In 'Attendre et Espérer', the Duke of Norfolk Paints His Portrait of Death (album premiere)
Meshing traditional acoustic accouterments with elements of electronic production, the Duke of Norfolk produces a compelling collection of evocative folktronica with his new album.
Earlier this year, PopMatters lauded the premiere of the Duke of Norfolk's "Shema". Adam Howard's inward, yet forward-looking "folktronica" rides a steady line between traditional acoustic arrangements and tinges of synthetic production. At its center is his warm whiskey grit, ever the device for evocative stories somewhere on the crossroads between somber and hopeful. As much pervades the entirety of his new album, Attendre et Espérer, painting its halls in dapples of deep, sullen blues and grays. Shimmering instrumental performances swirl around his emotive vocals, offering a collective, resonant voice as Howard offers listeners a personal lens into what defines the Duke of Norfolk.
Howard tells PopMatters, "Death is the great irrevocable mystery. It's the question that has followed humanity since the beginning. Every person, every poet, every prophet at some point becomes a mourner. Since grief—like love—is all-consuming, Death gets painted in, dancing in the corner of every scene and, once you've met him, it becomes impossible to miss him there."
"My father died in 2015 and, like the Thestrals in the Harry Potter books, things that were invisible to me became visible. Death began to appear in everything that I was reading and everything I saw on the news. Like a mother cutting newspaper clippings of their accomplished child, I started collecting these references. Attendre et Espérer is the scrapbook where I've pasted these clippings in with my annotations and illustrations. It is my own painting of Death—an attempt at a portrait—and I have no doubt that, from here on, he'll be present in everything I make, dancing in some corner."