“...Angell returns with an album of ambitious orchestral psychedelia, "Private Player," that's earned justifiable comparisons to the hallmark of the genre, Love's "Forever Changes." - The New Yorker
"The Paul McCartney of ''Maybe I'm Amazed'' and ''Magical Mystery Tour'' would recognize a kindred spirit in James Angell, a songwriter whose album, ''Private Player'' (Psycheclectic), enfolds his voice and keyboard in orchestral wisps and swirls. Live, his melodies should take precedence over the tape loops.
"The underground classic of 2002.” ✩✩✩✩ 1/2 Stars! AMG Pick!
- Matthew Greenwald All Music Guide
Angell's music once heard is not easily forgotten, as such memorable imprints of Angell's inherent voice of musics' ultimate concern is indelible upon the souls of listeners. His whimsical insight into Pacific Northwest roots flow through his original piano-driven music, with a fresh voice filled with the penultimate desire for soulful clarity. He is a consummate wordsmith and musician summoning and summiting through his first hand experiences as the compelling intricacies of his work reveal themselves. He takes his audiences along for the ride -- on a modern day psychedelic trip to such distant places travelled within his life, within his mind and music. Drawn inward and beyond, entangled within the depth of his musicianship and vast artistry of charted music landscapes, he haunts us all with his longing for an unknown future. Such ultimate concerns in his music regard dream states, the ice man, a meteor heading for Earth, and music to redeem us all from such aftermaths through the James Angell "escape hatch" into the next progression plodding formulaically, maniacally, or tangentially. He calls out a future that soon enough will catch-up to his fold in space and time. And there at the end of the musical piece between turmoil and resolve, he favors his music and works to resolve into redemption. Knowing this, his music reveals that James Angell is not holding anything back from us, and listeners are compelled to never forget him or his futuristic revelations through brilliantly original music.
As a solo artist, he can easily walk into a room, sit down at the piano and immediately captivate within a moment of his first song. His stage presence coupled with his strong vocality and musical talent inevitably leave the audience moved with such solid and creative dynamics of his work. His lyrics are painstaking etched into the symbolic and ultimate questions about being and non-being, space and time, meaning and redemption. These are the words of truths, delusions, and illusions he conveys within each unique song, and such music is a transference and inculcation of his soulful dimensions invading all of music history's strata and form. His original growing catalog of music is hiding such complexity in the simplicity of plain sight. It is rather easy to admire his creativity, his wielding of musical will in the dimensions of his music, his mastery of the piano, his skybridge of synthesizers hovering over the abyss, his lyrical approachability, and his transcendent redemptive inclusion for the future that awaits his arrival.
James is legendary for his early work in Portland, Oregon with Neros Rome in the 1990’s. They garnered unprecedented attention from CBS, Sony, Island Records before eventually signing with Mercury Records.
In 2002 further attention was garnered by the likes of David Bowie and Paul McCartney for his first solo album “Private Player” which was touted as an uncompromising work of art. In 2003 after being moved by his solo piano performances in New York City, the legendary bassist John Taylor of Duran Duran asked to join him to play his music as a backing band member which later evolved into the Private Players band. The all-star Private Players included Bassist John Taylor (Duran Duran), drummer/producer/engineer Tony Lash (Neros Rome, Heatmiser & Elliot Smith), and Kevin Cozad (Neros Rome, Obscured By Clouds, Autobahn)., guitarist Daniel Riddle (King Black Acid), rhythm guitarist Sean Technor (King Black Acid). This later became a concert film “Private Player James Angell Live In Concert” which was released on DVD.
In 2010 with his latest stellar effort, “The Pandemic Symphony” album, James Angell explores the musical inner-workings of his musical mind and has thereby downloaded this sound and vision to media to share with all the world.
John Taylor (The Power Station, Duran-Duran) on Bass!!!
