On May 24th, experimental musician Rupert Clervaux releases his debut solo album ‘After Masterpieces’ on Whities.
The record features guest performances from saxophonist and trumpet player Eben Bull, singer Sian Ahern, and renowned experimental artist Anna Homler (aka Breadwoman) whose inimitable voice ushers us into the record’s opening prelude, and out of its redemptive final piece.
The design by Alex McCullough and Kia Tasbihgou illustrates a 1:1 scale etched steel plate; the industrially machined casing through which an abstract landscape by the late Brian McMinn is visible. The printed sleeve is a reproduction of this steel ‘breach artefact’, bound with custom produced elastic band denoting the tracklist, strapping in place an accompanying poetry chapbook to it’s outer.
‘After Masterpieces’ sets six recitals of Rupert’s poetry in unique, unpredictable and expansive musical scenery. The enigmatic and densely compacted texts, reworked and gently honed throughout the album’s slow creation, find an aerial perspective from which a lifetime of reading, listening and thinking is carefully re-mapped. The broad thematic scope takes in aesthetics, ancient mythologies, the origins of language and music, epistemology and ecology––to name just a few––all of which remain tightly intertwined, resistant to abstraction, and imbued with a sense of inquisitive ambiguity which treats all certainty with suspicion: the listener is invited to find their own threads, draw their own conclusions and think their own thoughts––as Anna Homler once aptly said of her own work, “…it’s not didactic, it’s poetic.”
Initially deriving its impetus from the mood and rhythm of the words, the album’s music utilises a wide-array of performance and production techniques. Clervaux draws on his full range of musical interests, creating long-form pieces that at turns support the recitals and then lead the way for the instrumental swathes within and between them. The sounds of ‘After Masterpieces’ revolve through the melodic ambience of ‘Her Fingers of Pink Light’; the dark electronics and multi-layered samples of ‘In Shadowlands of Like and Likeness’; the tentative interplay of piano and voice on ‘Damper and Drum’; and the riff-like patterned percussion and free improvisation of ‘Make Nature Speak.’ As the LP draws to a close, Homler and Bull join Rupert on ‘L’amore che Muove il Sole’—a sprawling anti-hymn, echoing the structure of ‘The Divine Comedy’, which discovers, in place of Dante’s heavenly paradise, a fragile optimism for positive change in the wreckage of failed grand narratives.
Additional thanks go to Noel Summerville, James Marrs, Laura Lies In and Ju Canon for all their work on this project.