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CHARLIE CAWOOD

Prog Folk • United Kingdom


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Charlie Cawood biography
Born 19 March 1988 (Barking, London, UK)

CHARLIE CAWOOD is a musician, composer and multi-instrumentalist from London. Trained in classical and electric guitar from the age of eleven, he soon branched out to study Indian classical, flamenco and East Asian music. A musical graduate of the Guitar Institute, London Centre of Contemporary Music and the School of Oriental and African Studies, Charlie turned professional at seventeen, and has since forged a busy career as a cross-disciplinary session musician, arranger and composer.

Charlie's debut solo album, "The Divine Abstract" - a linked suite of instrumental pieces drawing on art rock and electric chamber music, as well as Chinese, Indian and European classical traditions - was released in November 2017 via Bad Elephant Music, to universal critical acclaim. His second album, "Blurring Into Motion", was released in September 2019, expanding on the sound, scale and ambition of its predecessor.

Charlie is currently a member of critically-acclaimed psychedelic octet KNIFEWORLD, whose recent albums "The Unravelling" (2014) and "Bottled Out Of Eden" (2016) were each given five-star reviews by The Guardian and included on various Best Album lists for their respective years. He is also the principal instrumentalist for Emmy-nominated classical choral ensemble MEDIAEVAL BAEBES (for whom he plays up to eight stringed instruments on tour). Other current projects include art-rock band TONOCHROME, gamelan/electronica collective My Tricksy Spirit, avant-psychedelia band LOST CROWNS and sea-shanty ensemble Admirals Hard.

As a guest recording musician, Charlie has performed on numerous albums, EPs and singles, including releases by Spiritwo, acclaimed looping guitarist MATT STEVENS (THE FIERCE AND THE DEAD), Turkish singer Olcay Bayir, electronic pop artist Sinah, singer/composer Lucie Treacher, and Pop-in-Opposition collective NICK PROL AND THE PROLETARIANS. Other previous work includes playing Chinese pipa lute in the UK premiere of Philip Glass' chamber opera "The Sound of a Voice" and touring with Icelandic alt-pop singer Hafdis Huld in 2006 (including a live session on Gideon Coe's BBC 6 Music show and several tours across the UK, US and Europe, as well as appearances on live television and radio).

Charlie is also a contributing writer for Songlines Magazine UK (reviewing albums, DVDs, books and live concerts) and has written for culture site "Echoes and Dust" (covering the topic of...
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CHARLIE CAWOOD discography


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CHARLIE CAWOOD top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.09 | 3 ratings
The Divine Abstract
2017
4.03 | 21 ratings
Blurring into Motion
2019

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CHARLIE CAWOOD Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Blurring into Motion by CAWOOD, CHARLIE album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.03 | 21 ratings

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Blurring into Motion
Charlie Cawood Prog Folk

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Classically-influenced instrumental acoustic folk music in the same vein as NORTH SEA RADIO ORCHESTRA, Charlie is quite the multi-instrumentalist!

1. "Dance of Time" (5:03) nice, gentle multi-thread weave of guitars, tuned percussion, flutes, and strings. (8.67/10)

2. "The Stars Turn" (3:59) same as the previous song: a gentle weave of the exact same instrument palette. A little more Steve REICHian/NORTH SEA RADIO ORCHESTRA construction here. (8.67/10)

3. "Falling Into Blue" (2:36) fast-picked acoustic guitars behind Marjana Semkina singing in her lower registers. Winds, xylophone, and Marjana's background vocals join in the chorus. Strings and tuned percussion remain for the second verse. Again, this could be a quaint little NORTH SEA RADIO ORCHESTRA song. (4.25/5)

4. "Abyss of Memory" (3:05) multiple acoustic guitars with piano and vibraphone weave this one at another moderately slow pace. The melody line repeats over and over while myriad other instruments join in and create other layers and harmony threads. Interesting. (8.75/10)

