Far Off Country is the debut album from Letka. A collaboration between Irish vocalist Sandra O’Neill
and English multi-instrumentalist Peter Chilvers with a guest appearance from Brian Eno, it takes the country genre and reinvents it with a post-ambient palette.
From the album’s opening Beyond the Fold, featuring backing vocals and production from Eno, to the epic closing track I Dream a Highway, the six spacious tracks are a seamless blend of original compositions, reinterpreted country songs and cover versions. With rich sensual vocals, treated guitars, pedal steel and electronic textures, Far Off Country is a warm reflection of the desolate landscapes of the Mid West.
Letka’s wide-ranging influences include Beth Gibbons, Elbow, Jane Siberry, Daniel Lanois, Joni Mitchell and Lambchop. Their previous collaborations include the albums Embers and Nightshift, released as Alias Grace on the Burning Shed label.
Peter Chilvers is best known for creating the acclaimed iPhone applications Bloom and Trope with Brian Eno, with whom he has also worked as a musical and technical assistant on projects including the soundtracks to The Lovely Bones and Spore, the collaboration with David Byrne and the Warp releases “Small Craft on a Milk Sea” and “Drums Between the Bells”. He has regularly collaborated with No-Man vocalist Tim Bowness, most notably on their 2001 album “California, Norfolk”, and more recently as Slow Electric. He has also recorded several solo instrumental albums, and created the improvising collective A Marble Calm.
In addition to her studio albums with Letka, Sandra O’Neill is currently recording her debut solo album showcasing her layered vocals and guitars, and has contributed lead and backing vocals to numerous albums, most recently Jorge Mantas of The Beautiful Schizophonic. Her vocal on A Marble Calm’s cover of I Dream a Highway (Gillian Welch) was described by Brian Eno as “heart-meltingly beautiful”. In 2009 she collaborated with Chilvers on the iPhone app Air. Based on concepts developed by Brian Eno, Air assembles vocal and piano samples into a beautiful, still and ever changing composition, which is always familiar, but never the same.
They will be promoting the album in 2012 with live performances and sessions, joined by violin virtuoso Steve Bingham.