Villagers New Album Out Now in UK/Ire and Europe

Watch: “Nothing Arrived” – Villagers
Stream: “The Waves” – Villagers

Aside from the Monday/Tuesday thing, I’ll never fully understand the nuances of staggered international release dates. Having said that, {Awayland}, the new album from Ireland’s Villagers (aka Conor O’Brien) arrived today Ireland, the UK and Europe. Those of us stateside will have to “wait patiently” until the album’s April 9 North American release via Domino Records. (Those of us with access to computers could probably find a way to listen to this before April 9.)

While every instrument on Villagers’ Mercury Prize nominated debut Becoming a Jackal was performed almost entirely by songwriter Conor J. O’Brien on his own, {Awayland} is an entirely different beast, with Conor inviting his fellow touring partners to perform his songs as a group, allowing a certain level of collaborative inventiveness to inform the arrangements. After initially beginning to write material for {Awayland} on his acoustic guitar, O’Brien felt he needed to take a new and different approach, “flip on its head the idea of what music is for myself,” and began creating musical landscapes, listening to widescreen instrumental music like Lalo Schifrin and David Axelrod. There is a different kind of movement on {Awayland}, an exploration of what O’Brien felt was most important, yet not immediately obvious. Trees, birds, the sea – all recurring images in O’Brien’s work that provide a kind of metaphor for living and dying, and the sense of soaring otherness. The record is possessed with playful joy as it is with devastation, a filtering of disparate influences – the quiet elegance of Nick Drake, and the sensuality of Curtis Mayfield. It is, as Kurt Vonnegut might have put it “intricate and voluptuous and enchanted and absurd” (Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 6)- life, in other words.

No US tour dates announced as of yet, track list and album art after the jump. (I expect Conor might be playing some US shows around the NA album release date. A quick check of his website, makes it look like he’ll probably be skipping SXSW.)

{Awayland} – Villagers

{Awayland} Track List
1. My Lighthouse
2. Earthly Pleasure
3. The Waves
4. Judgement Call
5. Nothing Arrived
6. The Bell
7. {Awayland}
8. Passing a Message
9. Grateful Song
10. In a Newfound Land You Are Free
11. Rhythm Composer