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Leafcutter John
Yes! Come Parade With Us Tom Bolton , May 9th, 2019 08:42

Leafcutter John takes an unexpected pastoral turn for a walk in the country with drummers Seb Rochford and Tom Skinner. It turns out to be just thing, argues Tom Bolton

Electronics wizard Leafcutter John has been performing and releasing quietly influential recordings for very nearly 20 years. His latest work, Yes! Come Parade With Us delivers a thoroughly individual set of tracks that swim against the tide with conviction and panache. While various artists have, in recent years, revisited the pastoral in search of new, darker and messier reflections on the times, Leafcutter John finds joy.

The album is based on field recordings made on a walk from Hunstanton to Overstrand, along the North Norfolk coast. Jaunty walking rhythms propel the music, through the actual sound of his footsteps pacing the shingle at Cley-next-the-Sea on ‘Doing the Beeston Bump’. The recordings are wide open, containing both the spaces and sounds of East Anglian seaside, but exhilarating, squelchy synths. The title track is an arms aloft affirmation of the joys of walking and the open air, both charmingly naive and highly infectious.

This is a little unexpected from Leafcutter John, who is generally more experimental and introspective. He is not the most obvious suspect for a track such as ‘Pillar’, which takes the sounds of the harbour at Wells-next-the-Sea – terns, fishing boats, slow slapping water – and turns them into a space-age banger worthy of Hudson Mohawke.

Drumming collaborators Tom Skinner (Hello Skinny/Sons of Kemet) and Seb Rochford (Polar Bear bandmate) take the walking rhythms and run with them, for example with hollow toms toms on ‘Elephant Bones’ that match the eerie, metallic pinging of ropes on masts at Blakeney. Meanwhile, on ‘This Way Out’ the sounds of Norfolk pub chatter (“Ignorance is bliss, that’s what I say” comments an unidentified woman) subdued machine gun drums sounds spectacular and celebratory.

Leafcutter John says he wanted the album to “exude a constant sense of forward motion”, and he delivers. The joyous piece of escapism that has resulted could be precisely what we need.

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