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Pompeii, Cate Le Bon’s sixth full-length studio album and the follow up
to 2019’s Mercury-nominated Reward, bears a storied title summoning
apocalypse, but the metaphor eclipses any “dissection of immediacy,”
says Le Bon. Sonically minimal in parts, its lyrics jog between
self-reflection and direct address. Written primarily on bass and
composed entirely alone in an “uninterrupted vacuum,” Le Bon plays every
instrument (except drums and saxophones) and recorded the album largely
by herself with long-term collaborator and co-producer Samur Khouja in
To leverage visionary control, Le Bon invented twisted types of
discipline into her absurdist decision making. Primary goals in this
project were to mimic the “religious” sensibility in one of Tim
Presley’s paintings, which hung on the studio wall in Cardiff, Wales as a
meditative image and was reproduced as a portrait of Le Bon for
Pompeii’s cover. Fist across the heart, stalwart and saintly: how to
make “music that sounds like a painting?” Cate asked herself. Enter
piles of Pompeii’s signature synths made on favourites such as the
Yamaha DX7, amongst others; basslines inspired by 1980s Japanese city
pop, designed to bring joyfulness and abandonment; vocal arrangements
that add memorable depth to the melodic fabric of each song; long-term
collaborator Stella Mozgawa’s “jazz-thinking” percussion patched in from
quarantined Australia; and Khouja’s encouraging presence.
The songs of Pompeii feel suspended in time, both of the moment and
instant but reactionary and Dada-esque in their insistence to be
playful, satirical, and surreal. From the spirited, strutting bass
fretwork of “Moderation”, to the sax-swagger of “Running Away”; a tale
exquisite in nature but ultimately doomed (The fountain that empties the
world / Too beautiful to hold), escapism lives as a foil to the outside
world. Pompeii’s audacious tribute to memory, compassion, and mortal
salience is here to stay.
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NM (Near Mint) Appears unplayed and will bear no marks, sleeve scuffs, or scratches.
EX+ (Excellent) May have one or two visible imperfections (i.e. sleeve scuffs, faint scratches, or other superficial marks) that will not affect playback.
VG+ (Very Good+) A few visible imperfections. These may include sleeve scuffs, light scratches, or other superficial marks.
VG (Very Good) Similar imperfections found on VG+ records but in slightly greater numbers. Records graded VG and above will typically not have any scratches that are deep enough to be felt with a fingernail.
VG- (Very Good-) A number of visible imperfections; the presence of a considerable number of light scratches will force a VG- grade, as will the presence of significant isolated defects such as scratches deep enough to be felt with a fingernail.
G (Good) Record can be played without skipping, but will have significant surface noise, scratches, and visible groove wear. G+ and G- are used to indicate stronger and weaker copies within this range.
*SW/DNAP* Slight warp, does not affect playback
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All records are visually graded by our experienced staff, using a bright lamp and an Audio-Technica ATLP-120 turntable.