Widely considered to be one of the best and most original guitarists of his generation, Ian Carr has worked with many acclaimed artists including Kathryn Tickell, Kate Rusby, Eddi Reader, Kris Drever and others.
Following on from his critically acclaimed album Who He?, released in 2015, February 2020 will see the release of I Like Your Taste In Music, another eclectic mix of musical styles that features Maria Jonsson, Steph Geremia and Gustaf Ljunggren among others.
Ian met Maria Jonsson in Falun, Sweden in 1995. She was making spaghetti for her dinner and he asked her, “Are you boiling cheese?” She replied “No I’m boiling spaghetti!” They eventually learned to communicate with each other and playing tunes and making up new ones proved very theraputic to them both. In 2008 they made a record featuring several of these recordings, together with their friend Mikael Marin from the brilliant Väsen, and not long after they started work on Who He?, along with bassist Staffan Lindfors. Ian met Laura Wilkie and Thomas Gibbs at a jam in Glasgow, Laura played a tune of Ian’s called ‘Gahn Blenk’ and they immediately sounded like the best band in the world. At the release concert for Who He? they played ‘I Like Your Taste In Music’. Ian had the riff for years, and couldn’t stop playing it, soon becoming the tune that he played to check the sound on his guitar before gigs. But it needed words and one day in a hotel room in Skellefteå in Norther Sweden a man appeared and said “Thou Shalt Sing I Trust Your Taste In Men” Ian said “I cannot sing that” and Maria, who was also in the room said “you could sing I Like Your Taste In Music” And thus it was!
Ian Carr is, as I’m sure you know, the guitarist who has been heard mostly on other people’s records; such names as Kathryn Tickell, Kate Rusby, Kris Drever and Eddi Reader. He’s taken top billing in several duos including an association with Simon Thoumire and a number of fairly obscure bands but he’s taken quite a while to produce this solo project from his home in Sweden.
Of course he’s not really solo. His band, The Various Artists, are a multi-national, multi-instrumental line-up that reads rather like a premier league team sheet with omnichord, kora and violino grande among the featured sounds. The opening track, ‘I’ll Call You’, is fairly conventional apart from the almost obscured vocals with Ian initially playing something like a rag-time melody with the whole ensemble pitching in and Ian switching to trumpet in the middle. Some of what Ian writes has the repetitive, hypnotic quality of the music that Simon Jeffes wrote for The Penguin Café Orchestra although he isn’t constrained by Jeffes adherence to strict mathematical patterns. The title track and ‘The Beans War’ employ this technique to particular effect. There are two actual songs sung by Maria Jonsson and Carina Normansson in English and, I presume, Swedish. There is one oddity, ‘Talking Frances’, which features Frances Carr impersonating Alan Bennett but whether it’s a true story or not (or even supposed to be Bennett) I wouldn’t like to say.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this album. There is certainly no pointless noodling nor screaming electric from a man who has been professionally restricted to the acoustic instrument. There is excellent playing and innovative ideas – enough to make Who He? a bit special.