Photo: Alexa Viscius

On Deck: Delmer Darion introduce us to their favourite concept albums

Delmer Darion are the London-based duo of Tom Lenton and Oliver Jack and they released their second album Tall Vision-of-the-Voyage earlier this month. As suggested by its title, the new record is a hugely ambitious and transportive work wherein the duo use a range of production techniques both analogue and digital to immerse the listener in tales that have the atmosphere and density of a lost piece of classic science fiction.

Tall Vision-of-the-Voyage is a record of two halves. The first side finds Delmer Darion partnering with a variety of vocalists who help to project the emotions through their rustic productions. Whether it’s Philadelphia’s Slaughter Beach, Dog describing a fragrant and hallucinogenic journey across dangerous terrain on “Half Mile Down” or London’s own Anna B Savage ripping out our hearts with an emotional dagger striking through the churning layers of “White Dawn Fog” – or the equally compelling turns by Kiran Leonard and Bingo Fury – the symbiosis between producer and vocalist is engrossing.

The second half of the record is Delmer Darion’s most ambitious work to date, as they enlist cellist Mabe Fratti and actor Morfydd Clark to guide us on an epic retelling of the sinking of the HMY Iolaire. Across 18 minutes, Fratti’s alien cello amplifies the danger and urgency, while Clark’s hauntingly pristine voice is chilling in its recounting of events. All the while, Delmer Darion sew it all together into a sweeping whole.

Needless to say, the duo are fans of grandiose or conceptual works, and they’ve been kind enough to tell us about some of their favourite ‘concept’ albums in the latest edition of On Deck, giving us some insight into their mindsets. Take a look at those below, but first enjoy the haunting opening segment of “Iolaire”.

Richard Dawson – Peasant

[Domino; 2017]

Tom: Richard Dawson is one of the artists I’ve spent most time listening to over the past four or five years. He’s an incredible musician and an even better lyricist and world-builder.

So many of his lines are etched into my brain now, but one towards the end of “Ogre”, from his album Peasant, stands out.

The album is set in the Old English kingdom of Bryneich and this song is about a community’s children being abducted, perhaps by an ogre (or perhaps not). Just before the outro, he sings: “Paralysed, I watch my child’s breath glide like a jellyfish across the black morning”. It’s such a good simile and such a good line.

Jazmine Sullivan – Heaux Tales

[RCA; 2021]

Oliver: I got really hooked on this album – even if I’m not exactly the target audience for Jazmine Sullivan‘s themes of female empowerment. But it’s got super smooth production, she’s got an amazing voice, and the whole thing has an interesting call and response structure between the narrative interludes and the songs that build around them. We’re always experimenting with ways to weave narrative threads through our music and this is album does it wonderfully. After a full day of wrangling with a wall-of-noise modular patch, it’s nice to blast this one out.

Björk – Vulnicura

[One Little Independent; 2015]

Tom: There’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said about this one! It’s a beautiful album. I’m a sucker for a great opening track and “Stonemilker” is right up there amongst Björk‘s best. I’m not exactly sure why, but I love how the opening chorus line changes from “Who is open-chested and who has coagulated?” to “Who is open and who has shut up?” I think, after hearing the first version, I find the simplicity of the second so affecting. 

Oneohtrix Point Never – Replica

[Software/Mexican Summer; 2011]

Oliver: Oneohtrix Point Never‘s Replica is built from loads of samples of 80s and 90s TV adverts and has a really expensive but cohesive sound. I love the opening track “Andro”, which moves from something soft and dreamy to a thick wall of noise, made up of samples layered on top of one another. Given how chaotic it gets, I was really interested to read Lopatin say he limited himself to eight tracks per song. It shows you how important good sample selection is! We mix a lot of synth sound design with antique-sounding samples ourselves. This album is one of the best at marrying the two.

William Basinski – The Disintegration Loops

[Musex; 2002]

Tom: This is a cornerstone album for anyone who works with tape, which we do. We run a lot of sounds through a tape machine between one and five times, depending on how much saturation and degradation we’re going for.

All four of William Basinski‘s Disintegration Loops albums were made by digitising old tapes. The tapes had degraded enough over time that they started falling apart as they played. So Basinski played them for long periods of time, allowing them to slowly devolve and recording the results. He completed the project in Brooklyn in September 2001 and that month’s events gave new significance to the music.

Delmer Darion’s new album Tall Vision-of-the-Voyage is out now on Practise Music (listen/buy).

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