with Altopalo

Songbyrd Presents
Downstairs, All Ages

DOORS: 7:00 PM // SHOW: 8:00 PM

$15 / $17



Songbyrd Presents

Monday September 23, 2019


Cosmo Sheldrake is a singer, songwriter, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist from London. He collects and plays a variety of instruments, from the bass clarinet to the banjo. The music he makes with them, inspired by and often incorporating field recordings and natural soundscapes, is essential listening for anyone interested in hearing truly unique new sounds.

Sheldrake grew up surrounded by both music and a deep understanding and fascination with the natural world. His father, Rupert Sheldrake, is a biologist who comes from a long line of church organists. His mother, Jill Purce, whose own mother was a concert pianist, inspired a revival of group chant, teaches Mongolian overtone chanting and spent four years working with the avant-garde German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen.

This meant that from an early age Sheldrake was introduced to a whole world of unconventional music. "My mother had a had a big record collection of early ethnographic recordings," he recalls. "One of my early memories is going to a world music conference and hearing Tuvan throat singing, then listening to flamenco and Georgian choirs. I was mesmerised by the whole thing."

Sheldrake began playing classical piano at the age of four, learning by ear using the Suzuki method which essentially teaches music as if it were a language to become fluent in. By the time he was seven he had moved on to playing New Orleans-style blues and boogie-woogie. At 15, he was studying minimalism and using Logic to program drums and beats.

His work with singer Noemie Ducimetiere and rapper Elian Gray led him to form his first band, Gentle Mystics, at the age of 16. He has also played and toured with Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit. He composed music for a series of Samuel Beckett plays at the Young Vic and for Relax & Dream, a project which brought bringing soothing music and nature videos to children in hospital and hospices. Until 2013 he ran a community choir in Brighton, and he has worked as a facilitator, running music workshops in Europe and North America.

Throughout his career, Sheldrake has continued to be fascinated by sound collection and field-recordings. In 2013, he gave a Tedx talk entitled 'Interspecies Collaboration' during which he created a symphony of sounds featuring the sun and British birds in collaboration with his own vocal improvisation. In 2017, he composed the soundtrack for 'Moving Art,' a Netflix nature series in which filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg explores the beauty of oceans, forests, deserts and flowers.

As a solo musician, Sheldrake released his first single 'The Moss' in 2014, which was followed by the 'Pelicans We' EP in 2015, which was mastered by Mandy Parnell.

This April he will release his debut album 'The much much how how and I.' It was mixed by electronic producer Matthew Herbert.

Written under the influence of a diverse group of musicians ranging from The Beatles and The Kinks to Moondog and Stravinsky, the record was also shaped by a trip to Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Sheldrake's study of anthropology at the University of Sussex as well as his longstanding interest in ethnomusicology. After composing the music at home, he decamped to east London analogue recording base Soup Studios to work with live woodwind and brass players.

"It feels to me like the record has captured a period of time and a thought-process," says Sheldrake. "It's taken me three years to write, and over that time the identity of this thing has emerged and revealed itself."