Leo Abrahams

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Leo Abrahams
LeoAbrahamsLondon0710.jpg
Background information
Genres Modern Classical, Ambient, Rock, English folk, Electronica
Occupations Composer, Musician, Writer, Producer,
Instruments Piano, Guitar, Guitaret, Bass, Omnichord, Guitorgan, Hurdy Gurdy, Lute
Years active 2000–present
Labels Just Music, Bip-Hop
Associated acts Imogen Heap
Ed Harcourt
Brian Eno
Brett Anderson
David Byrne
Jon Hopkins
Pulp
Website www.LeoAbrahams.com
Notable instruments
Guitar

Leo Matthew Abrahams (born 1977 in Camden, London[1]) is an English musician, composer, and producer. He has collaborated with a multitude of professional musicians, including Brian Eno,[2][3] Imogen Heap, Jarvis Cocker, Carl Barât, and Paul Simon.[4] After attending the Royal Academy of Music in England, he started his musical career by touring as lead guitarist with Imogen Heap.[5] Starting in 2005 he has released five solo albums, largely in an ambient style involving complex arrangements and a use of guitar-generated textures.[6] He has also co-written or arranged a variety of film soundtracks, including Peter Jackson's 2009 release The Lovely Bones and Steve McQueen's Hunger.[7]

Early life[edit]

Leo Abrahams was given an acoustic guitar by his parents at age 7, only to ignore the instrument for piano until age 12. As a teenager he played guitar in a succession of bands, also writing classical music. After high school, Abrahams attended the Royal Academy of Music with the goal of becoming a classical composer.[8] While there, he studied under Steve Martland and Nick Ingman, only to later become disillusioned.[5]

Musical collaborations[edit]

During his studies Abrahams got a call from Mickey Modern, a manager he'd sent a demo to years before. Modern was looking for a guitarist to perform with singer Imogen Heap.[8] Heap then invited Leo to go on tour, prompting Abrahams to leave the academy[5] to tour England for several months.[8]

Imogen Heap introduced Abrahams to alternative folk artist Ed Harcourt on the night Harcout was signed by a major label. After Abrahams confirmed to Harcourt that he liked Tom Waits, Harcourt agreed to take Abrahams on as a guitarist. Abrahams played lead guitar and scored the instrumental parts on Harcourt's 2001 album Here Be Monsters,[5][8] as well as Harcourt's subsequent albums.[8]

A couple years later Abrahams had a fortuitous meeting with producer and ambient music pioneer Brian Eno in a Notting Hill[9] guitar shop. Eno stated "I spotted him trying out a guitar, the first I've ever seen in a guitar shop who wasn't playing 'Stairway to Heaven,' so I thought he must be good."[5][7] Eno invited Abrahams to his studio, and Abrahams contributed guitar to Eno's album Drawn From Life, released in 2001. Abrahams went on to contribute instrumentals to a number of musicians produced by Eno, including Grace Jones, Sean Kuti, Nick Cave, and Paul Simon's 2006 album Surprise.[7][10]

As a guitarist he has played on over 100 records by artists including Florence and the Machine, Annie Lennox, Marianne Faithfull and Badly Drawn Boy. With David Holmes he contributed several instruments and co-wrote several tracks on Holmes' release The Holy Pictures.

He has played guitar for Pulp on their 2011–2012 reunion dates, although he is not an official member of the band.

Arranging, producing[edit]

Abrahams has written with and produced for a variety of musicians.[8] He contributed additional production to David Byrne and Brian Eno's Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, co-writing the lead single "Strange Overtones", and his solo production credits include Carl Barât (of The Libertines), Chris Difford (of Squeeze), Brett Anderson (of Suede), Paolo Nutini, Sparrow and the Workshop, Frightened Rabbit and Kill It Kid. He arranged the string sections for the 2003 album Silence is Easy by Starsailor, also conducting the orchestra at Abbey Road Studios.[8][9]

He has co-written or arranged a variety of film soundtracks, including Peter Jackson's 2009 release The Lovely Bones and Steve McQueen's award-winning Hunger.

