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Listen to the New AA-Single “Everybody Is” // “Sweet Baby Sun”

Enigmatic duo Pepe Deluxé, comprised of New York-based Paul Malmström and Helsinki-dwelling James Spectrum, return with another kaleidoscopic sonic marvel, the shape-shifting musical odyssey that is Comix Sonix out June 21 on Catskills Records.

With such exciting news comes not one single but two, for Pepe Deluxé have gone old-school with a double A-side single, “Everyone Is” and “Sweet Baby Sun.”

Pepe Deluxé describe A-side “Everybody Is” as “A song about the universal human dance between ambition and uncertainty.” It draws from two wildly different UK music treasures: Northern Soul and long-term mutual musical appreciators The Prodigy. The song features the soulful vocal of Finnish-Swedish singer Charlotte Kerbs and masterful drumming by Teppo Mäkynen, whose ever-evolving grooves would drive lesser stick wielders to tears. Renowned teacher, composer, author, researcher, and builder of experimental musical tools, Bart Hopkin, contributes a plethora of gems from his ‘Instrumentarium’, a 100+ collection of one-off instruments, here and throughout Comix Sonix. As always with Pepe Deluxé, expect the unexpected.

The AA-side, “Sweet Baby Sun,” is a Boléro-style composition celebrating birth while also mourning the loss of those things dearest and most valuable to us. “Witnessing one’s children growing up and parents growing old is both the greatest privilege and, at times, unbearably heavy and painful,” say Pepe Deluxé. These emotions find expression in the song’s vocals and music. And even the song’s production: hear the lead singer John McGregor’s voice growing both older and clearer – as if he were traveling through time by leafing through a family photo album. This effect was achieved by combining a Beatles-era trick of recording vocals at different speeds with the use of lo-fi to hi-fi microphones. Charlotte Kerbs’ vocals, in turn, veer from swimming in the background to soaring high above the storming orchestra in moments of poignant intensity. The song’s impressive final crescendo snares are courtesy of Teppo Mäkynen, whose drums were recorded in a vast industrial hall. Bart Hopkin’s unique instruments create again an organic soundscape that, when merged with Paul Malmström’s mighty modular synthesizer, paints abstract yet clear sonic images of life’s pulse and movement.

Those are just two teasers for the extraordinary album that is Comix Sonix, a visual, action-packed, 3-D experience as the title suggests, where the soundscapes transcend boundaries, akin to a vibrant, explosive, and ever-moving sonic comic book.

The new album follows Pepe Deluxé’s extraordinary 2021 release, Phantom Cabinet Vol1, which was a decade in the making as the duo searched the ends of the world to unearth the oldest, weirdest instruments ever made to play on it. To name a mere few: the world’s largest cowbell, a synth designed for group sex, and a sacred Tibetan human skull drum. Comix Sonix sees music’s mad hatter inventors, Pepe Deluxé, continue their quest for sonic brilliance and uniqueness. The album showcases an extraordinary array of devices, each with its own unique story. In addition to Bart Hopkin’s collection, the album also features notable instruments such as the American Airlines 747 flying coach lounge Wurlitzer, caressed by the fingers of Frank Sinatra, Jr., the world’s oldest known musical instrument – a 40,000 BC mammoth bone flute, and a 19th-century lithophone, Richardson’s Rock Harmonicon, once cherished by Queen Victoria herself. Even the piano of the airship Hindenburg is there, resurrected from the ashes with modern technology. And not forgetting Mr. Jonah Falcon’s largest “instrument” in the world – ensuring that the album has a little something for everyone!

As a nod to Motown and the Wrecking Crew, beloved by Pepe Deluxé, the duo cites the outstanding collective of musicians called ‘the Deluxé Fellowship’ as their ‘top secret weapon.’ Comix Sonix features performers such as Tuukka Haapaniemi, recognized as one of the greatest and most versatile bassists ever; Mr. Fastfinger, who wields his six-string to slice sonic salami and orchestrate a biplane battling pterodactyls; Owen Egerton, a novelist, filmmaker, stage comedian, and human sampler; and this time even the original Pepe founding member DJ Slow, who brings things full circle with his old-school hip-hop treats. On the album, these ‘sounds from way out’ are married to lyrics blending Victorian poetry, ancient Chinese philosophy, global political discourse, sacred texts, scientific intricacies, utter nonsense, and a myriad of other enchantments, seamlessly integrating them all with the sparkles of the music.

Pekka Laine, a distinguished journalist from Finnish National Radio YLE, offered his insight after an early sneak peek at Comix Sonix, describing it as follows: ‘Album tracks form a radiant continuum. Soulful. Expansive. Enchanting. Evocative.’ He expressed that he felt as if he were ‘Standing on the threshold of a profound, psychedelic experience. The echoes of Syd Barrett’s spirit dance within the fractures of consciousness, illuminated by an enigmatic light.’ According to Laine, ‘the rhythmic whirlwind of ‘Wise Monkeys and The Devil’ merges futuristic sonic explorations with soul, fun, and hip-hop but anchored by beats from a golden age.’ Additionally, the record’s Magnum Opus ‘Back from the Futures with Goldfinger and K,’ which draws inspiration from the film ‘Everything, Everywhere, All at Once,’ ‘dives into other dimensions and possible tomorrows through music with a psych-prog intensity’.

Pepe Deluxé’s Comix Sonix is more than just an album; it’s an invitation to journey across space and time, a ticket to enter a world where music transcends the bounds of reason. An exploration of the nearly limitless possibilities of sound and storytelling. Assembled with meticulous attention to detail; this creation stands as a testament to the quirkiness that defines Pepe Deluxé’s artistry.

Pepe Deluxé
Comix Sonix
(Catskills Records)
Street Date: June 21, 2024

Track List:

1. FIN
2. From the Mouth of Elmer McCurdy
3. Freedom Flag
4. Baptized by Nitro
5. Wise Monkeys and The Devil
6. Emotionally Available Diabolical Parenthood
7. Saddle that Wind
8. Earth Boys are Easy
9. Swedish Ex-pander
10. Sweet Baby Sun
11. Serving the Fruits of the Infinitely Branching Multiversal Tree
12. Everybody Is
13. Back from the Futures with Goldfinger and K
14. Superbutterfly
15. What was till The Beginning
16. Le Petit Voyage (Homo Sapiens)


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Pepe Deluxé formed in 1996, and the group has released to date five albums. They originally rose from the 90s club scene with their blending of electronica, hip-hop, breakbeats, trip-hop and downtempo, but soon set themselves apart as the experimental and untouchable genre-spanning eccentric inventors of the music world, heavily influenced by the golden era of vinyl records. The reverberations of their sound have resonated far and wide, from snowboard flicks to Hollywood films, from charity projects to global TV campaigns by iconic brands such as Levi’s, IkeaPuma and Ray-Ban, from Angry Birds Go! to UK chart-topping albums by The Prodigy (with The Prodigy sampling Pepe Deluxé’s ‘Salami Fever’ not once, but twice). The Deluxé influence even extends into politics, their music serving as the theme song for French Presidential election debates.