PHOTO CREDIT: Meg Lavender
Prayers Against the Sun
Prayers Against the Sun is available via:
7th March, 2018
The E.P., Beyond the Mountains, is available from 6th April via L'Aurore and Republic of Music. Pre-order the E.P. via:
THIS one will be interesting as…
PHOTO CREDIT: Katrina Stamatopoulos
there are a lot of new angles to cover. I will look at the three-piece, Tiger Lion, soon – led by Clémentine Blue – but, right now, there are some other topics to cover. I will look at embracing nature and the physical world for music; feeling pressured by busy cities – and having that contrast of a more idyllic and simplistic lifestyle. I will then look at artists who absorb pieces of their life into music; creating a wonderfully full and eclectic sound together; taking the listeners somewhere strange and special; artists who will stand out as we head through this year – where Tiger Lion could head, in terms of touring. There are not many acts out there who look to nature when writing music. I have been looking at Tiger Blue’s music and biography and picking up on some little details. They, especially Blue, has been compelled by the lack of stress one gets from far-off places. She has been inspired by the thin air above the mountains – compelling the title of the trio’s upcoming E.P. – and other elements have come into the fore. Waterfalls, bells and natural sounds: aspects that define a certain peace and tranquillity. One gets these sonics in the music: the beauty and gracefulness of the natural world come through in every note. Artists such as Björk have brought the natural world into her music since the beginning. She is one of few musicians who take from the planet and brings the listener much closer to nature. One can say artists like M.I.A., through sampling, have included bird-song and calls: others have integrated the sound of whales (Kate Bush) and the ocean. There are not many, now, who channel something organic and pure. Artists are concerned with electronics and machinery to heighten their music. Whilst there is some of that in Tiger Lion’s music – one gets the sense of a group unwilling to surrender to the power of organic sounds and inspiration-points.
When looking at modern music; I wonder whether there are too many synthetic elements being brought in. One hears acts like Tune-Yards bring foreign beats and international sensations into the music – how long has it been since we had a modern scene defined by something honest and unfettered? One hears various acts bringing odd instruments and aspects of nature into music: Tiger Lion fuse the modern-day urgency with something free-flowing and calming. That is a brew they should patent and retain. Prayers Against the Sun, as the title implies, is not a song about late-night drinking and broken love. There is an ethereal and divine flow running through that connects with the planet and looks at another place. The video was clipped in Gambia and, when listening to the song, you get sensations of Africa and the sounds coming from there. The visuals beautifully melt with the lyrics: a harmonious relationship is formed and you get a wonderful little film. Listening to the song; I detect dance and ceremony. This direction was compelled by Tiger Lion, and Clémentine Blue, visiting Africa and getting away from the city. Absorbing a very different way of life was the tonic needed – able to detach from the city and finding something more substantial and ‘zen’. There are other artists – such as Vampire Weekend and Paul Simon – who have brought in African shades and nods to the natural world in their music. If one can successfully combine that with the rawness and accessibility of modern music – some Electro and Pop layers – then that is the best combination. Tiger Lion do this successfully and, if anything, add their own personality into the blend. I will move on from this area but, before then, I wonder whether Tiger Lion will continue to take inspiration from Africa in their future work. The E.P., Beyond the Mountains, explores the area in more detail – it will be interesting seeing where they go from here.
There is a lot of nature and other cultures running through Prayers Against the Sun. I get blasts of Paul Simon’s Graceland with artists such as M.I.A. and FKA twigs. There are so many different elements working away: that sort of training really only comes from the city. The trio is based in North London and, as such, have had access to the hectic rush of the place; the multicultural people and the general pace. The reason Tiger Lion evolved their sound the way they have is down to the city: the need to get away from the bustle and find a contrast. The city was magical and beautiful: the strain and endless stress were enough to see a retreat occur. Many of us, exposed to the city, needed to get away and go somewhere that offers a new way of life. In an odd way; the city is a muse that can give artists influence and new life – even if it is ironically done. Tiger Lion have embedded themselves in London but, after a time, the rawness and grip of the population meant alternatives were needed. I have been looking at parts of the world that could provide influence to artists looking for new impetus. It seems Africa is the perfect place to do that. I have never been to Gambia and the area – it is definitely somewhere worth exploration and thought. One cannot depart from somewhere like London and live in Africa – the poorer areas – full-time. I have been looking at busy cities and whether they are the best places for new artists. Sure, there are opportunities and success available there: the pressure and endless strain can create a toll and damaging effect. It is all very well being secure in London and having the sociability at your feet. The more time goes on; the greater the pressure gets. It is, therefore, desirable to get away and recharge the batteries. I am not sure whether Tiger Lion are going to return to Africa or, after this experience, they are going to remain in North London.
