Morello vs Masaru Mitsu "The Duellists"
Cultures collide and musical sparks fly in this unique collaboration between Morello, aka British songwriter/producer Malcolm "Sir Mal" Cross (drummer for Pete Yorn/The Olms, Minibar and Spiritualized), and Japanese multi-instrumentalist Masaru Mitsu (Chocolat, Northern Light, Cymbals). What began as a long-distance online friendship cemented by a mutual love of "obscure guitar bands and 80's synth-pop" blossomed into a creative partnership, as early demos bounced back and forth between their respective cities of Los Angeles and Tokyo. When the Fukushima disaster happened in 2011, "Masa San'" took an extended vacation to California, and plans were formed to finally meet “Sir Mal” in person and record in L.A. with engineer John Would (Fiona Apple). The resulting sessions yielded this celebratory record -- chiming guitars, old-school synths, R&B horns, and songs about "modern life and modern love."
Formed in 1996 in London, UK, in the midst of the flourishing Acid Jazz scene, leader Malcolm "Sir Mal" Cross named the band after his childhood hero, jazz drummer Joe Morello. Ultra-rare UK debut album Jackpot ('98) enjoyed a cult following, but a relocation to Los Angeles with British group Minibar in '99 meant starting from scratch. The resulting self-produced album, minimal (2003), was a musical tribute to his new home; a wildly eclectic scrapbook of new friends and experiences. (Pete Yorn calls it "a hit in every genre!") The follow-up, Handheld (2007), distilled a love of '80s synthpop, soft rock and vintage videogames. Touring commitments with Pete Yorn and others prevented adequate promotion of the album, despite radio play on KCRW, and it remains a "lost gem." The new album, The Duellists, featuring Tokyo scenester Masaru Mitsu, is the first truly "hi-fi" Morello project. With production credits from John Would (Fiona Apple) and R Walt Vincent (Pete Yorn, Tortoise), the album was released on April 14.