Release Date: 27th November 2015
Format: Digital EP
Genre: Experimental

RED AND BLUE, the startling new release from Simon Bookish, is a collision between digitally-processed brass and distorted synthesizer drones; atonal electronic pop and drifting field recordings; and spoken word and unearthly vocalisations. Taking as its subject the Cold War 'special relationship' between the US and UK governments, it is by turns sinister, strange and mordantly witty, compressing a landslide of musical ideas into 16 and a half minutes.

Simon Bookish is the pseudonym of Leo Chadburn, British 'avant-pop' cult figure and experimental classical composer. In the last ten years, his unpredictable work has found champions in the likes of DJs Stuart Maconie (BBC Radio 6 Music) and Mara Carlyle (BBC Radio 3), and the London Symphony Orchestra (of whom he is an associate composer). RED AND BLUE is his first solo release under the Simon Bookish moniker in seven years, following on from his three concept-driven albums Unfair/Funfair (2006), Trainwreck/Raincheck (2007) and Everything/Everything (2008).

RED AND BLUE can be seen as either a hyper-condensed album, comprising twelve fragmentary songs; an extended, kaleidoscopic single; or an abstract, experimental radio play. The text is inspired by the correspondence between Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, the twin icons of right-wing politics throughout Chadburn's 1980s childhood in a UK East Midlands ex-mining town. Thatcher and Reagan's words are fractured and half-remembered in the surreal 'libretto', which imagines the two politicians as a pair of 'televisual spectres'.

RED AND BLUE is also a sister project to artist/director Jennet Thomas' 2015 film THE UNSPEAKABLE FREEDOM DEVICE, for which Chadburn wrote the score. Thomas' film, commissioned and exhibited by the Grundy Gallery in Blackpool, is a darkly funny science fiction fantasy, based on the idea of a futuristic 'cargo cult' of Mrs. Thatcher. It was threatened with a ban and temporarily postponed by local councillors (citing purdah and political bias), provoking a debate about censorship across the UK arts press. RED AND BLUE deploys soundscapes and recordings not included in the film, besides expanding on certain musical themes from the score.


"RED AND BLUE" : Credits


Leo Chadburn (b.1978, Leicester, UK) is a composer whose work crosses the borders between notated music and electronica, pop and experimental music, spoken word and music for gallery installations. His music has been broadcast on BBC Radio 1, 3 and 6music.

To date, he has released three albums under the pseudonym Simon Bookish, the last of which was Everything/Everything (2008), a "big-band song cycle about science and information" for the Tomlab label. His discography also includes remixes for Owen Pallett, Grizzly Bear, Franz Ferdinand, Seb Rochford (Polar Bear), and The Chap.

His recent collaborative work with visual artists includes Cerith Wyn Evans' Imagination Dead Imagine (2013) for the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Richard Grayson's Nothing Can Stop Us Now (2014) for Dilston Grove / Matt's Gallery and Jennet Thomas' The Unspeakable Freedom Device (2015) for the Grundy Gallery.

Recent non-pop works include a string quartet featuring the names of seventy species of moth, The Indistinguishables, written for Montreal's Quatour Bozzini and premiered at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in 2014. Leo is currently a 'Soundhub' associate composer of the London Symphony Orchestra, for whom he wrote Brown Leather Sofa (2013).

As a performer, he appeared as 'The Singer' in the National Theatre's critically-acclaimed 2007 production of Brecht's Caucasian Chalk Circle. Other notable performances (as vocalist) include Frederic Rzewski's Coming Together and Gavin Bryars' 1-2, 1-2-3-4 as part of the London Contemporary Music Festival in 2013 and 2014 respectively. He undertook a major UK tour in Spring 2015 entitled Leo Chadburn presents 'The Text Message' (Sound and Music touring programme), performing works by international experimental composers including Jennifer Walshe, Peter Ablinger and Yannis Kyriakides.


...In a musical economy where ideas are the sole currency, Simon Bookish would be doing the Scrooge McDuck backstroke through a pool of cartoon coins right about now. The man's recordings abound in little innovations, both sonic and lyrical... (Pitchfork)

...A charismatic blend of Scott Walker and Jarvis Cocker, Chadburn has rock-star glamour and a riveting presence. His vocals arrestingly combine crooning and Sprechgesang, and the musical score, created by Chadburn, is wildly abrasive... (The Times)

...This is one of the finest albums of the year, and another step in Simon Bookish realizing his potential as one of the most consistently creative, challenging and interesting contemporary UK solo artists working today... (The Line of Best Fit)