Marcus Hamblett is a man of many talents. Not only does he play guitar, bass, trumpet and keys, he also produces records and sometimes releases them. You might have seen or heard him play with Bear’s Den, Laura Marling, Villagers, James Holden, This Is The Kit, Lucy Rose, The Staves, Christof van der Ven and Emma Gatrill. And that list isn’t even complete. The chances you’ve seen him perform his solo instrumental pieces are a bit smaller, but I’ve got you covered with this intriguing session filmed at brewpub De Kromme Haring in Utrecht.
‘Ornette Coleman and Brian Eno have both influenced me hugely but in different ways. Eno’s experiments with technology and the studio as an instrument. Also, like Bjork, he’s great at choosing the best people to collaborate with. I like his playfulness too. I love Ornette Coleman’s harmonic innovation and passion. But also you might expect his music to be ‘difficult’ and it really isn’t, his melodies are like birdsong, so free and natural.’
Commit to a singular vision and see it through
‘I definitely work with the studio as an instrument almost 100% of the time when I’m writing my own music. One of Eno’s Oblique Strategies is “Honour thy error as hidden intention” which I really like, I’ve definitely made features out of things that started as mistakes as a result. I think Ornette has influenced my music quite a lot but I am struggling to pinpoint in what ways exactly, perhaps mostly his spirit and sense of melody.’
‘I wouldn’t say I get inspired to write music by beautiful sunsets or politics or anything like that, just other music! A few big names would be Tortoise, Chicago Underground, Ennio Morricone, Broadcast. I also get very inspired by artists like Gazelle Twin, Richard Dawson, Wovoka Gentle and David Thomas Broughton – they are all so unique and unafraid of just being themselves fully. They are each really committed to a singular vision and they see it through and I admire that. They mean it!’
'James Holden taught me the importance of music as a social ceremony and an inner adventure'
Playing with so many different bands in varying genres must surely have enriched Hamblett’s playing and songwriting. ‘James Holden taught me the importance of music as a social ceremony and an inner adventure. Steve Aston is a jazz guitarist I used to play double bass with. His music really pushed me to be harmonically adventurous and made me want to be more technically proficient. I’ve played with Broken Social Scene a few times and the production of some of their albums really influenced mine – I love the raw party atmosphere on the self-titled album and You Forgot It In People and that directly inspired me to leave in the messy bits and not try to edit things too much or overly polish.’
‘I think Rozi Plain’s latest album What A Boost and Wovoka Gentle’s album Start Clanging Cymbals are similarly influential for me, the way she let lots of people improvise and you can hear their personalities. Timber Timbre’s minimal arrangements have influenced mine too, not so much on my solo stuff but on the new Eyes & No Eyes album we’re finishing. Alabaster dePlume and David Thomas Broughton have taught me a lot about improvising. And I’ve been very lucky to work with some people who I genuinely think are among the best living songwriters in the world today – Kate Stables, Conor O’Brien, Willy Mason, Lucy Rose and more, who have all influenced me in different ways.’