5. "The Dark Within" (4:37) guitar and strings open this one like a WILLIAM ACKERMAN tune. At 0:50 piano and woodwinds join in and it gets beautiful. At 1:30 double bass and percussion and vibes are added. It actually doesn't feel as dark as it feels full of 'disappointment' though it does get a little discordant toward the end. (9/10)

6. "Blurring Into Motion" (3:29) fast-picked acoustic guitars, piano, and soon, flute, start this weave. Strings join in at the end of the first minute (including bass). (8.5/10)

7. "From Pure Air" (4:05) harp and classical guitar open this one. A very gentle, soothing, calming song. (8.75/10)

8. "A Severed Circle" (4:35) another beautiful multi-instrumental weave that once again reminds me of the NORTH SEA RADIO ORCHESTRA though also some of Jesy Chiang's CICADA compositions as well. Very nice. A top three song. (9/10)

9. "The False Mirror" (3:28) More of the same; beautiful but basically background music. (8.67/10)

10. "Flicker Out of Being" (4:27) a pleasant song in which Marjana Semkina's beautiful, ethereal voice blends in as if it were another string or wind instrument. A top three song for me. (9.25/10)

11. "Between Two Worlds" (4:48) flute and chor anglais over guitars, vibraphone and piano in another fast shifting NORTH SEA RADIO ORCHESTRA-like song. Very nicely constructed tapestry. (8.75/10)

12. "Voice of Space" (6:35) slow and brooding piano, acoustic guitar, harp and vibes with secondary instruments providing chord accents every sixth whole note. Reminds me of many Pat Metheny song openings. Flute and winds take over lead melody over the top while celeste does another line in the middle. Strings eventually join in, thickening the weave. Another top three for me. (9.25/10)

Total time: 50:47

While the music here is beautiful--often calming or even soothing--and the compositions quite intricate and harmonically sophisticate, there is too much a "sameness" of the music and too often a lack of fully engaging melodies.

B+/4.5 stars; wonderful contribution of neo-chamber jazzy folk music of the mostly-acoustic kind; an excellent addition to any prog lover's

 The Divine Abstract by CAWOOD, CHARLIE album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.09 | 3 ratings

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The Divine Abstract
Charlie Cawood Prog Folk

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Member of KNIFEWORLD and composer/arranger of MEDIÆVAL BÆBES songs goes solo. Charlie's instrumental palette spans many folk, traditional, and even Indian styles and sounds.

1. "Shringara" (3:19) opening with a very Indian sound, the entrance of Western bass and electric guitar over the sitar give this a very STEVE TIBBETTS sound and feel to it. (8/10)

2. "The Divine Abstract: Echolalia" (1:08) a nice, slow orchestral intro 3. "The Divine Abstract: The Earth's Answer" (3:26) acoustic guitar-based. Strings and winds join in fairly quickly. It has a nice PAUL WINTER or even ANT PHILLIPS feel to it. 4. "The Divine Abstract: Fearful Symmetry" (2:34) acoustic guitar opening joined by orchestral instruments. This one is more up-tempo and WILLIAM ACKERMAN/WINDHAM HILL-like. 5. "The Divine Abstract: The Western Lands" (1:58) pretty strummed acoustic guitar foundation is soon joined by and strings, horns and winds. My favorite movement of the suite. Graded as a whole: (17/20)

6. "Earth Dragon: The Golden Flower" (1:56) acoustic guitar, piano and percussion instruments are quickly joined by Chinese string and wind instruments (erhu and xiao) playing at a nice brisk walking pace. Nice film soundtrack music. 7. "Earth Dragon: An Invisible Landscape" (3:30) second movement slows it down to more contemplative or even observational--until the thick electric bass gets involved. Then it feels like it steps up into an elephantine walk--two different paces or courses, one hypervigilant, the other confident and free. 8. "Earth Dragon: Origin Of A New Being" (3:09) picked guitar chords joined by Chinese winds, strings, and electric bass and percussives gives this one a feel as if the walker/palanquin is in heavy pedestrian traffic. Piano interlude and shift gives this one a cool, PAT METHENY-like feel. My favorite piece of this suite--and one of my favorite songs on the album. Graded as a whole: (18/20)

