North London based electronic project, Delmer Darion appear on the surface as something of an enigma - named after the deep-sea dive from Paul Thomas Anderson’s cult 1999 film Magnolia, the duo (Tom Lenton and Oliver Jack) have dedicated painstaking years perfecting their unique style of evocative, densely layered electronics. Fearless in their inspection of erudite themes - they weave hypnotic tapestries of sound around the most arcane subject matter.
This is none more apparent than on newly released track ‘Narrowing’. A song heavily influenced by Dante’s Inferno and the 8th Circle of hell - as the duo take us on an eclectic, neo-soul tinged journey through shifting soundscapes, down ‘corridors and trenches’ towards the devil himself. Yet instilling within this a more contemporary edge as Tom talks of how they looked to transpose such themes onto a more ‘urban, contemporary setting’ envisioning “winding corridors of concrete, under some city somewhere with weird spots - bars and clubs.”
Having met at a battle of the bands competition at secondary school, the pair have traversed their musical maturation in tandem - transitioning from the ‘generic teenage band stuff’ to encompass more disparate genres and sounds as they grew into more electronic music and hip-hop. “I think it was a bit as a result of us being at Uni separately,” Ollie informs me. “The early stuff was much more a case of doing a little bit, email it, someone else do a little bit. It was a remote existence - which lends itself to electronic music. Just doing our own little things and then sharing the ideas.”
When discussing their influences, both Ollie and Tom point to their love of the craft of songwriting tradition. “I like it where 'a song’ is ‘a song’ before it’s produced. That for me is one whole area of influence. I really like how a song-writer writes and structures their songs. And then you can take a whole polar opposite-genre and smash that genre into that song-writing style and end up with this weird mesh of the two.” A sentiment that is clearly reflected in his own project’s experimental approach to music, resulting in tracks like debut single ‘Wildering’, oscillating between fragmented vocal lines and vibrant bursts of modular synth. Ollie is also keen to point out that whilst “there’s a whole scope of musical influences, they’re just as strong as the narrative influences.”
Delmer Darion's oeuvre is clearly indebted to literature - particularly poetry. Tom references how the work and imagery of Bianca Stone and her poem ‘I Saw The Devil And His Needlework’ lent itself to their latest single. Whilst, Wallace Stevens’ 'Esthétique du Mal’ and his notion that “the death of Satan was a tragedy for the imagination” forms the bedrock of a forthcoming debut album. Tom spoke of the duo’s desire “to write an album about the way in which Satan as a symbol had lost its potency over the last 400-500 years and chart that gradual decline by touching on an array of historical moments and different references”.
Both were looking for an interesting challenge and wanted to explore the types of themes that are rarely touched upon in more traditional electronic albums. “Such a lot of the music we’d created before that drew on personal experience - that classic songwriter thing of what’s going on in my life. ‘Oh I’m having a difficult time with my girlfriend - so I’ll write a song about,”’ Tom explains. “But after doing that for a while we were a bit sick of it and we thought it would be much more interesting if we could write something a lot more outward looking.”
It takes quite an artistic palette to successfully blend such an assortment of shoegazey folk with abrasive industrial and IDM and set them to such themes. As they continue to release more music into the world, Delmer Darion are carefully constructing a labyrinth worth getting lost in, full of oddities and hidden references to unlock. Cerebral devil music for the pensive listener - the perfect storm for such apocalyptic times.
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Words: Rory Marcham
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