I AM ALADDIN is the debut album by yllwshrk, available October 16 on EOA Recordings. A thrillingly original fusion of alt-rock and contemporary classical music, I AM ALADDIN contains the singles “Northern Soul”, “And Let Them Glow” and “Pyramids”, whose video features Ellie Fergusson, 2019 winner of the BBC’s The Greatest Dancer.
Hailing from both sides of Hadrian’s Wall, members of yllwshrk have appeared on albums by Radiohead, Frank Ocean, and Foals as members of the London Contemporary Orchestra (LCO). They have performed live with artists such as Little Simz, Goldfrapp, Ry X, Eric Clapton, and Elbow, as well as regularly giving classical chamber music recitals across the UK & Europe and performing and recording with many of the UK’s leading orchestras.
I AM ALADDIN features musical collaborations with Berlin electronic duo Mouse on Mars’ Andi Toma, saxophone virtuoso Nick Roth, young Scottish jazz pianist Fergus McCreadie, contemporary classical composer Linda Buckley, Scottish singer-songwriter Hannah Read, and the Maxwell String Quartet, winners of the 2017 Trondheim International Chamber Music Competition.
The core individual behind yllwshrk is composer and guitarist Ian Anderson, who cites the likes of Mahler and Prokofiev as influences as well as contemporary artists such as Björk and Nils Frahm. This spirit of experimentation — as well as the ethos of cross-genre and cross-art-form collaboration — is conveyed in the band’s name, taken from ‘The Yellow Shark’, Frank Zappa’s foray into contemporary classical music alongside Ensemble Modern.
yllwshrk began after all the other members of Anderson’s previous band Idle Kings left after a gig at the now defunct Good Ship in Kilburn in late 2014. It took over a year to find a new line-up and a new name, but eventually yllwshrk gave their first gig in January 2016, at the now also-defunct The Islington in Angel.
In March 2016 the band recorded their debut EP. produced by long-term Radiohead engineer Graeme Stewart, who Dave Brown and Ian Anderson met through touring with Jonny Greenwood in 2014-15 as part of the LCO. However due to personal circumstances, yllwshrk was then put on hold, until almost 2 years later they secured funding from Creative Scotland, Arts Council England and Help Musicians UK to record and release their debut album. The project gradually expanded, until it spanned music, dance, film and animation, comprising 29 musicians, 8 studio engineers, 4 dancers, 3 choreographers, 4 filmmakers, a drag queen, a contortionist, 4 actors, a visual artist, and a group of very angry Millwall fans on the train from Birmingham to London.
The balancing of musical genres from drastically different philosophies and traditions is reflected in the album’s title: I AM ALADDIN references BlackRock Inc.’s Aladdin programme, which appears in Adam Curtis’ darkly compelling film HyperNormalisation as an example of how modern technocrats attempt to manage the chaos and complications of the real world. This unease with much of the modern world is explored throughout I AM ALADDIN, the tone and subject of the songs often taking inspiration from Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror or Frankie Boyle’s old Guardian columns.
yllwshrk aren’t rock. They aren’t classical. They aren’t a series of algorithms either. They’re musical misfits who embrace the current blurring of genres and push that to the extreme. What other band uses tuning forks to create beats, has a saxophone hooked up to an amp so it can control feedback pitches, or chucks a vibrator into a Steinway piano just to see what happens?
yllwshrk I AM ALADDIN
01 Smudge (with London Contemporary Orchestra, Andi Toma, Linda Buckley)
02 And Let Them Glow (with Hannah Read, Maxwell Quartet)
03 Pyramids (with London Contemporary Orchestra, Fergus McCreadie, Nick Roth)
04 Northern Soul (with Linda Buckley)
05 Arsenik (with London Contemporary Orchestra, Hannah Read, Linda Buckley)
06 Millenials (with London Contemporary Orchestra)
07 One by One (with Fergus McCreadie, Hannah Read)
09 Skin (with Maxwell Quartet)