Lee Paradise is yet another project from Hooded Fang drummer and lead vocalist Dan Lee, who’s already got his hands full touring with his other band, Phedre. It was touring, incidentally, that led to his latest musical offing when he returned home sick with the flu and needed something to get him through the funk.
Lee’s challenge for himself was simple and at the same time immensely daunting as he set out to write an album in a week—focusing on repetitive rhythms, spares melodies and lyrical content. The result, Water Palace Kingdom, is a bass and synth heavy descent into oblivion–though at times the simplistic style and dependence on repetition leave the sensation it’s been heard before.
The poppy intro to opening song “Amoureux” stands in contrast to the hazy overtones of the album until Lee’s altered voice breaks in, juxtaposing his own baritone against the upbeat, bopping rhythm that forms the base of the track. It marks the beginning of the journey Lee creates as each track brings you closer to the induced hypnosis.
The vocals on “Breaker” are the first sign of that trip as they echo, fade and shoot through the music right at you. As Lee hauntingly sings “It’s a dream” you can’t help but feel like he’s trying to convince you and lull you into the stasis he’s creating.
Rhythmically, “Diner Talk” veers most from the designated tone as the vocals and instrumentation pop persistently in a most present way. But lyrics like “I know you want to be alone/So I’ll leave” only signify what’s yet to come. From here it’s a series of frantic whirring and ethereal vocals.
“Honourific” circles itself with a set of clever doo doos, while Lee’s prolonged singing stretches out as a tangible example of the challenge he set. “Non Helper” puts some of the focus on the drums, while the toned-back synths place the emphasis squarely on Lee’s voice as they echo through the effects.
“One Mans Grave” begins with a haunting as simple chords on a keyboard mimic an organ and Lee cries ghoulishly above the track before dropping into a deep and dark Halloween-esque pattern. “Paradise” ends things with Lee singing seamlessly and ceaselessly over a melody that connects the albums darker second half with its pop beginnings—an enchanting mixture that comes out all that darker for the connection.
Top Track: “Diner Talk”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)