The organic minimalism of composer and producer Kirk Barley is collected on his new studio album Marionette, released 24th November via Odda Recordings.
Whether drawing from field recordings, found sound, instrumental improvisations or synthetic processes, Barley’s compositions evoke unfolding sound worlds, as simple ideas or motifs are layered and developed into complex set-pieces that reveal themselves over time.
Marionette showcases the breadth and variety of the Yorkshire-born artist’s sound, weaving together familiar and uncanny moods of rural England and its Victorian architecture, as suggested by the gated garden print of the album’s cover. Unfurling between physical textures – the patina of vinyl crackle or gentle rain – and the hyper-real spaces that his music inhabits, Barley describes the compositions as “landscape or static scene paintings,” with many of the album’s tracks taking nature’s rhythms as their compositional cue.
On ‘Seafarer’, this manifests in the repeated synth swells of a boat on rough waters, while title track ‘Marionette’ imagines an eerie scene, were shadows flicker by an open fire. Similarly, ‘Lake of Gold’ layers plucked strings at different scales and velocities to create what Barley calls the “rain-like quality” of the rhythm.
Drawing from jazz, minimalism and techno, Barley focuses on the detailed qualities of sound, experimenting with time signatures, temporals and tuning systems. His esoteric alter-ego Bambooman (2013-2018) found a home on Matthew Herbert’s Accidental imprint, releasing the album Whispers in 2017.
In contrast, under the pseudonym Church Andrews (most notably in collaboration with drummer Matt Davies), he produces synthetic, often beat-focused music, using digital synthesis and algorithmic composition techniques, with the live drum performances triggering and modulating Barley’s synths. The duo has recently performed at festivals such as Rewire and Waking Life, filmed sessions for Fact Magazine and Slate & Ash, and recently had their music played out by Aphex Twin.
Under his own name, Barley released his debut album Landscapes in 2019 on 33-33 Records and received support from the likes of NTS Radio and BBC 6 Music.
Barley has performed at events across the UK and Europe alongside the likes of Andy Stott, Beatrice Dillon, Jan Jelinek, MF DOOM and Madlib. He has also completed commissioned work for the British Art Show, Camden Arts Centre, MSCTY and the Open Music Archive.
Marionette is released in a limited edition of 500 copies on black vinyl, with a risograph print by artist Oliver Pitt. It is also available digitally.
- Limited edition LP with risograph print by artist Oliver Pitt
- written, recorded, produced and mixed by Kirk Barley (copyright control) Drums on tracks B1 and B2 performed by Matt Davies mastered by Eric James at Philosophers Barn artwork by Oliver Pitt