THE HIGH LLAMAS

 

The High Llamas may have started in 1991. The founding members Sean O'Hagan, Jon Fell and Rob Allum were joined by Californian Anita Visser and Marcus Holdaway. The Idea was to make melodic pop in opposition to the dull grunge obsessed UK and US orthodoxy of the early 90's


The starting point was Santa Barbara, harmony, 12 string guitars and Alex Chilton, very straight forward melodic pop but it was soon unseated by the gothic garage sweetly psyched Gideon Gaye, a budget record which sounded lo-fi but time trapped. The guitars were replaced by string quartets and the harmonies took over. The Beach Boys, Ornette Coleman and Jimmy Webb were looking in at this point as well as Robert Wyatt.


By now the band had a following and a record company. Anita had left for New York and John Bennett stepped in on guitar. The strings were accompanied by loose brass as Carla Bley, John Barry and Bernard Herman were added to the list of influences and the ridiculously long Hawaii gained fans all over the world. Cold  and Bouncy did pretty much the same business but the part time addition of Andy Ramsay from Stereolab made sure there was a welcomed electronic presence and Dominic Murcott had taken up residency on vibes and marimba.


 The band had always  flirted with the Brazilian  song form from Samba to Tropicalia and this became eneident on Snowbug  a record ta was both loose and  texturally different fro its predecessors. The band were joined by the late Mary Hanson on Vocals with her Stereolab band mate Laetitia Sadier.


 The High Llamas started to record for Duophonic and Drag City from here on starting out  with the bazaare  Buzzle Bee  but quickly moved onto  the serene and almost  muted orchestral vibe of Beet, Maize and Corn 2003. This album  saw the band once more touring the USA and enjoying the company of new arrival Pete Aves on Guitars and banjo.


There was a lull and the music bounced back  in 2007 with the melodic and slightly soulful chimes of  Can Cladders  in 2007 . Along the way the band provided music for the US  feature Sunburn in 2000 and plenty of other collaborations.