A Certain Ratio have shared the newest slice of what to expect from their forthcoming studio album, 1982, due out on Mute on 31 March 2023. Across the slick and punchy funk grooves of ‘SAMO’ – named after the graffiti tag of American artist and wunderkind, Jean-Michel Basquiat – Jez Kerr namechecks a string of figures from New York’s 1980s art scene, an environment which has held massive sway over the band since their time recording there in the 1980s.
He explains, “The song is all about Basquiat and the birth of Hip Hop. We were lucky enough to be in NY around that time, and some of the lyrics in the song are the unique phrases SAMO sprayed around the city.”
Listen to the track and watch the lyric video that pays homage to SAMO’s graffiti and the work of Basquiat below.
Dan Carey’s ‘Down & Dirty (Mr Dan Remix)’ opens our forthcoming album, LOCO REMEZCLADA and the producer, songwriter, mixer and founder of Speedy Wunderground brings his inimitable touch to ‘Down & Dirty’, one of the last tracks ACR recorded with Denise Johnson who passed away unexpectedly last year.
Carey explains, “A long time ago when I was a teenager, I was out in Manchester and spotted a poster that said something about A Certain Ratio remixed by Norman Cook. At the time I didn’t really know what a remix was, who Norman Cook was, or who/what A Certain Ratio was, but somehow I knew it was worth investigating. As a result, I discovered ACR, figured out what remixes were, and started trying do my own. I’ve loved ACR ever since, and got pretty involved in production and remixing, so it meant a lot being asked to do this. It also meant a lot to work with one of the last vocal tracks that Denise recorded.”
“Their sense of adventure means that they are still in the now and it’s time to shift the focus back onto them.” – Louder Than War live review
A Certain Ratio release the final EP in a trilogy of releases – ACR:EPR – today on limited edition storm grey vinyl and download.
After an emotional performance celebrating the life and work of Denise Johnson last month, the band are set to perform at We Out Here and Wide Awake Festivals before embarking on a headline tour across the UK with support from The Emperor Machine – full details below.
The band will be joined on stage by Manchester singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist, Ellen Beth Abdi. In true ACR style, they have invited an artist they admire into the fold, to augment and bring an extra dimension to their live performance. ACR explain, “It would have been impossible to replace our beloved Denise with a similar singer, but in Ellen we recognised a fellow artist, someone creating inspiring and original music, and were made up when she agreed to join us – first in the studio and now on the stage.”
Ellen Beth Abdi goes on to say, “I love listening (and dancing) to ACR’s records so to be performing with them live is an amazing feeling. Denise was a friend as well as a massive inspiration and support to me.”
Talking about their decision to release this latest run of releases via the EP, ACR explain, “…since our 1981 ‘Do The Du (Casse)‘ EP on Factory US in 1981 we’ve held the format dear to our heart.” and on each of the series of EPs released throughout 2021, the band explore a different theme.
ACR:EPA pays tribute to Denise Johnson, compiling their last recordings together before her untimely passing and on ACR:EPC, dedicated to the late Andrew Weatherall, the band dig deep into the art of collaboration.
For the new ACR:EPR – where “anything goes!” – the band entered the studio with no preconceived ideas of what was expected from them and each of the songs from the EP, apart from ‘Big Boy Pants’ which began life the same time as ACR:EPA, were written from scratch, recorded and mixed over two weekends in November and December 2020. As John Robb wrote in a recent review, “Few bands age well – that’s just the cruel way music is – but ACR defy this and are surely, as musicians, at the peak of their powers.”
Last night (Saturday July 31st), at Gorilla in Manchester at the Remembering Denise event where all proceeds were donated to Music Venue Trust, the band took time to reflect on their friendship and lives with our beloved friend.
“The outpouring of love for Denise just shows how well she was respected by everyone, not only an amazing singer but a lovely caring person as well.
Denise was a true professional and we were never worried about her delivering the goods in the studio and live. In the studio she usually took a few minutes to learn her lines and then would deliver an amazing vocal in one take. She was an absolute pleasure to work with.
I always knew Denise was special but I didn’t realise quite how special until she had left us.”
“It was a great shock when Denise passed away last year. The band had just finished recording new tracks together in a great session in the studio and we were looking forward to the time when we could all return to playing live gigs.Denise was such a warm and caring person, her smile could light up the whole room and her hugs were legendary.I really miss her, as I’m sure all her many friends do, and those who never met her can get a sense of her soul through the many great recordings she sang on.She was one in a million.”
The thing I loved about D was how infectious her huge personality was with everyone she met. We would always look forward to seeing her at rehearsals/studio sessions because we knew something special was going to happen. When she arrived, she would alway give everyone a huge hugs before she preformed & that would always instantly elevate the session. If Man City had won that weekend, her banter with the band Reds would be on top form. One of my favourite things live was preforming ‘Knife Slits Water’ with her at the front of the stage where we would use the same mic and she would always try to make me laugh during the song and I’d do the same to her. She was playful yet alway the ultimate professional.
We miss Denise terribly, but her legacy will always remain. She will always be a Ratio x
‘Wonderland’ is the first track to be taken from ACR:EPA, out on Mute on 7 May 2021.
Back in early March 2020, ACR gathered at Oxygene in Salford for an informal weekend of studio time. With no fixed agenda and no preconceived ideas, the band – Martin Moscrop, Jez Kerr, Donald Johnson, Denise Johnson, Anthony Quigley and Matt Steele – entered the studio in part to celebrate completing the mix of their first new album in over a decade, ACR Loco.
