Alabaster dePlume new release To Cy & Lee: Instru­men­tals Vol 1 on Lost Map Records in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Chica­go-based avant-jazz label Inter­na­tion­al Anthem and the Total Refresh­ment Cen­tre in Lon­don. I had to check if this was the same Alabaster dePlume who sang a cou­ple of humor­ous songs at a Union Chapel day­time ses­sion I attend­ed. Although there could­n’t real­is­ti­cal­ly be more than one Alabaster dePlume. 

For Man­ches­ter-born, Lon­don-based band­leader, com­pos­er, sax­o­phon­ist, activist and ora­tor Angus Fair­bairn, AKA Alabaster dePlume, this is a third 12″ vinyl repress. To Cy & Lee draws togeth­er 11 dif­fer­ent instru­men­tal tracks, most­ly old and two brand new com­po­si­tions, record­ed over eight years in cities around the UK togeth­er with a coterie of col­lab­o­ra­tors, includ­ing Dan ‘Dana­logue’ Leavers of The Comet Is Com­ing and Sarathy Kor­war. Not only do these num­bers span time but the globe too; there are ele­ments of Japan­ese music, folk and more all weaved into this delight­ful work.

To Cy & Lee: Instru­men­tals Vol. 1 is in trib­ute to Cy Lewis and Lee ‘Shred­der’ Bow­man, whom Alabaster met while work­ing in Man­ches­ter for Ordi­nary Lifestyles, a char­i­ty which sup­ports peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties to live in their own homes and enjoy ful­fill­ing lives. I can see why this music could be a pos­i­tive influ­ence, there’s some­thing joy­ous and lib­er­at­ing in its melodies, some­thing that helped Cy and Lee. The restora­tive qual­i­ties of this album could help any­one feel­ing anx­ious dur­ing these trou­bling times.

The first track on Side A, Vis­it Croa­t­ia, sets the tone: atmos­pher­ic and lan­guid. This is not some­thing to add to your Couch to 5K run­ning app: you’d sit down under the near­est tree and doze off. Indeed these tracks do what they are intend­ed to do, help you find a place of calm. 

I am par­tic­u­lar­ly drawn to Whisky Sto­ry Time which evokes a 20s lounge bar with a cig­a­rette smoke haze, while its bur­bling sax puts you in a rather pleas­ant­ly soz­zled state. The more folk-inspired Song of the Foundling leads you into the woods as its breathy flute (for a sec­ond I was back in Jethro Tull ter­ri­to­ry) weaves a mag­ic spell. A cho­rus of what sounds like wood­land folk draws you fur­ther in. 

Alababster de plume
Alabaster dePlume at Union Chapel 2017

The clos­ing track on the album is one of the most enjoy­able and has a pos­i­tive spring in its step. I Hope is a mix of styles. The lay­ers flute and strings build up nice­ly while a sul­try bass anchors it all together. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *