JEREMY TUPLIN – I Dreamt I Was An Astronaut (Folkwit Records f0141)

AstronautJeremy Tuplin released his debut album, I Dreamt I Was An Astronaut, on September 29th and it will be launched at Paper Dress Vintage in London on October 26th. The album has been described as part of a new genre, “space-folk”, because of its “retro-futuristic feel” and blend of “electronic and synthesised sounds with acoustic and organic instruments”. It’s early days (there have been two EP’s but this is a debut album), but there are indications of a talent much better than that kind of narrow-alley-cult description suggests.

You know you’re in a different world when the opening track is called ‘Albert Einstein Song’ and the first verse, which follows the best part of a two minute introduction, is “Here’s to Albert Einstein and the vision he bestowed/To the few things I have learned and all the things I’ll never know/Like why the universe is even here/For what reason is it employed/Or how energy is neither created nor destroyed” The track then goes into an image of David Bowie’s death and a related spiritual musing that we may be part of “something bigger than you, something bigger than me”. On ‘Anybody Else’ Tuplin takes us to a similarly contemplative place while singing an unforced rhyme between hubris and this “I’m just a figment of my ego’s imagination/Must I resign myself to hubris/A twisted sense of self-entitlement and frustration/Mixed with I’ve never known anybody quite like this”.

The melodies are strong so that the lyrics don’t overwhelm them. Tuplin has a clean picking and strumming style. The songs are recorded with electronic instrumentation (the keyboard sound that gives rise to the genre description of space-folk) that moves towards orchestration and drums that give the songs a steady fullness or, in a couple of instances, turn them into something rockier. The video below, ‘Astronaut’, gives you a good feel for Tuplin’s musical locus but have a listen also to ‘Oh Youth’ for the rockier sound.

The voice is unique. There are elements of Nick Cave or Leonard Cohen in it in that Tuplin sings in deep tones, with a calm timbre of serious matters. But then there’s also a faint tinge of Jake Thackray or Viv Stanshall – just to be clear, this is a compliment. In ‘Did We Lose The Fight’, the vocal subtlety allows Tuplin to deliver lines like “A scratch mark’s nothing more than a battle scar…..I down my drink because I can’t stand this any more/Then I drink until I can’t stand any more…….I admit that I still long for those days/We don’t fight like that any more/Can it be that we’ve both got nothing left to say…. I presume we’ll be going our separate ways” and simultaneously capture the passion of a tumultuous relationship, the seriousness of it falling apart, but also a perspective, a sense that there is more to this world and that this is just two people ‘losing the fight’ (with all the complexity inherent in that phrase).

There’s some rawness on the album – given the reprise of vinyl at the moment, I’m not sure whether the crackling sound on one track is deliberate, but I assume the cough on another isn’t; the image of the puppy playing piano (‘Feel Good Hit’) will probably not appeal to many – but I’d rather have it raw than bland and these are small quibbles about a fascinating and well put together CD.

Give it a listen, it is just possible that this is the debut album of someone who is going to be filling halls and festival stages in the coming years.

Mike Wistow

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Following the album launch in London, Tuplin is on tour in Spain and the UK in November.

‘Astronaut’ – official video: