For all the discussion surrounding the death of the album as a piece of cohesive art, 2015 presented a thorough selection of LPs that refute this from the creator’s end. Among our most anticipated releases of 2016, bi-coastal singer and musician Baby Alpaca‘s Under Water offers that same cohesion, delivering an altogether powerful, uniform experience.
True to its title and the accompanying artwork, all 11 tracks exist together in an ethereal, shifting underwater universe that’s equal parts thoughtful and sexual. And, for a band that’s attracted the attention of everyone from Vogue to VICE, it’s a deeply personal development sonically. Chris Kittrell, Baby Alpaca’s founder and frontman, went a step further to personalize the experience, asking his longtime boyfriend—artist
Benjamin Staker—to create the cover. Like albums of yonder years, the cover marks expectations of what lay within.
“We became boyfriends three years ago and have been collaborating on art and music since then. The way we inspire each other is one of the greatest things about our relationship and always keeps evolving,” Kittrell explains to CH. Staker produced the watercolor work across multiple papers, which he plans to showcase together, but in their independent parts. “The title of the song ‘Under Water’ gave us the initial idea, and I combined the aesthetic that I use in my own art practice to interpret Chris’ music in a way that would blend with his art and aesthetic,” Staker shares. “The songs are so intricately constructed and beautiful. Together they create this delicate, beautiful world where everything is halfway into becoming something else and the literal subject can be interpreted however the viewer—or listener—feels.”
“The album is a selection from songs that I’ve written over the past six years, and it was recorded and produced by Flip Nikolic [Poolside / Ima Robot] over the past year. It’s reflective of my life, my friends, and the way that I see the world,” Kittrell adds. “It’s also a glimpse of the imaginary world inside my head.”
Under Water will be released 6 May on Atlas Chair Records. Its debut single “Teenage Graceland” is out now.
Album art courtesy of Benjamin Staker, portrait by Serichai Traipoom