Announces new album Absolute Truth for release on Flying Nun on 5 August
First single from album is “A Lake”
Watch video for “A Lake” here (below)
Lawrence Arabia – the pseudonym of James Milne – is a connoisseur of classic songwriting, creating timeless music inspired as much by 1970’s West Coast Americana as New Zealand indie pop. His new album Absolute Truth is due for release on Flying Nun on 5 August.
It’s no secret that New Zealand’s resident pop song-book connoisseur Lawrence Arabia has a penchant for penning earworms at once inspired and unsettling. His 2009 single “Apple Pie Bed” took out the prestigious APRA Silver Scroll, positioning Mr Arabia (real name James Milne) in the great Kiwi song hall of fame.
Fast forward a few years and the enigmatic chanteur is back, on the cusp of releasing his fourth solo album. Milne’s songwriting has reached a commanding new level of skill and control in the years following Chant Darling; 2012’s The Sparrow was a sparse, dark affair stripped back its essentials – stark imagery and unflappable hooks. Following The Sparrow came the birth of Milne’s first child, meaning that the songs to follow were written amidst “hazy post-partum exhaustion”, in Milne’s own words. “It wasn’t a time for self-indulgence or misery. Even the tiniest free moment of reflection felt like a blessing.”
The album’s debut single ‘A Lake‘ is at once personal and abstract; its haunting melody ushered gracefully along by a 60’s groove and four-on-the-floor stomps. The Line Of Best Fit described it as; “a confident, assured sound and the overall feeling that he’s finally happened upon the sound that works for him… with tracks as strong as this, there’s every chance that Lawrence Arabia’s new album will give him the worldwide recognition his music deserves.” The result is Arabia’s strongest yet – aptly named Absolute Truth.
Watch video for “A Lake” here:
This week, Lawrence Arabia releases the video for ‘A Lake’. Entirely made by Milne and his partner Anns Taylor. Filmed out at Riverhead (the “much loved forest of trail runners and magic mushroom hunters”), the video follows Milne through his morning preparations (coffee, baked beans, a shave) before heading to the woods for a spooky group session of ritual magic. Like the song itself, the video seeks to look beneath the surface of the everyday.
“I think the more regular a person’s veneer, the deeper and more lurid their perversions”, explains Milne. “I’m quite drawn to the idea of Freemasonry and how the most seemingly upstanding, so-called “pillars of the community” types are engaging in all kinds of esoteric traditions behind closed doors. And I suppose I enjoy the additional incongruity between that and the self-effacing informality of New Zealanders on the whole.” The video’s exclusive, secluded vibe echoes the similarly reclusive, night-owl process of making the album, which was tracked entirely during dark hours at plastic moulding factory Gyro Plastics in the Hutt Valley. Mike Fabulous (Lord Echo, Fabulous/Arabia) co-produced the whole affair. “The street we recorded on is all heavy industry pretty much”, says Milne. “We weren’t really allowed to make noise during work hours, so we’d work from mid afternoon till the early morning, while the suburb was totally deserted.”
In 2002 Milne joined indie pop outfit the Brunettes then the Ruby Suns. Taking on bass duties in both bands and completing tours of the U.S. with the Brunettes, Milne returned to New Zealand and gathered together local musicians to create what would become the Reduction Agents.
At the same time, Milne’s alter ego Lawrence Arabia was born. Splitting his time between the Reduction Agents and his solo project, 2006 saw Milne release his self-titled debut album as Lawrence Arabia. A collection of low-key, quirky indie pop songs, the album earned praise in his native New Zealand. Moving to the U.K. and setting up home in London’s Shoreditch, Milne began writing his second album, financing his move with touring stints with Okkervil River and Feist as well as a job selling homesick expat New Zealanders goods from their native country.
Milne’s second album, Chant Darling, was recorded at various locations including Sweden and London, and was finally all brought together on home soil and released in 2009. Milne and co-writer Luke Buda won the prestigious APRA Silver Scroll Award for the song Apple Pie Bed. In 2012 Lawrence Arabia put out third album The Sparrow.
Which brings us to the present day, and to the imminent release of the fourth Lawrence Arabia album, Absolute Truth; this time, fittingly, via the iconic Flying Nun label that released their first music in the year of his birth.
Recorded primarily in late night sessions in the unglamorous Hutt Valley industrial suburb of Gracefield with Mike Fabulous, the album is full of the sparkling pop melodies that have delighted an ever-expanding audience, adding to a richly satisfying songbook, and providing another chapter in the story of this unique and cherished artist.