Tulipomania | I Hear Voices | A Nine Track Guest Playlist

Photo by Edward Waisnis.

‘On The Outside / Don’t Be So Sure (Seahawks Remix)’ is out 15th September via Sursumcorda Recordings.

‘On The Outside’, the latest release from dream pop trio Tulipomania, is an eerie and imposing affair. Consisting of jagged synths, a roiling rhythm section, and the emotive vocals of Tom Murry, the song weaves its beauty on the listener. A seductive and sultry track, it is one that envelops the listener with intricate and yet accessible passages of nuance and emotion.

The video for the track calls to mind th dream-like work of The Cure in the 80’s with a wonderully watery effect created with paper. I cannot do it justice. You need to just watch it to get the full effect of its grandeur.

The flip side of the single is a remix of Tulipmania’s ‘Don’t Be So Sure’ by Seahawks. A more meditative and considered affair, the track takes its time in slowly drawing the listener into its strange and spellbinding universe.

We sat down with Tom Murray recently and he told his about some music that has been inspiring him recently. Hopefully this will help us figure out how he creates such beautifully melancholic music.

Tom Murray – Tulipomania

It’s possible to hear a friend’s voice behind you on a city street speaking a language you don’t know, and yet, you can still instantly recognize their personality, tone and lilt. Eyes may be the mirror of the soul – but the voice – the voice is the soul. It is not exclusively the specific language or specific words being said, or in this case sung – but the personality of the singer.

The singing voice is the sound of thought and emotion. There are countless great examples – but for this playlist I want to focus on three singers I have been aware of for the past several years. I would like to showcase their unique styles, power and emotion over multiple releases, live performances and with various bands. Although in some cases there has been some stylistic change over time – the emotional performances and sincerity – often with a hint of sadness or remorse – make these voices as instantly recognizable and as identifiable as fingerprints.

Over the past several years I have been taken by the singing of these three vocalists
and songwriters: Greg MacPherson, Astrud Steehouder and William Byron. Although I have talked with and/or met all three of these terrific talents – none are close friends of mine. Here is a salute to the obvious greatness of these artists – hopefully adding to the focus and attention they truly deserve.

In all three cases the voices of these artists extends to their songwriting as well. There are examples here of terrific songs written by each artist as well as some exciting and energetic interpretations of the songs of others.

This nine track playlist of studio recordings and live performances includes three tracks each by Greg MacPherson, Astrud Steehouder and William Byron.


Greg MacPherson

Figure Walking – The Country (Greg MacPherson – vocals)

Greg Macpherson – Company Store (live)

Greg MacPherson | Submarines (live in studio – Loft Sessions)

Figure Walking is drummer Rob Gardiner and Greg MacPherson (baritone guitar, vocals, keys). Their debut album ‘The Big Other’ was released April 28, 2017 on Disintegration Records (Canada) and Marathon of Dope (Belgium). The Country and Submarines are great examples of MacPherson’s songwriting and singing.

MacPherson is obviously a terrific live performer. I hope to catch a Figure Walking performance in the near future!


Astrud Steehouder

Paper Dollhouse – Mermaid Song (Astrud Steehouder – vocals)

Paper Dollhouse – Golden Ships (Astrud Steehouder – vocals)

Rayographs – Space of the Halls (Astrud Steehouder – vocals)

Paper Dollhouse was initially a solo project by Astrud Steehouder – it expanded to become a duo on subsequent releases with the addition of electronic and visual artist Nina Bosnic.

As was true with the Rayographs, Paper Dollhouse are a terrific live experience. I caught a performance at New River Studios in London that was mesmerizing.

Rayographs (Astrud Steehouder – guitar and vocals, Jessamine Tierney – bass and vocals and Amy Hurst on drums) were an amazing London based trio!

I had the fantastic luck to see them live in 2009 at the Offset Festival in London. They were easily one of the best live acts I have ever seen. Fabulous songs and great performances. If I could have found a good version of their amazing song ” Hidden Doors” I would have included it here. if you search for it – there is an fascinating lo-fi cell phone live recording of Rayographs performing Hidden Doors that is out of this world!


William Byron

Judex – Witchface (William Byron – vocals)

The Drown – Vile Bodies (William Byron – vocals)

The Wholly Saints – Be-Bop-A-Lula – live (William Byron – vocals)

The Judex (William Byron – vocals, Sean Patrick – bass, J – guitar and Dalton – drums)are a new Philadelphia based band with a raucous single out now and an album on the way.

I’ve have not been able to catch them live yet – but since we are located in the same city I know I will see them soon. The energy of the few Judex tracks I’ve heard so far will obviously translate well to live performance.

The Drown – were based around the songwriting duo of William Byron – vocals and piano, and Brandon Van Spall – guitar. They recorded some tracks and performed a few times with Shari Wallin on keyboards, Casual T on drums and percussion and Dan B. Green on bass.

I am not sure who is on this amazing track in addition to Byron and Van Spall. Vile Bodies is a fantastic example of the Drown’s work and Williams vocals.

I know very little about the Wholly Saints – but they have some terrific live recordings of covers with William Byron singing.The only information I can find about them online says: ”The Wholly Saints present a raucous and righteous experience of sweat-and-dance-inducing Rock & Soul, vintage and dirty, just how you like it. Covering everything from Elvis deep cuts to Howlin’ Wolf.” I would know that distinctive voice anywhere so – I don’t need to be told it’s William! I do wish I could credit the other band mambers – but I can’t find any information to do so.

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