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Fridge’s bassist finds his voice.

“It’s a warm, quiet record,” says Adem Ilhan. “It’s a very modern record, but subtly so. There’s lots of modern production in there but it’s hidden beneath the melodies rather than overtaking them.” He is talking about Homesongs, his first solo effort outside of Fridge, a band he’s shared for years with Sam Jeffers and Kieran (Four Tet) Hebden. And, like Hebden’s Rounds, Homesongs is an outstanding record which you’d be a fool to do without.

It’s an intimate collection of acoustic melodies and joyous sentiment. It’s heartfelt but natural and unforced, already receiving an extremely positive reaction from a wide range of people. “I think it’s because it’s a human record,” speculates Adem. “It’s an honest record and you can’t deny your humanity. There’s bound to be things you connect with. And even though they’re quite particular for me, the songs are quite open to interpretation.”


The LP is an “accidental concept album” with all the songs revolving around the theme of “home”, where it was written, recorded and mixed. “I recorded most of it in the early hours of the morning when there weren’t many cars going by and the people upstairs had gone to sleep,” he explains. “I think you can kind of hear that I’m playing by candlelight at three in the morning. That kind of intimacy you can’t really fake.”

So was playing and producing most of it alone a very different experience from making music with his beloved Fridge? “It was the hardest thing,” he says without hesitation. “Since I was 13 I’ve been in bands, and I’ve been making music in Fridge since a little after that. To be sitting on my own making music was a wonderful, exhilarating experience. But it was also incredibly lonely.”


Fridge, though, was an instrumental outfit because “none of us could sing”. However, on Homesongs we hear an assured vocal performance. So what changed? “I was playing and it kind of happened,” he says simply. “I sang. I wasn’t particularly confident but it felt honest, it felt true and it felt like I had something to say and there was no pretence. It sounded right. And as soon as I made that decision, it’s amazing the difference in the way you see yourself and others see you. If you say you’re a singer, people treat you like a singer and they’ll listen to what you have to say.”

And that’s it. There’s a quiet, unassuming confidence about Homesongs you can’t ignore. With its subtle but clever production it’s more than just a record by a singer/songwriter, although it contains that personal warmth. And there’s a gentle enthusiasm that underpins it. “A lot of the time, instead of listening to music, I’ll make the kind of music I want to listen to because it’s more exciting that way,” says Adem. “It’s something that’s never been heard before. That’s a crazy thing, isn’t it? You’ve got nothing and in a few hours time you’ve got something in front of you.” And it’s something special.

Matt Walton 12 March 04
Adem – Homesongs, released 29 March 04 on Domino.

adem recommends

I’m enjoying that Alva Noto record, The Room, with the guy from Yellow Magic Band playing piano. The Jolie Holland album’s really good. Checking out Hot Chip. And I love Steve Reich.
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