Abrahams joined with long-time collaborators Jon Hopkins and Brian Eno[11] to create the 2010 album Small Craft on a Milk Sea. The album is based largely on a two-week period of joint improvisation,[5] as well as "several years of jams between the three of us." The album is officially described as "a Brian Eno album featuring Leo Abrahams and Jon Hopkins."[2]

Solo albums[edit]

Inspired by his work on the film score to the 2003 film Code 46, Abrahams created his first solo album in 2005.[7] Honeytrap, released on Just Music, relies primarily on ambient sounds generated exclusively by guitars, rejecting keyboard effects, sampling, computer effects, or keyboards.[5] The BBC referred to the album as "subtle, imaginative and sometimes intoxicatingly lovely."[10]

Scene Memory (2006), his second solo album, was also in an ambient style, with sounds created entirely by playing electric guitars through chains of laptop effects.[12] A Boomkat review stated "Abrahams blends piano, guitar, and electronics to an almost euphoric effect - the record feels like you are walking in a dream."[13] Sea of Tranquility reviewed the album saying "he respects a certain level of restraint - the solo guitar- putting into sharp relief the...limitless opportunities for the resultant sounds and form. This work is thoughtful, adventurous, and the result of a high degree of artistic integrity."[14]

His third album, the 2007 The Unrest Cure, was initially built out of sessions in New York with David Holmes' rhythm section. Brian Eno, KT Turnstall, Ed Harcourt, Foy Vance, Pati Yang, Merz, Phoebe Legere, Kari Kleiv, and recently deceased poet Bingo Gazingo also contributed to the album.[8] It involves heavier guitar lines than the previous two albums.[15]

In his 2008 album Grape and the Grain, Abrahams continued to utilize English Folk themes,[9] mainly with pieces featuring guitar, added instrumentation such as cello and medieval lute,[7] and occasionally a Hurdy Gurdy, which he learnt for the record.[5][16][17]

He has released two further EPs on the Just Music label, and has a new vocal-based record slated for release on One Little Indian in 2011.

Abrahams has performed solo shows for his various albums across Europe, Russia, and The United States.[5]

Discography[edit]

Solo albums[edit]

Collaborations[edit]

Albums
Singles

Session Musician[edit]

Studio albums (instrument is guitar unless stated otherwise)
Singles

Soundtracks[edit]

Composer
Instrumentals

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.findmypast.co.uk/search/all/results?recordCount=-1&forenames=leo&_includeForenamesVariants=on&surname=abrahams&_includeSurnameVariants=on&fromYear=1977&toYear=1977&region=&county=&mothersMaidenName=&_useMothersMaidenNameAsSurname=on&sortOrder=RK%3Atrue&_performExactSearch=on&event=B&recordType=ALL&route=
  2. ^ a b Van Buskirk, Eliot (August 23, 2010). "Exclusive: Track List From Brian Eno’s Upcoming Album, Small Craft on a Milk Sea". [[Wired (magazine)|]]. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  3. ^ "Brian Eno to release collaborative album with Jon Hopkins and Leo Abrahams on Warp". TinyMixTapes. August 2, 2010. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  4. ^ a b "Leo Abrahams: Producer, Writer, Composer, Arranger". Solar Management. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Artists: Leo Abrahams". JustMusic.com. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  6. ^ Hectic, Garry (February 1, 2009). "Reviews: The Grape and the Grain". Fly Global Music. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Dilibrito, John (May 2009). "Leo Abrahams May CD of the Month". The Echoes Blog. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h "Biography". LeoAbrahams.com. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  9. ^ a b c "Track of the Day: Leo Abrahams". QTheMusic. October 3, 2009. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  10. ^ a b Marsh, Peter (August 8, 2005). "Review: Honeytrap". BBC. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  11. ^ Beta, Andy. "Brian Eno: Small Craft on a Milk Sea". SPIN. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  12. ^ Burden, Andrew (July 31, 2006). "Reviews: Scene Memory". Glasswerk. Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  13. ^ "Product Review: Scene Memory". Boomkat. Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  14. ^ Leimer, Kerry (August 3, 2006). "Review: Scene Memory". Sea of Tranquility. Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  15. ^ Hayden, Guy (February 14, 2008). "Review: The Unrest Cure". BBC. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  16. ^ "Leo Abrahams - The Grape and The Grain". The 405. April 1, 2009. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  17. ^ Roffey, Pablo (April 17, 2009). "Review of Leo Abrahams' album 'The Grape and the Grain'". ContactMusic. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 

External links[edit]