Blackstar Theory signed copies [sold out]

[Update: I've sold out of these signed copies now - man they went quick! Thanks everyone for being so supportive.]

Thank you so much to the people who came out to help me launch Blackstar Theory: The last works of David Bowie last weekend at Vout-O-Reenee’s in London. It was such a pleasure being with real live people in the same room, chatting, dancing and loving music together. I hadn’t felt that in so long! More thanks must go to Arsalan Mohammad for hosting the Q&A. I posted a collection of some great pictures people took on the night as a story highlight on Instagram, if anyone's interested.

Also, here's a link to the 4-hour Bowie disco mix (playlist expertly selected and sequenced by Liz Tray).


Supply chain issues and delays meant that my shipment of copies didn't arrive in time and I couldn't sell or sign any books at the launch. So that means I'm doing it here!

[update: these are old sold now].

Stylophonika, stylophones & more stylophones...

The big news is that my stylophone orchestra is releasing their debut album Stylophonika on limited edition vinyl on the 28th of January 2022, and the album is available now to pre-order and stream via Bandcamp. It's joyful and buzzy and queer and epic and I’m so proud of this group and what they’ve achieved! Also one of the tracks was produced by Tony Visconti, like what? And just look at this beautiful artwork designed by Eric Adrian Lee. Safe to say I'm feeling pretty chuffed about how this thing has turned out.

The vinyl is available in two colour variants - blue/pink 'cosmic swirl' and 'protein pills' in opaque purple. You can order your copy from Spun Out of Control's Bandcamp page. There, you can also read more about how the project came to be.


In other stylophone news, I was very happy to be involved in the development of Dubreq's limited edition Bowie-themed Stylophone.


I was appreciative to be given the chance to write the narrative in the booklet, and include some tabs so people can play along. I insisted on the full tab for 'No Plan' because it just felt appropriate, for a project like this, to mark endings as much as beginnings.


The last bit of stylophone-related news (which was actually a while back now) is that I made a guest appearance playing the lovely instruments on
Annie Fish's amazing and heroic whole-album cover of Diamond Dogs. My stylophone freakout was performed on a new-model analogue S1 and a Stylophone GenX-1. You can check it out below, though if you knew what was good you'd purchase and listen to the whole dang thing.


Coming soon: Blackstar Theory

Ok it's been a while since I've updated this blog. In addition to generally trying to survive, and staggering through another very strange pandemic-altered academic year, I've also been busy working on this, my first book. It took many, many all-nighters, and has left me with a lingering laptop-related neck-and-shoulder injury. It's been a welcome distraction, and a real wild ride, I don't think I've worked so hard - in terms of energy, effort and care - on anything in my life. I'm desperate for people to read it, but also terrified at the thought of people reading it. Anyway, here's a blurb:

Blackstar Theory dives deep into Bowie's ambitious last works: the surprise ‘comeback’ project The Next Day (2013), the off-Broadway musical Lazarus (2015) and the album that preceded the artist’s death in 2016 by two days, (pronounced Blackstar). The book explores the swirl of themes that orbit these projects from a starting point in musical analysis and features new interviews with key collaborators from the period: producer Tony Visconti, graphic designer Jonathan Barnbrook, musical director Henry Hey, saxophonist Donny McCaslin and assistant sound engineer Erin Tonkon.

Together, these works tackle the biggest of ideas: identity, creativity, chaos, transience and immortality. Their themes entangle realities and fictions across space and time; a catalogue of sound, vision, music and myth spanning more than 50 years is subjected to the cut-up; we get to the end only to find signposts directing us back to the very start. They enact a process of individuation for the Bowie meta-persona and invite us to consider what happens when a star dies. In our universe, dying stars do not disappear - they transform into new stellar objects, remnants and gravitational forces. The radical potential of the Blackstar is demonstrated in the rock star supernova that creates a singularity resulting in cultural iconicity. It is how a man approaching his own death can create art that illuminates the immortal potential of all matter in the known universe.

Blackstar Theory: The Last Works of David Bowie will be out in January 2022 (e-pub in Dec 2021) and is now available to pre-order.

Bird Rib vinyl is here!


It's here! Available in limited edition heavy weight orange vinyl! Sent directly to you from my front room!

