Sloth Racket – Exabout: Live In Ramsgate

Release date: 23rd November 2020 (digital album and t-shirt)

One September evening in 2019, a roomful of people climbed up a ladder by the sea for a special gig. It was the seventh night of Sloth Racket’s Dismantle Yourself tour, hosted by Extra Normal Records at Arco Barco, a flexible studio/co-working/venue space. We were sharing the bill with Evan Parker playing solo, there were some sort of delicious cakes for sale at the bar, and a carful of our mates had driven out to eat seaside chips and catch the gig. Our music sounds different every time it’s played, and this is how it sounded that night in Ramsgate, with all those things taken into account.

The usual way we do things is this: I write the scores that form the skeletons of our music, we tour them, then we record. In 2019 it was the other way around: we turned up to a studio in snowy northern England in early February, recorded a batch of my new music we’d never played before, and *then* toured it (and released it, as Dismantle Yourself) later in the year. So when we arrived in Ramsgate we were deep into the process of deconstructing/constructing something out of the pages from February, chewing on it every night on tour. Recorded by Anton Hunter and mixed/mastered by Alex Bonney, this set contains three live versions of Dismantle Yourself compositions, and one piece – the title track in the opening pair – that wasn’t on the studio release and came into its own on tour.

Writing this now in October 2020, with all the band’s work this year cancelled and an uncertain 2021 looming, I find myself feeling a weird sense of nostalgia for a gig and tour that only happened 13 months ago. Spread out across the UK in different lockdowns, it will be a while until we can meet in person as a band; the cycle of albums and tours has been paused, but I am still writing new material. The release of this live album falls where our 2020 tour would have been – I hope it can serve as a statement of intent for the sloth tours of the future.

(‘Exabout’ is what Seth Bennett’s phone said when it wanted us to exit a roundabout on tour.)

– Cath Roberts

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Sam Andreae – alto saxophone
Cath Roberts – baritone saxophone
Anton Hunter – guitar
Seth Bennett – double bass
Johnny Hunter – drums (and, for one night only, piano!)

Compositions by Cath Roberts.

This music was played live at Arco Barco, Ramsgate on 18th September 2019.

Recorded by Anton Hunter.
Mixed and mastered by Alex Bonney.
Album artwork and t-shirt design by Cath Roberts.

Luminous Label 2020 | LU013

Digital album and t-shirt available now.

Sloth Racket – Dismantle Yourself

Release date: 2nd September 2019 (CD, digital album and risograph-printed zine)

Dismantle Yourself is the fourth studio album by Sloth Racket. The album was recorded in early February 2019, over two snowy days at The Chairworks studio in Castleford, Yorkshire. After three albums made in single day sessions, the aim was to have more time to work on the music in the relaxed setting of a residential studio. The band hadn’t seen the new compositions in advance of the session, in contrast to previous albums which were recorded at the end of tours. With more time for experimentation, the focus of the recording was the exploration and development of the new material, collectively improvising the composed starting points into finished pieces. It was a glimpse into the world of multi-day recordings and a fresh approach for the group, who now look forward to taking the new music on the road and completely deconstructing anything that may have been settled upon back in that cosy winter studio.

Dismantle Yourself is available to pre-order from 12 August, and is released on 2 September as a CD and digital download, plus streaming via the Bandcamp app. A risograph-printed zine is available as a companion to the album, containing words and graphics by Cath Roberts and printed by Footprint Workers Co-op in Leeds. The zine is on sale in a bundle with the digital album, and there will be an option to purchase the CD, zine and digital album together.

Sloth Racket are touring to support the release, with dates in Newcastle, Sheffield, Manchester, Lancaster, Todmorden, London, Ramsgate, Norwich and Cambridge. The tour is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, and the album recording session was supported by the Fenton Arts Trust and the Oppenheim-John Downes Memorial Trust.

 

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Cath Roberts – baritone saxophone
Sam Andreae – alto saxophone
Anton Hunter – guitar
Seth Bennett – double bass
Johnny Hunter – drums

 

Compositions by Cath Roberts.

 

Recorded on 1st and 2nd February 2019 at The Chairworks, Yorkshire
by David Watts and Aled Way.
Mixed and mastered by Alex Bonney.

 

Design and printmaking by Cath Roberts.
Zine printing by Footprint Workers Co-op.

 

The album recording session was generously supported by the Fenton Arts Trust and the Oppenheim – John Downes Memorial Trust.

 

Luminous Label 2019 | LU011

 

CD, digital album and zine available now.

