CHRIS PORPORA makes very, very beautiful and hushed music as Cheval Sombre – and makes it very much at his own pace; he is, as we shall see, very much concerned with the passage of time and all its tricks in the human brain. And he’s just announced the release of a new album, Time Waits For No One, to be released by Sonic Cathedral on February 26th.
Actually, in excellent further news, it’s only the first of two albums Chris intends to release this year.
He released his eponymous debut in 2009, followed that with Mad Love in 2012, since when there’s just been a brace of collaborative outings: a live at St Pancras Old Church cassette, with Sonic Boom, and 2018’s Dean Wareham vs. Cheval Sombre album.
Names of this calibre show you why he is (rightly) held in high musical regard; and Pete Kember, aka Sonic Boom, returns herein, lending his unmistakeable production touches.
Chris is of the feeling that, serendipitously, the world has finally slowed down to his pace. While not actually being a lockdown record per se – it’s isn’t one of the diaristic outings of a creative talent stuck in purdah that we’re increasingly seeing – but it is, nevertheless, a hushed, introspective soundtrack for these times.
“I’ve always said that what I really want to do with music is to give people sanctuary,” he explains.
“Pandemic or not, the world has always felt as though it were spinning out of control to me, and so if folks have slowed down, I do see it all as an opportunity to discover vital realms which have always been there, but we’ve been too rushed and distracted to encounter.”
What you’ll get on Time Waits for No One is eight original songs, an instrumental and a closing cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “No Place to Fall”. And yep, the record is shot through with that grand, murderous old dame, time.
“Linear time marches on, whether we are awake or asleep, whether we like it or not,” he says of the concept, which was at least in part inspired by Thomas Merton’s translations of ancient Chinese philosophy in The Way Of Chuang Tzu.
“This way of looking at time can be a trap, and a profound source of suffering. But I’ve certainly fallen victim to these illusions, and I think that it’s important to acknowledge that aspect of our humanity.”
Of course we’ve been lucky enough to have been climbing inside that new record ourselves a little while; by goodness, very lovely it is, all open-tuned guitars, Sonic Boom’s trademark synths and keyboards; strings, courtesy Gillian Rivers and Yuiko Kamakari. It’s raw and intimate but it’s looking at the stars; an album Nat at Sonic Cathedral describes as “Daniel Johnston backed by the Mercury Rev of Deserter’s Songs.”
If you need to jump in for a little taster, we covered the first single, “It’s Not Time”, back in December, here – a hazy, delicate delight.
“Music doesn’t have to be so ambitious all of the time,” says Chris.
“Once a lovely element is discovered, I say let it ring out for a while – allow the listener to get acquainted with it, to enjoy it, to lean on it. No need to take it away and replace it with all kinds of technical flurry.
“There is a place in music where we might suggest something eternal, a refuge – something to rely on.” Wise words in these times.
Cheval Sombre’s Time Waits for No One will be released by Sonic Cathedral on February 26th on digital, limited edition CD (that’s almost gone, already), white vinyl and frosted transparent and blue splatter vinyl (that has gone, je suis desole) and you can pre-order yours right now at Bandcamp.