His new album Phosphor is released this month.
His début album Bundle Of Nerves was recorded on the remote but beautiful Isle Of Jura in Scotland. Released in late 2009 by Triumphant Sound Records and received significant praise including a 4 star review from MOJO -“Harrogate metaphysical folk pop poet delivers impressive début. Dazzling acoustic guitar picking reminiscent of John Martyn at his most fluid, punctuated by a Bert Jansch-like percussive snap”.
Counted among Karl's influences are Nick Drake, John Martyn, John Lee Hooker, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Robin Williamson, and Kelly Joe Phelps, but he has somehow distilled his myriad musical inspirations into something uniquely his own, developing a host of distinctive, often dizzying finger-picking styles, an arresting voice, and poetic lyrics rich in imagery which, in turn, have yielded a versatile songbook, an intriguing set, at once modern-folk, alt-world, skiffle-punk, doom blues, and odd-pop.
The fact that Karl's musical oeuvre is often indefinable, implacable, conjuring a sense of otherness and that which is beyond our grasp, makes it all the more compelling. Frenetic light-speed guitar contrasts with the haunting timbre of his voice, and Karl's presence, both on record and live, is restless and bristling, the antithesis of his mild-mannered countenance.
Karl's second album, The Owl, recorded in York and Harrogate, in the months preceding his permanent move to Krakow, was released in 2011; The Sunday Express – 4 star review“If John Martyn, Newton Faulkner, Tim Buckley and Jose Gonzalez rock your boat, here's a new name to delight you.”
Karl Culley’s third album Phosphor, released in 2013, by Sound Of Jura, issues forth a set of songs and performances that present an artist who is at the top of his game. An assured and powerful sequence of music that bristles with the raw, glistening elements that make up this man’s unmistakeable and ever more clearly defined voice. Virtuosic and effervescent guitar playing, evocative lyrical imagery and a taut and emotionally complex vocal delivery all combine to stunning effect.
Phosphor signals Karl’s resumption of his collaboration with producer Giles Perring [Echo City, Fad Gadget, Unmen, Yat Kha], and as well as a session in snow bound Krakow, it also marks a return to the Scottish Isle of Jura to draw on her dark, primordial and occasional exotic liquid influences. Karl and upright bass player Ash Johnson’s stripped down acoustic performances pulse from the speakers in a recording that, while it’s honed from minimal sonic elements that hark back to John Martyn’s Solid Air, bristles and pops with the chemical fizz of dance music, the bubbling bass hooks of dub, and sways and bends in the gentle current of flowing lyrical guitar figures. With a number of telling contributions from Giles Perring on a variety of instruments, and the return of the backing vocals of the Jura Male Voice Choir so gorgeously showcased on Karl’s first release Bundle of Nerves, Phosphor also conjures up radiant guest performances from Phillip Harper on drums and percussion, Simon Edwards, on a bowed psaltery, and the exceptional voice of Melanie Pappenheim.