The Afterlife (2019)

Noctorum - The AfterlifeNoctorum’s fourth album The Afterlife will be released in February 2019!

The writing process for The Afterlife began in October 2016. Opening with the ghostly The Moon Drips, a song about creatures of the night, that features mariachi trumpet, demented harpsichord and a thrilling climax, the music was written as a jam in one take – Marty on organ guitar, Dare on bass and Olivia on violin. Marty’s wife, Olivia, joined us on most of the tracks, either playing violin or singing. When she was not contributing to the record, she was filming us, producing three short films on the making of The Afterlife, which you can watch below.
Dare contributes lyrics on two songs. Show, a jangly pop song and High Tide / Low Tide, written after listening to a friend talk about his bipolar disorder. The King Crimson influence emerges on A Resurrected Man, a slow, beautifully crafted paean to Marty’s muse. For those who like to hear Noctorum at full throttle, A Girl With No Love is built around a Thin Lizzy style riff, motors along at breakneck speed and tells the story of disillusioned lonely men in search of guiltless fantasy. Another stand out track is Head On, a duet between Marty and Olivia, complete with 70s style detective theme backing and a full on progressive instrumental outro as a soundtrack to a lover’s pact, immortalized in a head on collision. The track The Afterlife is beyond categorisation. Over a backing that sounds like a pastoral, even whimsical piece of English folk rock or perhaps a hymn, Marty inhabits the soul of a suicide bomber and tells us his side of the story. Ian McNabb from the Icicle Works explained it best in the title of one of his albums – “If you want to know your enemy, sing his song”. Olivia presented us with the album artwork, using and editing a picture that Marty took at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston in February 2018.

Making Of Noctorum – The Afterlife

“The wind howls, the rain slanted, pounds into your face like sharp arrows. The rumbling sounds from the underground labyrinthian VIP Studio and In Deep Music Archive are the only hope for the dark Penzance October days. Dare and Marty, stripped off all comforts, except for the biscuits and the tea and the incense and the cushions and the guitars and the freedom to create, are bedded down in the complex simplicity of the fourth Noctorum album, The Afterlife. Ideas spring, guitars chime and the mood is inhabited with serious laughter. We are evolving, we invite you to look inside our process for split seconds to watch it all grow, bud, flower into our latest and most humble offering.”

Reviews

“So stylish, so British. Noctorum’s long-awaited fourth offering definitely chimes, sparkles and shines. Recapturing the trademark sounds that initially made Sparks Lane and Offer The Light so attractive, Dare Mason and Marty Willson-Piper have come up with their strongest, most cohesive album yet. One of The Afterlife’s strengths lies in the homogeneity of its orchestration. The listener can’t get enough of the outstanding harpsichord / flute / trumpet / violin / female vocal arrangements. In addition to the usual array of guitars, bass, drums and keyboards these elements produce a sheer signature sound beyond any of their previous efforts, despite the usual eclecticism.
The enticing pop flavours of the catchy Piccadilly Circus In The Rain are to die for. A Resurrected Man’s moving lyrics appropriately close side one of the album, Marty delivering one of his most poignant ballads ever in this love song to his muse. The more classic-rock vibes at the core of the record feel great too, with Marty getting the load off his chest and using a large palette of vocal styles. Dare gets to sing the lead on a couple of songs, and man does he rock!

Marty Willson-Piper with his wife Olivia, recording "Head On".
Marty Willson-Piper with his wife Olivia, recording “Head On”.

The epic Head On is the coup de grâce. As if it wasn’t enough to begin the song with a tasteful detective story vibe and instrumentation, Marty always sounding great in this vein (Noctorum fans fondly recall Ask Again), then comes the revelation of Olivia Willson-Piper’s mysterious and sexy lead vocal in what turns out to be a compelling duet. And there is so much more to cherish Head On for, its prog outro being another prowess in itself. Among the standout tracks are The Afterlife, utterly poignant and soaring magnificently (its guitar treatment luring the listener into thinking that Tony Banks is guesting on keys), The Moon Drips, a sort of horror story set to a mariachi backing track and the touching, tender and poetic In A Field Full Of Sheep, which fulfils its mission of bringing a sense of relief. With great consistency in the writing, performance and production, it’s clear that Noctorum have lovingly crafted and matured each song on this beauty of a record, intensely generous.”

(Arno Sojo, Sweet Gum Tree)