There is something to be said of simplicity and getting away from everything pressurised and full-on. Clémentine Blue, when speaking about the inspiration behind Tiger Lion’s new song, had this to say:
"'Prayers Against The Sun' is about suffering from being in London. It can be so heavy that it’s almost like the city becomes a strange character in your life. Everyone is praying for a sun that never comes. But there is the weird satisfaction of going through it all even if the city is so dirty, so free, so grey, so fascinating, so ugly, so beautiful all at once. This contradiction of staying there even if you never felt so alive than naked in the burning sun of Gambia, having a cold shower from a bucket as I did last summer."
It is clear a busy city, even if dirty and smoky, can produce beauty and brilliance. I have been in London for a while and know how brilliant the people are. There is a sense of community in various areas: it is not always detached and cold. I go there to find something fulfilling and encouraging; getting some spirit back and having a smile put on the face. There is an argument against the city: when things get bad; many will want to go somewhere with a gentler pace of life and something simpler. The fact Tiger Lion’s lead found so much solace and heart in Gambia meant new material would have a different vibe. It is hard to explain the feeling of taking a shower in Africa from a bucket – just cold water and the expanse of the land. You bring that alongside a flat in London – with traffic running outside – and they are two different worlds. It is interesting exploring more the way a new nation/people can impact a band/artist when it comes to new material. Not only have Tiger Lion managed to relieve stress and escape from the swell of the city; they have taken compositional instruction from their surroundings and injected that into their core sound.
The eclectic and fulsome sound is something that really gets under my skin. I mentioned how a lot of modern acts are too focused on electronics and sounding a certain way. They are concerned with fitting into the mainstream and having that urgent, big sound. It is great discovering music that resonates and sounds familiar right off the bat – where you can bond with that song and take it to heart. I find that is good in small doses: having that endlessly put before you can be a bit tiring and boring. I long to find music that goes deeper and takes its visions from other areas. Tiger Lion’s story and development intrigue me. Tiger Lion bring in elements of St. Vincent (melodic flourishes) with the asymmetrical tones of Tame Impala; Throwing Muses’ intensity and burn; little bits of other artists. I have been looking for new artists who go beyond the ordinary and remain in the mind. I love a lot of new artists but feel they do not linger for long. You might listen to a song (or two) and that will be nice – and then it slips away and you do not feel compelled to go back. Tiger Lion goes further and bring the listener something much more rounded and original. You get the modernity and Western sounds one would expect: there is another layer of unique and colourful fabrics one was not expecting. This combination is a potent force to be reckoned with. Looking forward; I wonder whether there is going to be any more African guidance; if the band will look to their roots. The trio are (mainly) French and, as such, would have been exposed to natural, native sounds from a young age. Music is much more than the sound and effect one gets. I want to discover something much more physical and deep. If a band/artist can make you think harder and compel you to look at the world in a different way; surely that should be encouraged and brought to the forefront – much more meaningful and special than a lot of what is happening in music right now.
