Music

Terry Callier: Hidden Conversations

With his latest recording, Callier decided to wholeheartedly embrace his younger generation of supporters and put a good deal of creative forces in their hands.


Terry Callier

Hidden Conversations

Contributors: Robert Del Naja
Label: Mr. Bongo
US Release Date: Import
UK Release Date: 2009-05-25
Amazon
iTunes

Since 1991, when Acid Jazz labelhead Eddie Pillar re-released Terry Callier’s commercial flop 12” single “I Don’t Want to See Myself (Without You)”, he has found himself a mainstay in the British electronic scene. After being embraced by the club scene in the early '90s, Callier regained the confidence he needed to come out of retirement. Shortly after, he was picked up by a fellow soulful folkie and down-tempo electronic audience advocate, Beth Orton, for her 1997 EP, Best Bit, and Callier found comfort in a new generation of musicians.

With his latest recording, Hidden Conversations, Callier decided to wholeheartedly embrace his younger generation of supporters and put a good deal of creative forces in their hands. Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja is the mastermind behind the beats for 3 of the recordings, truly accenting Callier’s soulful voice with a world full of eerie, noir-style beats. The reason this collaboration is so favorable to success is that it was never highlighted as something Del Naja took over. This is still Terry Callier’s show, and it's not one of those shock factor comeback albums with a bunch of young, hot shot producer collaborators. Callier has been in the game for four decades, staying dedicated to his art, developing it at a slow and steady pace along the way.

With that said, pulling Del Naja along for the ride is no small feat. Most producers save their best work for their pet projects, giving their second-rate material to side projects, but Hidden Conversations is a labor of love, and some of the best work Del Naja has done within or out of Massive Attack in recent years. The intro track, “Wings” is easily the heaviest hitter on the album, featuring a sluggish trip-hop banger drenched with an ambience of pads and a gorgeous, minimal chord progression on the Rhodes. Callier delivers with the confidence of the Last Poets during his spoken word bit, and sings with a vibrato that only a true veteran can carry. The other Del Naja co-written track, “John Lee Hooker”, is a diversion from his normal electronic-based production into something more traditional. Still carrying the same overall feel into a more guitar-driven sound, this is an exploration of trip-hop in a more organic environment -- something groups like Zero 7 and Cinematic Orchestra have championed in recent years.

Although Del Naja brings a vibrant addition to Hidden Conversations, the biggest surprise on the album is Callier’s solo writing. The admiration and technique comes full circle, while Callier takes on the sound of down-tempo mixed with a minimalist electronic edge that will gladly appeal to '90s trip-hop heads. In particular, the last song on the recording, “Jessie and Alice”, is the perfect blend of Callier’s slow, blissed-out acoustic guitar strumming drenched in a lo-fi reverb, among the glitchy, subtle soul-jazz beat. On “Fool Me Fool You”, Callier goes back to his days as a prophetic voice in the Windy City, speaking spoken-word with authority and clarity that many of today’s hip-hop emcees are incapable of approaching. He brings the focus back to simplicity and repetition in getting your message across, something many of hip-hop’s elder statesmen would help impart to a younger generation of emcee as one of the most important elements of the genre.

While Callier has always somewhat defied genre classification, he really takes it to the next level here. Using his experience as a veteran soul singer and underground folk legend, he has been making strides to make his voice heard during his second run as a performing artist. While 2005’s Lookin’ Out was a near-perfect visit to the past, Hidden Conversations is the most profound, forward-thinking record Callier has put out since his flawless run in the early '70s with What Color Is Love? and I Just Can’t Help Myself.

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

Cordelia Strube's 'Misconduct of the Heart' Palpitates with Dysfunction

Cordelia Strube's 11th novel, Misconduct of the Heart, depicts trauma survivors in a form that's compelling but difficult to digest.

Music

Reaching For the Vibe: Sonic Boom Fears for the Planet on 'All Things Being Equal'

Sonic Boom is Peter Kember, a veteran of 1980s indie space rockers Spacemen 3, as well as Spectrum, E.A.R., and a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff. On his first solo album in 30 years, he urges us all to take our foot off the gas pedal.

Film

Old British Films, Boring? Pshaw!

The passage of time tends to make old films more interesting, such as these seven films of the late '40s and '50s from British directors John Boulting, Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Kimmins, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, and Leslie Norman.

Music

Inventions' 'Continuous Portrait' Blurs the Grandiose and the Intimate

Explosions in the Sky and Eluvium side project, Inventions are best when they are navigating the distinction between modes in real-time on Continuous Portrait.

Music

Willie Jones Blends Country-Trap With Classic Banjo-Picking on "Trainwreck" (premiere)

Country artist Willie Jones' "Trainwreck" is an accessible summertime breakup tune that coolly meshes elements of the genre's past, present, and future.

Music

2011's 'A Different Compilation' and 2014 Album 'The Way' Are a Fitting Full Stop to Buzzcocks Past

In the conclusion of our survey of the post-reformation career of Buzzcocks, PopMatters looks at the final two discs of Cherry Red Records' comprehensive retrospective box-set.

Music

Elysia Crampton Creates an Unsettlingly Immersive Experience with ​'Ocorara 2010'

On Ocorara 2010, producer Elysia Crampton blends deeply meditative drones with "misreadings" of Latinx poets such as Jaime Saenz and Juan Roman Jimenez

Music

Indie Folk's Mt. Joy Believe That Love Will 'Rearrange Us'

Through vibrant imagery and inventive musicality, Rearrange Us showcases Americana band Mt. Joy's growth as individuals and musicians.

Music

"Without Us? There's No Music": An Interview With Raul Midón

Raul Midón discusses the fate of the art in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. "This is going to shake things up in ways that could be very positive. Especially for artists," he says.

Music

The Fall Go Transatlantic with 'Reformation! Post-TLC'

The Fall's Reformation! Post-TLC, originally released in 2007, teams Mark E. Smith with an almost all-American band, who he subsequently fired after a few months, leaving just one record and a few questions behind.

Film

Masaki Kobayashi's 'Kwaidan' Horror Films Are Horrifically Beautiful

The four haunting tales of Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan are human and relatable, as well as impressive at a formal and a technical level.

Film

The Top 10 Thought-Provoking Science Fiction Films

Serious science fiction often takes a backseat to the more pulpy, crowdpleasing genre entries. Here are 10 titles far better than any "dogfight in space" adventure.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.