Allow me to introduce you to A Grave With No Name, the moniker of singer-songwriter Alexander Shields. He crafts dark, art-rock folk sounds and is releasing his latest album Wooden Mask this Friday (August 12th).
Recorded over a winter at London’s Holy Mountain Studios, Wooden Mask is a skeletal collection of songs, stripped and left bare. He carefully crafts voice, ambient noise, thoughtful acoustics and field recordings to create a sound that is at times both distant and intensely intimate.
The latest track to be released from the forthcoming album is Pirouette a delicate two minute affair formed around an acoustic arpeggio and a string accompaniment both of which combine effectively to create a dark yet peaceful atmosphere. In the artists own words...
"It’s a ballad for the invisible sways and whirls we perform; the theatre we divine.”
The man behind the music kindly agreed to answer the now infamous introducing questionnaire, revealing his childhood love for WWE, a hate for Jay-Z's latest effort and how a performance at a Bar Mitzvah started his musical journey.
1. What is your favourite album and why?
I have a couple, but The Glow Pt.2 by The Microphones is always a constant. I bought the CD around 10 years ago knowing very little about it, but as soon as I pressed play, my whole conception of what an album could be, and sound like, altered
2. What is your least favourite album and why?
Without hesitation, Magna Carta: Holy Grail by Jay-Z. I had always been a big fan of Jay-Z, and respected his ability to put out artistic records like American Gangster at the times when people least expected it and had written him off, but Magna: Carta Holy Grail and everything it stands for is just bullshit.
3. If you had to describe your music in three words, what would they be?
Observe and report.
4. What made you start making music?
Although I had never picked up an instrument in my life, a friend asked me to write a song to play at his Bar Mitzvah party when I was 12 years old, and it just continued from there. The performance was probably the most humiliating experience of my life, and may explain why I don’t enjoy playing live to this day.
5. Favourite swear word?
6. If you could create a band from musicians, living or dead who would you choose?
I think pushing musicians incongruously together rarely produces good music, but personally I would enjoy the opportunity to work in the studio with Dave Pajo, or Phil Elverum.
7. Obvious musical skills aside, do any of you have any secret talents?
I can guess the time accurately to the nearest couple of minutes without referring to a clock no matter what time of day it is.
8. What is your favourite childhood TV programme?
I am not big into nostalgia, so I don’t really think back fondly to the programmes I watched as a kid, but I was seriously into wrestling when I was younger.
9. If you weren't in a band, what profession would you like to attempt and why?
I enjoy helping people out who have had difficult upbringings and I pursue that now, so I guess that would come into focus more if there was space left by not being a musician.
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
“Alexander Shields? I’ve been waiting to see you. I just wanted to say I thought your performance at Joseph Synett’s Bar mitzvah ruled man. Come on in!”
A Grave With No Name's new album 'Wooden Mask' is out August 12th via Forged Artifacts