Artist and multi-instrumentalist Flaer looks to the landscape to explore pastoral melancholy on debut release, Preludes.
Ensconced in his family home in rural Leicestershire in the early months of 2020, painter and musician Realf Heygate (b. 1994) picked up his childhood cello for the first time in several years and began to play. Setting himself parameters to only record onto 4-track tape with acoustic instruments – cello, piano and acoustic guitar – he assembled a suite of instrumental compositions that form the basis of Preludes, his debut album as Flaer and the inaugural release on Odda Recordings.
Channelling the tension and unease between the pastoral idyll of the English countryside and the darkness which lurks beneath the surface, the mini-album draws inspiration from the analogue aesthetic of 1970s folk horror films, weaving field recordings of birdsong, church bells and the natural environment into chimerical melodies that reflect on Heygate’s childhood experiences of rural England.
“It was really important not to isolate the sound from its environment,” he explains, describing the compositional and recording process as “site-specific”. Developed over a series of intuitive musical enquiries, the mini-album’s uncanny quality emerges from combining raw demo takes with overdubs of almost orchestral grandeur.
Heygate points to the final track as indicative of the work as a whole: “‘Follow’ really is the mantra for the release and embodies the practical approach I was taking to music making: not to force the music but see where it takes you.”
As a painter, Heygate’s practice takes artefacts through sequences of reproduction that embrace the fluctuating materiality of the copy. Since obtaining a degree in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins in 2017, he has exhibited solo at Peter von Kant and Springseason galleries in London, and has participated in group shows at Saatchi Gallery, Cob Gallery and Senesi Contemporanea.
Describing his artistic practice as one of self-erasure, music instead provides Heygate with a more personal and autobiographical outlet. Where the two worlds combine is on Preludes’ striking artwork, which features paintings of 13th century stone carvings from the font of the church in the town where he grew up.
Speaking to a time where people were connected to the land in a more profound way, each symbol is assigned to a track on the album, which Heygate likens to giving them a title.
“To add that one juxtaposition might open a whole new interpretation or language that might be hard to find otherwise,” he explains. “Over time it might reveal itself to you, which is why I’m excited about it being released. To throw them out there and see what comes of it.”
As the name suggests, Preludes is just the beginning.
Preludes is released on limited edition black vinyl (500 copies worldwide) with one of seven signed and numbered handmade prints, each representing a track on the album. It will also be available on cassette (300 copies) and digitally.
Flaer’s Preludes will be released on August 4th via Odda Recordings.
- Limited edition black vinyl LP with one of seven handmade prints, signed and numbered by Flaer
- written, recorded, produced and mixed by Realf Heygate (copyright control)
- mastered by Lewis Hopkin at Star Delta Mastering
- artwork & layout by Realf Heygate & Ashley Kinnard