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Carl Cleves new CD ‘The House is empty’
www.carlcleves.com | www.myspace.com/carlcleves

Hot on the heels of the internationally acclaimed CD, ‘Out of Australia’, recorded together with his muse and musical partner Parissa Bouas for the German audiophile label Stockfisch records, arrives ‘The House is Empty’, Cleves’ most personal solo CD. Stepping away from his stories of the larger world, Cleves focuses on the inner torments of the soul with a classic set of songs reminiscent of Dylan’s ‘Blood on the tracks’ and Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue’.
Carl Cleves, originally from Belgium, is a contemporary of Bert Jansch, Nick Drake, Paul Simon, John Martyn and other great songwriters that emerged in the 1960s and 70s and with whom he shared the stages of the London folk clubs during the time of the folk boom. But, unlike the others who stayed in the scene, Carl’s wanderlust led him to a life of travelling, guitar in hand, to Africa, Asia, the Pacific, South America and Australia, where he has now settled. Along the way he has acquired a loyal following in Europe, Brazil and Australia while avoiding the radar of the international music industry. ‘A legend? Hardly, I’m a rumour, a whisper’ he says.

‘The House is Empty’ features 11 new songs and one hauntingly nostalgic reworking of a classic Jacques Brel song, the most famous singer-songwriter to emerge in Belgium during the second half of the 20th century, with whose music Cleves grew up. Cleves’s guitar based songs of sorrow, redemption and loss are enhanced by some fine musicians: Australian guitar legends Jim Kelly and slide player Kirk Lorange; Dutch musicians, guitarist Michiel Hollander ,who mixed the album and bandoneon player/percussionist Marc Constandse from the group Big Low, vocalists Parissa Bouas and jazz singer Leigh Carriage, trumpet player John Hoffman among others. The CD was recorded at various studios in Australia and Holland and mixed in Amsterdam. It is distributed in Australia on Vitamin records. Songs from ‘The house is empty’ have already been nominated amongst the finalists in 5 categories at the 2012 MUSICOZ Awards. ‘House of Sorrow, was recently featured in the International Porsche Magazine’s cutting edge iphone scan, music streaming platform.

This is an album for listeners who adore great songs and soul stirring lyrics. Cleves’s influences are broad, ranging from poets: Charles Bukowsky and Jack Kerouac to songwriters like Randy Newman, Dylan, Tom Waits and Caetano Veloso. It belongs somewhere in the folk/roots category, but there is a definite European twist and on ‘The House is Empty’ Cleves finds the voice of his roots.

Cleves has won the coveted Australian Songwriter’s Assoc. Award for Best Lyrics and Best Folk Song, the national MUSICOZ award for Best Folk Song and has a shelf full of Dolphin Awards. He has recorded 4 albums with the group The Hottentots, which he co-founded with Parissa Bouas. His recent solo CD’s are: All Alone 2007; Tarab 2008. Cleves’s first book, ‘TARAB: Travels with My Guitar”, recounting his adventures as an antelope trapper in Uganda, relief worker in cyclone struck India, recording star in Brazil, radio broadcaster and ethnomusicologist in Africa was published in July 2008 by Transit Lounge.

To check out Carl’s MP3s, reviews, videos and further details, visit:
WEBSITE: www.carlcleves.com
LISTEN: www.myspace.com/carlcleves
Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/CarlCleves

NOTES on some of the SONGS

GONE ARE THE DAYS. The first song I ever put to disc was a blues named ‘Rosaline’. It was recorded in Dusseldorf in 1966. By the time it was released I had already left my native Flanders. When I returned from Africa 2 years later, I experienced the thrill of hearing my first record on the local jukeboxes. So here is another blues performed with ace slide guitar player Kirk Lorange.

LESSON TO ME. One always remembers the first concert one ever saw. In my case it was the Everly Brothers and my mother took me, as a boy, to the Ancienne Belgique, a famous theatre in Brussels. Just like The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, The Fleet Foxes and many others, I had fallen in love with the sweet harmonies of the teenage brothers. A few years ago I travelled to Madagascar, wearing my musicologist hat, to do research at the invitation of Hanitra Rasoanaivo, the leader and composer of Madagascar’s main musical export, the band Tarika. One night in the village of Ranomafana, after a messy meal of spicy crabs, I was visited in my dream by the Everlys, Don and Phil, who sang several verses of this song to me. It was a gift. All I had to do was write it down and complete the song. It sounds like a throwback to the 1950s.

LOST IN LEIPZIG. Touring in Germany with my musical partner, muse and wife, Parissa Bouas, we did get lost in Leipzig. We drove around in circles ‘till we parked the car in a side street. A cold November night dropped snowflakes on the city. In the grey streets Romanian gypsies played violins and accordions. We wandered into Saint Thomas cathedral where J.S. Bach once worked as a cantor and where his remains still lie. A man drew us a map. But we only got lost again until a lovely woman rescued us and gave us shelter. She served us peaches and cream while Mendelssohn played on the stereo. Her daughter played the accordion for us. I woke up in the middle of the night, scrambled for a piece of paper and scribbled down the lyrics in the dark, careful not to wake my wife. Michiel Hollander and Mark Constandse from the Dutch gypsy band Parne Gadje provide the backing, together with Parissa Bouas and Leigh Carriage, two of the finest voices I know.

DEAR MELANIE. Written in homage of Melanie Shanahan, Australian songwriter and acapella icon who was a founding member of the groups Arramaieda and Akasa. Melanie was a longtime friend and an inspirational, but tormented soul. I sang with her in the choir that welcomed Nelson Mandela to Sydney after his release from Robben Island prison and shared many a performance with Melanie’s groups.

WAY DOWN IN THE MINES. This was written a long time ago, when I was a student of African music, at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, during the worst of the apartheid era. I have written at length about my time in South Africa in my book ‘Tarab: Travels with my guitar’ (Transit Lounge Publishing). My professor, John Blacking, reknowned musicologist of African music, took me into the tribal areas for field recordings. We also received special permits (difficult to obtain during those days of institutionalised racism) to record in the mining compounds outside of Johannesburg where young miners from all over southern Africa signed contracts for very long periods. So many tribal nations were working there that it provided a rich harvesting ground for a young musicologist. It was a cruel system that prohibited the miners from leaving the mining compounds during the time of their contract. They were virtual economic prisoners, indentured labourers. This song was written for a young miner suffering from homesickness.

LA CHANSON DES VIEUX AMANTS. Jacques Brel, the finest singer-songwriter and performer in the French (and Flemish) language played a prominent part in the soundtrack of my youth. Brel is a giant and a sacred cow in the country of my birth and I had goose bumps singing this song of old lovers in a house where each piece of furniture carries the memories of past storms. I felt as if I were channelling another voice. It brought up much nostalgia and reflection at a time when Belgium was without a government and in danger of breaking up. The arrangement is by Michiel Hollander, the Dutch guitarist and instrument builder. The retro 1960s stereo sound of my voice seems to come directly from the past, as if in a dream.


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contact: Carl Cleves, PO BOX 1492 Byron Bay, NSW, Australia