Trip to heave and ho, up down, to and fro

A review of Octopus Part 8 from Nathan Ford at The Active Listener.

Adam Leonard’s lengthy and exhausting rarities trawl comes to an end with “Octopus Part 8”. For those who haven’t been keeping up, the “Octopus” series has seen him release an eight track E.P of rare and unreleased material every month, for the last eight months. “I’ve saved the best ’til last” Leonard boldly claims, and that sure is saying something. I reviewed the first couple of volumes on their release and they were more often than not outstanding.

What to expect then? Readers who regularly check out our samplers (number 29 in this case) will already be familiar with the terrifying post-punk drone of “Elbow of Termites”, in which Leonard seems unable to decide whether he is Robyn Hitchcock or Dave Brock – rarely has an identity crisis sounded so good! Elsewhere his version of the Beatles’ “Good Morning, Good Morning” is a noisy beast with an odd far-away sound which makes it sound like that annoying neighbor who decides to blast their stereo at 6 a.m. Only, that neighbor has suddenly developed immaculate taste, so you really don’t mind. More often than not though, this is acoustic based, taking in everything from subversions of traditional folk form (a hypnotic radio session version of “Nature Recordings” highlight “The Eighth Tower”),to quirky pop (“Napolean”).

He’s unfairly adept at all of these styles, and defies both logic, and conventional form in his ability to construct a convincing, detailed tapestry from materials which should result in a patchwork outcome at best. I’m not sure if I’d agree with the ‘best ’til last’ statement – that would suggest weaknesses earlier on that just aren’t there – but there’s certainly no signs of a quality drop.

“Octopus Part 8” can be had for free / name your price right here, but only for a month, after which it will revert to £4.00 – still a bargain for a feast such as this. And keep an eye out for the debut release from Invaderband, Leonard’s new quartet, who are making music that he is confident enough to call “the best thing I’ve ever done”. Here at the Active Listener, we’re looking forward to hearing if he’s right – the early stirrings that we’ve heard are pretty flash.


Keeps out invaders who come but still can’t control the violent side

Photograph: Lisa Byrne

Photograph: Lisa Byrne

My plan is for 2015 to be the year Invaderband spreads its wings. The following things should become reality this year: Releases, local(ish) Irish gigs as usual but also UK dates (I know, great!), some in my birthplace and spiritual flat-capped home of Manchester. Current plans for UK are early August, but a new website is being developed right now ( so keep your eye on that and you will be able to sign up to a mailing list to stay bang up-to-date, and get one of our super-shiny new recordings for doing so – taken from sessions at the end of 2014. There are lots of plans (videos, festivals, blah & blah) and I am very excited because I believe these new recordings to be the best thing I have ever been involved with musically.

As for the solo stuff, the Octopus project will end in a couple of weeks with Octopus Part 8 released on – gosh you’re clever – the 8th March. I believe I have saved some of the best music until last there as well, with the usual mix of covers (Beatles again this time!), previously unreleased songs/recordings and a great BBC session track of a ‘Nature Recordings’ song, so it kind of brings it up to date with my solo releases too. I only realised recently – this was genuinely an accident – that the 8th song on the 8th release is ‘The Eighth Tower’. There are 8 Invaderband recordings, I have 8 songs written for my new solo album and I live at No. 8 on my street, so that mystical digit is clearly relevant to me in a universal sense. Richard Dawkins would say that it was coincidence & random, but he’s a bit of a bore. The lovely art for Octopus 8 is here, kindly created by my friend and brother-in-song, Chris McConaghy:

Free download for 1 month, then I think I will bundle up all 8 releases into 1 and sell it for £20 or something extremely reasonable indeed for 64 songs. I might even press up some physical copies with extra songs if there is a demand for that, but I don’t want to fall into the double pack with a photograph extra track and a tacky badge trap, which there is a real danger of. Maybe I’ll just make 8 and put them on eBay.

That’s all I can think of for now. MASSIVE thanks to BUYERS of the Octopus releases which are always available for free originally. I know who you are and I’ll hug & kiss you all if we ever meet…

Bye for now!
+A x

Now Be Thankful

So that was 2014. Thanks to everyone who has listened, liked, disliked, ignored or heaven forbid bought my music this year. You’re all stylish and beyond cool. The new album is coming on slowly, but I’ve a feeling it will be my best one yet.

Invaderband music will be released in 2015 too, I promise, along with other bits and bobs I’ve been working on. x

City Of Culture ‘Resonate’ award


I’m rather surprised to report that the song ‘My Love’ has been voted the best track in the UK City Of Culture 2013 (Derry~Londonderry) ‘Resonate’ competition, organised by The Nerve Centre in association with Blast Furnace, funded by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to capture the musical talent, energy and spirit of Derry during the UK City of Culture 2013 (to quote the blurb!).

For the full story, and some quotes attributed to me which I never said(!), read this article from The Derry Journal.

Here’s me getting one of those cool oversized cheques as a prize. I also get to re-record the track in a proper studio, which will then be released on the ‘Resonate Album Of The Year’. All good. And thanks to the judges. You’re all extremely good looking and have great taste.

Joe Carlin (Nerve Centre), Me, Ruairi O’Kane (National Lottery).

And here’s me with the lady who inspired the song, my love and my wife Blathnaid Leonard. Warm like the rain and I’m glad.

Resonate 006

Photographs by Lorcan Doherty.

A 4-track EP containing the track ‘My Love’ is available HERE.

“Haunting, magnetic, magical & essential”.