9. "Garden Of The Mind" (6:44) a pretty neoclassical folk song not unlike a NORTH SEA RADIO ORCHESTRA, PAUL WINTER CONSORT, PHILIP GLASS, or CICADA song. (14.25/15)

10. "The 32nd Path" (6:19) based in pipa (Chinese mandolin) weaving together with several other odd instruments (including Fripp-llike electric guitar arpeggiations) in a very rich, complex tapestry, this one sounds like it could spin off into an aggressive STEVE TIBBETTS or ZHONGYU song, but instead it remains constant (though never boring) and Asian as a RYUICHI SAKAMOTO song. (9/10)

11. "In A Floating World" (3:51) another stellar composition of relaxing world music--this time with flute, bass, tuned and untuned percussion, and guitars playing the most prominent roles in the weave. (9/10)

12. "Apotheosis" (7:15) a slow paced weave of multiple instruments each playing arpeggi together establish a chord progression with more instruments (and different melody lines) added with each round of the progression. When bass line is added in the beginning of the second minute the song takes on a different feel--less minimalistic and more jazzy. (13.5/15)

Total Time ? 45:09

B/four stars; a very nice contribution of cross-cultural jazz-neoclassical fusion. A wonderfully enjoyable and pacifying listening excursion--one that I will be returning to many times over the course of my remaining years.

 Blurring into Motion by CAWOOD, CHARLIE album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.03 | 21 ratings

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Blurring into Motion
Charlie Cawood Prog Folk

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

5 stars Multi-instrumentalist Charlie Cawood is back with his second solo album. I'm pretty sure there isn't a stringed instrument he hasn't been able to master, but here he restricts himself to just different types of acoustic, classical and electrical guitars and various basses, and bringing in a whole host of guests to provide the orchestration. Charlie is a veteran of the London music scene, best known as bassist of critically acclaimed psychedelic octet Knifeworld, and instrumentalist/co-arranger for Emmy-nominated classical choir Mediæval Bæbes. If that isn't enough he is also a member of three other bands, Lost Crowns, My Tricksy Spirit, and Tonochrome. Most of the album is instrumental, but one of the guests involved this time around is iamthemorning's Marjana Semkina, who contributes vocals and lyrics to two tracks.

In many ways this feels far more like a modern classical romantic album than anything else: it is lush, it is beautiful, relaxing, delicate, complex and complicated, but beguiling and inviting all at the same time. It is one of those albums which I just don't want to end as it takes me to a magical mystical place, deep in a forest with the sun coming through the canopy, walking through the leaf clutter with deer and rabbits visible in the near distance while there is a stream babbling and glistening in the dappled sunlight. It makes me want to sit down and rest for a while, just relax and take in the sounds and surroundings, slow the world and just take a minute away from the always connected always "on" mentality. This is music for the soul, with strings, flute, bodhrans, glockenspiels, brass, woodwind, harp and even some MiniMoog when the time is right. It is hard to describe just how filled with joy I am just from playing this, with melodies and counter melodies taking me to a place I never want to leave. At times there is darkness and even some atonal sounds, but it is important to have these contrasts so it is easier to appreciate the sense of wonder when it evaporates.

Written in just three months, although it then took a year to orchestrate, this is a compelling and wondrous piece of work. The title is taken from a quote by writer Russell Hoban, about the blurring together of the moments and thoughts that constitute a life, and here Charlie is taking us to a pastoral world and lifestyle sadly not often found these days. I can happily play this all day, and is essential listening to all those who want to hear something very special indeed.

Thanks to raff for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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