Selected Press

Press for Slower / Talker

Mariam Rezaei, The Wire, June 2021

"...beautifully surreal... a bold rendering of new minimalism... the synergy between the instrumental and vocal work is luminous and Chadburn purrs through the text..."

Fiona Maddocks, The Observer, April 2021

"Hypnotic and vivid, Chadburn’s work asks you to listen, think and imagine. It also has a wry quality that makes you take it seriously."

Peter Margasak, Best of Bandcamp Contemporary Classical, April 2021

"This gorgeous collection of works by British composer Leo Chadburn, made over the last decade or so, are all about different sorts of found texts, appropriating words for their musicality and sound. Most of the six pieces are performed by the ubiquitous London ensemble Apartment House, but the ravishing opening piece The Indistinguishables features the luminescent sounds of Montréal’s Quatuor Bozzini playing dazzling swells, melodic fragments, and resonant pizzicato beneath the exquisite articulation of actor Gemma Saunders, who recites the common names of 70 types of moths from the UK.

Throughout the entire collection the composer discovers a strange beauty by isolating the language and placing it in a strange location, interacting with simple melodic phrases to produce new, often alien meaning."

Ivana Popovic, The Whole Note, May 2021

"The wild card of the British contemporary classical music scene, composer Leo Chadburn (aka Simon Bookish) widens the scope of his musical experimentation with this remarkable new release...

...The textures created are beautiful in their sparseness. The result is a floating dialogue that is hypnotizing and luring, stripped of drama, smooth, as if outside of this world. Slower / Talker engages the listener in a subtle way. It is a sonically explorative journey, one worth taking."

Press for The Subject / The Object

Tristan Bath, The Quietus, July 2020

"...It's like a journey through a burning brain, throwing out imagery so willy nilly that the words disappear entirely, a life flashing before one’s eyes. Behind Chadburn's voice, soft, deep and distant synthetic bass tones shimmer leeringly around the edges of the field.

The other 20-minute vocal piece – 'The Object' – does away with words entirely and is made up of a vast choir of Chadburns ooh-ing and aaah-ing, fading seamlessly into and out of each other to the point that no border is discernible for the entire running time. It's a vast blast of breath from the artist, collected up and whizzed together from pebbles into a vast monolith of his very essence."

Ben Harper, Boring Like a Drill, July 2020

"It’s an ingenious work of linguistic construction, vocal intonation and editing, that impresses your consciousness while the sounds get to work on the lower levels of your mind.

If it reminds you of Robert Ashley's works for speaking voice, it might first be the resemblance in the editing that hooks you in, but really it’s the lure of a narrative thread that continually pulls you along even as you lose the sense of it. The voice is speaking and you listen, long after the words have ceased to register in your head."

Tim Rutherford-Johnson, TEMPO, December 2020

...[His] almost conceptual works, poetic in their abstraction, have rightly earned Chadburn a place within the landscape of contemporary British experimental composition.

On both tracks Chadburn's voice is the central focus. Idiosyncrasies or imperfections are kept in: the drones of The Object gain a wavering quality as each overdubbed voice comes to the end of its breath; the unbroken monologue of The Subject is infused with the anxious orality of Chadburn trying to keep pace with his text... The simultaneity of ancient and modern, or the vision of a future that has been remade as though ancient, calls to mind (or to my mind at least) the peculiarly English dystopian fiction of Alan Garner or Russell Hoban.

Press for Five Loops for the Bathyscpahe

Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, January 2018

"With recorded voices acting as calm, meticulous timekeepers, Five Loops recalls the treacherous descent to the deepest ocean floor, dark and near freezing, made by Piccard and a colleague in 1960 (on 23 January, the date of the Cambridge concert). Violin and cello, playing eerie, almost motionless harmonics, are offset by ghostly flourishes at the top of the keyboard and low, muffled booms from the bottom, with a few unearthly plucked sounds from inside the piano: in all, mysterious, floaty, chilling.

Under the stage name Simon Bookish, Chadburn has released three pop albums. In either persona, he moves fluently between experimental, classical and avant garde, collaborating with visual artists and generally doing exactly what he wants. He is also a brilliant vocalist, as he showed at the recent London contemporary music festival."

Press for Leo Chadburn at LCMF

Fiona Maddocks, The Observer, December 2017

"I particularly enjoyed Irish composer Jennifer Walshe’s "A Folk Song Collection": short, sharp ditties about modern life – "I don’t want to Google you"; "I had to have Botox to stop me looking angry" – delivered with dry insouciance by Leo Chadburn."

Press for The Golden Space City of God

Waldemar Januszczak, The Sunday Times, May 2009

"...[Richard] Grayson commissioned Leo Chadburn to write the music and assembled a choir in Texas to sing it. The results are startling, shocking, distressing, unforgettable. Grayson's piece works as well as it does because everything is revealed so unassumingly… you slowly realise that these insane predictions bear a scary resemblance to world events. Close the book on the 2009 Turner prize, Grayson should be a shoo-in."

Press for Everything / Everything

Matthew Solarski, Pitchfork, December 2008

"...In a musical economy where ideas are the sole currency, Simon Bookish would be doing the Scrooge McDuck backstroke through a pool of cartoon coins right about now. The man's recordings abound in little innovations, both sonic and lyrical, and if Everything / Everything sounds particularly heavy on them, that's no coincidence: the record, a self-described "big band song cycle," deals with the onslaught of information in this modern age..."

Ned Raggett, AllMusic, 2008

"...Switching from electronics to live instruments for his first album for Tomlab, the science-informed concept album Everything/Everything finds the wonderful work of Simon Bookish -- somewhere between the informed wryness of Ivor Cutler and the continuing impact of David Bowie's archly English romanticism -- in full flight..."

Press for The Caucasian Chalk Circle

Sam Marlowe, The Times, March 2007

"...At the production's centre is Leo Chadburn's Singer, who, as narrator and commentator, is a key component of the play's "alienation" effects. A charismatic blend of Scott Walker and Jarvis Cocker, Chadburn has rock-star glamour and a riveting presence. His vocals arrestingly combine crooning and Sprechgesang, and the musical score, created by Chadburn, Chris Branch and Tom Haines, is wildly abrasive."