HUGO RACE – BIO IN BRIEF
Hugo Race, formerly of The Wreckery and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and now an internationally based producer, composer, performer and author, delivers intense sonic soundscapes that merge folk, experimentalism, electronica and rock. Originally from the 1980's Melbourne post-punk music scene, Hugo’s ever-expanding network of collaborations, bands and multimedia projects are spread over several continents. Hugo’s new book Road Series, a kind of memoir, describes his musical journey over three decades.
Hugo’s latest projects & releases:
City of Lost Souls, a music theatre work inspired by the dark side of Melbourne’s bayside redlight district St Kilda, created together with dramaturge Maryanne Lynch and composer Andree Greenwell. The 70 minute live production debuted at Theatreworks, Melbourne, with two 30-piece choirs, a four-piece band, 10 spoken word artists and extensive projection and lighting designs.
Gemini 4 – a new album of instrumental electronic music created with Hugo’s longtime creative partner Michelangelo Russo. Release date worldwide: February 2019 on Gusstaff Records (Poland).
Butterfly On A Pin – the memoir by Australian designer Alannah Hill was creatively edited by Hugo and has now sold over 20.000 copies. Hugo also recorded and produced Alannah’s narration of the book for Audify audiobooks (release date November 2018)
After producing the soundtrack for George Gittoes’ documentary film ‘Snowmonkey’, Hugo is currently working on George’s follow-up film ‘White Light’, working in the studio with former Bad Seeds bandmate Mick Harvey.
Dirtmusic (Hugo Race & American musician/producer Chris Eckman) return for their fifth album, a full-scale collaboration with Turkish-psych visionary Murat Ertel from Baba Zula. Recorded in Istanbul, the album navigates hypnotic rhythms, cinematic atmospheres and dark political realities. Dirtmusic toured Europe extensively in 2018, headlining festivals and playing one-off selected club shows to critical acclaim.
Originally a straight-talking, mainly acoustic trio mining blues and country for 21st century gold, Dirtmusic’s first happy accident was to stumble upon Tamikrest at the fabled Festival au Désert in Timbuktu in 2008. A musical love story began, running through that joyous first collaboration with Tamikrest in BKO (2010), followed by Troubles (2013) and Lion City (2014), which expanded the roster to include Ben Zabo, Samba Touré and a host of other superb Malian musicians. In the meantime, however, the Islamist takeover of Northern Mali in 2012 had darkened the sound and the songwriting, giving them a tone that continues to resonate through the new record.
New album Bu Bir Ruya is a questing, restless record for the head, but perhaps more so for the body. It broods throughout, as post-punk, Turkish psych, funk, rock and electronics stalk the grooves with widescreen intent. Release date: January 26, 2018, on Glitterbeat Records.
In duo with Michelangelo Russo from the True Spirit, Hugo recorded ‘John Lee Hooker’s World Today’, a dark-blues-ambient-techno tribute to the great bluesman,
Release date May 19th, 2017, on Glitterhouse Records, Gusstaff Records and MGM Australia. Hugo and Michelangelo toured the album worldwide from the Echuca Blues Festival in rural Victoria to the Blues Alive Festival in Czech Republic, some 70 concerts. The duo are preparing for a USA tour in late 2018.
The True Spirit - since 1989, 14 albums of ‘trance industrial blues’; the new album ’The Spirit’ on Glitterhouse Records (2015) is the band’s most successful release to date. The Spirit was followed in 2016 by the 10” EP ‘False Idols”, also on Glitterhouse.
Hugo Race Fatalists, a collaboration with Italian soundscape band Sacri Cuori, their recent album ’24 Hours to Nowhere’ was released to global acclaim by Glitterhouse Records in 2016 followed by 2 trans-European tours. Hugo and Fatalists are currently recording a new album for release in 2019.
Dirtmusic, Hugo Race with American songwriter and producer Chris Eckman (The Walkabouts). Following the 3 albums recorded in Mali Africa, Dirtmusic have established a global reputation as intrepid musical adventurers. Their 5th album, recorded in Istanbul Turkey with Murat Ertel from legendary Turkish psyche band Baba Zula, will be released on Glitterbeat Records in January 2018.
