“I thought I’d show a typical day scouting places for inspiration for the visual side to my work…”

Murlo’s In Photos takes him to Fountain Abbey for the day… 

Chris Pell aka Murlo’s 2019 is off to a flying start. Late February saw the lauded release of his much anticipated debut album, Dolos, via his own Coil Records. The ambitious project saw the album released alongside a 36-page graphic novel, each chapter representing one of the fifteen tracks on the record. After taking over a Hackney Wick gallery for five days last year to showcase his visual art – inky palettes, romantic figures and richly textured flora – and having debuted a live AV show back in 2017, Murlo is no stranger to bringing his fluorescent sound closely in tandem with his artistic output.

With a distinctive flair for colourful melodies, futuristic synths and grime-influenced club rhythms, Murlo’s AV show combines entirely self-produced music as well as 100% hand-drawn animation. The release of Dolos sees him build on the audio-visual experience, with new visuals and unheard music in the mix for 2019’s shows.

Ahead this year’s Sónar Festival in Barcelona, Murlo’s In Photos is a series he shot on a day out to Fountain Abbey. Finding inspiration in weather-worn architecture and natures’ interaction with man-made structures, Murlo says:

“I thought I’d show a typical day I spent scouting for inspiration. Usually I just use digital photography, but I thought this would be a good way to get back into using film. Below are some of my favourite shots from a day out near my home in Manchester. I’ll be using the below images as visual references for my work.”

I’ve been waiting for nice weather to drive out to this spot I’ve had my eye on for a few months. When I arrived, I spotted this just at the entrance. I love anything handcrafted in the woods, it reminds me of the dens I used to make in parks at the edge of town when I was a kid.

It’s called Fountain Abbey. The Abbey is a couple of hours drive away and dates back to 1132. Structures like this really fascinate me, not just because of its age, but the current condition of it makes really stirs up my imagination.

When I take reference photos I try to single out specific details. Here, the arches were pretty beaten by the weather, being an open air structure. The by-product of this was some of the architectural sculptures had almost melted into the masonry. For instance, the bulging face at the top of the arch above.

I spotted this tree breaking out from a wall. I love seeing nature weave in and out of human built structures and this looked like it won the battle a long time ago. I’d use photos like this not as direct reference but more as a guide to how to approach bark textures etc.

I really loved the circular pattern on this side of the abbey, the circle is a very solid structure and I love how it’s stood the test of time. The upside down V had me wondering about its purpose. Sometimes things like this stand out to me and bother me slightly if I can’t figure it out. I assume it was a nook for a wood beam or some type of roofing but this is how I usually adapt references for my own work. I could research and find out exactly what it was for, or I could just imagine up a purpose and run with that direction when I’m creating my own buildings.

Around the corner to the Abbey is the Royal Gardens, and I was instantly obsessed with this building. The pillars, the yellow paint, the head above the old door.

Out in the middle of this big body of water was this old Neptune statue. Luckily I had a bigger lens on me so I could capture it. Usually I’d use my iPhone zoom and make do with the pixelated zoom, but I was chuffed I could get this shot.

There were ravens EVERYWHERE. Also a ton of pheasants knocking about. I was gutted I left my audio recorder at the flat because places like this are great for ambient recordings. I used a few in my recent album Dolos when I took a trip to a local Cavern. I love this photo, some of the least completed ruins are my favourite as they lose the context of what they used to be. I’ll definitely be referencing these pillars.

I left that location and travelled to another spot I’ve wanted to go to for months. This was the Druids Temple about 30 minutes northwest of the Abbey. When I arrived the sun was about an hours away from setting so light was fading fast. The area was completely devoid of people and it felt really special as I walked around.

This was the last thing I took that showed up on film. The sun was setting and I decided at this point I was worn out, so I headed back to Manchester.

Murlo plays Sónar Festival in Barcelona, 18th to 20th July 2019.