This is the first time I've ever had a vinyl pressing, and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. Want a copy? You can get it here: https://leahkardos.bandcamp.com/album/bird-rib


Book contract

Earlier this month I signed a contract with Bloomsbury to write my first monograph, all about Bowie's 'late work' - The Next Day (2013), Lazarus (2015) and (2016). Very excited and quite terrified, which I have been assured by my editors are appropriate feelings to have right now.

Meanwhile I'm busily co-authoring a book with Prof Pamela Burnard (Cambridge Uni) called Doing Music, Gender and Diverse Creativities: Enacting Socially Just Education for Brill | Sense. On top of this I have my new EP Bird Rib coming out in early Feb, 2020 with Bigo & Twigetti. Check out the amazing artwork that will become the cover image kindly licensed with permission from the super talented Maurizio Bongiovanni.

Busy times! If things go a bit quiet and you wonder where I am, look for me down the bottom of the garden in the writing shed. x

Women in Music - Leeds Music Hub, 14/10/18

This is going to be a great event, come if you can!
I'll be chairing the Engineering and Production Panel in the early afternoon featuring Lauren Deakin Davies, Jeanne Albin and Aubrey Whitfield. There'll also be industry-specific talks, live performances, workshops, stalls, drinks and a screening of the film "So, which band is your boyfriend in?"

For more info, check out the
Facebook event page.


Rococochet out tomorrow

Rococochet comes out tomorrow! I'm excited and nervous for people to finally hear it.

I tried my best to use analogue instruments, technologies and processes as often as possible in this project - that meant no programming or editing (my comfort zones) and recording layers of human imperfection and straight-up ERROR to tape and having to live with the results (certainly NOT my comfort zone). The "rococo" reference in the title is all about a fresh style shift. I was feeling personally a bit bogged down in the 'ambient' piano-triads-with-lots-of-reverb-plus-chopped-beats world, so I thought of the Rococo artists with their humour, wit, eye for left field detail and general lightness of being, and tried to adopt some of that into what I was doing.

I read over and over again that Bowie's process regularly involved a risk, make oneself uncomfortable, going out into the water to the point where your feet no longer touch the bottom. So that's inspiring and comforting. I don't really make music for any other reason than the sheer love and absolute delight of the creative process, so why stick to the well-trodden path?

This is a long, roundabout way of saying I hope some people enjoy listening to it, as vulnerable as it made me feel to create it, and as much as the process of making it taught me new things about music and myself.

Available tomorrow to stream on Spotify and Apple Music, and to buy from iTunes and Bandcamp. Photo of my face below, by the very talented J.Slee.

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Recording Rococochet

Over the last few months I have had a grand old time tracking and mixing my upcoming album, Rococochet (out in September!).

This record is my palate cleanser, something to counter a growing feeling in myself and how I perceive my little corner of the ‘contemporary classical’ landscape, which can sometimes feel very serious and a bit humourless. For my own personal rococo statement, I wanted my music to feel fresh and fun again: to make space for moments of wit and charm; use strong colours; to completely shed any self-seriousness and be open to possibilities.

The album has been created using analogue instruments and recording techniques at Visconti Studio in London. I brought in some amazing players: Paul Glover on drums, Ben Dawson on piano, Lara James on sax, Charles Mutter, Patrick Savage and Richard Harwood on strings. I turned my inexperienced hand to tuned percussion (vibes, marimba, glocks and bells), and vocals. Rather than use virtual instruments and samples (like I usually do) this time I played the CP40, MiniMoog, Moog Sub37 and Mellotron.

I can't wait for people to hear it. x

Today required mallets... #viscontistudio

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Taking today's vibraphone recordings and mangling them with the a80

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Drum day #viscontistudio #recording

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What a cute little saxophone Lara has there #viscontistudio

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Sax day 🎷👌

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my new aesthetic #obliquestrategies

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Final day of tracking: Ben doing his thing on the Steinway, Duds being a top notch studio pupper. 🎹

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Visconti Studio at Kingston University

Helping to make this happen at Kingston University has already been a highlight of my career! The Visconti Studio is part of a research and teaching project centred around the heritage of technology, associated practices and the sound of analogue recording. The project will allow students trained in recording techniques, as well as the use and maintenance of equipment.