Long Distance Operators (LDO), a collaboration with Belgian artist Catherine Graindorge, the album was released by Belgian electronic avant-garde label Sub Rosa in March, 2017
HUGO RACE VIDEOS:
Love Blues (from John Lee Hookers World Today)
24 Hours to Nowhere (with Angie Hart from Frente)
Ballad of Easy Rider
Elevate My Love
I’m On Fire
Too Many Zeroes
“Hugo’s songwriting draws on pop culture from rock n roll to soul to delta blues to avantguard electronic soundscapes. Hugo defies any easy label and has staked out a creative territory entirely his own.” – KGB, Germany
The Arts Desk, UK on Dirtmusic’s ‘Bu Bir Ruya’
American-Australian roots explorers Dirtmusic found their sonic raison d’etre via North African Tuareg desert blues but for their fifth album, in lyric/photo gatefold, they hook up with Murat Ertel of Turkish psyche-rockers BaBa ZuLa, and his associates. The result is a set of chugging grooves interwoven with the fluctuating tones of Ertel’s long-necked Turkish lute (or saz) which gives everything a spacey edge. The rhythms are almost housey on Side A, with the twanging, guitar/saz interplay sending the listener’s brain off on a journey, brought back to earth every time the gruff vocals start, while Side B is mellower. It opens with another Turkish alt music star Gaye Su Akyol singing of being “foreigners everywhere” and, indeed, the whole album’s lyrics speak of wandering, of emigration, of the search for a home, giving the whole a softly compelling moral imperative.
Ondarock, Italia, on Dirtmusic’s ‘Bu Bir Ruya’
“Already the multiform dub-blues of "Bi De Sen Söyle" brings to the music the imposing and severe beauty of Ottoman architecture, making the listener tremble with the prayer of Hugo Race to human dignity, punctuated with a powerful and tormented voice (" So many others are just like me, did i lose my identity? / So many like me, did i lose my dignity? "). Between desert guitars and tribal percussion, the saz of Ertel and the voice of the host Brenna Mac Crimmon emerge like the lamentations of those who quiver to leave the limbo. The anxiety then assumes the appearance of a post-funk ride in the hypnotic "The Border Crossing", whose text is recited in a visionary spoken word ("Do not you know the world is getting smaller" get across the border "). The soundtrack of the refugees could only end this way: from the Bosphorus, the Dirtmusic do not offer us imaginative political solutions, but an extraordinary disc full of empathy and sensitivity.
From RocknRoll Monuments, Greece:
"John Lee Hooker's World Today" will become my favorite album forever, I think, walking comfortably on a tightrope, balancing the musical history of the Blues without ever losing its grip. Through experimental sounds, Hooker's Blues pass into another dimension. Race and Russo's pioneering electronic atmospheres give the Historical Blues something you never imagined possible.'
The title is “John Lee Hooker’s World Today” because once upon a time Hooker’s songs were fiercely, scary modern - and with Race and Russo, they still are the way forward, narrative haikus, snapshots of the vicious present. While “The Motor City Is Burning” is about the riots in Detroit in 1967, and moves you into a time, a place, a petrol emotion - it may as well be about the modern desolated men blowing their worthless selves to shit and taking love and laughter with them. And “John Lee Hooker’s World Today” portrays that desolation, albeit in other ways… and yet we are uplifted, filled with beauty, of love for people, for who we all are, all our faults and failings … truly, ‘“John Lee Hooker’s World Today” is one for the ages.' - Robert Brokenmouth
"A recognized exponent of modern blues and master of the most desert and rarefied atmospheres, a trademark of his guitar style and writing, Hugo Race this time directly faces the delta music of the Mississippi and its greatest prophet, John Lee Hooker, together with Michelangelo Russo, companion of adventure and music in True Spirit. Harmonic but evanescent harmonics, guitar stratifications, a dreamlike voice, a production full of reverberations with an almost trance-hypnotic approach to the theme: these elements form a compact and muddy sonic magma, pounded only by the heartbeat of a stomp box." - Luca Andriolo
“At times dreamlike, there’s an indie cinematic vibe throughout: Johnny Cash on the Lost Highway (Lynch’s that is, not Bon Jovi’s). Elegant lyricism and wistful insight adds weight to some finely crafted songwriting and if Australiana is a genre, this is it.” - Tim Batcup, Classic Rock UK
“This collaboration with Italian soundscape group Sacri Cuori highlights (Race’s) cinematic urges. The heartstabbing title track is a fine duet with Angie Hart of Frente, and Fatalists add cowboy twang to a set of agreeably Gothic growlers…” - Alistair McKay, Uncut, UK
“’24 Hours from Nowhere’ is darker than the darkest Walkabouts song, it’s a scorched earth vision… The songs sound magnificent, the instruments like blocks of grey tones, beautifully picked out, with plenty of room between them… Overall this is a dark Gothic piece that skillfully calls on Lee Hazelwood and Ennio Morricone to create a suite of songs that is beautifully constructed and breathlessly cinematic.” - David Cowling, Americana UK
