The Proper Ornaments have been through a lot together.
Essentially hinging on the friendship between James Hoare (also of Ultimate Painting/Veronica Falls) and Max Claps (Toy), the pair's second album was largely an escape from drug issues and mental health problems.
Emerging from this, subsequent sessions took on a brighter, more upbeat hue, with a gentle, uplifting energy permeating their music.
New album '6 Lenins' is the result. Out on April 5th via Tapete Records, it was recorded at James' flat on a newly installed 16 track Studer machine.
"We started writing new songs in the summer. I was in bed recovering from hepatitis and very broken and tired so couldn't do anything else apart from playing guitar," says Max, "and the songs slowly started to appear. In August we realised we had five new songs each and free time, so we decided to record them. The actual recording only took two weeks and it was considerably easier than our previous recordings.”
Stripped from the LP, 'Song For John Lennon' is a curious return, with its warm tones seeming to envelope you from every side.
A tip of the cap to the titular Beatle, 'Song For John Lennon' oozes out of the speakers like aural honey; completely addictive, you can check it out below and read a short Q&A with The Proper Ornaments…
You mention that writing for the album began during a period of recuperation – has music often been an escape like this? Is writing in itself quite therapeutic?
Max: Yes it is a place where nothing can touch you and one can go into different worlds. Music itself does that too, that's what I think is great about it.
There's a slightly sunnier sound to the new record, what do you think powered this?
Max: We had to deal with some difficult things, so when it came to do this record we left all of those obstacles behind and focused on enjoying just being friends doing something together.
How does this album relate to your previous work? Is it evolution, or is there a definitive break?
James: This is a continuation, exploring similar themes and sounds but adding to the instrumentation and textures we've previously built on. This record has some heavier songs, some softer moments, more electronic elements but, it is still based around the guitars.
Can you recall writing this song? What spurred it?
James: This song is quite old, I remember writing the basis of it some years ago at my mum's house. It existed as just one verse and a few lines of the middle eight for a long time. Max has always pushed for this song to be recorded and included on an album but I couldn't finish the words and put it off. John Lennon has always been a fixture in my life, ever since I can remember. His influence is omnipresent.
What's your favourite John Lennon moment? Can be Beatles or solo!
James: His first solo album. Just John, Klaus and Ringo. The songs on the white album. 'Happiness Is Warm Gun' in particular. I've always liked the fact that when the 60's was in full swing, Paul was out at the Bag O' Nails club with Twiggy while John was at home in Surrey, reading books, playing guitar, and smoking doobies with his school friends.
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'6 Lenins' will be released on April 5th.
Photo Credit: Anna Sampson
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