Search Results for:

KIRAN LEONARD

Kiran Leonard

Real Home

    Cathartic avant-rock, literate DIY folk & experimental composition exploring displacement, love, climate change, belonging & the places we call home - RIYL Jim O’Rourke, Richard Youngs, This Heat, Richard Dawson, Flying Nun.

    ‘Real Home’ is the new album by the Manchester-born, London-based artist Kiran Leonard. His sixth album proper (not including innumerable tour-only CD-Rs and short-run cassettes), since his precocious debut in 2013, ‘Real Home’ finds Leonard invigorated by inspiration and experience, making passionate, literate, and mercurial music that explores displacement, love, memory, climate change, connections to home and more.

    Encompassing songs recorded after moving to South London, ‘Real Home’ reflects on ideas of belonging and domesticity through folkloric, stream-of-consciousness songwriting. Across nine tracks, Leonard traces lived impressions of the household and the city, expressing sentiments of dislocation, alienation and stasis, but contentment too.

    Infusing the avant-rock effervescence, terraced dynamics and visionary lyricism of his music with what he defines as a greater sense of openness, Leonard is as versatile, fervent and imaginative as ever on ‘Real Home’, yet his music is somehow more intimate, affecting, and acutely expressive. Shaped by dual considerations of simplicity and formalism, ‘Real Home’ is by turns beautiful, allusive, and ruminative, an album on which Leonard considers what his songs have resembled in the past and what they mean now.

    In recent years, Leonard has crafted eloquent chamber music inspired by the likes of James Joyce and Clarice Lispector (‘Derevaun Seraun’), responded to contemporary politics and communication breakdown in the digital age (‘Western Culture’), and compiled solo works and ensemble recordings for a longform ode to Jonas Mekas and to one of Leonard’s enduring themes; home (‘Trespass On Foot’).

    On ‘Real Home’, Leonard reiterates this abiding thematic focus yet ascends to new, different heights, in music of cathartic delicacy and dissonance where all the myriad dimensions of his work to date seem to crystallize.

    There are sinuous songs about struggle and defying the pace of city life through drift and diversion (‘Pass Between Houses’), stirring songs of intense feeling and crescendo, described as a form of speculative detective fiction (‘Theatre for Change’). There are touching solo piano ballads (the title track), symbolic contentions with carbon capture and climate change (‘Utopia of Bog’), modes of experimental minimalism (‘Void Attentive’), and other profuse feats of compositional range, embroidered with wild tendrils of narrative and lyrical depth. A record to pore over, and get lost in.

    Exemplifying the vast aesthetic scope of Leonard’s music, lead single ‘My Love, Let’s Take The Stage Tonight’ is inspired by country lodestar Hank Williams, Russian poetry and a late period love poem by William Carlos Williams. Yet for Leonard, the song signals a sense of accessible materiality, and is the product of a more linear approach to writing songs:

    “My imitation of the great Hank Williams, in spirit if not in substance…This is one of the best efforts on Real Home at a song-as-object. Looking at it now I realise I was trying to write a song that made itself known as a song to the listener, and I wonder whether that’s crucial if you want a song to transcend its context. And that this is either accomplished through a total openness – by being inviting, by laying the tricks of the song out plain to see, as Williams and his many ghostwriters did so well – or by adopting a knowing aloofness, positioning oneself against the listener but letting it be known that that’s what it’s doing. In this song I try both, but mostly the former: as in, I wanted to write a song where every line follows on from the next.”

    Imbuing the endlessly elaborate and inventive qualities of his music with a newfound streak of candid, clear-cut melodicism, Leonard has reached a special place in his artistry, on a record that feels familial, and expresses closeness. Assembled with affiliates including Lauren Auder, Otto Willberg, Jasper Llewellyn (caroline), Tom Hardwick-Allan (Shovel Dance Collective), Magda McLean (caroline, The Umlauts), Alex Mckenzie (caroline, Shovel Dance Collective), Isabelle Thorn (Dear Laika) & more, the recording process had a significant influence on the subject matter of ‘Real Home’, in sessions defined by close-knit camaraderie and artistic eccentricity:

    “The theme of the home obviously recurs throughout the record; the album was mostly recorded in domestic spaces with friends, and the name of the album is Real Home. I like the qualifier ‘real’, like you’re getting past the cloak of the word and towards the thing-itself…[also] nearly all the percussion in this record was recorded on items from my dad’s shed (jam jars, sandpaper, blocks of wood, etc). Real home record!”