“A captivating listen, with the ten tracks heavy on dreamy atmospherics. Hugo’s vocals are downbeat with a desert dry delivery, akin to say Lou Reed and Ed Keupper, and the mournful music is imaginative, taking you off into a vast, empty and dust blown wilderness.” - Pete Craven, Vive Le Rock, UK
"The truth is that (Race's) music has the capacity to connect with the blues inside every one of us, bringing them to light when we need to confront our own phantasms." - Indie for Bunnies, Italy
"A genial dance of deep, radical romance..." - Rolling Stone, Germany
“The steel guitar and the man from Melbourne’s deep voice dominate these ten intimate works… bright, beautiful acoustic folk songs in a heady maelstrom of shimmering ballads of correspondingly weighty themes - love, death and dark secrets.” - Gerhard Emmer, Kulturforum, Germany
“In "24 Hours To Nowhere" Race offers us his most intimate and personal side - sincere songs, played and sung with a passion and intensity that only the result of a life truly lived can give. ‘No God In The Sky’ is the disc’s masterpiece, a song of extraordinary intensity, a harsh and melancholy sweetness of tears.”
- Ignazio Gulotta, Distorsioni, Italy
“A profound journey, accompanied by an experienced guide who investigates every dark corner of the human soul, an author who should not be missing in any respectable discography.” - Paolo Dordi, Rockerilla, Italy
“In Australia, Hugo Race is present not only with his music which speaks for itself, but also with a book he has recently published, "Road Series", an autobiographical Road Novel. In it, he processes his travel experiences of the past 30 years - a mixture of Bruce Chatwin and Jack Kerouac. But despite the unexpected literary success, Hugo Race continues to make music. He needs songwriting as the air we breathe, he says.”
- Carsten Beyer, Deutschlandradio Kultur
“In a nutshell, if as we said at the beginning Hugo is your secret religion, this new chapter with Fatalists certainly gives new hymns for chanting.”
- Cico Casartelli, Gagarin Magazine, Italy
“No one holds holds Hugo Race back, many are his projects and precious collaborations, like the partnership of Fatalists that links him to Sacri Cuori and their exceptional folk tradition. Race puts into play his deep timbre, the Italian band throws down their sure card of desert folk from another era and from the sowing of these arid lands are born ballads suspended in time.” - Luca Minutolo, Rumore, Italy
“Modern folk songs, beautifully arranged, sometimes crossed by electronic beats or wrapped in the soothing touch of the strings, which reach beautiful peaks in the masterful covers of It'll Never Happen Again by Tim Hardin, and in the solar Ballad Of Easy Rider by the Byrds, or in the evocative and harrowing notes of We Were Always Young, No God in the Sky and 24 Hours to Nowhere, with the beautiful voice of Angie Hart counterpointing the Race’s crooner shades. A deep and intimate journey, where everything is twilight and dusk emotion.” - www.comeunkillersottoilsole.com, Italy
Acoustic guitar, ethereal production and that voice from beyond the grave, cavernous but of extreme sweetness. These are elements of the new production of Hugo Race, this time under the aegis of Fatalists. Once these foundations are laid, our man then shows a more eclectic approach. In fact, between the unpretentious folk ballad, No God In The Sky, and the sensual blues of The Power Of You And I, the crooner spectrum remains very wide. Extremely thoughtful production without being at any moment too heavy, quite the contrary… (Race’s) unstoppable class emerges without any false note.’ - Wilou, www.indiepoprock.fr, France
‘Fine, broody album (Between Hemispheres) from former Bad Seed plus collaborators. The much travelled Race again brings his varied sense of atmosphere and backdrop to enhance the complex emotional states presented in these songs’. - UNCUT **** UK | February 2011
Hugo Race Live 2013:
‘I haven't seen such drama, such restrained passion in a long while. It's a huge, huge sound. Takes you in, won't let go, you forget time, time speeds up and slows down in the same instant. We're captured. Hugo's songs are carefully structured, clever, yet innocent. As he performs, Hugo is many things all at once: you can see the young boy, the young man, the older man, his father. And there's huge pain in there as well, catastrophic, as well as more simple tales of people he's met. Most of the set tonight comes from his current cd, We Never Had Control, there's a handful from Fatalists. Hugo is so much his own man, he's obviously not using anyone for a springboard except himself - his songs, demeanour, his manner of expression are all the result of decades of work - his own. I think he's one of the most courageous men I've seen on stage in a long while. Hugo Race is a major, major talent. If you've not seen Hugo live, and you've missed him this tour, you'll have to get on a plane. He's that good.
