As close to perfection as I’ve heard in a long time" – DJ Shadow
"These guys are deep!" – Roots Manuva
"Stardom awaits" – Mixmag
Stateless are one of the most exciting young bands of 2007. Meshing guitars with electronics, orchestral strings with turntable beats, this sonically ambitious five-piece already have a depth and a power far beyond their years. They come from Leeds, an increasingly hip breeding ground for fresh rock talent in the north of England. But their songs transcend scenes, genres and international borders. Newly signed to the Berlin label !K7, their self-titled debut album already sounds like one of the musical highlights of the year.
A magnet for famous fans and rave reviews, Stateless have already worked with some highly acclaimed collaborators, including Arctic Monkeys producer Jim Abbiss and superstar turntable virtuoso DJ Shadow. Impressed by the band’s early recordings, Shadow invited singer Chris James to guest on his 2006 album, ‘The Outsider’, followed by an eye-opening world tour together.
"Seventy shows in 19 countries across four continents," Chris recalls. "It was amazing." Working with Shadow also taught the Stateless singer a priceless musical lesson. "To be uncompromising, and not scared of anything," he nods. "It made me realise it’s always a bumpy ride if you try to create music that is challenging and different."
‘Stateless’ is certainly a challenging and different album. Dreamy and soulful, epic yet intimate, these ten songs combine emotional impact with heroic ambition. Sublime songs like ‘Prism’, a feverish fusion of falsetto vocals, piano loops and muscular drum’n’bass rhythms. Attention-grabbing songs like ‘Exit’, a multi-layered marriage of cinematic strings and crunching beats. Adventurous songs like ‘This Language’, which incorporates a rap from Solesides member Lateef the Truthspeaker into its musical fabric. And achingly beautiful songs like ‘Bloodstream’, an intoxicating opium-dream hymn to the dangerously narcotic power of love: "I think I might have inhaled you…"
Both live and in the studio, Stateless are an unorthodox hybrid of rock, turntables and electro wizardry. Chris provides soulful vocals, sometimes pure as a choirboy, sometimes frayed and feverish – but always charged with emotion. Justin Percival plays bass guitar and provides backing vocals and David Levin plays drums. Meanwhile, Kidkanevil mans the DJ decks and Rod Buchanan-Dunlop handles keyboards, effects and live programming.
The sum total of these unconventional ingredients is a unique kind of musical chemistry. Fans of Portishead’s broken beatscapes, Coldplay’s piano-driven wonder and Radiohead’s brooding intensity will find plenty to enjoy on ‘Stateless’. There are also moments when Chris captures a glimmer of Jeff Buckley’s spine-shivering magic, or a whisper of Bjork’s breathless lust for life. But these are just reference points on a much larger canvas.
‘Stateless’ is the sound of something great on the horizon. Melancholy yet uplifting, this is music for
doomed romantics and passionate optimists alike. Music for a Stateless state of mind.