“Over the last decade, Portland, Oregon, has become a hotbed for contemporary music—you’ve no doubt heard of the Decemberists, Pink Martini, the Shins, Sleater-Kinney, and Stephen Malkmus. As the most imaginative and compelling of the Portland artists, James Angell has been flying mysteriously under the radar for the last decade. His resonant voice and colorfully orchestrated music have allowed him to carve out his own niche in the Pacific Northwest, but he has remained a well-kept secret elsewhere. Hard at work on his second solo album, with his third one already written in his head, record deal in hand at long last, this should be changing like a door kicked open.”
Todd Simmons – The Brooklyn Rail, New York
I find this one the most haunting albums and definitely a story. I love the Pandemic Symphony it is pure poetry. I really love this new album.
Inessa Anderson – KINK FM 101.9 Portland, OR
KINK FM plays "Iceman"
from "The Pandemic Symphony"
TO LISTEN CLICK HERE
VOCALIST, PIANIST AND NATIVE PORTLANDIAN, JAMES ANGELL RELEASES THE EPIC FOLLOW-UP TO 2003'S "PRIVATE PLAYER" WITH HIS NEW ALBUM "THE PANDEMIC SYMPHONY".
James Angell brings in 2011 with his monumental undertaking the album "The Pandemic Symphony". Angell's latest vision was a nearly 6-year crusade, bringing a world-class production to the ears of his Portland, Oregon audience and beyond. Angell is no stranger to the Portland music scene playing and touring both locally and nationally for 25 years, carrying with him some of the most original heartfelt lyrics and soul-stirring music to be heard. During his time fronting Portland legends Neros Rome the band was courted by major labels such as Island, MCA, Capital and Mercury the last two offering a coveted five-album deal. Thanks to label takeovers all the offers ended up DOA.
Motivated by frustration he retreated to his cabin in the woods and soon emerged with an album, a diary of fatherhood and marriage titled “Private Player”. The New York Times gushed "...Angell returns with an album of ambitious orchestral psychedelia. Private Player, that's earned justifiable comparisons to the hallmark of the genre, Love's "Forever Changes." The album also garnered rave reviews from the likes of David Bowie, Paul McCartney and bassist John Taylor of Duran Duran who was to later join his band. “This is the most honest music I have ever heard” mused Mr. Taylor. He went on, performing with Angell’s all-star lineup two sold-out shows in Portland. One at The Crystal Ballroom the other at the at the Aladdin Theater. Bowie even went so far as offering to personally sign him to his label ISO over over a phone call to Angell's residence. The conversation ended with "We will pick this up in two weeks where we have left off, when I'm back from tour".
Angell counted the seconds, minutes, days and finally weeks. Silence. Undeterred by the phone call that was to never come, Angell once again took matters into his own hands. Between day jobs and tribulations he created an album of ear-candy with baroque depth, a stellar recording that could still be brought into the live forum of the stage. “The Pandemic Symphony” was tracked everywhere from the family kitchen to the woods of upstate New York where it was to be finally mixed.
It all begins with the trenchant-juggernaut "I Followed Myself To NYC", a frenzied search for lost loved ones. Hot on its heels is the range-pounding rhythm of saloon house rouser "The Horse No One Can Ride" in which you can practically smell the horse shit, cheap perfume, then finally falling head-first into the whiskey-soaked skid marks on the barroom floor. Surging forward the album continues with "James of the Trees". One listens as the lush rainforest turns to scorched Earth. Ratcheting down into one of Angell's specialties, the delivery of sad yet strangely uplifting melodies, he recalls for you first hand the experience of musician as world-weary traveler in “The Cost Of Art”. “The Ballad of Liz and Richard” tells a story of love and war fought while swimming against the undertow of booze-fueled romance. Angell soon brings the chemistry to a sexual boil with the slinky funk of "Good Girl" and "Margot Please". Curveballs are soon thrown with the suspension of time frozen in the epic "Iceman". One ascends to the spirit plane accompanied by Tibetan-like chants and rave up Motown vocals. The album concludes with a sea-shanty "Mansion Of Happiness". It speaks of the patience required in pursuing a no-compromise artistic vision, yet eventually winning the golden ticket, both metaphorically and literally. James is not alone in this victory, the audience also gets to cash in, sharing with him the prize.
