‘David Attenborough’ by Mr Diagonal | New Album, ‘Join the Dots’

Uncategorized July 10, 2024

‘David Attenborough’ by Mr Diagonal | New Album, ‘Join the Dots’

Exclusive video premiere of ‘David Attenborough’ by Mr Diagonal, taken from the upcoming album ‘Join the Dots,’ for release on July 26, 2024.

Multi-talented composer and performer Mr. Diagonal debuts the music video for ‘David Attenborough’ today, the lead single from his forthcoming bedroom album ‘Join the Dots.’ This album features a curated selection of home and field recordings from 2018 to 2024. It is characterized as a scrapbook of dreamlike fragments and reports from a unique perspective, imbued with the enchantment of capturing songs as close as possible to their inception. Interestingly, the album will not be available on any streaming platforms. The music video, crafted by cinematographer Ridha ben Hmouda and editor Ken Nishikawa, complements this intimate musical exploration with its visual storytelling.

“It’s full of contradictions, like my life.”

You have a new album slated for release in the spring of 2025. As we did an interview about two years ago, what would you say are some of the significant events that have happened to you since then? On that note, what can we expect from your upcoming album?

The last interview was three years ago, back in the Dark Ages.

Yes, I’m releasing a bedroom album ‘Join the Dots’ this summer (July 26) and a “proper” studio album (which I’m still working on) early next year.

‘Join the Dots’ is the cream of home recordings from the past few years. Most of the songs were recorded within a day (sometimes within an hour) of composition, so they’re pretty fresh. Three of the songs were received in dreams: ‘Hedges,’ ‘Passports,’ and ‘Brixton Pastoral,’ which is a New Age vision of London.

The album is highly diagonal as usual, bouncing between radically different textures, moods, and registers. It’s full of contradictions, like my life.

I don’t really regard events as significant. But some of the nicer ones in recent memory are: taking magic mushrooms with my kids on a tropical island (their idea); playing in the grooviest bar in Okinawa; and arranging one of my songs for a Bulgarian folk orchestra.

It would be fantastic if you could delve a bit more into the behind-the-scenes aspects of production, recordings, and, most importantly, the influences and inspiration for the album.

I am a chronic cyber-cretin and prefer the simplest possible recording set-up, in this case, a 2011 version of GarageBand. I just tweak things till they sound right, if you call that production. All of the songs were written either on my piano or on my traveling guitar, which I take everywhere. For the gear-sluts: it’s a quarter-size nylon-string guitar from Bolivia fitted with a pickup, played through a Fender Frontman 25R with spring reverb.

Though there are loads of artists I admire, I’m not influenced by them in a direct way. My work is more inspired by inner and outer landscapes. For example, I love Bulgarian folk music, but I would never have the patience to study it seriously. I absorb places and traditions more by osmosis. I never look for inspiration. Inspiration comes from work, not the reverse. That sounds boring, but it’s not.

The material spans about four years and seems to show a more intimate side of you. Do you agree?

Some songs are totally sincere, others not. I’m British; there’s only so much intimacy I can take.

The track ‘David Attenborough,’ which we are premiering today, blends elements reminiscent of Lewis Carroll and Kate Bush. Can you explain the conceptual vision behind this song and how you aimed to intertwine these seemingly disparate influences into a cohesive musical and narrative piece?

Lewis Carroll and Kate Bush are not really so disparate. They both deal in a very English kind of madness. Lyrically, the song is closer to the magic realism of Dylan Thomas. It channels that pagan English vibe best expressed by artists like Kate Bush, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Roy Harper, and Robert Wyatt. It depicts the eccentric charm and latent violence of the English upper class. As a lefty Scot, I have a wee problem with English toffs; and yet this background throws out national treasures like Stephen Fry and David Attenborough.

What role does the persona of David Attenborough play in this composition, and how does it contribute to the overall theme and atmosphere you sought to create?

David Attenborough personifies a particular English ideal: a gentleman, explorer, academic, and entertainer. He is my ideal man in a way. He also symbolizes a vanished world of cricket, garden parties, and a trustworthy BBC. The song is a wildlife documentary about the English, recounting the animal impulses under the civilized veneer.

Could you share some further insights about the other tracks that will be featured on the album? Just a glimpse of what we will be hearing would be great.

‘Join the Dots’ includes:
‘Hedges’: an edge-of-consciousness narration about topiary and financial services.
‘California’: string-laden crooner pop written during a Hollywood film shoot.
‘The Boy from Outer Space’: a lo-fi pop song about my severely autistic nephew and his marvellous mum.
‘Orange’: an upbeat chomosexual boogie.
‘I Feel Terribly Bad’: best enjoyed with a medical dictionary.

Could I just add a couple of things?

Mr. Diagonal is a Fair Trade cottage industry. The album is not available on any streaming platforms. You can enjoy three tracks for free on Bandcamp. The complete album is only available through Mr. Diagonal’s online shop and at his concerts.

Talking of which, your readers are cordially invited to my one-man show (also called Join the Dots) at the Edinburgh Fringe 1-25 August. Here is the link.

Thanks for your interest. Stay curious!

Klemen Breznikar

Headline photo: Ridha Ben Hmouda

Mr Diagonal Official Website / Bandcamp / Mastodon

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