Après le succès de ses deux premiers EP (« If You’re On The Water » puis « Aloha »), le duo californien The Saxophones a annoncé la sortie de son premier album « Songs of The Saxophones », paru le 1er juin chez Full Time Hobby.
À l’origine, The Saxophones désignait le projet solo d’Alexi Erenkov, mais alors qu’il souhaitait ajouter des percussions à ses compositions, qui de mieux placé que son épouse Alison pour former un duo ? « Je voulais partager ce groupe avec elle, confie Alexi, d’autant plus que j’aurais été dévasté de partir en tournée sans elle. »
Les titres rassemblés dans ce premier album ont vu le jour dans la baie de San Francisco à bord du bateau dans lequel vivait le couple, au cours d’un hiver particulièrement humide. « La plupart des chansons ont été écrites avec une guitare lors de matinées pluvieuses, dans la cabine de notre bateau ou dans une petit gîte situé à Point Reyes » raconte Alexi.
« Songs of The Saxophones » puise son inspiration à la fois dans l’exotica et la musique hawaïenne des années 1950 (Edhen Abhez, Buddy Fo et Martin Kenny), chez le songwriter italien Vittorio Impiglia, ou encore parmi une foule d’albums de Third Stream et de jazz de la côte Ouest, pour nous offrir un résultat tout à fait unique.
« The most important factor when choosing bandmates is love,” says the Saxophones’ Alexi Erenkov. “Do you love the people you’re playing with? If so, everyone is going to be feeling relaxed and confident.” This approach is a useful one to have when your wife, Alison Alderdice, is in your band.
Whilst the Saxophones began as the solo project of Erenkov – a project that was loosely started over a decade ago but gained full momentum and dedication in recent years – he wanted to bring in some primitive drum and percussion playing and couldn’t think of anyone more suited than his wife. “I wanted to share the band with her,” he says. “Plus, I would be devastated if I had to leave for weeks at a time to tour without her.”
Erenkov was studying jazz but became disenchanted with its direction. “I was frustrated by the lack of emotion I perceived in much of the music I was listening to and I couldn’t find a way to make my studies meaningfully connect to contemporary culture,” he says. His discontent led him to learn guitar and to begin singing. He learnt his playing from studying the likes of Daniel Johnston. “I loved how much songwriters could convey with so little technical skill,” he recalls. “In comparison to the work I was doing in University, spending many hours on big band arrangements and studying jazz theory, songwriting seemed like the most liberating thing.” Thankfully Erenkov had a voice to match his newfound playing style and songwriter ambitions, his deeply immersive and emotive vocals sitting in that unique register between rich and high, recalling the likes of M. Ward or Timber Timbre. Jazz isn’t completely absent from the project however, and Erenkov views the outlet as “A hybrid of the love I have for jazz and the love I have for simple direct expressions of feeling.”
If You’re on the Water EP came in 2016 with a knock-out title track that
was inspired by a tumultuous time over a summer week that saw suicide, the transition of a relationship, and Erenkov and his father being involved in a nearly fatal boating accident. Thankfully things have calmed down in his life since then and Erenkov and Alderdice have remained focused on making this album and preparing for the upcoming birth of their first child.