Organ Thing of the Day, another thing, we can have two in a day, we have here the music video for Vanderwolf’s “When The Fire Grows Cold” a track from the ”Extinction! EP”, a release that features guest contributions from the great Robert Wyatt and the late great Gong leader Daevid Allen. Both founders of the ground-breaking legendary band, The Soft Machine. Here’s the video, there’s more details down there underneath….
Listen to the b-side and find order details and such on Bandcamp
The press release
Vanderwolf has released his new single, leading with the A side “When The Fire Grows Cold”, a piano-led cinematic nightmare-lullaby co-sung by the legendary musician-activist, Robert Wyatt. The B side is “Extinction!”, a 7-minute Balkan-brass psychedelic fantasy featuring the late, great Daevid Allen’s glissando guitar solo and the wonderful Terry Edwards (PJ Harvey, Lydia Lunch, Tindersticks) on saxophone. These two epic tracks capture the polarities of Vanderwolf’s vision: one song precise and quietly disturbing and one sprawling and transcendent.
As well as being a musician with a long and storied history (most notably as vocalist with semi-legendary London band Last Man Standing, whose sole album in 2007 received plaudits from Mojo and Uncut), Max Vanderwolf has a hugely successful career as a music programmer and concert producer, working for some of the worlds’ most celebrated clubs and concert venues. These include New York’s legendary Knitting Factory and London’s internationally-renowned Royal Festival Hall, where for 9 years he produced the Meltdown Festival working closely with David Bowie, Patti Smith, Jarvis Cocker, Massive Attack and Ornette Coleman. It was while working on Meltdown that Vanderwolf forged his friendship with Robert Wyatt.
Explains Vanderwolf: “I had produced a tribute to Wyatt in NYC many years ago. Fred Frith, Peter Blegvad, Hugh Hopper and many others appeared. Robert gave it his official nod of support. When I moved to London to produce my first Meltdown Festival, Robert seemed the obvious choice to curate it, and from that, a lovely friendship evolved. Of course it was daunting asking him to sing something I’d written. I know he gets a lot of proposals of which he turns down nearly all. But happily, he said yes. He said he thought he could sing this set of lyrics— and commented about the possibility of singing about his father. It was a huge relief to me.”
“When The Fire Grows Cold”, which features co-producer Sam Sallon on piano, is lifted by what Wyatt referred to as a “peasant-chorus”. Award-winning video director Alden Volney also depicted the “peasant chorus” in the accompanying video for the song.
Alden Volney is a French Video Maker, Director, Animator and Composer from Normandy. He has directed many music videos – both animated & live-action for artists such as Nicolas Godin, Villagers, Bobby Womack, Lisa Hannigan, Temples, Iggy Pop, Jamie XX to cite a few. In 2017 The Cubitt art gallery in London hosted his first video installation, “Broadcaste” funded by Fluxus. He’s currently making the jump to storytelling, working on a feature length animated film.
The single’s B-side “Extinction!” is a dark ritualistic journey drawing on Balkan brass, African drumming, electronic analogue Trance elements, crunching metallic guitars and with guest appearances from the late legendary guitarist Daevid Allen of Soft Machine and Gong and saxophonist Terry Edwards (Tindersticks, PJ Harvey, Lydia Lunch).
The idea of these tracks being paired is partially due to the thematic link of the lyrics: the folly of human progress that has brought us to the very brink of our own mass extinction. But it is also a linkage between Wyatt and Allen who met as kids in Canterbury England when Daevid Allen became a border in the Wyatt household at the age of 16. He had been shipped off by his family to England because he was too effeminate and too artistically-inclined for the rugged testosterone-driven culture of Australia in the early 1960s. “Allen showed up with Charlie Parker albums under his arm and from their mutual love of bebop a creative partnership was formed. We tried to reflect that love for jazz in the album artwork and the music itself.”
Together those two kids would, along with Kevin Ayers and Mike Ratledge, form the Soft Machine who became the soundtrack for the swinging psychedelic 60s. Regulars at the UFO club and the Roundhouse playing on bills with their contemporaries, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd.
A new album from Vanderwolf will be released this summer.
Vanderwolf – Biography
Max Vanderwolf has recorded more than 11 albums under his own name and as part of various bands. Many more went unreleased. Some evanesced from the catalogues of fledgling independent labels. Under his name, or various pseudonyms, he has also appeared on festival bills performing with various other musicians’ projects, his own bands and small orchestras.
While this isn’t unusual for a busy musician, what is unique is that concurrent to this activity, Vanderwolf lived under an assumed name, spending most of his daytime hours working as ‘Glenn Max’ as a music programmer and concert producer, including overseeing London’s legendary Royal Festival Hall. There, for 9 years he produced the Meltdown Festival working closely with David Bowie, Patti Smith, Jarvis Cocker, Massive Attack and Ornette Coleman.
Vanderwolf then shifted over to East London’s underground music scene finding a home at the notorious Village Underground where he established a stronghold for his unique curatorial visions while producing concerts in Brooklyn, Rome and Paris for such notable artists as John Cale, Sparks and the Residents.
The demands of his work-life were not without their rewards, but they came as a detriment to his life as a musician and bandleader. He had to turn down offers of tours, and support slots due to his heavy work-schedule. Entire finished albums would get regularly shelved or went unmixed and unreleased. Bands would disintegrate after periods of inactivity.
Amongst his bands, Last Man Standing made the biggest impact. Emerging from the infamous Soho drinking den, The Colony Room and fueled by alcohol, the YBA movement and the notorious Lost Vagueness parties in south London, the band were soon playing the full array of UK festivals with their incendiary live show. Their sole album, “False Starts and Broken Promises”, earned 4 and 5-star reviews from Mojo, Uncut and others with favorable comparisons to Bowie, Alex Harvey, Tom Waits, Steely Dan and Lou Reed.
Despite encouragement from friends and fellow musicians, Vanderwolf always shrugged off releasing a follow-up album. Yet he continued to record. So what changed?
“It’s been full-on…I’ve been writing and recording steadily but releasing music hasn’t been a priority. My work was full-on and I’d not been able to achieve the things I did if I went on tour to promote an album. But with the global pandemic, I had all this space and a burst in productivity. And I also felt a bit retrospective so now it’s time for this music to show itself to the world.”
A new period of studio activity, writing, recordings and remixing tracks was overseen by Sam Sallon and David Watson and produced a wealth of new tracks all of which will be seeing the light of day in Vanderwolf’s new album, due this summer.
Vanderwolf & the Last Man Standing Ensemble:
Max Vanderwolf – Vocals
Sam Sallon – Keyboards
Chris Wyles – Drums
Chris Cordoba – Guitar
Will Muldrew – Bass
Daevid Allan – Glissando Guitar
Terry Edwards – Sax
Ed Rieband – Trombone
Nick Etwell – Trumpet
Afla Sackey – Percussion
Spoken vocals – Pablo Farba & a Serbian Uber Driver
More – vanderwolfmusic.com