Fred Deakin of Lemon Jelly has a new album out – a double concept album telling a Dystopian tale of the Lasters, Earth’s final family after climate change’s inevitable result. We follow their journey – in particular that of the mother and daughter. I won’t say much more, other than it’s an intricate tale to be revealed over the course of the four sides of the album. It involves a civil war and a family torn apart – but primarily it’s a human tale of parent and child bonds with raw human emotion revealed in the beautiful vocals. Deakin explains the story’s progression as each side of the album comes to a close; fortunately, he tells me afterwards that the tale will be written on the album cover, as there’s a lot to take in.
In order to launch this new baby out into the world, the prodigiously talented Deakin (he’s a University Professor of Digital Arts, multi-media artist, musician, DJ, performer) has created four ‘listening parties’ over the weekend. I attended the first one, an occasion we as audience felt honoured to share as the needle was ceremoniously dropped onto the first test pressing of the album.
I should mention the venue: Deakin has chosen The Intimate Space – the smallest venue in the country. Well, that’s its claim anyway. Picture a north London street where suddenly, set back from the road amongst trees, gardens and greenery, illuminated somewhat creepily by green lights, an ancient stone church tower stands. Enter, and you find yourself in a cosy, welcoming and beautiful space with a gothic arch and tall windows. Atmospheric and, no surprise here, with great acoustics.
The choice of venue all starts to make sense when Deakin’s accompanying artworks are revealed, a set of intricately constructed lightboxes, reminiscent of church stained glass windows. There’s a triptych of lightboxes to the side of the room, placed under the church window (see main photo). These three pictures reveal the narrative that is unfolding, and they are captivating. Apart from their beauty, they possess an amazingly rich textural quality; one features clouds which are iridescently mirrored, another has a section which resembles granite, with sparkly chunks. These lightbox images will be on the album cover which, although still in prototype form, will be a true vinyl lover’s dream with gatefold and, I think, various popups.
The Lasters has a lush, rich quality with layers of guitar and synth which build dramatically. There are four vocalists – Abi Sinclair, Charlotte Hatherley, Steffan Huw Davies and Deakin – but what stands out are the female voices, expressing the turmoil of their flight from Earth. Deakin (and Harry, the producer, who is here tonight) have struck a fine balance – the story is there and it’s good to follow to be fully immersed in the work but, should you hear a track without its context, it still stands on its own musically.
The Lasters launch weekend is now ended but further performances will be announced, including one in September (see kickstarter) – and a listening party in Bristol.
Listen to a sample of the finished music here
Pre order the limited edition vinyl album, T shirts and a special live performance and various other treats at: http://bit.ly/lasterskickstarter