Precious words, precious politics and a unique collaborative creative process that quietly forges links, networks and a myriad of happenings. Alabaster De Plume has been quietly weaving magic for some years now since he first played at Cobalt. We really can’t wait to welcome him back and with an opening set by Newcastle’s very own Ceitidh Mac this will be a very special gig.
Gus Fairbairn, aka Alabaster DePlume, has a pocketful of phrases that he uses all the time whether he’s walking down the street or holding court with musicians and an audience. For a long time the Mancunian would tell anyone who’d listen that they were doing very well. More recently, it’s another phrase which has a similar effect and which belies his unwavering commitment to personal vulnerability and collective politics: “Don’t forget you’re precious.”
A process that is people-first not product-first ensures that the music is unique; often gem-like. Alabaster DePlume’s songs are built on sonorous circular melodies and luminous tones that transmit calmness and generosity in warm waves – unless they’re raging against complacency and the everyday inhumanity of end times capitalism. Most importantly, he brings a valuable transparency to his work. “This is what I’m really doing,” he says. “I want to talk about why I’m doing this, and how I’m doing this.”
His double album Gold (2022) was recorded at London’s Total Refreshment Centre (TRC) over two weeks. He invited a different set of musicians each day, playing the tunes to click so that DePlume, who also produced it, could cut the 17 hours of sessions together like a collage. As with all his sessions, he ensured that the musicians didn’t have enough time to rehearse the tunes, instead requiring them to tune into each other and to rely on each other to reach the end of a song. There was another rule: no listening back to sessions after recording. “The method is part of the mission. It wasn’t like school. We had mayhem. We were having fun. That is the story and the process – and I want to live that way.”
Originally from Wales, but now based in Newcastle, Ceitidh’s honest and intriguing lyrics have been mesmerising audiences in the know across the UK. While the folk influence is prominent in her songs, the smoky style and lo-fi studio sound combines with a contemporary electronic edge, embellished by unusual instrumentation. Her live show is an innovative take on traditional and alternative folk songs, sitting alongside her own original material which explores topics ranging from illuminating everyday experiences to subjects of deeper self reflection.