Before coming to the song itself; I will take a couple of other points to mind. Those artists who dare to dream should be given a safer and sturdier platform. I am not too fond of those who come into music and want to replicate everything already out there. The lyrics might be personal but the music sounds samey and formulaic. There is a danger if an artist takes the listener too far away from their comfort zone: it can be hard connecting with something so new and unusual. I have mentioned artists who incorporate African sounds, like Paul Simon, and how delightful that is – Graceland remains one of the finest albums ever. I am surprised more artists have not followed that led and taken soul from the album. There are some artists who have been compelled – including Vampire Weekend – but it seems not that many have taken the mantle and run with it. Tiger Lion has kept a flicker alive. They have mixed that with traditional Electronic music and Alternative; some nods to France and the bustle of London. The cocktail they have created keeps one part of your brain in the present/U.K./West: the other part goes somewhere quiet, gorgeous and mystical. The clash of the two worlds comes alive in the wonderful single, Prayers Against the Sun. I am keen to promote music that explores new lands and strays away from the clichéd. Tiger Lion are a fantastic force with many more years ahead of them. I wonder whether London will remain their base. It is clear their experiences in Africa have provided a new lease and objective. I wonder whether that beauty and transcendent experience has provided new perspective and focus. The city of London remains and does not change too much – it gets busier, but that is about it. I wonder whether Tiger Lion’s touring plans will alter and be affected by the impact of Africa.
Touring is something they will think of and be involved in. They have an E.P. release part on 9th April – that will happen at London’s Servant Jazz Quarters. It will be exciting to see the trio on stage, putting that music out to the people. There will be other opportunities coming but I wonder, given the global nature of the music; that will take them further afield and see their ambitions expand. I can see Tiger Lion going to the U.S. and bringing their music there. I know the people there would take the music to heart and bring chances the way of the trio. It might be worth thinking about that going forward. They could do great business in the U.S. and get tour dates right across the country. The U.K. is welcoming Tiger Lion – and there will be more London gigs – and there will be many other chances to play around the nation. One has to look at Tiger Lion and how far they can take their music. I think there is going to be a lot of heat coming from around the world. If they can keep the pressure up and spread the music through the Internet; that will lead to many chances to get to the people and see new lands. I am not sure whether Africa is part of their agenda. I guess there are spaces they could play over there. Maybe Australia is somewhere they could get some gigs and love. It is exciting times for the trio and, the reason I bring this point up, is the fact their music has such a physical and exciting quality. It is best heard on stage and up-close. I will try and come see them; I am interested seeing where they can travel and how many people they will reach. Make sure, if you can, you go see the intrepid force.
Tribal beats and haunting vocals come to the fore at the start of the song. Prayers Against the Sun projects something mystical and strange; people going out into the open and prostrating before the sun. The song moves seductively and snakes through the grass. There is taboo and voodoo cackle as the hollow beats produce all manner of visions and hallucinations. One hears a nice mix of the inexplicable and traditional. It is a ghostly and transcendent song that gets the imagination firing and all manner of visions working away. I am not sure the name of the instruments – excuse my ignorance… - but the percussion is fantastically exciting and physical. You are compelled to follow the beat and go wherever it leads. Tiger Lion do not throw everything into the mix right off: the song builds slowly and keeps that subtle and sparse aspect. There is a shaker and those extraordinary vocals. Blue’s tones echo and quiver. It is a spectral presence that perfectly mixes with the beats. It is hard to listen to the song with eyes open. You need them closed to imagine what is happening and take everything in. The brew is heady and the effect quite stunning. I was bowled by the sheer power and grip the vocals have. They are wordless but have such resonance and primal urges. You are sucked into the song and transported to the mountains. I imagine paen and prayer; the sun going down as people gather to offer thanks to the sun. Few can deny the spiritual nature of the song. It is a wonderfully pure and graceful song that calms the spirits but, as it moves along; new aspects come to play. The heroine comes in and feels it too – there is an instant connection in her heart. Some of the words do get tripped and lost in the composition – the production means the instruments are firm but the vocals are a little blanched. What I did pick up on, early, was the importance of the sun and giving everything to it.
