Just as visual as they are musical

I realised the best way to listen to this mini-album and hear its every intricate detail is to sit, eyes closed, in the dark if necessary, and then it comes.

A Texan history, a railway, a rocking chair on the porch of a house and nothing but a starry night to stare at. This collaboration from 35-year-old John-Mark Lapham of The Earlies and Micah P Hinson, 24, is an experimental soundtrack.

Calling themselves The Late Cord, ‘Lights From The Wheelhouse’ is the start of a new sound for both musicians and a new concept that is just as visual as it is musical. Starting with a childlike melody, opening song ‘Lila Blue’ builds with electrical pulses and repetitious vocals. The deep southern vocals of Micah rise again in ‘The Late Cord’, the song the band takes its name from, over Fender chords and a popping bass.

The plateful of overlapping strings by Semay Wu, a beautiful merge of cello and violin, is a fitting end to a traditional A-side of a conceptual project. “The Late Cord isn’t meant to be a traditional band, but more of an umbrella for different collaborators and concepts,” said John-Mark, who grew up in the same town as Micah, Abilene in the west Texan Bible belt, although they didn’t actually meet until 2000. “I don’t think I consciously set out to make a specific sound, something a little more experimental perhaps. You always have to leave room for the unexpected.”

And unexpected is what you get when you invite a Buddy Holly backing singer to join in. ‘My Most Meaningful Relationships Are With Dead People’ features the voice of John-Mark’s father, standing out as a lone voice over church bells and bustling crowds. A simple and soft piano is joined by an electrical nipping, bringing a sense of hope to the depressive, deep, drone and soothing harmonica. “In the mid 50s, my dad sang in a backing band for Buddy Holly with two other guys as The Picks. I tried to re-join the full group, but the other two didn’t make it. We’re going to try again to get them together and have a full vocal backing band,” John-Mark said. “Our future material will be different from this, as we want to continue trying new things and working with different people.” So the touches of futuristic sounds mixed with traditional, the blues with the dark and the sounds of solace heard on last track ‘Hung On The Cemetery Gates’ sitting side by side with congregations, chant and chat could build further.

“The Late Cord isn’t meant to be a traditional band, but more of an umbrella for different collaborators and concepts.”

With inspirations stemming from This Mortal Coil, Cocteau Twins, and Dead Can Dance, who knows which formula this experiment will make. “I don’t think I would take on a project that was similar to anything else I’d done. It would just be a waste of time,” John-Mark explains. “And I don’t know how others receive this music. I can only hope some will find a home in it, and perhaps take it to heart.” The Late Cord’s complete album will be out next year followed by a tour.


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