Since the release of his last record “Imager” in 2015, a lot has changed for the London born James Mathé – known as Barbarossa. Most importantly, he’s become a father for the first time and made the hugely liberating move from London, the city that had for so long defined him and his sound, to Margate.
“Lier”, Mathé’s brand new album, is the perfect sonic story to accompany these big life changes and as a result, his most personal record to date. Across the 10 tracks, “Lier” is a hugely uplifting and cathartic record that takes you from the depths of his intricate and wonderful creative mind to the wider wonderful emotions that come with becoming a father. Picking up where 2015’s “Imager” left off, “Lier” is further electronic wizardry from Barbarossa – one of the UK’s finest songwriting talents. This time, his vocal is at the forefront on some of the most accessible, pop songs he’s ever written.
“Don’t Enter Fear” is the perfect way to introduce the record. Written on the piano in his parent’s house, it encapsulates everything that the whole album represents and is ultimately a reminder to himself not to be scared of the seismic changes in both his own life and the political world around him.
“Lier” was written and recorded with Mathé’s producer friend Ghost Culture in Margate with percussion and drumming skills supplied by Joel Wästberg a.k.a. Sir Was and artwork by fellow Margate dweller Tom Vek. The album is focused on the theme of geographic and personal change – “Cyclone” – the album opener for example – focuses on the move from city to sea and the calm and space that can bring whilst album title track “Lier” was inspired by swimming in the Walpole Bay tidal pool. But inspiration comes from everywhere – “Aluminium Skies” was written in Gothenburg, Sweden whilst James was on the road with José Gonzalez (he plays in the José Gonzalez live band), whilst “Thickening Air” was inspired by the classic songwriters that Mathé obsesses over – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Brian Wilson and Joni Mitchell.
What unites the songs on “Lier” are central themes of loss, love and confronting who you are as time moves on and things change within and out of your control. By the end of the record you are left with the feeling that when things are simplified, they are at their most beautiful.
The full album will be released on Memphis Industries on March 30th.