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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.

Leafcutter John: Resurrection

Resurrection Leafcutter John
I Know You Can Leafcutter John
Music Under The Water Leafcutter John
Endless Wave Leafcutter John
Gulps Leafcutter John

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