Sweet Billy Pilgrim: ’Twice Born Men’, a samadhisound records release, Mercury Music Prize 2009 Nomination
Full album release in partnership with EMI Label Services on August 3rd
**Listen to the album here - http://press.sweetbillypilgrim.com/**
It is with great pleasure that we announce today that the critically acclaimed British band Sweet Billy Pilgrim have been nominated for the hugely respected Mercury Music Prize for their stunning album Twice Born Men.
Sweet Billy Pilgrim, led by their main writer and singer Tim Elsenburg, are exemplars of British atmospheric art-pop, and recently released their second album, Twice Born Men on David Sylvian’s label, Samadhisound. Often compared to Radiohead, Sigur Rós, Talk Talk or Elbow, Sweet Billy Pilgrim achieve a sublime balance between their hooks and their moods, their ambitions and their humility, but the music of Sweet Billy Pilgrim is first and foremost, staggeringly beautiful.
“Twice Born Men is a kind of concept album, in the loosest sense,” says Tim Elsenburg. “It starts at the end of the heart’s little journey and then works its way back to the beginning, which is actually the end anyway.”
On being nominated Tim continues: “I was at work, fitting a toilet seat in Farnham, when I heard about the nomination. The two realities sort-of collided and time and space went funny for a bit, and I may have just repeated a certain expletive at regular intervals for the first few minutes. We are very proud that our record - grown in my shed - has made such a good impression on the judges, and to be associated with the Mercury is a massive honour.”
On Sweet Billy Pilgrim David Sylvian said: “Musicians these days are like rogue molecular scientists tinkering away in a shed at the bottom of the garden but whereas most tend to emerge with endearingly unstable little monsters Sweet Billy Pilgrim manage to produce an entire universe.”
Twice Born Men will be the first beneficiary of the newly-formed partnership between Samadhisound and EMI Label Services wherein external labels are able to benefit from EMI’s wealth of sales, distribution and promotional support.
On the partnership with EMI Label Services, Adrian Molloy of Opium (Arts) Ltd. (manager of Sweet Billy Pilgrim) said: “EMI Label Services have shown fantastic commitment and passion to this record. Sitting in a room with people who have fallen in love with your band, their record and want to get out and tell people about it one by one is so refreshing.”
EMI follows the original release of Twice Born Men earlier this year by Samadhisound with a full-blown release on August 3rd.
For review copies and further information on Sweet Billy Pilgrim please contact:
Press: William Luff (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Further information on Twice Born Men
The music of Sweet Billy Pilgrim is first and foremost, staggeringly beautiful. But it’s a shy beauty - a lingering ambience and a distant clicking in the night, church windows built from littered glass, love songs that look to the day when even the children are forgotten.
Strangers tell you their heartbreaks. Fountains toss back their coins. And just when you start to feel sceptical, in shambles singer Tim Elsenburg - shaggy and dour, wringing joy from his melodies with a bashful croak and a glorious croon.
The trio of Tim Elsenburg, Anthony Bishop (bass, banjo), and Alistair Hamer (drums) strikes a balance between the loops and textures wrung from laptops, and the sharp tones of a banjo. Bass clarinet and crisp guitar bring a ramshackle glory to the opening single, Truth Only Smiles; a tuned dishwasher introduces the treacherous love of Kalypso.
Elsenburg has explained his strategy: “I like it when a piece of music seems to grow from a number of points, with no one sound becoming the focus necessarily; everything carefully feeding the texture and the atmosphere. That way, when something does leap out of the mix - like a voice, say - the impact is all the greater.”
Their love ballads, like love, are next to shapeless: take the dripping heartbreak of Longshore Drift, or the breeze-brushed guitar and exquisite afterglow of Joy Maker Machinery. The album closes with There Will It End, as a harmonium thick with church dust drones a hymn as Elsenburg overdubs his own voice 30 times to play the part of the congregation - “rich old lady, drunk old man, small child, wannabe opera singer, distracted teenager, tone-deaf miner.” It’s heavenly in spite of itself.
Praise for Twice Born Men
“What makes ’Twice Born Men’ truly special is the way the indefinable floatiness of the verses is merely the springboard for a succession of delicious pop choruses.” 5 stars
“The best album of its kind since Elbow’s all-conquering ’The Seldom Seen Kid’. That the 30-voice choir finale...is all him is just one of many miracles this jewel yields.” 4 stars
“Pioneering spirit, murky drama… For every subtle, shivery marriage of keyboard, laptop and acoustic tweaking there is an overriding gruff, fervent folk-soul, perfect for pilgrims… is this the missing sequel to Jonny Greenwood’s ’There Will Be Blood’ soundtrack.” 4 stars
“The mood, in some ways, is similar to that of Talk Talk’s ’Laughing Stock’… in which the scenery, the density, the levels of treatment and style are constantly varying… ’Twice Born Men’ is an unassuming thing of minor beauty.”
“It revels in the peace it creates and sometimes destroys. Like the work it is sporadically reminiscent of, it’s engrossing, out-of-step, difficult yet peculiarly gratifying.”
“This is a beautiful, beautiful album, which will appeal to fans of alt country and a very English strand of art-pop. It should also be appreciated by lovers of great music everywhere.”
In the four years since Sweet Billy Pilgrim’s 2005 debut, ’We Just Did What Happened And No One Came’, they’ve remixed David Sylvian, Steve Jansen, and Steve Adey, toured to international acclaim, including a celebrated appearance at the Punkt Festival (both in Norway and London) and recently completed work with fellow British artist Adem on a commission for the BBC.
The band play a series of festivals in the UK and Europe over the summer with a full UK tour planned for the autumn.
And the name? Well, Billy Pilgrim is a character from Kurt Vonnegut’s novel ’Slaughterhouse 5’. Very sweet indeed…
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