“I gravitate towards things that make you feel transcendent and still, where you’re just staring out of the window. It’s a strange word and state to be in.”
Alex Crispin, the driving force behind Baron, is reflecting on the title of his band’s latest album, Torpor. A founding member of hardcore proggers Diagonal, Crispin left after their second album to pursue his own direction and sound. At first strongly influenced by the late‑60s orchestral avant-pop of David Axelrod, Baron released Columns in 2013, a dense and exotic mix of gothic psychedelia, referencing 80s touchstones such as The Blue Nile and Dead Can Dance. On Torpor, Baron’s sound has changed again into something more spacious and organic, mining the jazz/folk looseness of the early progressive period while also moving into heavier territory.
One element that remains the same, though, is Crispin’s strikingly rich baritone voice. “When we started Diagonal, I had never sung before – we signed to Rise Above after our second gig, so it was a baptism of fire. But I grew in confidence and found a style that suited the tone of what I was coming up with musically. I went through a phase of being obsessed with jazz crooners, particularly Mark Murphy, and also Scott Walker. I’m going for the kind of mood that they create.”
I like being able to transport people with music, without necessarily guiding them.
Prior to making Torpor, Crispin moved into an old cottage in a forest, and the rural landscape clearly informs the new album. In particular, he cites Ted Hughes’ Gaudete – a prose poem about strange goings-on in an English village – and a visit to the alchemical Salt Tower carvings in the Tower of London as being influential on the album’s “surreal and dark” lyrical themes, plugging Baron into a lineage of great British mysticism, both literary and musical. Torpor was also partly recorded at Purton Green, a medieval barn in the Suffolk countryside.
“We had to drive our van secretly through open fields as you’re not really supposed to record there. Then when we arrived, there was a fox hunt going on and we were stuck in the middle of it! It could have been a disaster but we got away with it. In fact, it couldn’t have been a better place to record in.”
|Alex Crispin (vocals, guitar, synth), Blue Firth (organ, recorder, vocals), Peter Evans (bass), Luke Foster (drums, percussion)|
|Late-period Talk Talk via the early Vertigo catalogue (Black Sabbath, Gentle Giant, Cressida…)|
|Torpor is available now on Svart|