Solo records

Solo albums

 

Surface Industries I

Digipak CD/digital album, 42 mins, 2021.

Owd Scrat Records, OWD013.

1. Hold the Line for a Moment 5:08 video
2. Stay Polite (with Jackie Oates) 3:44
3. J for Whatever 2:40
4. Words and Silence 13:21 video
5. J for Juliet 4:40
6. Don’t Throw Up On Window Sills 3:50
7. Good Morning Call (with Jackie Oates) 4:22
8. That Venus Thing 4:00

Owd Scrat Records press release: “Rooney’s second solo album is a move away from the eclectic DIY post-punk of 2017’s ‘Futile Exorcise’ towards voice, piano and electronics led skewed ambient pop. As it’s title suggests, this new album’s tracks are themed around service industry jobs (it is the first of two albums on this theme), particularly the transient vocal interactions of everyday call centre work, as well as the humanity and humour that endures through it all. The lyrics of the pieces often use interviews or texts from the workers themselves, made during the early to mid 2000’s.

Stay Polite is a deeply emotive male voiced hymn to the abuse filled day of a female taxi company phone operator, featuring a beautifully fragile lead vocal by acclaimed folk singer Jackie Oates. On the album’s longform spoken word piece, Words and Silence, softly insistent modular synth tones accompany an Indian call centre worker leaving a message – of invented personas and time-as-commodity – on an answer service, creating an extended moment of mysterious confabulation for the eventual listener (us). As well as phone interactions there are two pieces about the text based interplay of email conversations and chat-rooms. The latter, Don’t Throw Up On Window Sills, being a kind of chamber opera about a gardening chat group celebrating the return of a missing cat, imbued with the melancholy of obsolescence (the chat-room fad itself is all but extinct). The album is a poignant, reflective encounter with everyday failures, everyday battles, and everyday resistances, pertinent to our precarious times.”

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“Service Industries I makes strip-lit minimalist psalmodies from call centre conversations of invisible workforces… It’s a profound, political, and holy work, worth a thousand Panoramas.” Stewart Lee (The Idler magazine). Jan-Feb. 2022.

“This new album Surface Industries, his second solo album, tracks themed around service industry jobs… it really is fascinating.” Stuart Maconie, Stuart Maconie’s Freak Zone (BBC 6 Music). 23/8/2021.

“These eight tracks have been created over a period of two decades, mostly using texts derived from call centre operatives. They occupy a space where folk music might have developed, up to that juncture when meaningful tradition and continuities of locality dissolved into the glacial wastes of cyberspace, global capitalism and the unsolicited sales pitch.” Julian Cowley (The Wire magazine). Oct. 2021.

“A track from local artist Paul Rooney’s second album, a real treasure trove of glorious computer composed hyper-pop.” George Maund, PMS (BBC Radio Merseyside). 20/8/2021.

“Curiosity was twigged by a Wire magazine review… I was expecting something far less accessible based on the review… surprisingly accessible and compelling.” Nate Champion (Thumped website and forums). 28/12/2021.

“It’s a great thing. Paul Rooney, always up to something good…” Michael Fenton (Fenny), On the Wire (Otwradio on Mixcloud and occasionally BBC Radio Lancashire). 18/9/2021.


 


Futile Exorcise

33⅓ RPM 12” frosted transparent vinyl/digipak CD/digital album, 41 mins, 2017.

Owd Scrat Records, OWD003.

Tracks:
Side 1:
Sunday Best (2.36)
Mackenzie (Smell of the Petrol) (3.25)
Bay of Biscay (3.36)
Lost High Street (11.00) video

Side 2:
Father’s Grave (3.51) video
Black Ear (6.47)
The Cruel Mother (with Lutine) (2.34)
Spit Valve (6.56)

Owd Scrat Records press release: “We at Owd Scrat are very proud to present our first full length LP, in beautiful transparent ectoplasm coloured vinyl and CD digipack, which is also the first by Liverpool UK based musician/artist/writer Paul Rooney under his own (full) name. Following on (though ten years later) from his acclaimed 2007 single Lucy Over Lancashire – a dub folklore epic narrated by a Satanic sprite – this long awaited album delves even further into the demonically possessed everyday. It is an album of revenant songs, in which various dead people return from beyond the grave to visit their lover, play poker or haunt a toilet seat. The record features many collaborators including actor Gregory Cox, mesmerizing ethereal harmonisers Lutine, and has a cover image by artist Leo Fitzmaurice.”

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“The best album you will hear this year, which was released last year…” Slobodan Vujanovic (Mislite Mojom Glavom blog in Serbian). Sept. 2018 review of the work.

Futile Exorcise… is arguably the Liverpool artist’s most accomplished collection to date… a richly layered sound that builds on the dubby spaciousness of Lucy… with a greater range of instrumentation, effects and, importantly, voices, both Paul’s own and guest vocalists.” Bryan Biggs (Bido Lito magazine). September 2017 review of the work.

Futile Exorcise, the brilliant new album from Liverpudlian multimedia artist Rooney… a record to return to again and again.” Julian Cowley (The Wire magazine). June 2017 review of the work.

“I’m not terribly adept at unqualified outlandish statements of praise so forgive me if this sounds clumsy: this is the most extraordinary album I’ve heard in at least seven years, and probably for much longer than that… It’s a work to be absorbed, laughed at, unsettled by, but above all enjoyed, over and over again.” Mark Whitby (Unwashed Territories blog). 14/5/2017 review of the work.

