ALBUM REVIEW: Jeremy Tuplin – ‘Violet Waves’: velvety psych-folk for the discerning gent about town

HUSH up at the back there. Yes, I know you have a deep ennui at the way this virus-laden summer is developing. It’s not great, I agree. And on top of it all, we even suffered Glastonbury weather through June. No, we can’t go get ice cream. 

We still have music. Glorious, bewitching, mind-expanding music. And what you need, what will fill that ache in your chest, is a new album from Somerset’s coming acid-folk supremo, Jeremy Tuplin. 

Jeremy first full-length set crept into the collective psych psyche in 2017 in the shape of a hen’s-teeth scarce CDR, I Dreamt I Was an Astronaut. Last year, Pink Mirror appeared on beautifully garish, confectionery-pink vinyl; it contained gorgeously bruised reports back from the frayed heart frontline, such as “Can We Be Strangers”, “Just Cos Ur Your Handsome” and “Break Up”, all delivered in a an understated British tone: arch, polite, a thread back to Yorkshire’s dark, whimsical folk balladeer Jake Thackray weaved into the tapestry. 

Some reviewers mentioned Leonard Cohen; certainly there is a Cohen cover version in YouTube circulation, but for me, meh: Jeremy comes from the school of musicianship and diction and emotional lucidity that brought us Bill Fay. 

Summer 2020 – and Jeremy has a second colour-coded arrow ready to loose unto us: Violet Waves. And we need this. 

Whereas Pink Mirror took a certain acoustic bedrock from which to launch electric guitar trills and piano vamps, on Violet Waves he’s turned it up, in cahoots with his very own spiders from Mars: the Ultimate Power Assembly. He’s gone electric, but no: shush down there at the back, Jeremy isn’t Judas. It’s not on every track, and we need some guitar power to get us through. How very dare you. Come along now, he’s ready. There might be ice cream at the end, if you’re good; or the Groke gets you. 

“Back From the Dead” comes in on a piano full of portent, all DAHDAHDAH doom, before it riffs up on that kinda bluesy propulsion you last heard on “Suffragette City”. “Break Your Heart Again” crashes forward on majestic, raw chordal beauty, a la Galaxie 500. “Love / is a mischievous child … capricious and wild”, reports back our narrator, his languid enunciation in pretty counterpoint to that Krameresque guitar.

I’ve reported on “Space Magic” and its celestial, mushroomy whimsy, elsewhere in this august journal. Just to reprise: you should be ready to believe in the magic of magic with JT as your guide.

“Killer Killer” bounces into your head on the back of Bananamour. There’s talk of ketamine dreams from Jeremy, a self-confessed dream diarist. He explained that “it’s a feel-good depiction of a love story featuring a porcupine and a chinchilla: the porcupine being the femme fatale and the chinchilla, the ladykiller.” Set the controls for the heart of the odd.

A front-room version of “The Inuit” has also been doing the rounds on social for a while; he doesn’t musically over-gild it with this full-release version. “Everything on the television / Makes me want to fucking cry”, he announces, among talk of celestial non-beings and conversations between the mountain and the Inuit. We’re out in a deep signifier-scape, with the acoustic strum melting into space Moog shimmer.

“Swimming” is an almost shoegaze-ambient, delicate memory, held like an old newspaper, gossamer thin. “Cool Design” drops right in, stomping forward on a woozy, glammy interval; as it climaxes, it properly shreds.

“Sally’s In A Coma” is stark and none more sad, lyrically. She’s dreaming of her life, the sun still rises, but her closest can’t reach her. It’s delicacy brings to mind a trippier This is the Kit. He can yank a tearful eye from you in a fingerclick. 

Someone once wrote that part of the lexical beauty of The Byrds’ “Feel A Whole Lot Better” lies in the probably nature of feeling a whole lot better. That extra signifier, that conditionality. Such it is with album closer “When I Die, Etc”: that et cetera opens it all up. Death: and the rest of it, too.

“I’ve been thinking and when I die, I would like my heart cut out and projected into outer space / And maybe it’ll catch on and others will do the same / The entirety of the human race / With their hearts cut out and floating in outer space … let’s not get bogged down in the scientific detail”, he asides, as the Ultimate Power Assembly’s guitars writhe and phase galactically. Let’s paint the canvas; the rationale can follow as it wishes. Or not. Let’s deal in more noble registers.

It’s whimsical, it’s cosmic, it’s direct and experiential. It’s very British, in the best traditions. Of “Space Magic” I wrote that if you have you room in your heart for Kevin Ayers, late-era Syd, Matt Berry and (the aforementioned) Jake Thackray, get em to shuffle up, there’s a seat at that table for Mr Tuplin, Esq.; my opinion changeth not a jot.

Somewhere in a parallel universe, Jeremy Tuplin is stepping, kercheifed, from a cherry-red Mercedes gullwing outside the Scotch of St James, eyebrow with a knowing Bond-curve, off to check out the latest happening. Maybe it’s that David Jones, up from Bromley. Let’s help him on that quest.

Right everyone, ice cream? Ben & Jerry’s, or Barratt and Leary’s?

Jeremy Tuplin’s Violet Waves will be released on digital and vinyl formats on August 14th; there’s even a tote bundle. To secure yours, visit his Bandcamp page, here.

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