WOW, is the first thought that came to mind when the opening track of James Leatherbarrow’s work, How Do You Feel, burst into the open in a cacophony of sound; Happy New Year they yelled as they welcomed in with hope high, the year that is and was to be 2020. Mere seconds later, the Grim Reaper is beginning to look interested in what was to become a year that will live long in the memory of the world, rating up there with two World Wars and other such cataclysmic events.
Before this can be absorbed the music dissolves into what can only be described as a House of Horrors sound track usually discovered in the fun arcades of regional shows, which forms the basis of the balance of the album, which is eclectic to say the last.
Track titles and the accompanying music act as metaphors and as the movie plays out; 2020: The Movie sets the scene followed by Chicken Foot, which is fascinating. Listen closely to the wording as the portrait it paints will be different for everyone: a touch of madness unleashed maybe or has something else entirely been captured!
Blue Sky is almost a benediction as the light, bright tones of electronic offer a welcome reprise in a life gone monumentally mad, or so it would seem. Vocals join in the mix on this track which is once again a piece that can stand careful listening, as it asks how do you feel in this new tomorrow, when a piece of blue sky can be seen offering a slice of hope in an otherwise dark world!
Un, Deus, Trios ushers in Bon Voyage the most pedestrian of the pieces with guitar, played by Colin Heirs, as the main instrument, underpinned with a raft of symphony to create a robust sound to add to the enchantment of the undertaking. Je t’aime.
Those annoying people in the cinema seats are captured with the abstract Barbara, once again using a space music style of backing before Intermission arrives to the sound of the pipe organ, beloved of cinema goers before the age of electronics and sound was achieved at the push of a button. Funky, upbeat and catchy, this is a toe tapper of a tune.
Hobblefoot’s Journey is the main feature at 24:30 seconds, telling a story of a long, long, long journey with a wonderful olde worlde influence throughout. Well worth the listening time involved, this is a strangely beautiful, haunting piece, once again portraying the slow, often frustrating and damaging journey, but one interlaced with beautiful moments, we have all experienced in this strange and unusual year, 2020. This piece was written in remembrance of Scott White who passed away on 1 January 2020, a dear and beloved friend of James Leatherbarrow.
A little madrigal is encapsulated in Take My Hand, with some very elaborate arranging of one voice to create many, which is delightful before moving into the final piece Nebulae a slow, totally space music composition that is as timeless as space appears to be when standing on the earth looking outward to the skies, This is the prefect piece to end this absolutely outrageous musical retrospective on a year that has proven to be anything but ordinary and has still some time to travel.
Final words from a wordsmith about this wondrous album How Do You Feel: as said to James, I am not too sure whether to laugh, scream or run hiding as how are mere words able to capture such a vibrant, astonishing and absolutely refreshing perspective of year when to expect the unexpected was considered the absolute norm! Perhaps he was having too much fun creating this amazing collection of music that will be very hard to forget.
Do yourself a favour and take a listen to this truly wondrous album; it will make your year!