‘Wonderland’ is unmistakably ACR, their fusing of genre is impossible to pin down but the rhythmic groove and Denise’s vocal evokes a dreamlike idyll.
ACR:EPA, is a four-track collection that centres around the studio jams with Denise Johnson. These sessions became their last together after the much-loved and much-missed artist passed away unexpectedly several months after the recordings.
A Certain Ratio celebrate a busy year with the release of a limited edition series of vinyl releases of their first four albums – the ACR Loco editions – due out on 11 December 2020 (15 January in N America).
The Graveyard and The Ballroom, Sextet, I’d Like To See You Again and To Each will all get the ACR Loco treatment, each album will be available on white vinyl in specially adapted black and white artwork. Each limited to 1000 copies worldwide.
Following the release of ACR Loco – described by Uncut as “their best LP in decades” – A Certain Ratio return with a new single, ‘YoYoGrip’ accompanied by a mesmerising animation by Griff, created using rubber Japanese Kinnikuman wrestler figures from the ‘80s.
The new single, a collaboration with producer and mixer Jacknife Lee, marries two of the new album’s standout tracks, ‘YoYo Gi’ and ‘Get A Grip’. After hearing their track ‘Lucinda’ feature on Jacknife Lee’s guest mix for BBC 6Music, ACR got in touch, discovered he was a fan and the conversation went from there, “Seeing that Jacknife Lee had produced and mixed some of the biggest artists in the world (U2, REM, The Killers, Editors, Taylor Swift, Bloc Party, Robbie Williams) it was a bit of a curveball for us, but we like the unexpected and we’re glad we took the chance.” The band go on to explain, “Jacknife Lee took two songs that were totally different tempos and keys (one is a 99 bpm Funk chugger and the other is a 126bpm banger aimed at the dancefloor) and joined them up perfectly using the best elements of each song.”
Jacknife Lee expands, “When I was a kid in Dublin, my older brother Derek bought ‘Shack Up’ and we listened to it so much it embedded itself into our DNA. We learnt how to play it, formed bands and we played ‘Shack Up’ in the school halls. It was a thrill to me to make the connection with ACR and I’m ecstatic that the collaboration worked.”
The track melds ‘YoYo Gi’, influenced by the Tokyo neighbourhood of the same name, with ‘Get A Grip’, which features Maria Uzor of Sink Ya Teeth. She reminisces, “I remember being pretty excited when they first asked about the collaboration. I mean, when you start a band you don’t expect to end up collaborating with one of your influences!”As well as this collaboration with Jacknife Lee and Maria Uzor, ACR have been in the studio recently crafting reworks for Baba Ali, Number and AK/DK.
A CERTAIN RATIO have shared the brilliant video for ‘Berlin’, the latest single to be taken from their eagerly anticipated new album, ACR Loco – due out on Mute on 25 September 2020.
Over the last few months, the band have shared a taste of the directions and styles distilled into their forthcoming new album. From ‘Friends Around Us (Part 2)’ to ‘Always in Love’ via the Tokyo suburbs on ‘Yo Yo Gi’, now comes the brand new single ‘Berlin’. ACR Loco, explains Jez Kerr, “…is a culmination of everything we’ve ever done.”
‘Berlin’ also includes the beautiful voice of Denise Johnson, who sadly passed away in July this year. “Denise will be missed so much by us,” says Martin Moscrop, “but her soaring voice will live on forever in our music and we are so blessed to have recorded with her on ACR Loco.”
The album’s release on Friday 25 September will be marked by a very special online event. An Evening with A Certain Ratio will see the band will play their new album in full at the Hope Mill Recording Studio following an exclusive premiere of their 2019 hit-laden gig for the Manchester Warehouse Project’s Haçienda night. The band will also be in conversation, with a Q&A and to finish, expect one of the band’s infamous ACR Soundsystem DJ sets. To book your ticket, visit: www.livefrom.events/ACR
Looking ahead to 2021, A Certain Ratio will be continuing their run of unmissable dates with a winter tour, starting in Huddersfield on 3 November, with a show at London’s EartH on 13 November, finishing at Glasgow King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut on 17 November.
ACR Loco was recorded by the core line up of Jez Kerr, Martin Moscrop and Donald Johnson with contributions from the ACR live line up – Tony Quigley on sax, Denise Johnson on vocals and Matt Steele on keyboards. Additional guests include Sink Ya Teeth’s Maria Uzor and Gemma Cullingford, Gabe Gurnsey (Factory Floor) and Manchester luminaries Mike Joyce (The Smiths) and experimental multi-instrumentalist Eric Random.
Keen on the joys of collaboration and sharing, it makes sense that adding the ACR touch to other artists via a series of reworks led to their latest album taking shape. Recent reworks of tracks for the likes of Baba Ali, Maps, Number, Barry Adamson and The Charlatans saw the band return to the studio to unpick those original tracks. “The reworks were crucial,” says Donald Johnson. “They got us back in the studio and forced a union and a bond. They allowed us to start getting a groove again.”
The new 10-track album is out on CD, cassette and limited edition coloured vinyl. The vinyl will be available in one of four colours: white, blue, red and turquoise, randomly packed, with each colour of varying rarity.
It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beautiful dear friend Denise has passed away.
A full statement will be released later, for now please give her family and friends the space they need. Spend sometime listening to her wonderful voice, remembering her loving nature and infectious sense of humour.
Love you loads D. Jez, Martin, Donald, Tony & Matt xx