Announce details of new album, ‘Chaos Wonderland’
Banana & Louie Records July 31st 2020.
Chaos Wonderland is the seventh full-length album by Colorama, depending on who you believe (it’s the ninth if you include the ‘mini’ albums).
It was recorded at Shawn Lee’s ‘Shop’ Studio in early 2018, during the gaps in between Colorama frontman Carwyn Ellis’ stints touring around the world as keyboardist with the Pretenders. Shawn Lee has had an incredibly productive (30-odd solo albums to date) career, featuring collaborations with a myriad of different artists including Clutchy Hopkins, Tony Joe White, Darondo, Money Mark, Tommy Guerrero, Psapp, Little Barrie and Saint Etienne, with whom he worked on the ‘Home Counties’ album, which is where he and Carwyn Ellis first worked together, on their 2017 single, ‘Dive’.
Ellis and Lee hit it off famously during the Saint Etienne sessions and endeavoured to work together when their schedules permitted, and finally the stars aligned to this effect in early 2018. Their shared love of analogue recording and beat-based music resulted in another kaleidoscopic and widely varied Colorama album, this time with added groove and flavour thanks to Lee’s incredible drum and percussion skills.
And then… Carwyn went to Brazil, encouraged by Chrissie Hynde who’d introduced him to a crack team of some of the finest musicians Rio de Janeiro has to offer. There started the project that became Carwyn Ellis & Rio 18, releasing last year’s incredible ‘Joia’ album which featured songs in Welsh, set to buzzing Tropicalia arrangements and garnering numerous plaudits and fans along the way.
But there was still this album that Carwyn had made with Shawn! 2019 was incredibly busy for both musicians, with Carwyn touring with both the Pretenders and Edwyn Collins as well as with Rio 18, and Shawn touring and recording both solo and with his Young Gun Silver Fox band, along with playing in Rio 18. Are you still with me?
And then 2020 happened. It’s still happening. But in March, everything ground to a halt for most of us, including Carwyn and Shawn. These busiest of musicians now found they had time on their hands and… music to release! So, finally, we have Chaos Wonderland, the ‘new’ album by Colorama.
With both musicians being prodigiously talented multi-instrumentalists, the album was recorded surprisingly quickly, and with very little added help, although Lay Low, the brilliant Icelandic singer, added her vocal magic to the funky paean to love, ‘Me & She’. Other highlights include ‘Dusty Road’, about an outcast on the run, the cosmic tiki-flavoured ‘Black Hole’, boombastic opener ‘And’ and the smoothly soulful ‘Reconciliation’, which takes on a whole new meaning in the current environment we’ve found ourselves in.
Why Chaos Wonderland? Ellis explains, “well.. I’ve travelled a lot this last few years and I’ve seen a lot of places in total flux, upheaval and yes – chaos. Nowhere more so than at home. But at the same time, I’ve seen much to make me cheerful, not least in the beautiful sights I’ve witnessed, along with the warmth and inherent goodness of the vast majority of people I’ve encountered”.
Productive as ever, and seemingly unimpeded by the Covid Calamity, this album release follows hot on the heels of Carwyn’s first entirely solo outings (a single and EP) which came out in April 2020 – both of which being fundraisers for PPE for health and care workers in Wales – and precedes another Rio 18 album, slated for release in early 2021.
Carwyn’s influences on the record range from Gene Pitney to De La Soul, from the Bangles to the Stylistics, but the thread which ties all the songs together, as ever, is Ellis’ compelling singing and songwriting.
Today, Carwyn has shared the first track from the album, And. It’s the first song to be released by Colorama since their album, Some Things Just Take Time in 2017 and it sees the beginning (chronologically at least) of a collaboration between Carwyn Ellis and the extraordinarily talented American producer Shawn Lee. In grammar, And is a conjunction – a word which connects other words and provides a bridge in a sentence. Which this song does in musical terms, being the first release from the new record.
The tracklisting of Chaos Wonderland is as follows:
2. Dusty Road
3. Me & She
4. Black Hole
6. Except You
7. Damn Tune
9. Please Tell Me