✩✩✩✩ 1/2 Stars! AMG Pick!
"The underground classic of 2002.”
- Matthew Greenwald
One of the most interesting and ultimately valuable new records to come out of 2002, James Angell’s “Private Player” is akin to Love’s “Forever Changes” in terms of overall elegance and strangeness. It becomes, in the end, a brilliant exercise in modern day psychedelia. Angell’s music is unique in that he wields influences as far- flung as jazz, soul, pop and psychedelic music - often all at the same time. The result is an intoxicating, narcotic voyage, yet has all the luster of a classical piece. It’s not 'easy listening' nor is it probably intended to be. Angell’s lyrics are both freeform and literate, and combined with the multi-layered arrangements, create a cinematic, almost Bosch-esque atmosphere where the lines of sanity, reality and fantasy are often blurred. For an example of this, the listener is directed to the third track, ‘Ed Blue Bottle’, which puts all of these elements together. Unsettling -- yes indeed...beautiful listening, absolutely. Aside from the beautiful ‘Treat Song’ featuring guest trumpet player Eric Matthews, the album's highlight may be epic closer, ’Sweet Bell’. With it's eerie, child’s voice providing an introduction to Angell's vocal before surrendering to a dissonant soundscape that can only be compared to Tim Buckley’s “Lorca” album, this is one of the album's greatest moments. “Private Player” is an experience that needs to be played and re-played several times preferably in a row, before the listener can fully realize how much music is really happening. In this way, it challenges the listener to become involved. This is not always a popular thing to do in these days of doubt and limited attention span, but is indeed necessary."
Bruce Miller, Magnet Magazine -
“...Angell’s piano, songs & vocals—the latter sounding at times like the whispered sing-speak of Ira Kaplan or Freddie Mercury subdued by the purr from a pack of affectionate house cats—that row this skiff of an album over placid waters. “Dear Dying Friend” chugs along to the rhythm of an electronic camel, becoming friendlier with each chorus, the synthesized push-and-pull finally giving way to a more organic version of this lugubrious tempo. “Treat Song,” with Eric Matthews’ muted trumpet, lopes along like the heart of Saturday night as Angell lullabies his daughter into dreams of spaceships and log-perched ponderances. “Ooh Love” is a tease, flirting and breaking promises. Angell hangs onto slow, elastic cadences and comes up with an album just odd enough to have never given bloated and pallid arena pop such as ELO or Elton John any trouble, though he often sounds like a smarter version of both."
David Segal, Alternative Press -
This is “Baroque orchestral rock that’ll make you feel like you’re smashed on absinthe. How is it? With its beautiful tunes and emotive vocals ‘Private Player’ introduces a major new talent. Kindred spirits: David Bowie, Tim Buckley, Rufus Wainwright...”
John Taylor, Duran Duran -
"I had no pre-conceived ideas and thought what the hell is this? I just felt the album deserved an audience and right now, I'm hungry for music that makes me cry. It's powerful, like a love affair. A few weeks later I caught James in concert in New York and was amazed by his show. You just knew big things would happen" (Bass for Private Player Live)
Chris Douridas, KCRW Los Angeles -
“The end result is a beautifully crafted album.”- NPR Sound Check - WNYC NYC
“A Beautifully crafted solo debut” "New ground-breaker!"
DJ Maria, WFMU New Jersey -
"Why did it take me so long to find out about this work??? The music is strange yet familiar, comforting and unsettling, lush and melodic, hummable but never gets old. This is complex intelligent pop, or whatever you want to call it. The fact that Angell has cited Bach Fugues as one of his main influences says loads about the richness of this listening experience. I am waiting with baited breath for his next album. Bring it ON!!"
(Oh, it's on nice lady! At least five CD's were sent to various DJ's at the WFMU, followed up with label email, and phone calls a year or longer before this review. Did you hear the new album yet?)
Michael R. Lee, In Music We Trust -
“Rave reviews, plus the interest of David Bowie, (who called Angell enthusiastically last summer), Paul McCartney, (who has selected "Ooh Love" for the next Garland Appeal disc and are planning with the Pasadena Symphony to perform with Angell this Spring) and John Taylor (bassist for Duran Duran and Power Station).”
Scott D. Lewis - The Oregonian
Arts & Entertainment
“Angell's compositions are sweeping, unhurried and embellished enough to keep the surprises coming without becoming cluttered. Angell's understated, breathy voice is the ideal complement, and, overall, this is music that comes from an artistic rather than commercial drive.”
REVIEWS FOR PRIVATE PLAYER IN CONCERT DVD
Before a sold-out crowd at the intimate Lola's Ballroom on January 3, 2003, the Aladdin Theatre was the group, now known as Private Player's second show. And what a show it is. Including the nine songs from that performance as well as interviews with James Angell, John Taylor, and Daniel Riddle. Private Player In Concert gives you a bird's eye view of the motivation and passion behind the record, as well as a look at the stunning, awe-inspiring live show the band was able to capture on the big stage of the Aladdin.
The camera angels are good. The music sounds clean, precise, and lively, the band at the top of their game. Everyone is enjoying himself or herself. It's more than a show, it's a performance, it's music and entertainment. Fans were treated to more than just a rock band playing on stage. They got their monies worth and more. I'll give it an A-.
Alex Steininger In Music We Trust
MANDIBLE is proud to present:
JAMES ANGELL / PRIVATE PLAYER IN CONCERT
featuring: John Taylor, Daniel Riddle, Tony Lash, Kevin Cozad and Sean Tichenor.
On March 14th, 2003 James Angell and his band Private Player were joined by none other than Duran Duran’s John Taylor for a performance at Portland, Oregon’s Aladdin Theatre. Taylor had heard Angell’s CD Private Player a few months earlier through a mutual friend and was so impressed that, upon meeting Angell at a club in New York City, he offered to lend his hand in presenting the songs live. Angell, a longtime Duran Duran fan, was ecstatic with the idea.
Several notable Portland musicians were recruited for the project. Ultimately Private Player (the band) consisted of Angell, Taylor, Daniel Riddle (leader of King Black Acid), Tony Lash (noted producer and former drummer for Heatmiser), Kevin Cozad (Neros Rome, Obscured By Clouds, Autobahn) and Sean Tichenor (King Black Acid). After a brief series of fast-and-furious rehearsals, the band debuted on January 3rd, 2003 at Portland’s Lola’s Room. Reception by the sold-out crowd was enthusiastic, and immediately another show was in the works.
Treat Song Clip
Dear Dying Friend Clip
Hiding In Plain Sight Clip
PRIVATE PLAYER IN CONCERT is an exhilarating document of the group’s second show. The band’s chemistry brings new life and energy to the layered pop psychedelia found in Angell’s studio work. The 50-minute concert film contains nine songs - seven from the CD Private Player and two previously unreleased tracks. The DVD also includes two radio station interviews with Angell, Taylor and Riddle, as well as a photo slideshow.
© 2004 Tony Lash.
Run time: 50 minutes (concert), 12 minutes (interviews). Video: color, full screen. Audio: 5.0 five channel Dolby Digital surround.
"The Pandemic Symphony"
"Ed Blue Bottle"
2002 © ℗ Psycheclectic Records
2002 © ℗ Psycheclectic Records
"The Ballad of Liz and Richard"
"The Pandemic Symphony"