Blue is immersed and entranced by the power and healing glow of the sun; the mountains and the atmosphere are swimming in her soul. That soul needs smoke and fire; it needs comfort and protection – it needs a spark and sense of fulfilment. What one experiences is a lead artist who has taken so much from her time in Africa. It has been a revealing experience and one that has changed her life. Backed by those insistent beats and the encroaching mood; the listener is helpless to channel the experience and colours. It is an endlessly evocative song that makes one think. The heroine talks about the strangers in the city; the endless prayers against the sun. I was thinking about the meaning of that metropolis-prayer. The people’s sun might not be a hot ball of gas. Their sun is polluted and obscured by smog. Maybe their prayer is more speculative and metaphorical. In the case of Clémentine Blue; she has lived in London and been impacted by the energy and busy nature. Part of the commuter lifestyle; the anxiety one experiences living in the city. I can relate, in a sense. You can get buried in the people and things can get a bit too much. Blue has been there a while and vibes from the people and rush. It is not all bad for her but, at a certain point, there was the need to get away and find something else. Africa has provided a more natural and calm landscape. The people and religions; the smaller communities and the way things are done there – a contrast that has affected her blood and made a big difference. Able to compare those disparate settings has led to a fantastic song. If one watches the video for Prayers Against the Sun and you can see dancing and celebrating; cooking and cleaning – a snapshot into the life of Gambian people.
Towards the late stages of the song; you take in new guidance and thought. The instruments get stronger and the entire song gets heavier. Things rise and swell; you are drawn into the strange and fantastic thing. The heroine is back on the microphone and talking about her experiences. She feels that allure and connection with Africa. She feels the energy of the city and how, even when it is bleak, there is inspiration to be found. She hopes we can feel her – she’s sending her messages out and trying to connect with the listener. I wonder whether her talk of being understood and felt relates to those listening to her music. Maybe there is a compatriot or sweetheart that has been estranged and needed that guidance. The fact Clémentine Blue has gone away and discovered fresh life has provided a new lease. Maybe there is someone else that needs that lift and push. They have been disconnected and lost in the city, perhaps. It might not be practical to go to another continent and spend time in a smaller place. Blue has managed to evaluate her life and get a new perspective. It has been hard for her lately: not able to effortlessly live among the London people and keep going as normal. The fact she managed to find some good in the city – it is always compelling – is to commendable. Africa is in her heart and the sight of the mountains/sun have fed into her psyche. It all comes together in an exceptional song that goes through stages and produces something unique. You cannot escape the potent smells and arresting sites presented throughout. By the end of Prayers Against the Sun; one is in a better frame of mind and things about their life in more detail. It is an inspirational thing that signals fantastic times for Tiger Lion. I cannot wait to hear their E.P. and whether the remaining songs have the same flavour as this.
The trio have already released two thematic E.P.s: Outremer and The Moon Inside Me. The former was more concerned with spectral, oceanic songs: the latter, a darker and ritualistic collection. They have covered Heart of Glass – giving it a sadder twist – and now, come April, they bring a fresh E.P. to the world. Beyond the Mountains retains that natural spirit and curiosity of the world. Rather than take us to the heavens and under the ocean: now, we have songs that lead us to Africa and incorporate fresh ideas. Tiger Lion were never going to be conventional and look at ordinary, traditional themes. The trio are always concerned with the natural world and parts of the planet few treads. This wanderlust and innovation put them in good stead. They have a critical ear and have accrued a healthy fanbase. The song-cycle of their upcoming E.P. takes us to the thinner air of the mountains and a haven that provides introspection and reflection. Landscapes and the open are used as templates to discuss childhood experiences, love and ambitions. Clémentine Blue collated waterfalls and natural sounds; she gathered those free and pure sounds to bring to the E.P. It was a scary and unusual experience for her. She was in the vastness of the land and in a town with new people – a way of life that was nothing like her London existence. I know the trio launch the E.P. in April and, before then, one can get their ears around Prayers Against the Sun. It is a fantastic song and one that will recruit new fans. I am keen to push the track as far as possible: others will share the magic and take guidance from the words/music. There are few acts out there that genuinely take leaps and challenge conventions. When they do come along; you need to embrace them with both arms and keep it tight. I know this year will provide fresh opportunities for Tiger Lion. They are moving forward and exploring new spaces; they are bringing in fresh inspiration and, with it, creating…
THEIR finest music to date.
Follow Tiger Lion