‘It’s not very often that you’ll encounter a group like The Gift. With…intense, idiosyncratic songwriting, the future pop outfit are already the toast of their native Portugal’ – Clash
‘Their unashamed love of theatrical chamber pop tinged with an array of sounds from ambient interludes to discordant electronica make them a must-see’ – Drowned In Sound
Forward-thinking alt-pop quartet The Gift announce their eagerly anticipated album ‘Altar’, produced and co-written by music maverick Brian Eno and mixed by sonic master Flood. The band’s sixth album is set for release on their own label La Folie Records digitally on April 7th, with its physical CD and vinyl versions to follow up on 5th May.
Following on the recently highly praised singles; the BBC Radio 6 Music playlisted ‘Clinic Hope’ and the Clash and The Independent-acclaimed ‘Love Without Violins’, anticipation has been steadily building for their upcoming sixth album. Fresh from playing Eurosonic, the pioneering Portuguese outfit was one of the main acts performing at the festival and one of Drowned In Sound’s highlights of the festival. With steady support growing across UK publications such as Gigwise and Notion Magazine, as well as across 6 Music shows including Tom Robinson, Steve Lamacq, and Lauren Laverne, is safe to say the spectacular delivery meets said expectation.
The Grammy-nominated producer adds his expertly vision of pop music to the band’s keyboardist Nuno Gonçalves unique writing skills. Working with the band on both music and lyrics over a period of two years, the music maverick is not only credited as producer but also as co-writer, co-lyricist, musician and even singer. Mixed by another legend, Flood, ‘Altar’ is an extraordinary album of ambitious indie-electronic art-pop that recalls the peak work of, amongst others, Talking Heads, Depeche Mode and David Bowie.
The ten timeless songs, from the thrilling ‘Love Without Violins’ – which sees Eno sharing vocals with singer Sónia Tavares’ – to the synth-pop explosion of ‘Clinic Hope’, the funk-flavoured ‘Malifest’, and on to the desperately moving ‘Vitral’, are the perfect representation of a band in constant evolution and artistic growth. While the upcoming third single ‘Big Fish’, after a back and forth oscillation between the two poles which characterizes the album, perfectly bridges the gap between alt-pop and electronic sounds,
“‘Altar’ is the life story we can record and trace in all of us,” explains the band talking about the concept behind the album. The title well represents their respect for the writing and recording process or ‘ceremony’ – as they like to call it – with Eno. The one with the producer is a collaboration they dreamed over twenty years, and which involved six recording sessions; four in Galizia, one London and one in their home studio in Alcobaça, the small city an hour north of Lisbon where the childhood friends formed The Gift in 1994. Doubts, fears, insecurities, victories and excitement filled the room, before the producer they always admired would walk in every morning helping them to create what is their most compelling album yet.
The producer’s unconventional approach, included tapes rolled all day long, and often they began shaping songs with extended jam sessions in which Eno would also take part, as well as a couple of his famous ‘Oblique Strategies’ and a whiteboard where “He’d write things on the board,” Sonía remembers, “and had this pointer, like a real classroom.” Eno took them on expeditions, too, packing a car with keyboards so they could record by a nearby river, and collaborated on the lyrics, helping develop ideas by literally drawing them.
Their 2011 album ‘Explode’ produced by Coldplay and Paolo Nutini collaborator Ken Nelson – debuted at #1 in Portugal’s chart, and went on to remain in the Top 10 for over 10 weeks – and crowned the band as Portugal’s biggest musical export. Having proved themselves to be a tour de force on the live circuit, they shared festivals stages with the likes of Arcade Fire and Portishead, performed at SXSW, went on to win an MTV Europe award for ‘Best Portuguese Act’, and toured USA and Canada supporting The Flaming Lips and Anna Calvi.
Having been right at the forefront of the DIY movement in Portugal for twenty years. Running a slick operation through their own label, La Folie, they look after every aspect of their own career – from financing their recordings to the art direction and styling and live performances – a visual spectacle the band successfully brought back to SXSW 2017 and will finally bring to The Great Escape in Brighton on 19th May and to London for a special headlining show at Bush Hall on 25h May.
‘Altar’ represents the crowning glory of The Gift’s career to date. A masterful culmination of the last few years of The Gift musical development, drawing together the strength of their unique live performances and expertly crafted production in what is one of the most captivating releases of the year.