The cover art for CN Lester’s new album, Aether, shows CN underwater in various ways. The symbolism is apt. Aether is one of those albums where you want to turn all the lights off and just let the music wash over you. You can drown in it.
Those of you who already own CN’s debut album, Ashes, will be pleased to hear that Aether is much in the same vein, a collection of achingly melodic songs accompanied primarily by CN’s haunting piano playing. The new album, however, has a sharper edge provided by additional instrumentation — electric guitar and various bits of percussion, as far as I’ve been able to make out — played by CN’s producer, Jack Byrne. The basic feel is the same, however. If you loved Ashes (and I do), you will love Aether too.
Most of the eight songs on the album are CN’s own compositions. My current favorite is “Anonymous” because I think it makes best use of CN’s incredible (opera-trained) voice. There is also one cover version, and had you asked me to guess in advance who CN might choose to cover I would never in a million years have guessed Buffy Sainte Marie. “Cod’ine”, on the other hand, is a very CN song, and it works brilliantly in their inimitable style.
Talking of cover versions, CN has also done a cover of Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” as a trailer for the album. It is not actually on the album, but you can listen to it or download an MP3 below.
I’m not really competent to do a proper music review, but if there’s one on So So Gay that should fit the bill if you want such a thing.
The album is available on Amazon and iTunes as an MP3 download. This is the point where I tell you smugly that you really should have backed the crowdfunding campaign for the album, because I have both a physical CD and wav copies of the songs. Copies of the CD will be available from CN whenever they play live gigs, and I note that they’ll be in Bristol on May 17th, of which more nearer the time when tickets are available.
More information is available from CN’s website, but what I recommend you do is listen to this podcast of the interview I did with CN on Ujima last month. It contains some fascinating discussion of gender bending in opera, and the world’s first woman opera composer, and CN talking about their career in trans activism. CN has kindly given me permission to include the two tracks from Ashes that we played during the show (which I have patched in direct from the album download for best quality).
One of the things we discuss in the interview is the Welsh National Opera’s Fallen Women season. They’ll be at the Bristol Hippodrome in April performing Puccini’s Manon Lescaut on Friday 11th and Verdi’s La Traviata on Saturday 12th.