LCNL 077: blackstag presents “Give me the withered leaves I chose before in the old time”


London-based Andrew Sherwell aka blackstag presents  “Give me the withered leaves I chose before in the old time”, weaving together Eastern European choral music with a variety of very recent experimental music. Sherwell curates his ideal hour of beautiful music for late night headphone listening.


Please introduce yourself.

My name is Andrew Sherwell and have been fiddling about making music for well over 35 years. When I first started I was in a number of rubbish bands. The best of the bunch was reviewed in the NME (a big thing in those far flung days) as, “Like A Certain Ratio, but crap.” Oh dear. I DJ’ed for a number of years in the run up to Acid House eruption – warehouse parties, squats, a few real clubs. Serious illness knocked that on the head so I started making music by myself.

I started with second rate instrumental hip-hop, then appallingly tedious tech-house, before making truly dull ambient tracks. Frustrated by the lack of talent, it all turned comedy dark ambient. Finally I lost all semblance of tunes and produced what my kids’ described as Fridge-Music, the sound of domestic appliances talking to one another in the dead of night.

I started listening to English choral music. Although hardly a spiritual person, I liked the ‘religiocity’. Then I realised I was producing stuff like Xela, but crap.

Since then, I have fallen in love with Eastern European choral music. I think Tchaikovsky’s ‘Hymn of the Cherubim’ is the best piece of music ever, no argument. Chants from the Orthodox eastern churches, the polyphony of Georgian music. Sublime. Surprising myself, I have even managed to get some of the feel of all this into my own work. The now grown-up kids still hate it though.

What’s the scene like where you live?

I live in London so I am spoilt rotten. However, I tend to see ‘the internet’ as my area. Collaboration, friendships and the sharing of ideas can and should be global. I just love the fact that I can listen to an album made by a collaboration between two artists from different fields, one in Tehran and the other in Alabama, and that the album was mastered in Australia and released by a Mexican label. And on tape too! Brilliant.

There are little bits of my own stuff (music, mixes, writing) dotted about the internet, lately under the name blackstag. (soundcloud, mixcloud)

What’s coming up on the horizon for you?

I’m really enjoying writing for my newish blog, Coffee & Flapjacks. The sort-of reviews I write are very much personal responses to what I consider personal music and so should definitely be taken with a pinch of salt. I also mention snacks and coffee, a lot.

I’m seriously considering finally getting some professional help with the mastering of my own music. On the far distant horizon, I’d like to see it released in an actual, physical format.


00:00 – 00:30 blackstag
00:30 – 04:30 Georgy Vasilevich Sviridov – Holy God (Sviridov; Hymns & Prayers – Bogdan Plish & Credo Chamber Choir 2014, Toccata)
03:00 – 10:15 Shovels Beat The Sun – 1987 (Sky Wires, 2016, Bitrot)
10:15 -17:45   Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Hymn of the Cherubim (Sacred Treasures – USSR Ministry of Culture Chamber Choir, 1998)
17:45 – 23:33 Biosphere – Aura in the Kitchen with Candlesticks (Departed Glories, 2016, Smalltown Supersound)
24:05 – 26:10 Deison – Tape 2 (Any Time Now, 2016)
27:20 – 31:45 Chamber Music Ensemble Kukezel – Bulgarian Lament (Early Chants of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, 1994, Cantica)
31:45 – 36:15 Flaming Lips – Once Beyond Hopelessness (Christmas on Mars, 2008, Warner Bros)
34:10 – 37:30 Aramaic Chant from Georgia – Father Seraphim & his local choir (Live recording, 2014)
38:15 – 41:35 The Day Dream – blackstag (sadly unreleased….)
41:35 –  49:05   Legiac – Ambikythera Mechanism (The Voynich Manuscript, 2016, Dronarium)
49:00 – 59:00 Siavash Amini & Matt Finney – Coyote (Familial Rot, 2016, Umor  Rex)


About Joseph Sannicandro

writer | traveler | sound organizer | contrarian | concerned citizen

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