- Mandy Tzaras, i94bar.com
Hugo Race Fatalists Live in Sydney 2013:
“Race’s presence was undeniably captivating. Dressed in full three-piece suit-and-tie, he fashioned the atmosphere of the venue to suit his own aesthetic. Drawn into a dark corner, Race’s deep twisted vocals transformed the setting into a smoke-filled whisky joint that you’d expect from an old-time film-noir. Holding the audience in a trance, Hugo Race Fatalists filled the room with mesmerisingly sparse harmonies that put the stunning recorded versions to shame. Truly one of the great unsung musicians that Australia has to offer, Hugo Race is an artist that holds your hand and leads you through the gritty moodiness of his songs, then comforts you at the exact moment you begin to feel lost. - Alexandra Skeer, Tone Deaf Australia
“Whilst the solo work of Nick Cave, Mick Harvey, Rowland S. Howard and Hugo Race all share aesthetic and aural similarities, they are also highly individual works from unique and creative figures. Here (Fatalists), one truly appreciates the fact that Race has perhaps created the opus which will define his long career.” - Denise Granse ‘Fatalists’ Review | Drum Media | Sydney | Feb 2011
Hugo Race Fatalists Live in Melbourne:
Hugo Race has the kind of presence that draws your eyes towards him wherever he stands in a room. Race starts with a solo number. That commanding, effortless baritone caresses while extracting maximum meaning from every word as the audience shuffles closer to the stage. Once joined by Fatalists, it’s as if time suspends. This show is an immersive experience. The congregation are impressively attentive. One enthusiast drops to his knees in worship, remaining there for almost an entire song’s duration.”
- Bryget Christfield, The Music Australia, September 2013
Hugo Race Fatalists Live in Melbourne:
The masterful mix between the deep rough tone to Hugo’s voice, the bright consistent rhythm section and the tasteful guitar fills occupied the room with sound. With this sound came an energy, the music took on an immersive quality that can only be experienced at a live show. Emphasizing this was the intense presence of Hugo Race. I understand now why so many compare him to Mark Lanegan, the live presence is undeniable. Inescapable. Now that I’m standing out on the freezing Melbourne street, I have a minute to write down some clever, informed and intellectually complex notes about the show I just saw. Unfortunately the only words I keep repeating in my head are: That was cool, man. - Angus Evans, Mountainpass.com.au, September 2013
Hugo Race sings and plays an acoustic guitar, both in that deep dark blues manner that sounds classic, yet up-to-date. This is strong, evocative music and will likely go on my replay pile for when I want to let my body drift off while keeping my mind focused on this dark and intriguing imagery. Profound music, this. - David Hintz, Folkworld.de, March 2013
“Hugo Race is one of our most prolific composers and musicians… (his) ability to extract a level of textural, tonal and evocative detail from such a skeletal assemblage of instruments and turns of phrase is remarkable. Striking in its austerity, and shattering in its impact, Race’s smoke-scarred baritone has never sounded so convincing.” MAG | Australia | February 2011
‘(Fatalists) is arguably an appropriate description for Race’s music in its various forms and guises; frequently dark, often confronting, Race sits on the windowsill outside the dominant culture, offering regularly astute, and occasionally bleak, assessments of matters emotional and cultural… invigorating as it is intense’
Beat | January 2011 | Melbourne