Album title: ‘Hidden Seas’
Release date: 27 September 2019
Cavalo Records: CRMCALP01 / CRMCACD01
Live: 15 Nov, The Crypt LONDON part of the EFG London Jazz Festival (for full dates see below)
“…subtly percussive, cinematically evocative ensemble…She’s a quietly compelling presence in new European jazz.” The Guardian
Hidden Seasis London-based Italian pianist and composer Maria Chiara Argirò’s second album, following on from her 2016 debut The Fall Dance. She is a well-known name on the London scene – her keyboard skills much in demand – currently involved with a variety of musical projects including Liran Donin’s 1000 Boats, Kinkajous, Teotima, Rosie Turton and Jamie Leeming.
During her career, Argirò has developed her own style of jazz with a twist of contemporary genres inspired by her numerous tours with bands such as These New Puritans and drawing on a wide variety of influences including Radiohead, Shai Maestro, Tigran Hamasyan, Kneebody, Jeff Buckley, Nick Drake, Bjork, Jon Hopkins, Shostakovich and Scriabin.
Hidden Seas– composed entirely by Argirò – departs from the more traditional sound of her debut and sees her turning to synths and electronics and the introduction of vocals. Vocal duties fall to remarkable French singer Leïla Martial, whose extraordinary voice, often deployed as an instrument, brings a new dimension to the music. Martial also co-wrote the lyrics with Argirò on opener Beneath the Surface, with other lyrics on the album written by collaborating artists – Vera Jonas, Jamie Doe (The Magic Lantern) and Daniel Gadd – who Argirò provided with the music and song concept, leaving them free reign to create something befitting. The result is an album of expansive soundscapes, the sparse, evocative lyrics and Martial’s vocal dynamics weaving through the instrumentation that underpins the album. Accompanying Argirò on piano and electronics is singer Leïla Martial, Sam Rapley(Tenor Sax/Clarinet), Tal Janes(Guitar/Effects), Andrea Di Biase(Double Bass) and Gaspar Sena(Drums).
A life long fascination with the sea led to the initial concept of the album, and when a copy of Edward MacDowell’s ‘Sea Pieces’ fell at Argirò‘s feet at a Camden Market bookstore the idea was sealed.The overarching theme of the album is the sea and each song represents a story about the sea, either imagined or inspired by real life stories. For example, Nautilus(the first single) was inspired by Jules Verne’s novel ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea’ and explores what it would feel like to be inside a submarine surrounded by every possible layer, colour and sound of the sea. Another track, The Water Oath,was inspired by the story of Chiara Vigo,believed to be the last person on earth who still knows how to harvest, dye and embroider sea silk, the title referencing the sacred ‘Sea Oath’ that maintains that it should never be bought or sold. However, what all the tracks do is transport the listener to another world, where sounds are distorted and melodies come and go. But there’s always a pull, something that draws it all back at the last minute before turmoil sets in.
The move towards a more electronic sound was a natural one and entirely self-taught. Argirò’s excited about this new direction – the electronics, synths and lyrics – the finished album coming as a surprise to her, leaving her keen to explore this directionmore in the future.
28 September– Lucca Jazz Donna Festival, Lucca, Italy
23 October– Peggy’s Skylight, Nottingham
24 October– Seven Arts, Leeds
25 October– Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle
15 November– The Crypt, London (part of the EFG London Jazz Festival)