Our partners on this project include the British Library and the Science Museum, and Tony Visconti will be a key contributor to the project's research and enterprise outputs. One of record production's great innovators, he is synonymous with ground-breaking music and has worked with some of the most dynamic and influential names in pop, from Marc Bolan / T-Rex and Thin Lizzy, to David Bowie, Morrissey and U2. The project will see him working with students and staff of Kingston University, as well as invited artists, to produce records. The studio will also be available for commercial hire.

Based around an extraordinary 300m2 octagonal live room and stocked with vintage and rare recording equipment (Studer, Neve, Neumann, Universal Audio), the tape-based studio also features a unique collection of instruments including a Mellotron, a Hammond organ and Steinway concert grand piano.

The Visconti Studio will officially be opened on the 19th September 2016.

Full site launch will happen soon (with info about courses, events, research opportunities and studio hire)... for now we have a holding page with some information about our launch event in September:

You can also like our FB page if you're interested in following our progress:

New Appointment

I'm really pleased and excited to announce that I will be joining the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Kingston University as a Lecturer in Music, starting in September.

Can't wait to meet the students and get stuck in!


B&T Winter Sampler and 'Name Your Price' Day


May I draw your attention to this beautiful little compilation from Bigo & Twigetti. Click the artwork to go to the Bandcamp page, where you can stream the tracks. Listen to it while you watch the rain through the window.

If you like what you hear, you might be interested to know that the label is holding another "Name Your Price" day. It works just like it sounds, you can pay anything (even zero*) to download anything in the label's catalogue. Starting at 12.00am the 11th of February, for 24 hours you will be able to decide what you wish to pay for any and all of Bigo & Twigetti's releases on
Bandcamp. Set yourself a reminder to check it out, you could get a whole heap of brilliant music for a bargain.

*if you decide to pay 'zero' to download my stuff, can you promise me that you'll listen closely, all the way through at least once? thx

Finally, I feel like I need to share this great
review of Three Preludes by R. Andrew Lee, that has just been posted on I Care If You Listen. Obviously it means so much when a pianist you admire greatly praises the piano music you have created. BTW if you're a fan of piano music and minimalism you should drop what you're doing and check out his recordings, if you haven't already. I recommend it all, but especially Duckworth's Time Curve Preludes and Dennis Johnson's November.


Three Preludes EP - Out Now (updated)

If you're interested in listening, it is free to stream from Bandcamp and Spotify, and available to purchase from Bandcamp and iTunes and most other online music retailers.

A limited edition of 50 hand painted physical copies with artwork by Jim Perkins can be purchased
here. I've even written out the CD inlays myself...




Guest blog for Ruthless Jabiru

Kelly invited me to write a blog post on the Ruthless Jabiru website about KICK, my new work for string orchestra specially written for the group. In it I explain what KICK is and what inspired its creation.

Click here to check it out.


It's here!

poster 005
Laura Wolk-Lewanowicz & Leah Kardos (photo by Jez Brown, Feb 2013)

MACHINES is here! You can purchase a copy from
Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon, Linn Records as well as stream it from Spotify. Check out some of the early reviews:

One can’t fail to be impressed by Kardos, her debut album was a delight and Machines is not content with delivering more of the same, but strives to push new angles and ideas, blended with verve, imagination and, most importantly, a sense of unconstrained freedom to experiment. Naturally, this brings mixed results, but ultimately everybody can take something precious from the jewel box.

- Barcode Zine

Machines has a wholeness that is quite remarkable. But equally impressive is the manner in which Kardos conceals her virtuosity. Nothing draws attention to itself; everything is deployed in pursuit of an organic integrity. I had listened to the album several times before my attention was conscious of astonishing passages such as the intertwining keyboard lines that close “The Closeness of Distance” or the poly-temporal percussive underscoring of “Highly Active Girls.” The entire album is beautifully paced, with each individual track fitting into a larger whole. The phrase “song-cycle” is entirely apt.

- David D. McIntyre for I Care If You Listen


Machines available for pre-order now

Machines is available to pre-order now from Bigo & Twigetti's Bandcamp, with the full release coming on March the 1st. There's even a preview of the opening track "Incantation" featuring the ever wonderful Laura Wolk-Lewanowicz on vocals:

Exciting times! Meanwhile, you must forgive me for laying low for the moment; usually I would be plugging an album launch event and promoting the hell out of things but it appears that I'm chained to my computer writing up my PhD for the next two months. The plan is, once I have handed everything in, to throw a belated album launch party/event and schedule some live performances of Machines in late spring/early summer. Watch this space for updates. x


Feather Hammer put to bed, (and did you know I quite like kickass beats?)

