Leafcutter John – Resurrection

Leafcutter John – Resurrection (12″ vinyl LP / Digital)

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A panoramic sound world of drifting vocals over a densely-processed terrain of mud- caked percussion and guitar, Leafcutter John’s new solo album, Resurrection, is a characteristically unique blend of the electronic and the acoustic, the hi-tech, the human and the homemade.

Resurrection is the sixth Leafcutter John album and his first solo release since 2006’s The Forest and The Sea CD/LP (Staubgold). In the intervening nine years, John has toured from Vietnam to Venice, appeared live with Beck Hansen and Imogen Heap, and provided the score for Crow, a major theatre project by Handspring (creators of War Horse). During this time, John has also maintained his permanent role as the unpredictable, electronic antagonist in Polar Bear, the twice Mercury Music Prize- nominated, genre-defying jazz band.

This new record marks fifteen years of releases by Leafcutter John. Born John Burton in Wakefield (Yorkshire, England), his highly original musical voice was first spotted by Mike Paradinas, label boss of Planet Mu Records. Over the course of his first three albums (2000-2003), John established and developed his idiosyncratic London-based studio, and his skills as an inventor of unusual instruments and extraordinary music software.

Resurrection begins with the sound of a single bell, in homage to one of John’s major influences, Bernard Parmigiani’s De Natura Sonorum (1976). From there, the album unfolds over five cinematically varied tracks, “like floating above a world in constant flux.” In fact, aerial photographs of the Japanese tsunami of 2011 were a direct inspiration for the record. “I would create complete, fully-formed compositions,” says John, “then later, I’d come back to them, playing the part of the destroyer, scraping and smearing away elements, weathering, piling up and re-ordering them, as if they’d been hit by a natural disaster.”

Not content with the usual tools available to the electronic musician, John has created innovative new systems and techniques for both live performance and production. This includes a light-controlled instrument that allows him manipulate his live sound through gesture, flickering candles, flashing torches and pyrotechnics. For the track “Gulps”, John coded special software to layer huge swathes of sound. Using a recursive system, he created 7.1 billion layers of a recording of the North Sea, one for each human alive on the planet at the time of writing. Featuring a guest appearance by Shabaka Hutchings (Sons of Kemet), “Gulps” is a neat demonstration of John’s approach: Hutchings’ intimate clarinet is gradually engulfed by a (literal) ocean of sound. This is music where technological innovation is always at the service of the emotional impact of the music: deeply human at its root and mind-expanding in its ambition.

Credits

Written and produced by Leafcutter John, with Varpu Kronholm playing additional percussion on “I Know You Can” and Shabaka Hutchings playing Clarinet on “Gulps.” “Endless Wave” contains elements of “Forest Of Spades” by Strings Of Consciousness, used with permission. Mastered by James Plotkin Photography by Max Baillie Design by Chris Koelle, Leafcutter John, and Varpu Kronholm

Limited to 500 copies on transparent blue vinyl

Distributed by Revolver

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Reviews

FACT Magazine – “ From the opening title track Burton builds a massive world processing chiming bells and jittery electronica before diving through an ambient soundscape and somehow coming out with a gentle, almost Earth-like extended coda where the distant guitar melodies are as pretty as they are doom-filled.”

FACT Singles Club: “Feeling the atmosphere change and the environments shift as we listen from the same spot is really invigorating. Swathes of uncertainty, a procession through waterfalls and clouds and finally, the tranquility of repetition, back and forth on an acoustic rocking chair. ”

The Formant – “Resurrection remains a blank canvas, a Robert Rauschenberg type of creation that allows the listener to fill the music with his/her own associations. It might translate for some in an inherent beauty in a destructive force like a tidal wave; or could relay the human part played in creating a natural disaster.”

Fluid Radio – “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.”

Exclaim – “The effect of this sonic immensity is dizzying, and the thread of aggressive probing and discovery runs throughout, as the entire album is an exercise in unbridled creativity.”

A Closer Listen - “This process lends Resurrection a parabolic sheen.  If matter cannot be destroyed, it simply becomes another sort of matter, like ice, water and mist.  Or as the oft-quoted funeral passage states, “We will not all die, but be changed; for this perishable body must put on imperishability” (1 Corinthians 15:53).  What if sound were to operate the same way?  Is it possible that sound cannot be destroyed, that sonic traces of every cry, every song, every thunderclap still exist somewhere in the ether, not as they once were, but changed?”

Tiny Mix Tapes – “He uses a combination of frantic improvisation and long-form composition to bring these opposing perspectives of documentation together. The resulting music is incredible to hear, making Resurrection one of Burton’s most essential releases to date.”

Louder Than War - “Whether deliberately evoked or not, there’s a desire for salvation and reconciliation in this sublime record. A wish to find new paths through tangled undergrowth and across treacherous landmasses, a reclamation for new ways of progressing away from isolated and benighted pools of thought, to finally return to the welcoming earth as the bell tolls.”

Ondarock (in Italian) – “Al quinto album in quindici anni, Burton trascende il binomio uomo-macchina e ne fa sguardo universale.”

Cyclic Defrost - “Resurrection is swimming with disembodied electrics, a myriad of disparate ingredients, from the mechanical to the human voice, from real instruments to field recordings, from bells to guitar, all wrapped up together in a conjoined textural soup of sound sources.”

Consequence of Sound – “I’ll be honest: I had no idea what to expect from Resurrection, and was not only dazzled but enlightened by its contents.”

Headphone Commute – “Resurrection showcases Burton’s talents as a producer and arranger, with a carefully assembled melange of instrumentation and effects and a compelling narrative arc.”