’Scene Memory 2.1’ is a special follow up EP of additional tracks from the sessions of last years’ album ’Scene Memory II’, and is perhaps best understood as “anti-virtuosic” – a term Leo himself offers. It is unshowy, meticulously crafted and hued with contrasting shades. Even its title is a self-referential irony – these are not guitar solos for spotlit rock stages, but sonic explorations into the furthest reaches of the instrument.
A profoundly skilled musician and producer, Leo Abrahams’ creative stamp represents a unique excellence. A Royal Academy of Music graduate, a collaborator of Brian Eno, Imogen Heap, David Byrne, Grace Jones, Regina Spektor, Jon Hopkins and Paul Simon (among others), a member of Krononaut with Martin France (and featuring Arve Henriksen and Matana Roberts), and a filmscore composer, Abrahams has released numerous solo albums and is credited with production, performance and arrangement on countless more. Visitations, his previous album for figureight records, a collaborative record with label boss Shahzad Ismaily, was described in review as “the meeting of two virtuosos”.
“The record grew out of an Ableton Live Set that I built for a solo tour of Siberia in 2019,” Leo writes. “I wanted to create different sonic environments in which to improvise, generating a wide variety of sounds from a single guitar source while avoiding any looping or sequencing. I found the results were most inspiring when the patches had the ability to surprise me. I was seeking ambiguity and liminality in all areas: sound, genre and mood. A live concert was sometimes a challenging environment to explore these things, and the crowd was split every night; reactions ranged from rapt attentiveness from physics students, to outright anger from people who had been expecting ‘real’ guitar solos. All the pieces on the record have their seeds in that tour, but were improvised without an audience in my London studio.