Debut LP ‘17th Century Japanese Aviary’ Out April 13th 2015, recorded in six days in a converted chapel in the Scottish highlands, ’17th Century Japanese Aviary’ is the first full length release from London-based singer-songwriter Inti Rowland. Rowland’s fingerpicked guitar sits in the fore but the album soars way beyond the foundations of traditional singer songwriters with brass, a string quartet and light percussion adding to the mix.
Born in Chile in the early 90’s to a travelling art student mother and a garlic selling, alcoholic father, Inti Rowland’s upbringing was certainly interesting. Having lived in a garden shed in his childhood, Rowland was keen to escape from the spider refuge and let free his musical musings. London shows and independently released EP’s in the following years were no doubt paramount in shaping Rowland as an artist and debut album ‘17th Century Japanese Aviary’ has a lot to owe to his early endeavours.
The album was recorded in a secluded and peaceful setting just thirty miles from the heritage-rich Perth, Scotland. The bare surroundings and expansive country side are enough to inspire the least creative of minds and thus Rowland, of course, was able to flourish in the environment. The album was recorded in the summer and Rowland poetically recreates the motivating effect the surroundings had on the recording sessions: ‘The Scottish summer had a hint of warmth and the days were long and bright. Light would stream into our recording studio through the long church windows and daylight would persist until gone eleven at night, helping with the long hours.’
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Track 4, the record’s title track, is certainly a highlight of the album. The exposed and bare exhibition of Rowland’s soft vocals and nylon string guitar needs no instrumental backing. The notes from the opening jazz-inspired chords resonate and high notes stand out for effect offering a melodic quality to the introduction. The track has gifted its subject matter from a book. It is based around the idea of an ancient Japanese courting tradition where when a man loves a women he would give her an aviary full of tropical birds as gesture of his affection. When something amazing happens in their lives, they’d then open the gates to the aviary and watch all the birds fly away. Rowland notes in his lyrics the beautiful trust and hope laced within this gift of love.
A diverse album, ‘17th Century Japanese Aviary’ is at times reminiscent of a 70’s Nick Drake record. A string quartet adds to this and the addition of brass hints at a John Martyn hayday. The church setting gives Rowland’s soft vocals reverberation that gives way to a Benjamin Francis Leftwich-style track. In fact, the intimate yet full bodied experimentation is on par with other modern folk greats such as Laura Marling, Ben Howard, Grizzly Bear or The Low Anthem. For a debut album there really is not much else you can ask of this emerging singer and songwriting talent.
Inti will be announcing a number of tour dates soon including a special album launch showcase in London