‘Revelations’ is the new album from Daphne Guinness, produced by Tony Visconti and available now via Agent Anonyme/Absolute. Daphne recorded the new album at Les Studios Saint Germain, Paris – working once again with David Bowie producer Visconti, also at the helm for Guinness’ previous two critically-acclaimed albums, ‘Optimist in Black’ and ‘Daphne & The Golden Chord’.
Retaining the analogue recording techniques used on ‘Daphne & The Golden Chord’, ‘Revelations’ finds Guinness on playfully incisive form as she squares the circle between her asymmetric musical tastes and the uncertainties of the modern world. Guinness’ creative partnership with Visconti was forged via an introduction from Bowie, a fan of Daphne’s music. Their first outing - Daphne’s critically praised 2016 debut ‘Optimist in Black’ - was a Sixties-influenced affair heavily influenced by the loss of two of her closest friends (both of whom referenced Guinness as a muse), Alexander McQueen and Isabella Blow, both to suicide. Visconti produced ‘Optimist….’ concurrently alongside ‘Blackstar’, with Bowie often dropping in on Tony’s sessions with Daphne.
Once more partnering with her musical director, Malcolm Doherty (the pair having met whilst tour-ing with Visconti’s Bowie tribute outfit, Holy Holy), for ‘Revelations’ Daphne has brought together a band featuring Doherty and his Go-Kart Mozart bandmate Terry Miles amongst its ranks, along-side Roger Manning Jr (Air, Beck) and Rod Melvin (Brian Eno). The album explores a French-flavoured disco sound, the band slipping into their white Repetto shoes to capture the noncha-lant grooves of mid 70’s Gainsbourg, sprinkled with the dance floor decadence of Studio 54. It includes single release ‘Deviant Disco’, which also features in a new art-film project - nominated for this year’s Berlin Music Video Awards - created by Daphne with another long-term collaborator, David LaChapelle.
Though you’ve probably heard the name before, Guinness somehow resists definition. There’s the close friendships with McQueen and Blow, the various collaborations with artists & designers, alongside well-respected ventures in the world of film. If you're wondering at this stage what her reason for making albums with Visconti at the helm might be, a better question to ask is why she waited so long. A young Daphne trained professionally as a Lieder singer, gaining a place at the Guildhall School of Music before life for her took a left turn towards marriage and raising her children. “I began in music”, she reveals, “and now I’ve ended up there.”
Daphne & The Golden Chord was produced with the legendary producer and longtime David Bowie collaborator Tony Visconti, who also worked on Guinness’ debut album, 2016’s critically acclaimed Optimist in Black.
The new album picks up where Optimist in Black left off, with a new dynamism to Guinness’ songwriting due in part to a new band including co-writer Malcolm Doherty, Terry Miles of Go-Kart Mozart, Thin Lizzy bassist Gary Liedeman, Generation X and Chelsea’s James Stevenson and Roxy Music’s Andy Mackay contributing to the album.
In the tradition of Guinness’ great inspirations including 60s psychedelia and glam rock, Daphne & The Golden Chord was recorded live to analog tape at London’s British Grove Studios on consoles previously used on The Beatles’ Abbey Road, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon and Wings’ Band On The Run.
David Bowie originally introduced Guinness and Visconti. Bowie was so impressed with her music that he recommended her to his long-time producer and another chapter of her life began.
Optimist In Black- which shares its title with the album track referencing the bleak period following the suicides of her close friends McQueen and Blow- is a fascinating work, with Guinness, in elegantly commanding tones reminiscent of Nico, Grace Slick and Grace Jones, displaying a dark wit as she explores male vanity, the malleability of identity, and the effects of alienation and ennui. It's heavy with flavours of Sixties psychedelia and Seventies glam, reflecting Daphne's own lifelong loves. Her formative listening habits, as a teen, were anachronistic: “I've always been stuck in the Sixties. Jefferson Airplane, The Small Faces, as well as Robert Johnson and all the blues stuff, David Bowie, and on the top, The Doors.” The project began with a chance meeting with Irish producer Pat Donne, Daphne's main co-writer on the album, at the renowned Grouse Lodge studios near her County Westmeath home. The duo's original demos were then sent to Tony Visconti more in hope than expectation. “I was sick with nerves, emailing to him. He could have thought 'Oh, it's just this Guinness person.' But he heard me through, and he loved it.” Daphne and Pat decamped to join Visconti at Avatar Studios, where recording sessions took a deeply surreal turn when David Bowie appeared at the studio. His approval of the snippets he heard from Optimist In Black further mesmerised Daphne; “I feel so blessed that Tony believed in me,” Daphne says. “I thought I'd got an A* from the headmaster.”