What started off as a lockdown mockumentary project for comedian James Acaster soon turned into a musical journey birthing Temps, Party Gator Purgatory.
Taking the reins from Belgrave Music Hall, the newly opened Project House hosted a very special listening party on Saturday 28th October.
Belgrave has a brilliant track record of listening party choices: we’ve had Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago, a double whammy of Tame Impala, James Blake, Solange, and so many really stellar albums. These events are for music lovers.
Having it at Project House was a different experience from those recently held at Belgrave. It didn’t have the same cozy vibes from swapping the sofas out for folding chairs, and with it being a warehouse in October it wasn’t the warmest. It was nice to have such a large space for people to get together and it did have something that the others hadn’t before…a Q&A followed by a signing with the artist (albums could be purchased through Leeds Crash Records who had a stall at the event.)
That’s right – the man behind Temps, James Acaster, was there to introduce the record and then discuss the process and inspiration behind it. For the album listening section of the event, a blindfold was placed on every seat and lights were lowered. Wearing the blindfold was optional but it did help zone into what we were hearing. I found having the opportunity to be in a big room surrounded by people but all collectively focusing on the same sounds for 54 minutes quite an interesting collective experience. It felt almost educational to study and analyse the album in this way and in a world where nearly everything is either filmed or placed on social media, it was nice to just sit back and listen.
Following the album listening, there was a conversation about the tracks between the host and James Acaster. Acaster talked about how he first discovered his love of music from a very young age which led to him learning how to play the drums. Fans of Temps will know that the skeleton of the album and project comes from recordings of drum loops that were inspired by a kid’s drum set and sent out to musicians to build on. What makes this album so unique is that James Acaster didn’t stick to traditional methods when it came to playing the drums for the samples – he used out of time beats, didn’t put a lot of emphasis into getting them “perfect” and made a very interesting take in saying that if he “wanted something perfect he would have got a professional to record them…this is what makes it unique that I’ve put it out into the world”.
With around 40 musicians all contributing to Party Gator Purgatory, you can feel that this is a really unique piece of work. Acaster talked so enthusiastically about how excited he felt to get clips back from the collaborators, and how special it was to have each artist work on the album.
Even though James Acaster is a household name whose comedy can generally find a place in the general public’s sense of humour, Party Gator Purgatory is not a commercial album. No track was built with radio play in mind, which must have added a sense of freedom in the creative process that Acaster touched on, having the privilege that it wasn’t a monetisation project.
There definitely were elements that you would expect if you are a fan of James Acaster: lots of hip hop nods and features from artists that the comedian has publicly praised in his music podcasts and book, but it’s not an album you would be able to play at a party or on a chilled Sunday morning.
Overall,the experience was one that I would recommend. Listening parties by Superfriendz are a great opportunity for music enthusiasts to be amongst their people – like minded individuals who want to listen to some great tunes together.
To see when the next listening party is, be sure to check the Dice app or Belgrave’s socials.
Photography by Thandiwe Zivengwa.