‘Imagine sitting cross-legged in a cosy folk kitchen, flanked by two delicious and freshly baked pies. On the left sits a hearty steaming rock 'n' roll pie, while on the right sits a golden sweet pop pie. Your hands are thrust deeply into each of their juicy centres, and you have a beaming smile on your face. That’s what listening to our music is like.’
'Balthazar B and the Beatitudes' is the recording moniker for Paris-based songwriter Alex Dowding. The Beatitudes are assembled from a constantly changing, ramshackle collection of friends, doctors, geeks and religious scholars; but the stable core has always been formed by two of Dowding’s childhood friends: Dan Bush and Tom Kershaw. ‘We all grew up in the same small seaside town,’ says Dowding ‘the type where old folks go to expire, but it was 30 minutes away from Brighton and surrounded by incredible countryside so we were never far from inspiration.’
Fast forward to the present day, Bush and Kershaw reside in London and Dowding finds himself across La Manche in Paris. Recording and performing is always a challenge, but one that is ideal for this band's own brand of lo-fi, storytelling folk music. In Paris, Dowding is accompanied by a selection of musicians and also performs as a solo acoustic act. When he travels to England and meets the Beatitudes - after a customary evening of good whiskey in some smoky countryside cottage - the serious fun of recording and performing new material begins.
In the mean time, the Beatitudes know how to keep themselves busy. Bush, drummer and full time Neuroscientist, spends his professional life probing the workings of the human memory : ‘Essentially I put electrodes into epileptic patients brains and get them them to run around in virtual reality mazes. It makes band practice look like a fucking teddy bear’s picnic ’
Kershaw plays the bass guitar and is also responsible for getting Dowding's act together. A man of furious concentration, he is the oil that keeps the Beatitude motor lubricated, prevents the gears from grinding and replaces the odour fresheners when their scent runs low: ‘I knew Alex had some great tunes but he wasn’t doing anything with them. I arranged our first rehearsal one cold winters night back in 2008 with just a battered old guitar and piano. He wouldn’t be able to organise his way out of a paper bag without me.’
Having permanently relocated to Paris, where he works at an animation studio, Dowding is beginning to set free the music he has been keeping prisoner for so long, The ‘Like Shrapnel' EP was released in 2011 to affectionate response amongst the blogosphere. Obscure Sound wrote:
“Music that makes us think and not passively listen is always commendable, and this collective are a studied example of that”
‘I am the Tide’ is the full length follow up which takes the folk philosophy of the EP and injects it with a rock n roll aesthetic. Listeners can download the EP for free and buy the album from Bandcamp, iTunes and Spotify amongst other digital distributors.