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NEWS: Mercury KX celebrates 4th Birthday with 4 Artists Performing over 4 Days at SXSW Online 2021

Mercury KX, the pioneering label that crosses borders between electronic, modern, classical, alternative and ambient music will recognise its fourth year with celebrations and initiatives throughout March this year. The label is now home to a varied roster of international artists who are each pushing musical boundaries, including Ólafur Arnalds, Anoushka Shankar, Sophie Hutchings, Isobel Waller-Bridge, Luke Howard, Sebastian Plano, Federico Albanese, Keaton Henson, Jeremiah Fraites, LYR, Lambert, Josin, Jean-Michel Blais and Anatole. It is is co-managed by Cerys Weetch and Hildur Maral, two women who together are steering the label to the edges of electronic, instrumental and vocal experimentation. To celebrate its 4th Birthday, each day from 17th to 20th March, Mercury KX will host a series of artist performances at SXSW online, with sets from Sebastian Plano, Lambert, Luke Howard and Sophie Hutchings kicking off the SXSW music programme each day at 12.30 CDT/5.30pm GMT.

Mercury KX, launched in 2017, has a truly global roster, with artists representing Germany, Argentina, Canada, Australia, Korea, Iceland, USA and the UK. The defining aspect of the label’s repertoire is perhaps the often beautiful, calming, ambient nature of its musical output, which feels like an essential antidote in the at times hectic world we live in. The immersive journeys of Mercury KX albums are often grounded in landscapes. They take you from the Icelandic tundra, to the salt flats of Luke Howard’s Australian Outback, compositions swell with serenity, guiding the listener from turbulent waters and returning them to calmer shores. This transcendental element of the label’s catalogue is underlined by a new playlist series ‘Calm Amongst The Chaos’, which provides audio for Relaxation, Chill, Sleep, Meditation, Yoga and Study/Concentration, featuring new music from MKX mainstays as well as older catalogue gems.

Mercury KX’s 2020 compilation Flow, featuring artists from across the roster illustrates the label’s full breadth of vision. Listen to it here. The autumnal uncertainty of ‘Otis’, by Lambert, sits alongside the exquisite melancholy of Sophie Hutchings. The haunting the cello of Sebastian Plano next to the beauty of ‘Petrichor’ by Keaton Henson. From Arnalds’ patented self-playing, polyrhythmic Stratus pianos to field recordings and lesser-heard instruments, Mercury KX artists are technological explorers. Plano uses pedals and loops to create a tonal kaleidoscope, while glockenspiel, bells and a driving beat underpin Federico Albanese’s dark piano.

At the tail end of 2020, Mercury KX welcomed two new artists to the roster. Jeremiah Fraites of The Lumineers joined the family in October, with the announcement of his new solo piano album ‘Piano Piano’. An album, formed over a decade, honed by movement around the world and events in his life.Then in November the signing of Josin was announced, a South Korean-German alternative pop composer. Josin’s hypnotically layered keyboards, ambiguous chordal shifts, introspective vocals and vexed rhythms express her chief influences; Radiohead and Sigur Rós. Both signings signal the label’s continuing exploration of unsettled moods and blissful resolutions, peculiarly relevant to our troubled times.

SXSW Online Set times:

Wed 17th March - Sebastian Plano

12:30 pm CDT / 17:30 pm GMT

Sebastian Plano is an Argentinian composer, producer and musician, currently based in Berlin. His Grammy nominated ‘Verve’ album of 2019 was also highly acclaimed internationally. Plano began playing the cello at age 7 and by age 12, he was starting to interpret his imagination as sounds. His approach to electronic music is intrinsically linked to his years of chamber music and orchestra playing. In his work, Plano mixes electronics and acoustic instruments into large ensemble pieces. His one man approach gives a genuine and unique sound to his music. An exciting 2021 has already begun for Plano, with his written and recorded string pieces featuring prominently on the UK Number 1 album ’Not Your Muse’ from BRIT Award winning Celeste. Plano’s next extraordinary album is on the horizon, keep your eyes peeled.

“Plano plucks heartstrings as effectively as his cello strings" Uncut

Thurs 18th March - Sophie Hutchings

12:30 pm CDT / 17:30 pm GMT

Sophie Hutchings spent a good deal of her childhood outdoors, by the ocean. “There’s a peace that comes over you when you’re in the ocean or gazing at its horizon.” – she explains. Sophie’s music, influenced by the almost otherworldly effect of that natural land-scape imprinted in the artist’s psyche, is ruminative and dreamy. Scattered On The Wind – Hutchings’ first release with Mercury KX [April, 2020] – is a spellbinding affair, an elegant and transcendent meditation on “surrendering to the unknown, trusting that things will align.” With a growing, global fan base, Hutchings is no longer the introverted pianist of her teenhood. “I pour so much emotional energy into my music; I think that’s why I was so desperately shy about performing it when I was a teen. But I have confidence in my vision now – partly through experience, and partly through the relationship I have with my audience. They’ve taught me to trust and believe in what I’m doing.”

“an intimate, contemplative quality; sometimes melancholic, often with an exhilarating beauty.” The Guardian

Fri 19th March - Lambert

12:30 pm CDT / 17:30 pm GMT

Lambert first emerged with 2014’s self-titled album, which ignited the world of contemporary classical music – largely because it showed Lambert was a talent too broad to be pigeonholed as “contemporary classical pianist”. Never seen without his mask, speculation naturally intensified as to his identity. Rumours suggested Lambert had opened a camp where he trained promising musicians how to “become Lambert”. Lambert’s 2021 album False is a natural next step from the 2019 release, True. False takes the listener on a journey through the lore and beautifully bonkers truths of the 'Lambiverse' - Consisting of 14 collaborations, False is Lambert’s most dazzlingly diverse album yet.

“‘False’ is one of those albums that manages to distil pop culture whilst taking elements from the classical world to create something mesmeric and enticing.” Clash

Sat 20th March - Luke Howard

12:30 pm CDT / 17:30 pm GMT

Australian Music Prize long-listed composer Luke Howard has scored films and performed with artists as diverse as Lior and Jeff Mills. Though instrumental, Howard’s songs perform a function unique to music as a medium – that of evoking without describing, bringing listeners to a feeling which defies articulating. 2018 saw the release of Howard’s third solo album Open Heart Story, which explores fragmented relationships, childhood memories and the passage of time. He has toured extensively with shows in Amsterdam, Berlin, Hamburg, Istanbul, London, Moscow, and Warsaw. Back home in Melbourne, Howard composed music for the short film The Sand That Ate The Sea (winner of the 2020 APRA/AGSC Award for Best Music for a Short Film) and the theatre work The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes (Back To Back Theatre).

“absolutely heavenly” Mary Anne Hobbs, BBC Radio 6

www.MercuryKX.com / SXSW Website here

French music streaming and downloading service Qobuz is officially sponsoring the SXSW performances, find out more about them here

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