Across four decades Ben Watt has maintained a committed forward- looking course, from the ardent echo-drenched folk of his early solo work with Robert Wyatt, through seventeen years as musical mainspring and co-lyricist in the best-selling Everything But The Girl with Tracey Thorn – and ten at the helm of his smart electronic label Buzzin’ Fly – to his recent moving non-fiction and mid-life solo albums, the award- winning ‘Hendra’ (2014) and ‘Fever Dream’ (2016).
New album ‘Storm Damage’ (out January 2020) is no exception. Sonically adventurous, lyrically detailed and engaged, the album – written and produced by Watt – is a personal journey through anxiety and change cut through with an insistent defiance.
Sonically the album forgoes the acclaimed twin-guitar approach of its two predecessors, and boldly shifts focus onto – in Watt’s words – “a future-retro trio” of upright piano, double bass and hybrid acoustic- electronic drums, set against a half-lit backdrop of lone analogue synths, spiralling echo spins and impressionistic ‘found sounds’ adapted from online public-domain recording archives.
“I wanted a timeless-meets-modern live jam – the directness of an adorned trio capturing the spirit; and the samples, synthetics and electronic boom capturing the psychological mood,” he says. “Tight, but allowed to slip its moorings.”
Expect songs, improvisation and stories from across his career as Watt performs with his current band.
Keeley Forsyth, is the 40-year-old actor with a familiar, pale-eyed, haunting face, whom we have seen in recent years in Sally Wainwright’s Happy Valley, The Casual Vacancy and Waterloo Road. She is also a musician & the special guest of Ben Watt for this Cluny2 show.
Forsyth’s voice marries Peggy Lee’s bluesy vibrato with Nico’s thunderous terror, and delivers lyrics that invert nature, as a way of exploring despair. Her stark and spacious, arrangements, are of an avant-garde proposition. Keeley says that she will deliver an experience, she promises, that’s “really primal and intuitive.