Karl Culley's last gig anywhere, ever! + Keeper of Bees [UK]
Karl Culley is a guitarist, songwriter and singer from the North of England. He currently lives in Krakow, Poland. His début album Bundle Of Nerves was released in late 2009 by Triumphant Sound Records and received significant praise including a 4 star review from MOJO -’Harrogate metaphysical folk pop poet delivers impressive début. Dazzling acoustic guitar picking reminiscent of John Martyn at his most fluid, punctuated by a Bert Jansch-like percussive snap’. The album was recorded on the remote but beautiful Isle Of Jura in Scotland.
Counted among Karl’s influences are Nick Drake, John Martyn, John Lee Hooker, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Robin Williamson, and Kelly Joe Phelps, but he has somehow distilled his myriad musical inspirations into something uniquely his own, developing a host of distinctive, often dizzying finger-picking styles, an arresting voice, and poetic lyrics rich in imagery which, in turn, have yielded a versatile songbook, an intriguing set, at once modern-folk, alt-world, skiffle-punk, dark blues, and odd-pop.
The fact that Karl’s musical oeuvre is often indefinable, implacable, conjuring a sense of otherness and that which is beyond our grasp, makes it all the more compelling. Frenetic light-speed guitar contrasts with the haunting timbre of his voice, and Karl’s presence, both on record and live, is restless and bristling, the antithesis of his mild-mannered countenance.
Karl’s second album, The Owl, recorded in York and Harrogate, in the months preceding his permanent move to Krakow, was released in 2011; The Sunday Express – 4 star review ‘If John Martyn, Tim Buckley and Jose Gonzalez rock your boat, here’s a new name to delight you.’
Karl had gigged extensively at venues and festivals up and down the UK, his songs have been aired on radio and television in England and Poland, and he has provided numerous live sessions and interviews for radio in both countries.
Karl Culley’s third album Phosphor, released on 8th July 2013, by Sound Of Jura, issues forth an assured and powerful sequence of music that bristles with the raw, glistening elements that make up this man’s unmistakeable and ever more clearly defined voice. Virtuosic and effervescent guitar playing, evocative lyrical imagery and a taut and emotionally complex vocal delivery all combine to stunning effect.
Phosphor signals Karl’s resumption of his collaboration with producer Giles Perring [Echo City, Fad Gadget, Unmen, Yat Kha], and as well as a session in snow bound Krakow, it also marks a return to the Scottish Isle of Jura to draw on her dark, primordial and occasional exotic liquid influences. Karl and upright bass player Ash Johnson’s stripped down acoustic performances pulse from the speakers in a recording that, while it’s honed from minimal sonic elements that hark back to John Martyn’s Solid Air, bristles and pops with the chemical fizz of dance music, the bubbling bass hooks of dub, and sways and bends in the gentle current of flowing lyrical guitar figures. With a number of telling contributions from Giles Perring on a variety of instruments, and the return of the backing vocals of the Jura Male Voice Choir so gorgeously showcased on Karl’s first release Bundle of Nerves, Phosphor also conjures up radiant guest performances from Phillip Harper on drums and percussion, Simon Edwards, on a bowed psaltery, and the exceptional voice of Melanie Pappenheim.
Phosphor has been praised. Soundblab awarded Phosphor a maximum 10 out of 10, calling it ‘one of the finest alternative albums so far this year.’ Rhythm & Booze gave the album 9 out of 10, heralding Phosphor as ‘a stunning mix of stripped-back acoustic folk.’ Both Gigscene and Texas Youth Journalism International named Phosphor as album of the year. Ondarock (Italy) also commended Phosphor saying ‘Phosphor is a valuable antidote to the poverty of inspiration and courage of many heroes of the indie singer-songwriter genre, a folk-blues that sounds edgy and melancholic, an ambitious minimalism almost suspended between reality and fiction.
Keeper of Bees
The acoustic project of Vicky Whelan from Dragonfly Tattoo. Sometimes solo, sometimes with friends.