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To coincide with the opening of his major forthcoming UK solo exhibition at BALTIC (17 March - 11 June 2017), The Vinyl Factory presents a new album of music by the acclaimed Canadian artist Rodney Graham and his band. Gondoliers will be released on vinyl and digitally by on 17 March, featuring nine new tracks of lyrical rock and roll.

Gondoliers follows the release of Graham’s 2016 album, Good Hand, Bad Hand, also released by The Vinyl Factory and can be seen as the second half of a pairing.

Taking in influences from Steve Gunn to King Tuff and Joan Jett, and sounds from shoegaze, to bubblegum metal, country music and the sea shanty, each of Graham’s albums are filled with quotations and homages to other musicians. Graham re-writes songs repeatedly, creating different versions and pushing some aside to revisit at a later date.

The individual tracks written for Gondoliers also include encounters with an eclectic mix of characters and real figures, from 60s Italian artist ‘Luigi Tenco’ who Graham says “allegedly killed himself at the San Remo Song Festival in 1970 in protest to his song not winning - though many think it was a mafia hit job”; to ‘Old Dave Clark’ which is sung in celebration of Dave Clark of the Dave Clark 5. ‘Pretty Rattled’ deals with “another theme I like in country music: drinking too much” says Graham, whereas the last song on the album, ‘You Really Know How to Live’ brings lyrics “which are a kind of nasty attack on people with joie de vivre”. 

Graham has been playing with some of the same musicians and producers for almost 20 years, all of whom feature on this new release: John Collins (Destroyer, the New Pornographers), David Carswell (Destroyer), Pete Bourne (Copyright), Paul Rigby (Neko Case), Joseph Shabason and Olympia music scene legend, Lois.

Vinyl tracklisting:

Side A
1.    Getting Out of Downtown
2.    Here to Play
3.    Luigi Tenco
4.    Old Dave Clark
5.    Old Pine Casket

Side B
6.    Personal Best
7.    Pretty Rattled
8.    Walking to Walgreens
9.    You Really Know How to Live

Available to pre-order now; released 17 March 2017.

About Rodney Graham:

Rodney Graham pulls at the threads of cultural and intellectual history through photography, film, music, performance and painting. He presents cyclical narratives that pop with puns and references to literature and philosophy, from Lewis Carroll to Sigmund Freud to Kurt Cobain, with a sense of humour that betrays Graham’s footing in the post-punk scene of late 1970s Vancouver. The nine-minute loop Vexation Island (1997) presents the artist as a 17th-century sailor, lying unconscious under a coconut tree with a bruise on his head; after eight and a half minutes he gets up and shakes the tree inducing a coconut to fall and knock him out, and for the sequence to start again. Graham returns as a cowboy in How I Became a Ramblin’ Man (1999) and as both city dandy and country bumpkin in City Self/Country Self (2001) – fictional characters all engaged in an endless loop of activity. Such dream states and the ramblings of the unconscious are rooted in Graham’s earlier upside-down photographs of oak trees. Inversion, Graham explains, has a logic: ‘You don’t have to delve very deeply into modern physics to realise that the scientific view holds that the world is really not as it appears. Before the brain rights it, the eye sees a tree upside down in the same way it appears on the glass back of the large format field camera I use.’ (2005)

Rodney Graham was born in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada in 1949. He graduated from the University of British Columbia, Burnaby, Canada in 1971 and lives and works in Vancouver, Canada. Solo exhibitions include Sammlung Goetz, Munich, Germany (2015); Charles H. Scott Gallery, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Vancouver, Canada (2014); Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada (2012); Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Austria (2011); Museu D’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Spain (2010); Jeu de Paume, Paris, France (2009); Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, CA, USA (2004); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, UK (2002); Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Germany (2001); and Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria (1999). He has participated in group exhibitions such as the Carnegie International (2013), the 13th, 14th and 17th Sydney Biennales, Australia (2002, 2006, 2010), the Whitney Biennial, New York, USA (2006) and the Biennale d’Art contemporain de Lyon, France (2003). He represented Canada at the 47th Venice Biennale, Italy (1997) and among awards he has received the Gershon Iskowitz Prize, Toronto, Canada (2004), the Kurt Schwitters-Preis, Niedersächsiche Sparkassenstiftung, Germany (2006) and the Audain Prize for lifetime achievement in visual arts, British Columbia, Canada (2011).

Says Graham of the Gondoliers album’s form: “I started working on it pretty quickly after the completion of the last album, which was the first batch of new songs I had written in about 7 years. The new album is short, like the last one.  Both are about 30 minutes. I think its easier to create something with a definite shape when, albums are shorter. Easier to organize and sequence themes. I obsess over song sequences and often remind myself that there are over 400 million ways of sequencing 12 songs. Nine songs offer less than four hundred thousand possibilities. In the end I opted for an alphabetical sequence.”

The music also evolves independently from his visual art: “I find it hard to relate my music to my art making. I don’t see it as an extension of my art practice. One thing is for sure I am not thinking of an art audience when I do music, though people in the art world may be the people who are most interested in it, perhaps because I am an artist. Fair enough. I don’t deal with art issues in my music and try not to approach music as an artist.  I try to approach it as a musician, as humble as my abilities might be in that regard.”