Leo Abrahams

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

{{Multiple issues|

Leo Abrahams
Background information
GenresModern classical, Ambient, Rock, English folk, Electronica
Occupation(s)Composer, musician, songwriter, producer, arranger
InstrumentsPiano, guitar, guitaret, bass, omnichord, guitorgan, lute, hurdy-gurdy
Years active2000–present
LabelsJust Music, Bip-Hop

Leo Matthew Abrahams (born 1977 in Camden, London) is an English musician, composer and producer. He has collaborated with a multitude of professional musicians, including Brian Eno,[1][2] Katie Melua, Imogen Heap, Jarvis Cocker, Carl Barât, Regina Spektor, Jon Hopkins and Paul Simon.[3] After attending the Royal Academy of Music in England, he started his musical career by touring as lead guitarist with Imogen Heap.[4] Since 2005 he has released five solo albums, largely in an ambient style involving complex arrangements and a use of guitar-generated textures.[5] 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.[6] Abrahams has produced Regina Spektor's album Remember Us to Life. Hayden Thorpe's Diviner, Editors' Violence and Ghostpoet's Dark Days + Canapés.


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.[7] While there, he studied under Steve Martland and Nick Ingman, only to become disillusioned.[4]

During his studies Abrahams got a call from Mickey Modern, a manager to whom he had sent a demo years before. Modern was looking for a guitarist to perform with singer Imogen Heap.[7] Heap invited Abrahams to go on tour, prompting him to leave the academy[4] to tour England for several months.[7]

Imogen Heap introduced Abrahams to alternative folk artist Ed Harcourt on the night Harcourt 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,[4][7] as well as Harcourt's subsequent albums.[7]

A couple of years later Abrahams had a fortuitous meeting with producer and ambient music pioneer Brian Eno in a Notting Hill[8] 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."[4][6] Eno invited Abrahams to his studio, and Abrahams contributed guitar to Eno's album with J. Peter Schwalm, Drawn From Life, which was released in 2001. Abrahams went on to contribute instrumentals to a number of musicians produced by Eno, including Grace Jones, Seun Kuti, Nick Cave, and Paul Simon's 2006 album Surprise.[6][9]

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 was not an official member of the band.

Abrahams has written with and produced for a variety of musicians.[7] He contributed additional production to David Byrne and Brian Eno's Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, co-writing the lead single "Strange Overtones". His production credits include Katie Melua, Wild Beasts, Paolo Nutini, Frightened Rabbit, Oscar and the Wolf, Hotei, Karl Hyde solo album, Diagrams, Josephine Oniyama, Carl Barât (of The Libertines), Chris Difford (of Squeeze), Brett Anderson (of Suede), Iarla O'Lionaird, Sparrow and the Workshop 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.[7][8]

He has co-written or arranged a variety of film soundtracks, including Peter Jackson's 2009 release The Lovely Bones with Brain Eno, Steve McQueen's award-winning Hunger with David Holmes, Seeking 1906 with Simon Winchester, Gardens of Paradise, The Graduates, After Happily Ever After, and also on the Oceans series with David Holmes.

Abrahams joined with long-time collaborators Jon Hopkins and Brian Eno[10] to create the 2010 album Small Craft on a Milk Sea. The album is based largely on a two-week period of joint improvisation,[4] 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."[1]

Inspired by his work on the film score to the 2003 film Code 46, Abrahams created his first solo album in 2005:[6] Honeytrap, released on Just Music. It relies primarily on ambient sounds generated exclusively by guitars, rejecting keyboard effects, sampling, computer effects, or keyboards.[4] The BBC referred to the album as "subtle, imaginative and sometimes intoxicatingly lovely."[9]

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.[11] 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."[12] 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."[13]

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 poet Bingo Gazingo also contributed to the album.[7] It involves heavier guitar lines than the previous two albums.[14]

In his 2008 album Grape and the Grain, Abrahams continued to use English Folk themes,[8] mainly with pieces featuring guitar, added instrumentation such as cello and medieval lute,[6] and occasionally a hurdy-gurdy, which he learnt to play for the record.[4][15][16]

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

Abrahams has performed solo shows for his various albums across Europe, Russia, and the United States.[4]


Solo recordings[edit]

