Zarelli: Soft Rains (LP+CD, Seriés Aphonos, February 2015)

Fascinating… Nuclear armageddon never sounded so good.

The vocal on this decidedly retro treat is a 1975 recording of Leonard Nimoy reading Ray Bradbury’s gently post-apocalyptic 1950 short story There Will Come Soft Rains, which begins as a description of life in a futuristic automated house (internet of things, anyone?) but gradually reveals first that the human occupants are missing, and then (spoiler alert!) that they have been incinerated in a nuclear blast (leaving behind only the silhouette of a charming domestic scene burnt into the side of their white-painted house). The story itself quotes the 1920 Sara Teasdale poem of the same name, written in the aftermath of the ‘Great War’ and reflecting on how nature won’t mind at all when humankind violently obliterates itself.

The music is by Welsh multi-hyphenate Carwyn Ellis and features a lot of lovely analogue-sounding synths, with occasional acoustic guitar, xylophone, and floaty psychedelic breathy female voice. It’s pretty firmly grounded in the ’70s (although I did notice a couple of contemporary touches, such as the bassiness of Smoking, Waiting). It’s mostly pretty lush, with a warmth that goes beautifully with Nimoy’s matter-of-fact delivery as the grisly truth emerges through the description of robotized domestic routine, although there is a tension which builds slowly towards the dramatic fire scene with its pulsating action-movie soundtrack.

I think it’s fair to say this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m rather loving it right now (apart from the bit with the sad dog, which is sad). Plus, the sleeve is rather gorgeous — and has inspired me to start sticking images in these posts. (Of course, this is no Ballad Of Bilbo Baggins. R.I.P., Mr Nimoy.)

I bought this from the label.

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