“Talking of acoustical experiences here is a very surreal idea, it’s by Liverpool’s Paul Rooney, it uses spoken word… from the point of view of a bit of spittle stuck inside the tube of a trombone.” Verity Sharp, Late Junction (BBC Radio 3). 18/4/2017 radio broadcast of the work.

“…reimagining Flann O’Brien’s best work as wayward post-punk. Between the kitchen sink tragedy of a cuckolded ghost witnessing his wife’s new fellah wearing his very own ‘Sunday Best’ and his final metamorphosis into the contents of a trumpet’s ‘Spit Valve’, Rooney’s transmigration is a strange and beautiful journey through the bardo realms…” Stuart Marshall (The Sound Projectorblog). 31/12/2017 review of the work.


Solo singles

Stolen Things (The Creeping Things Remix)

Digipak CD/digital single, 12 mins, 2019.

Owd Scrat Records, OWD011.

Tracks:
1. Stolen Things (The Creeping Things Remix) (12.15)

A Victorian child shoplifter on trial sings her daydreams amidst a musical collision of shimmering pop synths and rowdy courtroom shouting. Her spirit is summoned out of stolen fragments (a court report, a Jean Genet novel, memories of childhood, a Victorian hymn), and she seems all too aware of her transformation from a voiceless youth into a new entity: a sparkling self-mythologizing bad-girl teen-pop diva construct, shaped out of these ‘lying words’. Lola de Witte-Still remixes what was originally a Paul Rooney sound installation (this is his first single since Lucy Over Lancashire) to create a shiny kick-driven experimental-pop single cum mini-opera.

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“Last heard from Rooney himself with his Futile Exorcise record, which was likewise an attempt to give voice to lost and forgotten souls (dead ones, in that case), so this collaboration with Creeping Things is evidently in keeping. An ingenious construct…” Ed Pinsent (The Sound Projector blog). 23/9/2020 review of the work.

“I love that, and I hope you did too, Stolen Things, new from Paul Rooney…” Stuart Maconie, Stuart Maconie’s Freak Zone (BBC 6 Music). 5/1/2020 radio broadcast of the work.

“That fantastic thing was Stolen Things (The Creeping Things Remix) by Paul Rooney.” Fenny, On the Wire (BBC Radio Lancashire). 20/10/2019 radio broadcast of the work.

“… very highly crafted and beautifully done, and really challenging.” Roger Hill, The Popular Music Show (BBC Radio Merseyside). 23/09/2019 radio broadcast of the work.

“Marvellous, Paul Rooney’s Stolen Things, a remix by the mysterious Creeping Things…” Zaph Mann, In Memory of John Peel Show (KFFP Radio, Portland and podcast). 15/09/2019 radio broadcast of the work.

Stolen Things buzzes with exuberant crowd noise, while naive unaccompanied singing blends into robotic contemporary vocals… Propelled by a youthful joyfulness, it sounds as though there’s a joyous energy in resisting authority and oppressive power structures.” Tessa Norton (The Wire magazine), May 2019 review of the original museum installation work.


Lucy Over Lancashire

Lucy Over Lancashire

45 RPM 12″ red vinyl single, 16 mins, 2007.

SueMi Records SueMi15.

Tracks:
1. Lucy Over Lancashire (16.27)

The ‘vocalist’ of the track is Lucy, a ‘spryte of the air’ who is possessing the grooves of the vinyl record itself. Above and amidst 16 minutes of righteous dub reggae and Lancastrian-tinged post-punk, Lucy tells of how she is damned to endlessly repeat Satanic stories about the English county of Lancashire that she has been told by the evil and shadowy figure of ‘Alan’.

The track was originally commissioned by Touchstones, Rochdale. and first broadcast on 18th November 2006 on the Radio Lancashire programme On the Wire, whose longstanding commitment to dub reggae provided one of the inspirations for the piece. The original red vinyl 12″ was released by SueMi Records, Berlin, in 2007. It notably reached the top 5 of the Dandelion Radio Festive Fifty of that year and received enthusiastic support from Huw Stephens (Radio 1), Marc Riley (6Music) and Steve Barker (Radio Lancashire) amongst others. A CD re-issue on Owd Scrat Records came out in 2014, and a CD remastered version in 2017.

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“A re-issue of Lucy Over Lancashire… that was a fine, fine thing, it still is…” Michael Fenton (Fenny), On the Wire (BBC Radio Lancashire). 20/8/2017 radio broadcast of the work.

The 50 best reissues of 2014. FACT (FACT website). 2/12/2014.

“Rich in comic irony, the narration is nonetheless as deeply rooted as a folk ballad… [a] thought provoking 16 minute gem.” Julian Cowley (The Wire magazine). Oct. 2014 review of the work.

“It’s a masterpiece, is it not?… It is quite magnificent.” Marc Riley (BBC 6 Music). 28/5/2014 radio broadcast of the work.

“…heavy dub that could easily come from the studios of Kingston”. Calum Craig (Is This Music? website). 5/11/2007 review of the work.

“Don’t be scared, even though we in the studio are absolutely petrified after listening to that. Lucy Over Lancashire… Brilliant stuff from Paul Rooney, one of the most talked about tracks that we’ve played on this show…” Huw Stephens (BBC Radio 1 FM). 3/5/2007 radio broadcast of the work.