Christopher Chaplin’s second album is by no means a simple one. It’s released on the Austrian imprint Fabrique Records and its title is Paradise Lost. He aims to translate John Milton’s homonymous poem into music. And considering that we are talking about one of the greatest poets in English literature, and his best known work, we can see that the task is quite complex. The result is aiming for greatness.
Christopher James Chaplin, who is the youngest son of Charlie Chaplin, worked together with the British tenor and reciter Nathan Vale, and also with Leslie Winer, an American musician, poet and artist, who was described by Jean-Paul Gaultier as the first androgynous model. She also collaborated with Grace Jones, Sinnead O’Connor or Helmut Lang, among others.
What we hear on Paradise Lost is a composition divided into 3 sections, with the tenor Nathan Vale on the opening and closing, and, as if trying to show the other side of the voice spectrum, Leslie Winer in the middle. Expectancy, suspense and an open field for free interpretations start the album with ‘I Dread’, with hints of complex percussive elements. Generating a dreamy state accompanied by flutes, bells, field recordings and also drums. Some light peaks towards the end, but it fades away among the narrative full of mystery. On ‘Dave The Shoe’ Leslie Winer verses a poem over hints of musique concrete, with minimal electronic interventions. Her voice seems to be a lament, affected or hurt in a way, the violins also highlight this tension.
‘Of This New World’ ends the album, and it’s an accomplished effort in mixing acoustic and electronic elements. Whilst there is a small resemblance with the glorious RE:ECM by Loderbauer and Villalobos, it doesn’t feel like that’s where Chaplin found his inspiration. Overall, this is a journey that demands full attention and in some parts in return it offers great pleasure. Let’s hope Chaplin keeps focusing on translating great pieces of art into his own vision of sound.