    ‘Real Home’, like anything by Kiran Leonard, is a record of dazzling multiplicity. Yet it’s a companionable prospect with a central premise; a collection of songs where listeners old and new can find a home. An album led by a scene; of Leonard standing at the threshold, ready to welcome you inside.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Pass Between Houses
    2. Theatre For Change
    3. Real Home
    4. Treat Me A Stranger
    5. Utopia Of Bog
    6. Void Attentive
    7. My Love, Let's Take The Stage Tonight
    8. The Kiss
    9. He Had Always Led

    Kiran Leonard is a 22 year old musician from Saddleworth, Greater Manchester. Debut album proper Bowler Hat Soup (2014) and follow-up Grapefruit (2016) were both recorded at home, with Kiran playing virtually every instrument himself. Dervaun Seraun (2017), a concept album in five movements inspired by five pieces of literature and arranged for piano, strings and voice, was an ambitious departure from his usual sound.

    Western Culture now sees him return to the signature sound of his first two records, yet marks a huge sonic progression thanks to the involvement of his venerable live band on record for the first time, as well as being the first to have been made in a professional studio (Old Granada Studios in central Manchester). Please read on for Kiran's statement on the record, discussing the themes within.

    I like the phrase “WESTERN CULTURE” very much because it is a resounding clang from a hollow vessel, connoting so much (grandeur; authority; hostility) without possessing a concrete meaning in of itself. What does ‘western culture’ consist of? This question changes shape depending on who is speaking: e.g., ’culture’ is constantly evolving and autonomous, rapidly reacting to and altering the present in which it unfolds, but is simultaneously regarded as something static and possessed, corresponding roughly to ‘tradition’ or ‘heritage’, something people can call on when the world seems precarious and alien and antagonistic. And so very often when we talk about culture, we reveal our personal conceptions of world events and of what is to be done.

    "“WESTERN CULTURE” — these heavy phrases without substance are of great importance because they are easily manipulatable agents with the potential to sustain great impact on the real world. Not every issue stems from language, and sometimes we allow our discourses to replace real things, which belittles violence and misunderstands the very real violence that phrases inflict. But I wanted to write about the relationship between the two, and show how a lot of very real brutality is distorted and justified by how we choose to depict it.

    "In part, then, it is a response to brutality. We seem inundated by a brutality beyond our comprehension: the kind of nationalisms and capital, and the brutality of not knowing. The latter is particularly damaging because it is so difficult to oppose what you can’t understand/articulate. I wrote this record about all this not because I wanted the real world to be eclipsed (that is; I didn’t want to self-absorbedly change a problem of violence into one of self-expression) but because I don’t understand any of this, and the struggle to depict the world and lived experience in a more truthful way is waged discursively.

    "Process of understanding; process of recognising perspectives beyond your own, and the historical, political forces of imbalance that engender them. I am interested in where songs might fit into all this; I think that it might be a valid means of approaching an articulation of violence, but I also suspect there is something totally absurd about the whole venture."


    TRACK LISTING

    1. The Universe Out There Knows No Smile
    2. Paralysed Force
    3. Working People
    4. An Easel
    5. Legacy Of Neglect
    6. Now Then
    7. Unreflective Life
    8. Shuddering Instance
    9. Exactitude And Science
    10. Suspension 

    In 2014 I was invited to perform at a residency commemorating the re-opening of Manchester Central Library. I wrote a piece in five movements for voice, piano and string trio and called it “DEREVAUN SERAUN”. Each movement is written about a different piece of literature, exploring the value I see in each work and the impression it has made on me, and there is nothing more to it than that. The pleasure of books – of good verse and stories and ideas – is a very simple thing, and I felt that some lofty unifying theme for the entire piece would be a betrayal of that belief.

    I think that when a work resonates with you it is an instinctive response to something. You can be taught to understand a challenging book, but not to feel affection for it; I think a lot of conversation around art, especially around literature, sometimes forgets this. In my experience, the art I like the most, irrespective of its 'difficulty', is the art I can advocate most directly and plainly, and about which I can say: “I read this piece and now I do not read or think in the same way that I did before”, or: “This is a story that I could not explain to someone; I do not understand it word-for-word, yet I feel like innately I understand the whole, and that the whole spoke to me”. This is a piece about five books that I like and why I like them

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Could She Still Draw Back
    2. Living With Your Ailments
    3. A Particle Of Flesh Refuse The Consummation Of Death
    4. The Mute Wide-Open Eye Of All Things
    5. The Cure For Pneumothorax 


    Latest Pre-Sales

    155 NEW ITEMS

    E-newsletter —
    Sign up
    Back to top