeared on Spotify about a week ago.


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'Black Star' cover with Thomas Benjamin Wild Esq.

Yes Thomas Benjamin Wild Esq. and I covered 'Black Star' (not THAT one, but the other one) to celebrate my book being made available for preorder.

And if you haven’t heard of the magnificent Thomas B Wild before, you can check out his excellent music here: https://tombwild.com/

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Stylo Orch news...

Since we couldn't gig or rehearse in person during most of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, the Stylophone Orchestra instead mounted a collaborative 'lockdown' project. The result, our debut album, will be released by Spun Out of Control records in late Autumn 2021.

I don't want to spoil any surprises, so I won't say much more. But here's a recent picture of the group. Such a great shot taken by Marcus Clackson in Visconti Studio back in May, looking every inch like my dream synth band.

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Coming soon: Blackstar Theory

blackstar_theory
Ok it's been a while since I've updated this blog. In addition to generally trying to survive, and staggering through another very strange pandemic-altered academic year, I've also been busy working on this, my first book. It took many, many all-nighters, and has left me with a lingering laptop-related neck-and-shoulder injury. It's been a welcome distraction, and a real wild ride, I don't think I've worked so hard - in terms of energy, effort and care - on anything in my life. I'm desperate for people to read it, but also terrified at the thought of people reading it. Anyway, here's a blurb:

Blackstar Theory dives deep into Bowie's ambitious last works: the surprise ‘comeback’ project The Next Day (2013), the off-Broadway musical Lazarus (2015) and the album that preceded the artist’s death in 2016 by two days, (pronounced Blackstar). The book explores the swirl of themes that orbit these projects from a starting point in musical analysis and features new interviews with key collaborators from the period: producer Tony Visconti, graphic designer Jonathan Barnbrook, musical director Henry Hey, saxophonist Donny McCaslin and assistant sound engineer Erin Tonkon.

Together, these works tackle the biggest of ideas: identity, creativity, chaos, transience and immortality. Their themes entangle realities and fictions across space and time; a catalogue of sound, vision, music and myth spanning more than 50 years is subjected to the cut-up; we get to the end only to find signposts directing us back to the very start. They enact a process of individuation for the Bowie meta-persona and invite us to consider what happens when a star dies. In our universe, dying stars do not disappear - they transform into new stellar objects, remnants and gravitational forces. The radical potential of the Blackstar is demonstrated in the rock star supernova that creates a singularity resulting in cultural iconicity. It is how a man approaching his own death can create art that illuminates the immortal potential of all matter in the known universe.

Blackstar Theory: The Last Works of David Bowie will be out in January 2022 (e-pub in Dec 2021) and is now available to pre-order.
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2020 Dissolve

2020_dissolve

Here's my 2020 mix for Juno Daily. New (and new to me) music that made me feel grateful to be alive on Earth this year. Feat. William Basinski, clipping., Arca, Xyla, Daisuke Tanabe, Tangents, Rob Maruek/Exploding Star Orchestra, Kassa Overall, Cassilda and Carcosa and more.

https://www.juno.co.uk/junodaily/2021/01/05/leah-kardos-kicks-off-juno-dailys-in-the-mix-series



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Malio Reprise

A gentle piano moment to ring in the new year. I hope everyone is safe and well.


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Wire Issue 443: One Thing That Got Me Through (2020)

I think this global pandemic could be my fault. Back in April I was burnt out and falling apart and I wished the world would stop and then a terrible miracle happened. The dissonance between the genuine horror at the unfolding situation and feeling such relief marked the first few months of my lockdown experience with profound thriver’s guilt. I’ve been one of the lucky ones who managed to keep their job throughout all of this. Penitence of the fortunate. And then I noticed the birds.

Money I would spend on nights out, ill-advised Ubers and manicures now pays for bird seed, fat balls and meal worms. A new daily structure. Every morning they’re out there on the roof, in the trees and hedges waiting for the day’s buffet. I’ve learned their songs and chirps, and I watched their chicks fledge and change feathers. After a few months I noticed many musician friends were similarly enraptured - new compositions and at-home productions based in bird song, discreet shotgun mics pointed at feeders. The feel-better hit of the summer, if there was any justice they should have given this year’s Ivors award to my local band of wood pigeons.

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Mix for Headphone Commute

It was a honour to curate this mix for Headphone Commute, featuring music from my excellent label mates at Bigo & Twigetti.

"Here are some of my favourite pieces from some of my favourite people who have released music with my label Bigo & Twigetti. I feel very proud to be part of this creative community, and honoured to be asked to sequence this listening experience for you. I hope you might discover your next favourite artist here. The sequence was chosen with the seasonal turn in mind, as it feels like the longest lockdown summer is finally drawing in. Best enjoyed, I think, on a grey day with a favourite cardigan."



Brother Tree Sound - ‘Interstice 2’ from Interstices
Julia Gjertsen - ‘Detached’ from Perceptions
Olof Cornéer - ‘Waves, Breaths and Dead Cities Part 2 (Night Gestalt Version)’ from Waves, Breaths and Dead Cities
William Ryan Fritch - ‘Disproportionate Joys’ from Scale
Jim Perkins - ‘Foundling’ from Constance
Nonsemble - ‘Practical Mechanics Mvt II (Meek Sounds remix)’ - from Go Part 3c
Night Gestalt & Lisa Rydberg - ‘The Sunken Machine’ from Sudden Rituals Vol. 1
Jeremy Keenan - ‘Untitled for Umia’ [excerpt] from Immaterial
Madeleine Cocolas - ‘My Winter Eyes’ from Winter
Heinali - ‘A Glass Island’ from Autumn
Madeleine Cocolas - ‘Riley, Blaze 1’ from Metropolitan
Liam J Hennessy - ‘Flow’ from In The Half Light
Fiona Brice - ‘Mvt. 1 - Holographic Field Rework’ from String Quartet No. 1
Cenes - ‘Approaching’ from Carried
Ed Carlsen - ‘Loom’ from The Exquisite Corpse
Jim Perkins - ‘Held (Holographic Field Re-work)’ from Pools Re-Works
Luca Longobardi - ‘Autumna’ from Autumn
Various Artists - ‘Detachment’ from Variables
Brother Tree Sound - ‘Interstice 1’ from Interstices
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Electronic Sound [Issue 69]

Big thanks to Ben Willmott for this short feature in issue 69 if Electronic Sound magazine!
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Perceptions - 'Retracing Your Lines'

I have a new track out this week - 'Retracing Your Lines', a layered piano recording performed and produced at home during lockdown in April 2020. You can listen to it here, paired with a video of my artist friend Kristian Purcell creating a pencil sketch of Greta Garbo.



It was one of the final singles in the Perceptions series from Bigo & Twigetti, a compilation exploring different approaches to creating music for piano. There's so much beautiful music here, one of my favourites is 'Detached' by Julia Gjertsen. Worth a listen!



Finally, here's a live performance of 'Retracing Your Lines' - I'm using a looper with Ableton, piano and an old Yamaha Ps20 organ.







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Donny McCaslin & Leah Kardos on ★ [part 3/3]


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Tape is a Beast

It was a real thrill to help put this amazing roundtable together - talking about analogue studios, sounds, and heritage with producers Tony Visconti and Chris Kimsey, recording engineer Andy Cook (British Grove Studios), producer Martin Terefe (Eastcote and Kensaltown Studios) and engineer George Murphy (Eastcote Studios).


We discuss the recording and production practices that shaped the iconic records of the past, from the abuse of tape to the slow process of recording and editing analogue media.

Talking us through some of their experiences in the studio with David Bowie and The Rolling Stones, Tony and Chris reveal some of their own creative approaches - the mammoth task of editing together the Stones' single 'Some Girls', to making David Bowie perform against varispeed tape to achieve wild pitch fluctuations. We also talk about the future of large format studios in London, and how this unique culture can be preserved.

If you're interested you can check out the full conversation above. For the full story, you can read more here:
https://www.visconti-studio.co.uk/research
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synthnatter

I was the lucky first guest on the inaugural episode of 'Synthnatter' with Stuart Russell.

We chat about stylophones, KUSO, Visconti Studio, Mellotrons, baking music and Bird Rib. You can check it out here!


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Donny McCaslin & Leah Kardos on ★ [part 2/3]

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Tired of My Life (Bowie cover)

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Interview + Live Looping Session from Home

livesession_som

Here's
an interview I did recently with Son Of Marketing, where I talk about Bird Rib, my love of IDM and Trip Hop, my cultural roots and favourite places. There's also a somewhat improvised live looping set, recorded at home during Covid19 lockdown in early June. Yes that's a baby blanket muffling the piano strings. For the loop/mix I'm using Ableton Live 10 and an APC mini.

The first piece 'Retracing Your Lines' is a new one, coming out soon on Bigo & Twigetti's
Perceptions compilation.

Set list:
  1. [00:14] Retracing Your Lines (Unreleased)
  2. [06:05] Contact Mic
  3. [10:40] DFACE/Bird Rib
  4. [19:10] Rosamund Chime

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Donny McCaslin & Leah Kardos on ★ [part 1/3]

So this was a great conversation to be part of!
It's going to be in three instalments because we really went in. Part 1 below:



If you're a Bowie fan and enjoy this sort of thing, you should definitely seek out and subscribe to the David Bowie AlbumToAlbum Podcast.
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