Screen shot 2012-06-05 at 10.18.22
What a lovely send off for the Feather Hammer live project, I had such a great night! Felt honoured to be surrounded by so many friends from Bedford, not forgetting the hardcore group who travelled from London only to become stranded here due to rail replacement shenanigans and had to get a CAB back. For such efforts I hope it was worth it.

At the end of the Feather Hammer show, I performed some tracks from
You Can't Hide Beat, my Bowie covers EP from last year. I dedicated the songs - Sunday, Lady Grinning Soul and a new version of Heathen - to my dear departed friend Jim Hyde, whom I met on a Bowie fan site back in the late 90s. One of our last conversations was about how much he enjoyed the Bowie covers EP, so it seemed a fitting gesture to make although I very nearly dropped the idea the morning of the show; I wasn't feeling brave at all having not sung in public for years. Liz talked me back into it, and I'm glad I did it. I miss you Jim.

And here is a very cool thing; I've been sampled! During the DJ set after my show, Matt Greasley played this track and it took me a while to register it was even me. Mrs Properly from Uncle Bob's Records pillaged that hour-long ResonanceFM show I did back in September 2011 and found all the various words needed to proclaim my love of kickass beats. Who hasn't wanted to be sampled in a daft dance track? I love it!


My next album (can't say much about it yet, except this)

I figure its time I mentioned something about the next record I'm working on, and hopefully will release with Bigo & Twigetti later on in the year. Plans are a bit fluid at the moment, but I can tell you with some certainty that it will be another "concept" album in the form of a song cycle, and will showcase vocals from the wonderful Australian soprano Laura Wolk-Lewanowicz!

I want to play with a very specific sound world for this one: breathy dream-pop, tiny detuned autoharp strings, warm gooey vintage keyboards (Rhodes and Wurly), body percussion, cellos. The text comes from a collection of (slightly poetic and/or poignant) spam emails I've received over the last 15 years.

Recording scheduled for May!

I'm too excited!


Signed with Bigo & Twigetti!

It would be fair to say that November has been a crazy month for me - so much has happened and it's not over yet! There's the live premiere this Friday and tickets have been selling quickly, which means many people are going to come, which means it is really happening! Oh the nerves! Tickets can be bought in advance from here: http://www.wegottickets.com/event/135477

A few weeks ago I signed with one of my favourite new music labels,
Bigo & Twigetti; they're releasing Feather Hammer properly for me and I couldn't be any more delighted! I've followed and admired their artists for a long time so to now be part of that group is a dream come true. From the 25th it will be available to buy from iTunes and eMusic and other online retailers, and there's a free download of DFACE available from their bandcamp site, where you can also pre-order the album before Friday.

The switch from selling the record DIY style to doing it properly through the label means that the 'music' link above takes you to their bandcamp site and not mine. I'm in the process of creating some new music related pages for the website dedicated to my film soundtracks and other stuff. Maybe I'll have a spare moment in December to sort that out.

There's been more radio play, this time in Ireland (Steve McCauley for the BBC - for a limited time you can listen again
here and here) Outpost Radio and Lion.fm (Penn State University Radio) in the States. I still feel like pinching myself when I see the company I'm keeping in these playlists.

Finally, you have got to check out these amazing illustrations by super talented Bedford artist
David Litchfield - I adore them! See you at the gig! x




Feather Hammer is coming 19:09:11

This might be welcome news for anyone out there who has been following the progress of various demos and Feather Hammer experiments on this blog over the last few months. The finished album will be available from 19th of September! Behold the beautiful album cover art by Kristian Purcell.

I've taken down the demos from my soundcloud account - big thank you to everyone who listened and commented and helped me. The finished album will be available from Monday the 19th of September from my bandcamp page, which you can access instantly by clicking the 'music' link on the site menu above. I'll be back soon to post details about the album launch/premier performance event happening on the 25th of November at The Wilmington in London. Exciting times!