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Barbarossa, the nom de plume of Londoner James Mathé, follows up his 2013 album Bloodlines with Imager, out 11 May on Memphis Industries. Imager is a cerebral, slow-burning album, tinged with melancholy and an alluring humanism.
Mathé’s musical journey started with folk-tinged balladry that saw him become part of the Fence Collective, and subsequently a band member for the likes of José González, Johnny Flynn and Junip. With Bloodlines, however, Mathé started to infuse his song writing with electronic flourishes, and now with Imager, he has completed his transformation into a fully fledged electronic soul pioneer.
Working with co-producer Ash Workman Mathé builds on the foundations provided by his organic approach to song writing, to build elegiac electronic anthems that are filled with a simple, poignant immediacy.
The album is pervaded with a sense of disquiet, perhaps driven subconsciously by the fact that the spaces where creativity and culture flourish in London are rapidly disappearing; that the artistic communities that Mathé grew up with are being driven out of London due to financial pressures, and as a result, something vital is being lost. Yet while the album deals in displacement and heartbreak, a sense that everything is in flux, there are redemptive moments to stir the soul.
Imager is the sound of Barbarossa stepping out of the shadows and into the limelight as a talent to be reckoned with in his own right, questioning his surroundings, his own creativity and coming up with answers that are compelling, affecting and thoughtful.
Having previously toured with the likes of POLICA, Low, and Junip, Barbarossa has announced a show at London's The Lexington on 10 June.