Leo Abrahams will join Roxy Music for their forthcoming summer tour as one of the 2 guitarists supporting Phil Manzanera. Leo met Bryan Ferry while working on Hal Wilner's Sea Shanties project due for release in July.
At 28 years of age Leo Abrahams is already one of the most sought-after guitar players around. Whilst his name may not be familiar to many, his playing and musical arrangements can be heard on recent recordings by Brian Eno, Ed Harcourt, David Holmes, Starsailor, Rachid Taha, Petra-Jean Phillipson, Iarla O'Lionaird and throughout the Hollywood blockbuster Ocean's Twelve.
It was working with David Holmes on the soundtrack for the Tim Robbins/Samantha Morton film Code 46 which originally inspired Leo to record his own album. Holmes had encouraged him to create layer upon layer of guitars which fuelled Leo's imagination and gave him the idea to record an album of expressive and experimental guitar music.
Leo's impressive debut album, Honeytrap, on independent Label Just Music, is innovative, diverse, sophisticated and uncompromising, demonstrating Leo's ability to push the instrument to new levels and achieve unheard sounds.
Leo wanted all the sounds on Honeytrap to be 'real', rejecting traditional techniques such as sampling, sequencing, computer effects and even keyboards instead relying on ambient sounds generated exclusively by guitars. The idea was to create an album of pure music unaffected by commercial considerations and with no agenda.
The task of describing the album musically is best left to the artist himself: 'Abstract and expressive; atmospheric and melodic. Most of the pieces are just like songs, but with instruments taking the tunes instead of a voice. Stylistically it's pretty diverse, there are tinges of folk, ambience, classical, electronica and even world music, but it's tied together by the instrumentation and the melodies.'
Originally intending to be a classical composer, he studied at the Royal Academy of Music under Steve Martland and Nick Ingman, before realising that he 'wasn't terribly good at it and wasn't learning a lot'. It was around that time that Imogen Heap invited Leo to go on tour, an offer which proved too tempting to refuse so he left the Academy and became a professional musician. Between tours with Imogen he had hooked up with Nik Kershaw and Ed Harcourt, staying with the latter ever since, broadening his horizons and remaining in constant demand.
Leo was famously approached by Brian Eno in a music shop. Having overheard him trying out a new guitar, Eno was so impressed by this 'unassuming guy just quietly playing the most beautiful guitar in the corner' that he took Leo's number and invited him to his studio and they have since worked together on a number of live and studio projects leading on to further sessions with the likes of Paul Simon, Grace Jones, Nitin Sawhney and Nick Cave.
A second album Scene Memory, described as a series of textural studies for electric guitar, is out on BipHop in Summer 2006 and further releases on Just Music are due this year.
As for Leo's hopes for his own music - 'I have this producer friend who always asks a new artist: "What is your music for? Do you want people to dance to it, eat to it, f*** to it?" It sounds stupid, but I just want people to listen to it!'