NEW YORK: Paul Simon, the folk star turned world music champion, plans a range of further experimentation including a collaboration with a flamenco band on his new album.
“Stranger to Stranger” is the 74-year-old’s first album since 2011’s “So Beautiful Or So What,” which had partially returned to the acoustic guitar style that made him famous as part of Simon and Garfunkel.
Simon on Thursday announced the latest album, which will come out on June 3, and released a first track, “Wristband,” an upbeat, ironic tale about an overzealous bouncer.
The song starts with a jazzy string bass before bringing in a flamenco rhythm section and a subtle electronic backdrop.
Simon said “Wristband” was one of four songs which he recorded with a flamenco band.
He also worked with Clap! Clap!, an underground Italian DJ also known as Digi G’alessio who infuses club tracks with traditional dance music from southern Africa.
“It’s about getting you to actually hear something in a new way. It’s about making music that sounds old and new at the same time; music with a sense of mystery,” Simon said in a statement on the new album.
On “Stranger to Stranger,” Simon also looked to the 20th century music theorist Harry Partch who designed his own instruments with microtonal scales — meaning with smaller intervals than those usually used in Western music.
Working with longtime producer Roy Halee, Simon went to the late Partch’s laboratory at Montclair State University in New Jersey.
Simon recorded sounds from some of Partch’s instruments such as cloud chamber bowls, which consist of suspended large glass containers, and the chromelodeon, a uniquely tuned keyboard.
Simon and Garfunkel were one of the signature acts of the 1960s, starting off with clean-cut folk songs before delving into fusion. The duo produced hits such as “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Mrs. Robinson.”
As a solo artist, Simon put out hits such as “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” and “You Can Call Me Al.”
The latter song appeared on the 1986 album “Graceland,” on which Simon brought South African artists into his pop songwriting.
“Graceland” went on to win the Grammy for Album of the Year. AFP