Article Contributed by kartel music group | Published on Thursday, July 4, 2024

Known for their mesmerising blend of classic songwriting with sensual guitars and introspective lyrics, Club Kuru release the highly anticipated new album Before the World. The London-based psych rock project led by Laurie Erskine will be released 21st June 2024 via Absolute and you can pre-save the full album here.

Supported by the likes of Clash Magazine, BBC 6music and Radio X, the actual recording of the album took just two weeks with Club Kuru assembling at Laurie’s home studio, a bungalow in South East London. Working with alacrity, sessions found the ensemble working direct to tape, with Ben Landon on mixing duties. “Most of my favourite albums were recorded to tape, so it gets you closer to the sound you first fell in love with,” he says. “I wanted one band, doing one record, in one period of time. When I listen back to the album, I can remember everything.”

Speaking on the forthcoming album, he says, “I feel like ‘Before the World’ is a very introspective record. Much of it came out of me sitting alone in the studio and just feeling quite sad. I would ask myself difficult questions and worry that there weren't any resolutions coming to me. Lyrically, I started to move towards themes of life and death after a terrible loss in my family…and then around the same time, the lovely arrival of new life. Amidst these sombre and worried reflections, there's a vague yet prevailing sense of hope weaving its way through the record. I definitely felt the weight lift when I finally completed it. Hopefully this sense of renewal shines through to the listener.”

Following the success of their two albums in 2018 and 2019, which garnered spots on the 6Music playlist and a sync on HBO's High Maintenance, as well as touring alongside Jungle, the band encountered a creative block. "Basically, we couldn't get anything finished," explains Erskine. "I wrote a lot, but I couldn't get anything over the line. I'm not sure why... I got a bit stuck with it all." Eventually, the band parted ways to pursue diverse musical ventures, collaborating with esteemed artists such as Soweto Kinch, Moses Boyd, Yak, Michael Kiwanuka, Jungle, Little Simz and George Ezra. 

During his break from the band, Laurie Erskine sought solace and inspiration within the confines of his analogue studio in South East London. It was here he honed his skills as an engineer and rekindled his connection to his jazz heritage. Fuelled by this reinvigorated love of improvised music, Erskine assembled a new band, a fresh iteration of Club Kuru that explores brand new avenues.  

Breaking free of his perfectionist tendencies, Laurie decided to limit himself to only two complete takes ahead of deciding the final version. It's a potent note to open this new chapter. Club Kuru feel emboldened, the work rich and refulgent. Confronting the challenges of growing up and navigating personal transitions, the music took on a deeper meaning as Laurie grappled with complex emotions. 

Track ‘Sunshine Kiss The Water’ – how’s that for a perfectly enchanting title? – yearns for the eternal, a song that surrenders itself to a quiet form of bliss. The song on the album itself is reminiscent of Pink Floyd at their most other-worldly. The composition is based on classical harmony with a soulful vocal drifting on top. Laurie says, “Over the years I've begun to practice singing in a more direct way and it’s started to open up and strengthen.” He continues, “It's kind of a romantic song I guess. But I wasn’t feeling romantic when I wrote it. Instead I focused on the feeling the natural world can give me. A feeling that there is something strange and wonderful but also scary out there. 

“I was thinking about that sublime feeling of when you see sunshine shining on the water and you think ‘wow, the sun has been hitting the water for a long, long time and it looks really magical’. Feelings like that give you a sense of awe and also that feeling that really you've got no idea what's going on.”

Speaking of the recording process, Laurie continues, “I wrote this a long time ago. It stayed on my hard drive for many years. I changed bits here and there. I always liked the chorus but I kept re-writing the verses. It started out as a really gentle ballad but became more heavy. The chord sequence is taken from classical music harmony. It's quite a slow tune which we found difficult to pull off at times.”

There’s a melodic directness, too. Second single ‘Who Am I’ is a six-minute jam that shows the near-telepathic interplay between these musicians, reinforcing and then untethering itself from the classic pop song structure. “It’s a song about not knowing yourself. Looking for something solid to hold onto and finding nothing there.” he says.

Inking a deal with Absolute as distributors meant no concessions, and a sense of freedom. This time round, what Club Kuru want to deliver is exactly what fans will get – from music itself, to the cover art, a neo-pagan visual feast constructed by Frederica Dalwood. Continually evolving, a freshly overhauled Club Kuru line-up have also recorded three new performance videos, shot live in Laurie’s home studio.

“It all feels a lot easier now,” he reflects. “Maybe I’m a bit better at this… or maybe being more relaxed is the same as being better. That’s the skill.”