I wouldn’t normally create a blog entry for a review, but I’m going to make an exception here, as I think this is the best one I’ve ever got! Massive thanks to Mark Barton of God Is In The TV and The Sunday Experience for saying these things. It’s really made my day / week / month / year / life.

Exquisitely packaged arriving housed in a carded box inside of which jumped out inserts aplenty to include badges, a pressed flower, hand numbered authentication slips – ours if you are taking notes is #212 / 300, track list notes with new artwork to boot and a CD entitled ‘nature recordings’. really is eye catching and is billed as the first in the north western series put out by the folk police imprint – the second in case you’re still keeping copious notes is by Ewan D Rogers while the imminent third is due shortly from wyrdstone (cryptic clues coming courtesy of a sticker to the rear of the envelope to which this little treasure transported its way in). ’nature recordings’ is the work of one Adam Leonard whose been cutting his teeth and turning in finitely crafted psyche folk nuggets for the last ten years, ’nature recordings’ his third full length initially appeared in limited wax forms via the esteemed great pop supplement in an edition of just 150 hand numbered cuties. Part of the extended Owl Service family whose absence from our hi-fi’s in recent years has been duly noted he appeared on their ’a view from a hill’ full length the favour being returned by Steven Collins’ guest appearance here along with Pat Gubler of PG Six fame (and just so they don‘t feel left out Jana Landolt on drums and Gareth Davies on ashtray and raised eyebrows – do we detect a spot of Bez-ness). Carved, fired, smoked , distilled and then left to cure and mature in the finest traditions of English psych folk there’s a deeply resonating classicism oozing from the grooves of Adam Leonard’s quite exceptional ‘nature recordings’ full length which those of you attuned to platters emerging through the misty haze out of such acclaimed sound houses as reverb worship, cold spring and blackest rainbow to name but three will be familiarly versed  in. in short pure terrascopia, there’s no doubting the spectral influence of Syd Barrett guiding Mr Leonard’s craft, undeniably carved in that rarest of English eccentricity, he shares the same mercurial mindset as that of both Paul Roland and chief practitioner in the art of peculiar psychedelia Robyn Hitchcock the latter of whose ‘the man who invented himself’ is summarily – er – reinvented here in a superbly mind fragmenting and disquietingly crooked sepia kissed kaleidoscopia haze with the result that he achieves that most rare of accolades turning and taking the song as his own. Peppered and seasoned in the winter long tug of fading paisley pop sighs and blessed with the most audacious bitter sweet hook this side of a Kevin Tihista gem ’Lillian, I love you’ traces its lineage back to a youthful Bevis Frond albeit spiked and primed to a ‘gigglegoo’ era Freed Unit curdling while ’dawn rain / grissom aloft’ is flavoured in an archaic tongue plucked straight from the mountain side back yard of John Fahey by way of its rustic flurries before seeing fit to shed its skin and re-emerge swooned and lolloping in the sleepy headed afterglow of an afternoon blissing out on moonshine. A harmonium – every record should feature one, along of course with the obligatory nose flutes, pan pipes, penny whistles, harmonicas and barks – but seriously harmoniums just do it for us, where people hear bleak and dowdy we translate as something pre-natural, hazy and decidedly sitting right up next to you intimate – see Nico, Ivor Cutler for starting illustrations. And so to ’the archaeologist’ which features a harmonium (just as well as it’d been pointless doing the intro) attaches with the frail shadow tracing of a ghostly hymnal glow as done as were by a slightly maudlin half man half biscuit as its protagonist starkly stirs inwardly and questions his very being. All said centrepiece of the album is reserved for the side long four song cycle ’the eighth tower’ – at equal parts haunting, magnetic and magical which once through the daunting entrance point of ’part i’ soon immerses you in a dreamy timeless tapestry by way of ‘part ii’ that guides you ever deeper into some enchanted netherworld where one minute the motifs are engraved by the lush spring hued shade of summerisle only to morph and fracture into the psychotropic realm of working for a nuclear free city, somewhere else ’part iii’ is spell crafted with a mystical aura that stretches far back into traditional English folklore while the delightfully airy mayday rustics of the murmured mantra on ‘part iv’ will seduce in the first instance admirers of the aforementioned Owl Service. Essential.

THE DARK. OUTSIDE FM Transmission 2013


The Dark. Outside FM
A 24 hour radio broadcast of Unheard Sound within the Dark Skies Park

Time: Noon 31st August 2013 – Noon 1st September 2013
Location: Murrays Monument and along the A712, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland

“Sound Artist Frenchbloke curates 24 hours of previously unheard music donated exclusively for this project by innovative artists, musicians,  and producers from all over the world. The transmission is of specially composed work, forgotten recordings and alternate versions of existing work, none of which have been heard in public before. The sound works aired on the broadcast will be deleted afterwards and may never be heard again.

Listen in your car or on a portable radio while you hike in the hills, or sit back and relax and hear it transmitted to The Dark Star Lounge deep in the Forest…”

This is happening NOW. Previously unheard music from, well, me, plus The Human League (yey!), Mogwai, Jim Noir, Imogen Heap, Kitchen Cynics, Pat Gubler (P.G. Six), Gazelle Twin, Pye Corner Audio, Windham Festival Chamber Orchestra, Richard Moult, Frances Castle, Moon Wiring Club, The Psychogeographical Commission, Scarfolk Council and me old mate Gareth Davies, although he won’t tell me what name his track is under.

An as-it-happens record of what is being broadcast can be found on the Twitter account @darkoutside

The currents play propeller music

Invaderband landed | Sunday 14th July | Sandinos, Derry

The loudhailer got an outing, and the MP3 sample from ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ finally worked!

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