Honeytrap (2005)
3."Slippery Jack"3:18
7."The Distance"3:00
10."In Doubt"4:13
13."Mirror Sister"4:16
14."Seeing Stars"3:55
Scene Memory (2006)
1."A Different Light"3:48
2."Below Ground"3:33
4."Route 11"4:13
5."Scene Memory"3:52
10."Love Unknown"1:52
12."Empty Shell"3:12
EP1 (2006)
2."Imagined Conversation"4:20
4."Spider (Jon Hopkins remix)"9:01
Searching 1906 (2006)
3."Open Road"1:22
5."The Death Lady"2:31
6."Writing Time"1:52
7."In the Basement"2:30
The Unrest Cure (2007)
1."Fragile Mind" (with Kari Kleiv) 
2."2000 Years From Now" (with poet Bingo Gazingo) 
3."City Machine" (with KT Tunstall) 
4."Banks of Kyoto" (with Pati Yang) 
5."Remote" (with Conrad Merz) 
6."No Frame" (with Brian Eno) 
7."Ultra-Romantic Parallel Universe" (with Phoebe Legere) 
8."Below Ground Pt. II" 
9."Devil's Mouth" (with Ed Harcourt) 
10."Error on Green" 
11."All Along" 
12."Epilogue" (with Foy Vance) 
The Grape and the Grain (2008)
2."Come the Morning"4:02
3."From Here"5:02
4."Spring Snow"6:18
6."The Grape and the Grain"3:09
7."New Wine"4:13
8."Ends Meet"3:56
9."A Ghost on Every Corner"4:34
10."The Northern Jane"3:45
11."Daughter of Persuasion"5:38
December Songs (2009)
Zero Sum (2013)
1."That's What You Do"4:15
2."Winter Kiss"4:14
3."No More Unto Silence"5:00
4."Sleep Here"3:15
5."A Different Kind of Wrong"3:54
6."Time Take Me Back"4:28
Daylight (2015)
1."Halo Effect"2:58
2."Into the Wild"4:30
4."Steal Time"3:56
8."Wythe & 1st"4:18
10."De Milo"4:33
11."From the Shadows"5:40
12."Theory of Large Molecules" (Deluxe Edition)3:35
13."Wish Wait" (Deluxe Edition)3:42
14."Chain – CFCF Remix" (Deluxe Edition, feat. Brian Eno)4:59
15."Daylight – Grasscut Mix" (Deluxe Edition)4:59
16."Steal Time – Eno/Abrahams Remix" (Deluxe Edition, feat. Brian Eno)3:57
17."Into the Wild – Emmy The Great Remix" (Deluxe Edition)3:07
18."Halo Effect – Crewdson Remix" (Deluxe Edition)4:12
19."Wythe & 1st – Burevo Remix" (Deluxe Edition)3:54
20."Daylight – Ambidextrous Remix" (Deluxe Edition)5:34
21."Halo Effect – EM Remix" (Deluxe Edition)4:01
22."Steal Time – Zammuto Remix" (Deluxe Edition)4:05
23."Wythe & 1st – Burevo Scape Remix" (Deluxe Edition)3:59






  1. ^ a b Van Buskirk, Eliot (23 August 2010). "Exclusive: Track List From Brian Eno's Upcoming Album, Small Craft on a Milk Sea". Wired. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  2. ^ Mr. P (2 August 2010). "Brian Eno to release collaborative album with Jon Hopkins and Leo Abrahams on Warp". TinyMixTapes. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  3. ^ "Leo Abrahams: Producer, Writer, Composer, Arranger". Solar Management. Archived from the original on 1 September 2011. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Artists: Leo Abrahams". JustMusic.com. Archived from the original on 17 July 2010. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  5. ^ Hectic, Garry (1 February 2009). "Reviews: The Grape and the Grain". Fly Global Music. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d e Dilibrito, John (May 2009). "Leo Abrahams May CD of the Month". The Echoes Blog. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h "Biography". LeoAbrahams.com. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  8. ^ a b c "Track of the Day: Leo Abrahams". QTheMusic. 3 October 2009. Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  9. ^ a b Marsh, Peter (8 August 2005). "Review: Honeytrap". BBC. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  10. ^ Beta, Andy. "Brian Eno: Small Craft on a Milk Sea". SPIN. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  11. ^ Burden, Andrew (31 July 2006). "Reviews: Scene Memory". Glasswerk. Archived from the original on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  12. ^ "Product Review: Scene Memory". Boomkat. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  13. ^ Leimer, Kerry (3 August 2006). "Review: Scene Memory". Sea of Tranquility. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  14. ^ Hayden, Guy (14 February 2008). "Review: The Unrest Cure". BBC. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  15. ^ "Leo Abrahams – The Grape and The Grain". The 405. 1 April 2009. Archived from the original on 14 September 2010. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  16. ^ Roffey, Pablo (17 April 2009). "Review of Leo Abrahams' album 'The Grape and the Grain'". ContactMusic. Retrieved 5 March 2011.

External links[edit]