leafcutter john back with another exquisite trip of field recordings x electronica 7-course meal. not usually a big fan of parades, but sign me up for any parade john puts together. fascinatingly rich tapestry of electro-acoustic wildlands. fun, funky, groovy, tickling all my ear hairs, washing over my brainscape, yes please.
On the auspicious occasion of the release of his mystical seventh artist album, technological force-of-nature Leafcutter John teams up with fellow stalwarts of idiosyncratic electronica Border Community to gift unto the world the small-yet-perfectly-formed joyously utopian artefact ‘Yes! Come Parade With Us’. Weaving field recordings from the Norfolk coastline together with layers of lyrical modular synth, these seven bright-eyed folk anthems sing with positivity and a sense of place, and feel right at home amongst the British label’s unparalleled ever-pastoral and often organic electronic legacy.
During the summer of 2017 exiled Yorkshireman Leafcutter John returned to his one-time home of Norfolk (having graduated in Painting from Norwich’s School of Art and Design back in 1998) and set out on foot along the sixty mile section of Norfolk Coast Path which runs from Hunstanton to Overstrand, trusty audio recording device in his pocket. “And very soon the physical act of walking began to make me think about music,” he explains. “My footsteps dictated the tempo and imagined melodies accompanied me as I slowly moved along the increasingly wild and magical stretch of coastline. Stresses of the city were replaced by the fall and rise of the North Sea and endless salt
flats. Sounds from the environment filtered in and I would stop often to record what I was hearing around me.”
Back home in London, the hours of amassed field recordings would form the backbone and inspiration for a whole album worth of outpourings from John’s six-years-in-the-making modular synth. From the evocative sound of sea birds on ‘Pillar’ and ‘Stepper Motor’ to the colourful conversation from a country pub in ‘This Way Out’, the apposite selection of samples which made the final edit provide the perfect jumping-off point for John’s synths to soar with abandon, at times uplifting, frenetic, haunting, hypnotic or meditative, but always atmospheric and with unstoppable propulsion.
“Above all else, I wanted the album to exude a sense of constant forward motion but at a very human scale,” says John. Thus drummer friends Tom Skinner (Hello Skinny) and Sebastian Rochford (long-time collaborator in the twice Mercury Prize-nominated band Polar Bear) were roped in to lend their suitably clattering human momentum, on ‘Doing The Beeston Bump’ and ‘Dunes’ respectively. Working in tempos to match his walking speed throughout – “whether trudging along a rainy shingle beach or running up wildflowering clifftop paths” – ‘Yes! Come Parade With Us’ is perfect traveling music, and once unleashed upon the world is sure to provide the soundtrack to plenty more journeys to come.
Beginning his own musical journey back in 1999 on Mike Paradinas’ Planet Mu Records and with a widely-varied twenty year career in electronic music already under his belt, the release of his masterful seventh album sees Leafcutter John on career-defining form. An intensely personal project, John has also hand-drawn the labyrinthine album art and animated his own suitably exuberant rainbow-hued video to accompany the boundless enthusiasm of restorative title track Yes! Come Parade With Us. The resultant album gem is both assuredly successful in his stated aim of capturing “both the rugged beauty of the environment and the positivity I felt walking through it” and incredibly infectious, with a harmonious utopian outlook which cannot help but rub off on the listener.
An electronics master of both modular synth and Max/MSP who over the years has self-assembled quite the collection of bespoke controllers for his musical performances, the centrepiece of John’s current live show is an arresting light-activated interface which enables a torch-controlled live performance like no other. Leafcutter John will be taking this and other handmade technological wizardry out on the road this Spring across the UK and beyond, including a fitting early album showcase on 16th March at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust centre in Cley Marshes, which sits around the mid-point of that fateful walk of 2017.
The CD version of ‘Yes! Come Parade With Us’ comes with a map insert hand-drawn by John, and is limited to 1000 copies.
released April 19, 2019
Leafcutter John: Modular synth, Field recordings
Tom Skinner: Drums on track 1
Sebastian Rochford: Drums on track 7
All tracks written by John T Burton & published by copyright control. Mastered by Eric James at The Philosopher's Barn.
supported by 12 fans who also own “Yes! Come Parade With Us”
It's a rare trick to make an album that subverts itself at every turn, yet doesn't leave the listener hopelessly frustrated. Every track is pulled in five different directions, but the end result is deeply satisfying. A remarkable listen. Akira Watts