Danalogue and Alabaster dePlume are two names that crop up fairly frequently when you start to investigate London’s more unusual jazz or experimental output. Danalogue is a member of The Comet is Coming and Soccer96, not to mention producer for the likes of Snapped Ankles. Alabaster dePlume has been moving into more unusual realms and coming more into his own as a producer and saxophonist, most recently with his experiential album To Cy & Lee: Instrumentals Vol. 1.
The two have already appeared together on this year’s Soccer96 banger “I Was Gonna Fight Fascism”, but they’ve got something entirely different in store for us before the end of the year with the release of collaborative album I Was Not Sleeping. Whether you’re previously familiar with their work or not, this record promises something slightly different, with Danalogue saying:
“The approach is more as producers than in a live band setting. We pieced it together by stitching a patchwork of material, and kept building and subtracting little by little, a bit like making a sculpture. There are also more samples and loops than what we’d both usually do, and more drum machines.
“There were several aims that grew out of the project. We wanted to reject authority, leadership and hierarchy by fighting back through sound. We wanted to improvise as deeply and honestly as possible, create unlikely futures, go on a journey with each tune, and play outside of our comfort zones.”
There’s also a political undertone to it, which is signposted by the title I Was Not Sleeping. dePlume says: “It’s about accountability. If one day in the future someone asks me about this time now, I will have to say, ‘I was not sleeping while this happened. I witness what is happening around me now, I recognise I am involved in it, I am part of it, I cannot deny it, and I am prepared to do something to make it better, and to change myself in order to do so.’”
You won’t immediately feel that sense of political discomfort on the duo’s weird and wonderful new single “Gull Communion” though. Instead, we’re treated to a cartoonish bobble through topsy-turvy synth scapes. The sense of improvisation is ripe throughout “Gull Communion”, but that is not to say that it feels slap-dash, rather that it’s just entirely unpredictable. dePlume’s synth bass sets the tone and gives the song a spine, but all around it are cascades of polychromatic textures and blossoming symphonic ideas, topped off with some melodies that sound like a conversation between seagulls and cute aliens.
Danalogue and Alabaster dePlume’s I Was Not Sleeping comes out on November 20 through Total Refreshment Centre – you can pre-order it from Bandcamp.