In the six years since his last album, ‘Christiana’, James Mabbett aka Napoleon IIIrd has covered a fair amount of distance, both emotional and literal. The culmination of that journey results in the release of his new album, ‘The Great Lake’ on 19 May 2017. A five track exploration of the possibilities of song structures within experimental soundscapes thematically wedded to James’ personal experiences of grief, ‘The Great Lake’ is paradoxically an album full of human warmth and emotion and a strident piece of abstract art, the collision point between the theory of Basinski and the melody of Northern Soul.
If the film for previous track The Scrape was anger then according to James, So It Goes, ‘is acceptance. It is where life starts once more. It is when you remember what love is, it is when you look back fondly on those you lost and you first smile. It is memory and it is hope. Hope is the future.’
“It is the acceptance of one’s one and only life cycle as something that had to be and that, by necessity, permitted of no substitutions…The lack or loss of this accrued ego integration is signified by fear of death: the one and only life cycle is not accepted as the ultimate life. Despair expresses the feeling that the time is now short, too short for the attempt to start another life and to try out alternative roads to integrity” – Erik Erikson
“….when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. Allmoments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist” – Kurt Vonnegut
The genesis for the album came with James’ move to London from Yorkshire in 2011. Journeying through the centre of the metropolis by bus every day he found solace in immersion in ambient and noise experiments as a travelling soundtrack, recontextualising the chaos and thrum of the city around him into something more surreal and passive.
Returning to West Yorkshire and settling in the artistic enclave of Holmfirth, a town perhaps best known for light Sunday evening comedy but inhabited by a vibrant creative community, James set about reconstituting his band and inviting friends to join him on the recordings. The core group of Nestor Matthews (Menace Beach, Sky Larkin) on drums, John Leaman on guitar, Bob McDougall on bass and Oli Bentley on saxophone; an instrument that James had previously felt a strong aversion to but elected to place at the heart of the composition and use tonally to challenge himself, gathered together in March 2015 at Greenmount studios in Leeds and recorded the tracks in four weeks.
Napoleon IIIrd will launch ‘The Great Lake’ as part of Holmfirth Film Festival on Wednesday 24th May.The event will include screenings of films made specifically for the album, an interactive sound installation and the debut live presentation of the album in its entirety.