PROBABLY Alabaster dePlume wouldn’t like to be defined by the inflated term “genius” – he “simply” is a rare example of a man living fully and totally without disconnection from his artistic expression.
Previously known for some of the most thought-provoking British alternative folk music, dePlume devotes now an entire album to an instrumental exploration of moods and landscapes.
First of all, the genesis of the album: it’s dedicated to the two persons running Ordinary Lifestyles, a Manchester charity he has been working with, devoted to supporting people with disabilities. Fragments collected in the daily activity of the association (therapeutic songwriting, or simply enjoying music together) would end up providing a preliminary sketch of the tracks in the album.
If you are picturing, at this point, To Cy And Lee Instrumentals Vol.1 to be a ramshackle collection of unfinished tracks, you’re wrong. The album is a highly complex and, again, provoking piece of art, wandering indeed into unexplored territories of an early 20th-century fictional world, inspired by Studio Ghibli animated movies too.
A colourful, mostly acoustic jazz defines the backbone of the record (“I Hope”), with vague Eastern melodic themes protruding from Alabaster’s saxophone (“Not Now, Jesus”), flute (“Turpentine”) or voices (“Song Of The Foundling”). Essential, “new classical” riffs present some occasional anchors to tracks (“Visit Croatia”), turning them from grave to soothing impromptu.
Definitely the record profits from an unobtrusive but disparate set of collaborators, who provide a incredibly deep palette of sound, without ever sounding cacophonous or baroque or pretentious.
As such, it provides an enjoyable listen for who is not necessarily into the contemporary jazz scene.
To Cy And Lee Instrumentals Vol.1 simply reflects Alabaster dePlume’s soul – free and sincere, but mostly profoundly philanthropical.
Alabaster dePlume’s To Cy And Lee Instrumentals Vol.1 is available now digitally, and on CD and vinyl direct from Lost Map, here; or from your trusted local record emporium.