Flesh & The Dream (Heather Leigh + Shackleton) Choose Mortality

Everything Forever
7th July 2023

Format Info

LP - black vinyl

As Flesh & The Dream, Heather Leigh & Shackleton chart an ambitious journey of discovery in thepsychic dancehall, conjuring a debut album that’s a psychedelic prog masterpiece, probing thegooey membrane between outré folk vocalisations and dizzying, queered soundscapes. There’snowt out there quite like it, channeling the spirits of Annette Peacock, Anna Homler, Coil, Kate Bush,Rrose, Harry Partch and Yes into a brilliantly unfathomable, singular vision.‘Choose Mortality’ cultivates a delirious blossoming of ideas seeded when the pair firstcollaborated in 2019 for the Tunes of Negation ‘Reach the Endless Sea’ album. Bonding over ashared musical language, but also a deep fascination with philosophy, religion and literature, theystarted pooling musical sketches to funnel their mutual passions into mottled alloys of outsiderfolk, fourth world musick and unstable, experimental electronics.Distilled in spiralling dervishes and freely modal songcraft, their mutable artforms elide infantastically slippery, lyersgic hallucinations of prog-pop guided by a rhythmic psychedelia.Heather Leigh shapeshifts in typically elusive form, wraithlike and seductive, as Shackleton’ssignature, roiling percussive battery meets his muse with shearing synth textures and arhinestone shimmer.They strikingly recall moments of Sleazy’s Threshold Houseboys Choir in the puckered tone of‘Diviner Of The Flesh’, and ascend magisterial levels of heart-in-mouth psychedelics with biblicalcentrepiece ‘Book of Daniel Part 3 (The Image of God and the Blazing)’. If the prog excesses of Yes,Genesis and King Crimson were an attempt to mechanise or electrify existing cultural forms withhigh-minded eccentricity, Shackleton and Heather Leigh continue that thought without poachingthe aesthetic. Somehow, it’s both progressive and psychedelic without succumbing to any of thecreative pitfalls those forms might imply.Ultimately, the duo present music that sits outside any particular continuum. There are tracesof the kind of outsider art Heather Leigh’s been peddling for years as an artist and as a curator/tastemaker, and there are elements of Shackleton’s bass weight incursions, but Flesh & The Dreamis an entirely unique proposition. Just clap yr ears on ‘Before the Flood’ – almost eight minutesof ratcheting FM clangs, hissing hi-hats and ghosted vocalisations that sound as close as we’relikely to get to a collaboration between Coil and Kate Bush – and you’ll get a sense of the brilliant,unearthly delights in stor