Posthumous albums have seemingly become more common these days likely as digital distribution makes it easier to release music. However, not all of them are created equal with some demos that maybe should have seen the light of day and others finished music that was always supposed to be released, but the artist died before they could be released. DJ and producer Pierce Fulton died at the age of 28 after a battle with mental health on April 29th, leaving behind a legacy of a decade of music under his own name and under his duo with Botnek’s Gordon Huntley, Leaving Laurel. The pair had put out their first bits of music in 2020, plus an EP towards the end of the year. However, they hadn't released an album together before he passed.
Fulton and Huntley finished their debut album at the start of 2021, but Fulton’s tragedy shook the project to its very foundation. It was decided to still go ahead and release the album, which is out today on Anjunadeep, the label where much of their music has been released to this point.
Fulton and Huntley spent a lot of time initially isolated in the woods of Connecticut and Vermont, where Fulton went to school, and this became the inspiration for tracks like “Winter In The Woods.” While the inspirations may have come from other places and at times they worked on music in those woods, it was the music they made in California that served as the platform for this album. That time period felt like the most complete thought, so they channeled that era into this self-titled album.
The 11-track project is largely instrumental, with two songs “A Secret Place” and “Though & Through” having vocals, but they aren’t heavy singing tracks. The vocals add one more element to these slow-evolving melodic electronic tracks.
That is the theme with this album. These songs are for going slow and relaxing. Sometimes things can sound a little more organic with piano and bells like on “Take Your Time” or the post-rock guitars on “Falling Apart,” but it finds its niche with deep, progressive and melodic electronic music that slowly carries you along. There are soft peaks and valleys, building like snowfall in the woods. Some are a little more subdued like “It’s Never The Last” and “maybe we're different and everything is still the same,” but others such as the opener “Rosaro” or “Need Little, Want Less” kick things into a little higher gear. It all ends on a beautiful and poignant final note that that has just a touch of Fulton’s early chillout tracks in “Winter In The Woods.”
Legacy is one of the most complex things to come to terms with in music, especially for an artist who died at a young age. This album, finished before his death, is just one piece of Pierce Fulton’s larger legacy. The LP is a small part of his larger career that continued to expand musically as he continued making music. Now we have the most complete picture of what Leaving Laurel was and could be with an album that is smooth, subtle and very easy on the ears. The melodies flow over one another and it still has a danceable edge. The Leaving Laurel legacy will carry on with Huntley through gigs this fall and into next year and I bet Pierce’s spirit will be there as well.
Pick up your copy here.