Sloth Racket – A Glorious Monster

Release date: 4th June 2018 (CD, digital album and t-shirt)

A Glorious Monster is the third studio album by Sloth Racket. The album was recorded in November 2017 at Blueprint Studios, Salford, when the band were in the middle of a mini-tour to promote the release of their live cassette ‘See The Looks On The Faces’ on the Tombed Visions label. The material was extremely fresh: a live set at The Peer Hat in Manchester the previous night was the first outing for the new music before going into the studio. The one-day session was a process of orientation, deconstruction and communal improvised negotiation around just how this music was going to sound, and the resulting album is a statement of (continued) intent from a group who are deep into the rabbit hole of a collective musical experiment. On tour this summer the music will almost certainly transform itself again as repeated performances turn the compositions inside out, but tracks on ‘A Glorious Monster’ are the first glimpse of this next phase of Sloth Racket…

The band are touring to celebrate the release of ‘A Glorious Monster’, with dates in London, Bath, Manchester, Derby, York, Durham, Edinburgh and Leeds.

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Cath Roberts – baritone saxophone
Anton Hunter – guitar
Sam Andreae – alto saxophone
Seth Bennett – bass
Johnny Hunter – drums

Compositions by Cath Roberts.

Recorded on 29th November 2017 at Blueprint Studios, Salford by Gary Hadfield.
Mixed and mastered by Alex Bonney.

Design and sleeve printmaking by Cath Roberts.

Luminous Label 2018 | LU010

CD, digital album and t-shirt available now.

Sloth Racket – Shapeshifters

Release date: 12th June 2017 (CD, digital album and t-shirt)

Shapeshifters is the second album by Sloth Racket. The album was recorded in October 2016 at Blueprint Studios, Salford, at the end of Sloth Racket’s Autumn tour. The night before, the band had played a show at Islington Mill; the last of a run of five gigs also taking in London, Derby, Newcastle and Glasgow. Cath had composed a new set of pieces for the tour and they had developed over the course of the five dates, evolving from speculative marks on the page into full musical statements by the collective. When the session came around, the band was switched on and fired up by a week’s playing together. The resulting four tracks thoroughly dissect the written starting points and frame them in improvisations ranging from duos to whole group explorations. A snapshot of the band engaging with that music at that particular time, it probably sounds quite different to what happened live on the tour, although heavily informed by the process of touring.

The band are on tour at the end of June to celebrate the Shapeshifters release, with dates in Leeds, Bristol, Brighton, Norwich, Cambridge and London.

 

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Cath Roberts – baritone saxophone
Anton Hunter – guitar
Sam Andreae – tenor saxophone
Seth Bennett – bass
Johnny Hunter – drums

 

Compositions by Cath Roberts.

 

Recorded on 6th October 2016 at Blueprint Studios, Salford by Tim Thomas.
Mixed and mastered by Alex Bonney.
Design and printmaking by Cath Roberts.

 

Luminous Label 2017 | LU005

 

CD, digital album and t-shirt available now.

Sloth Racket – Triptych

Release date: 2nd May 2016 (CD and digital album)

Triptych is the debut album from Sloth Racket. The album is a suite of music in three parts, originally composed by Cath for Gateshead International Jazz Festival 2015 (a Jazz North East performance that was the band’s first gig). The pieces were constructed as frameworks for improvisation, combining composed fragments with graphic notation to explore the balance between freedom and structure – and make the most of the exceptional improvisers who join her in Sloth Racket. After several gigs during 2015 the band got together to record a version of the pieces in November, at Limefield Studio in Manchester with John Ellis (Cinematic Orchestra) engineering. The resulting session, on a cold and rainy evening fuelled by coffee and pizza, produced three substantial tracks that range across musical territories from fiery free jazz, to minimal improv textures, to deep grooves.

The band embark on a UK tour to celebrate the release, with the album launch gig on 8th May 2016 at the Vortex Jazz Club, London, and a further batch of tour dates scheduled for the Autumn.

 

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Cath Roberts – baritone saxophone
Sam Andreae – tenor saxophone
Anton Hunter – guitar
Seth Bennett – bass
Johnny Hunter – drums

 

Compositions by Cath Roberts.

 

Recorded by John Ellis at Limefield Studio, Manchester, on 11th November 2015.

Mixed and mastered by Alex Bonney.
Design and printmaking by Cath Roberts.

 

Luminous Label 2016 | LU002

 

CD and digital album available now.