‘His most impressive outing to date’ 8/10 – Hot Press
‘The approach works beautifully’ 4/5 – The Irish Times
'Divine [...] chamber pop epic’ – RTE Culture
‘A sonically and aesthetically complete work, and an affecting one.’ – Totally Dublin
‘Truly a work in and of itself’ 8/10 – The Last Mixed Tape
Romances is the critically-acclaimed new album by The Late David Turpin. The result of three years of collaboration with over 60 singers, musicians and producers, it sees David divide lead vocals among no fewer than ten special guests: Elephant, Bear Worship, Xona (XoMo), Adam Matthews, D. McCabe (formerly Jon Dots), Gar Cox, Samyel, Jaime Nanci, Martin McCann (Sack) and Conor O’Brien (Villagers).
In a seemingly perverse twist, he has cast his suite of after-hours love songs entirely with male lead vocalists. As he puts it: “Our culture has a tendency to denigrate anything it perceives as romantic, implicitly because it denigrates anything it perceives as feminine. I wanted to take subjects and styles associated with the ‘feminine’, and put men into those positions, to see if things might happen that are unexpected, or disquieting, or erotic”.
The result is a lavish, contemporary pop record that sighs, swoons, and melts down the myth of the ‘masculine’, one misty slow jam at a time. Highlights include: ‘Concubine’ (featuring Elephant), a ghostly odyssey that quotes Frank Herbert’s Dune; the labyrinthine title track (featuring Nigerian-Irish singer Xona, and with co-production from Simon Cullen of Choice Prize winners Ships); a ballad, ‘Lucifer’ (featuring Sack frontman Martin McCann), reframing the conflict between God and Satan as a lovers’ estrangement; and ‘Couldn’t Do Without’, a cover of a song by little-known 1970s gay folk singer Michael Cohen, here reimagined as pillow-soft synth-soul, with a vocal by Villagers’ Conor O’Brien.
The unusual format of Romances – in which singers were largely ‘cast’ to pre-written material – was influenced by David’s burgeoning career in filmmaking over the six years since his last music release (2013’s We Belong Dead). His first feature as screenwriter – the gothic fantasy The Lodgers – premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2017, and was subsequently acquired up for worldwide release by Netflix; his second, The Winter Lake – which stars Emma Mackey (Sex Education), Charlie Murphy (Peaky Blinders) and Michael McElhatton (Game of Thrones) – is currently in post-production.
David Turpin began his music career with back-to-back album releases, The Sweet Used-to-be (2008) and Haunted! (2009). After experiencing brief clinical death due to hypothermia, he adopted the name The Late David Turpin for his music projects. His first album under this banner, We Belong Dead – an eco-gothic micro-odyssey about the return of the animal kingdom – was released in 2013.
David opened for Marc Almond, toured with The Divine Comedy, and was commissioned by the Irish Film Institute to perform for the legendary American filmmaker Kenneth Anger. He collaborated with Dublin Fringe Festival three times, on sell-out shows; and was twice invited to perform at Dublin City Municipal Gallery / The Hugh Lane, the longest-standing museum of contemporary art in the world.
David is also a screenwriter for feature films. His first – the gothic fantasy The Lodgers – was released worldwide in 2018, and subsequently acquired by Netflix. His second, The Winter Lake, has recently wrapped shooting, with a cast including Emma Mackey (Sex Education), Charlie Murphy (Peaky Blinders) and Michael McElhatton (Game of Thrones). Development of his third, the ‘genetic fable’ Black Unicorn, was recently supported by the Creative Europe MEDIA fund, the film development branch of the EU.
Elephant is the musical vehicle for Dundalk-based singer-songwriter Shane Clarke. He released his debut album, Hypergiant, in 2015; and its acclaimed follow-up, 88, in 2018.
Xona is the performing name of Nigerian-Irish singer Jordan Onubogu, who is one half of the duo Xo Mo.
Bear Worship is the performing name of Karl Knuttel, whose 2017 album Was ‘affirmed [him] as one of the country’s very best musical talents’ (The Thin Air).
Adam Matthews is the vocalist of alternative pop dup Phoeno, and was one of the stars of the international theatrical hit Riot, which began its life as part of Dublin Fringe Festival in 2016.
McCabe previously released intricately orchestrated avant-garde pop music under the name Jon Dots. He is also a member of the experimental trio Alien She, who released their debut album in 2017.
Gar Cox has been a mainstay of Dublin’s alternative folk scene since the 1990s. He released his EP ‘Support Your Local Bookshop’ in 2016, and its follow-up ‘Tombstone Heart’ in 2018.
Samyel is the performing name of French-Irish artist Samuel Arnold Keane. Samyel released his bilingual first album Tickly Teeth in 2014, and its recording a follow-up in Ireland, France and California.
Jaime Nanci is the front man of the alternative jazz outfit Jaime Nanci and the Blueboys. The group’s debut album TOY was released to strong reviews in 2014. Jaime currently resides in Valencia, Spain.
Martin McCann is the lead singer of Sack, the Dublin band formed in the 1990s whose hits include ‘Laughter Lines’ and ‘What Did the Christians Ever Do For Us?’ Sack continue to perform annually.
Conor O’Brien records as Villagers. He is a Choice Music Prize and Ivor Novello Award winner, and a Mercury Music Prize nominee.