Leafcutter John


There is something about the ‘Gulps’ of closing track of the same name on Leafcutter John’s first solo LP since 2006. “The Forest And The Sea”, from that era, stirred the imagination like dream theory and here the Jungian psychology connotes to a hidden universe. Leo Chadburn vocals on that record commanded an arrowed sense of place. ‘Resurrection’ sees the synths and electronics left to do the talking, patching up matters of incidentalism that sounds like fully realised bioacoustic sound sculptures. No LJ record comes sounding as complete as this, and since the records are largely built on an incidentialism, roots of tender song craft permeate the base.

Much doesn’t obviously allude besides the religious connotation of the album title. The tracks give a bit more away naturally – catharsis over gentrification, nothingness over matrix glitches. Formlessness explored then, where at one step you are on the elephant and next you’re on the hippopotamus in a dream-scented lining. This symbolism and abstracted meta narrative is as much subconscious as it is hard to claw back under the skin.

At the level of enjoyment’s access, highbrow sonic aesthetics roam Leafcutter’s Planet Mu experiments that were sounds like twigs in a very old tree – the organic plot of musique concrete, no less. Given John’s prudence for free jazz and exploration of the genres maxim from time in Polar Bear, nominated for a Mercury, the effects are admirable, latticing abstract production – take the stat-traction of ‘Endless Wave’, reporting like a wallflower on its bed below – to the higher mountaintops of ‘Gulps’, ingesting pure nitrous oxide not betraying the austerity rhizome of electroacoustic music. Because for once it feels like unilateral emotions can take flight and have greater sentience in relation to the somatic responses – the breath in, breath out – of old.

Man plays God, the universe laughs.

Live shows have been bread and butter for all things Leafcutter John related, but you sense beyond beholder’s eyesight there’s affinity with plowing the studio often. ‘Resurrection’ may not be a grandmaster’s statement of expertise, but it doesn’t have to be – it’s simply multifunctional with no compromise to ascensions plan. Lovingly processed beats pulp the edges of a pepperoni collage finish, spiced with complimentary helpings of staccato vocal, recalling his partner in crime Tim Exile (Imogen Heap support act, Planet Mu). Meanwhile the choice of electroacoustic instruments – autoharp, glockenspiel, drums, oboe, voice, guitar – backdrafts the music’s rhythm section, never jolting electrically tough, succumbing to a gentle charge of the spirit instead. It would seem, from this record, a resurrection of the soul is the only learned thing one needs.


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