Jun 09, 2021
By Mark Redfern
Photography by Olle Kirchmeier
José González is releasing his first new album in over six years, Local Valley, on September 17 via Mute. Now he has shared another song from it, “Head On,” via a video for the song. Mikel Cee Karlsson directed the video. Watch it below.
“I wrote ‘Head On’ as a combat song or a list of instructions…a manual. I mean both ‘straight ahead’ and head ON—as in switching on your mind,” says González in a press release. “It was inspired by Fela Kuti’s ‘Zombie’ and the way I used to write lyrics for my hardcore band. It’s also in the vein of my song ‘What Will’ from 2015. That one and this one are both anti-dogma, pro reason songs. Some of the terms I use like ‘rent seeker’ or ‘value extractor,’ are from books on economics that I’ve been reading, like The Value of Everything by Mariana Mazzucato.”
“The animations for ‘Head On’ are based on a cellular automaton called “Game of Life” created by mathematician John Horton Conway,” adds Karlsson. “‘Game of Life’ has emergent properties, meaning that complex forms can arise, or evolve, through simple individual parts. Without any designer, plan or intent. In the video, we used visuals from ‘Game of Life’ as an analogy for the flow of information; bits of information forming patterns. Adapting. Evolving. Mutating. Like memes, or mind viruses; positive, neutral or negative. Travelling from mind to mind in a never-ending war of ideas that we all participate in and are influenced by.”
Local Valley includes “El Invento,” a new Spanish language song González shared in February, and “Visions” (which was one of our Songs of the Week). Then he shared a video for “Visions” and announced some co-headlining U.S. tour dates with Rufus Wainwright.
The Swedish singer/songwriter/guitarist’s last studio album was 2015’s Vestiges & Claws.
González previously announced two ticketed livestream performances. One will be on June 10 and will feature the singer/songwriter live from the Botanical Garden in Gothenburg, Sweden, with an interactive Q&A to follow. Then on September 12 González will again be live from Gothenburg, but this time the performance will be a full production and will also feature pre- and post-show interaction with González. Both shows will allow viewers able to switch camera angles at will. Tickets to both livestreams are available here.
Local Valley was recorded at Studio Koltrast Hakefjorden, a studio set up by González in his family’s summer house, north of Gothenburg.
In the previous press release the musician said the album “is similar to my other solo albums in sound and spirit, a natural continuation of the styles I’ve been adding through the years both solo and with Junip. I set out to write songs in the same vein as my old ones: short, melodic and rhythmical, a mixture of classic folk singer songwriting and songs with influences from Latin America and Africa. It’s more outward looking than my earlier works, but no less personal. On the contrary, I feel more comfortable than ever saying that this album reflects me and my thoughts right now.”
Of the themes on the album, González added: “Many of these songs have a crystal-clear, secular humanist agenda: anti-dogma, pro-reason. There’s no political agenda, though, at least not in a classical left-right spectrum. Maybe in a globalist-secular vs. theocratic-nationalist way: the focus is on underlying worldviews, and on our existential questions as smart apes on a quest to understand ourselves and our place in the cosmos.”
José González 2021 Tour Dates:
July 30 – Madrid, Spain – Noches del Botanico
August 7 – Shambrook, UK – DJ Koze presents @ Tofte Manor
August 27 – Neustrelitz, Germany – Immergut Festival
September 5 – Cabane des Becs de Bosson, Switzerland – PALP Festival
September 20 – Kansas City, MO – Uptown Theater *
September 21 – Des Moines, IA – Hoyt Sherman Place *
September 23 – Minneapolis, MN – Northrop At UMN *
September 24 – Chicago, IL – The Chicago Theatre *
September 25 – Carmel, IN – The Palladium at The Center For The Performing Arts *
September 26 – Detroit, MI –Cathedral Theatre at The Masonic Temple *
September 28 – Washington, DC – The Anthem *
September 29 – Boston, MA – The Orpheum Theatre *
September 30 – New York, NY – The Rooftop at Pier 17 *
October 1 – Glenside, PA – Keswick Theatre *
November 4 – Antwerp, Belgium – Da Roma
November 5 – Paris, France – Trianon
November 6 – Köln, Germany – Carlswerk Victoria
November 7 – Amsterdam, Netherlands – Paradiso
November 8 – Nijmegen, Netherlands – Doornroosje
November 9 – Berlin, Germany – Astra
December 1 – Brighton, UK – Brighton Dome
December 2 – London, UK – Cadogan Hall
December 3 – Gateshead, UK – Sage Gateshead
December 4 – Liverpool, UK – Grand Central Hall
December 5 – Glasgow, UK – O2 Academy
December 6 – Manchester, UK – Albert Hall
* with Rufus Wainwright