Rupert Lally – Marine Life

Rupert Lally - Marine Life

For reasons that I don’t fully understand, for a significant proportion of lockdown I found myself drawn to the sea. Initially this was a strange feeling: in my mind’s eye I imagined the tranquillity of sunsets over rippling waves, the coolness of ocean spray and the scent of water in constant motion, but I was also reminded of how stressful I would find trips to the beach as a child – the embarrassment of changing into and out of swimming shorts under a towel, the uncomfortable feeling of sand between my toes and a sense of intense boredom that manifested itself, conservatively, seventeen minutes into a day by the sea. Nevertheless, the idea of the sea won out, and as soon as lockdown eased slightly, I took myself to the Cornish coast, to where I now find myself temporarily relocated. 

Swiss-based electronic artist Rupert Lally’s latest album, Marine Life, also concerns itself with the sea, perhaps representing an emotive, wistful nod in the direction of his childhood growing up in Brighton. Across six deeply ambient pieces, Lally evokes both the calm quietude and intense volatility of the water. Taking together processed, degraded samples of orchestras and overlaying those with choral samples and plaintive synth accents, Lally has assembled a suite of sounds that drift gently between the acoustic and the electronic. 

Pieces like ‘Deceptively Calm’ or ‘Shimmering Waves’ have a muted drama, an evolving pattern of beatific drones and constant cycles of minor crescendos smothered in a sort of hypnotic, though-provoking serenity. Like the ocean, what appears still on the surface might hide a restless, dangerous turbulence that prevails beneath; Lally’s work on Marine Life is sensitive to both, simultaneously carrying a reflectiveness but also a respect for the water and its latent, unpredictable power, best exemplified by a sequence of fluctuating discordancies on the title track. 

A sense of danger floats to the choppy surface on ‘High Speed Crossing’ and the submerged pulse of ‘Diving Bell’, the former progressing on a submerged motorik rhythm that sounds like the close-up recording of a boat engine, and the latter on an unswerving sweeping sound reminiscent of sonar. These two pieces seem to symbolise, for me, mankind’s fragile relationship with the water and its untameable nature. I also found myself pondering how our continual disrespect for the natural order of the oceans have jeopardised the delicate ecosystem that it represents, feeling anxious about what overfishing, oil spills, engine emissions and plastic waste have done to those who call it home. 

I found myself listening to Marine Life with the sound of seagulls chattering outside the Velux windows in the space I have commandeered for writing and reflection while I find myself here in Cornwall. It was a moment of natural, unexpected symbiosis that felt like it was completely in tune with the powerfully introspective yet elegiac tonalities of Lally’s latest work. 

Marine Life by Rupert Lally is released September 21 2020 by Glass Reservoir in a limited edition of 50 CDs.

Words: Mat Smith. With thanks to Grant Wilkinson.

(c) 2020 Further. 

Rupert Lally – Dune

Lally - Dune Tape

My youth was, I now realise, haunted by Dune. My mother, sensing a Star Wars-led interest in science fiction films, bought my an empty Panini sticker album that was issued to go along with David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation of Frank Herbert’s celebrated novel. No one else at my primary school was collecting the stickers, and with no one to swap the endless, frustrating supply of duplicate stickers I invariably ended up with, it languished, unfinished until it found itself in the bin. Later still, I ended up receiving a copy of the 1992 Amiga computer game from a friend and, like a lot of games, I was utterly hopeless at it and I guess I either offloaded it back to that friend or it went off to some floppy disc recycling place upon the occasion of one of my successive house moves.

So to say I have mixed feelings about Dune is an understatement. Those youthful experiences have meant I never bothered to read the book, and I’d rather watch Eraserhead or The Elephant Man over Lynch’s take on Dune. I know – sacrilege, right?

But maybe there’s hope for me yet in the form of Rupert Lally’s brilliant new soundtrack to Herbert’s book, released as part of the Bibliotapes series. Lally is no stranger to this endeavour, releasing a coveted score to another sci-fi novel, John Wyndham’s The Day Of The Triffids, via the label earlier this year. Herbert’s book was originally presented in the science fiction periodical Analog, and, perhaps with intentional reverence, Lally enriches these 26 evocative cues with a beautifully-rendered analogue synth spice (pun intended).

Pieces like ‘Giedi Prime’, ‘Remember The Tooth!’ and ‘Leave No Trace’ proceed on prowling, throbbing bass tones full of both threat and mystery, representing a recognisable stylistic motif that runs through the whole of Lally’s vivid score. There are moments, such as on ‘A Deal With Kynes’, where those tones eddy upward with aggressive and intensifying malice, signalling danger, while elsewhere they ebb away into distant, mollified texture.

And yet nestled within these bleak wastelands of atmospheric sound, we find the spiralling melodies, intensifying arpeggios and pulsing beats of the singular ‘Wormsign’, representing a seamless entanglement of Seventies space disco, progressive house and Eat Static-y galactic psychedelia.

The fifty copies of the cassette edition of Lally’s Dune justifiably sold out in record time. Fortunately, these absorbing, pulse-sharpening tracks are all available at Rupert’s Bandcamp page, a link to which can be found below. I’m now finally going to go and track down a copy of Herbert’s book. It’s about time…

Dune by Rupert Lally was released September 13 2019 by Bibliotapes.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2019 Further.

Rupert Lally – The Day Of The Triffids

Stuart McLean’s Bibliotapes cassette label is focussed on curating imaginary soundtracks for books. For its second release, Swiss electronic musician and soundtrack aficionado Rupert Lally has chosen to create a soundtrack to accompany John Wyndham’s 1951 sci-fi novel The Day Of The Triffids. Lally himself is no stranger to this concept, having previously delivered imagined soundtracks to J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise, a score that gave Clint Mansell’s music for the 2015 film a good run for its money.

Given the harrowing, apocalyptic subject matter of the book, it goes without saying that the tone here is resolutely gloomy. Using an array of synths, Optigan and Mellotron loops and instruments like flute, Lally’s cues are dark and occasionally oppressive, full of lurking dread and inescapable destruction. The use of a jaunty Optigan loop on ‘The Coming Of The Triffids’ provides a brief moment of levity before its wonky music hall leanings are quickly rearranged once more into nightmarish drones and murky tones. Moments like ‘Shadows Before’, ‘Shirning’ or ‘…And Further On’ range from near orchestral atmospherics to ephemeral, dread-inspiring low-frequency tension. It is this unpredictable, haunting variety of sounds that marks this out as arguably Lally’s most definitive statement to date.

The Day Of The Triffids by Rupert Lally was released by Bibliotapes on April 17 2019. All fifty of the cassettes are now sold out but the tracks will be available at Lally’s Bandcamp page from April 23 – rupertlally.bandcamp.com

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2019 Further.