Also new for May is ‘A Tree Hollow‘ by Texas, USA based composer John Paul Thompson who records as Tum Tum. This record is a conceptual album in which there are three movements and nine tracks. It is inspired by both by Dr. Li Wenliang who became prominent in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the artist’s own personal experiences. This album is out now in a run of 100 CDrs, in our signature gatefold vinyl-effect packaging. If you follow us on Bandcamp (Click HERE) we’ll make sure you’re the first to hear about future releases. Or you can become a subscriber and receive our monthly newsletters by clicking HERE
“Tum Tum is the project of composer John Paul Thompson, who is based in Texas, United States. He is from a family of musicians and began his own journey with the violin at the age of 8 before moving on to guitar, piano, and eventually synthesis and sound design. John Paul also previously ran an independent record label called Pandarosa Records, producing multiple albums and performing alongside several acts in the label’s roster.
Wider artistic initiatives also play a key part in John Paul’s work, with his enthusiasm for photography and his work in music licensing with Chicago-based Comma Music. He is also co-founder of Easyside, an arts + food non-profit working in East Fort Worth. This wider creative lens transforms the series of compositions in this album ‘A Tree Hollow’, into a conceptual album in which there are three movements and nine tracks.
The backstory of this record is told by John Paul in the following album introduction:
“I heard the term ‘a tree hollow’ described in a radio story memorializing the death of Dr. Li Wenliang one year after he passed due to COVID-19. Dr. Li had been the first to sound the alarm and he died of the virus in the nascent days of the global pandemic. “You find a tree hollow in the forest and seal your written secret in there so you can feel better,” Huang Zhisheng, a professor and researcher at the Free University Amsterdam explained of the Chinese tradition. Since his death Dr Li’s lingering social media presence had posthumously transformed, and people were sealing messages on his unattended page – ‘Will I pass my graduate exams tomorrow, Dr. Li?’ – ‘Dr. Li, I pet a cute orange cat today! I’m happy!’ – ‘I can’t’ – ‘I don’t understand.’
In 2018, as I prepared to move away from Chicago with my wife and daughter to rejoin family in Texas, we received news of a friend’s disappearance, then of their death. We pushed the move date forward to make it to the funeral and made a hasty goodbye to our home. Two months later we learned of our niece’s death, stillborn within weeks of her due date. Shortly after that funeral, a family fracture emerged that cast a dark shadow of doubt over our decision to leave Chicago.
In the oppressive Texas rains of late 2018, I began rebuilding a studio in the spare bedroom. As we emerged from grief, as family bonds were slowly restored, as trust in others and ourselves was replenished, and as we found focus and budding purpose in our Fort Worth community, I began writing these pieces – for myself. I eventually decided to share a few of the tracks in early 2019 but ended up sitting on the work for over two years, first delayed by my own self-doubt and then by the cataclysms of 2020. In the face of such global and systemic tragedies, what could I say?
It wasn’t until I heard the story of Dr. Li in February of 2021 that I found a renewed interest in this project. These pieces had been a tree hollow in the forest, into which I had sealed my secrets so that I could feel better. That was enough for me, but moreover, I found hope that there might be enough room in them into which an audience might place their own secrets.“
Written, produced and mastered by John Paul Thompson
Cover artwork by John Paul Thompson – john-paul.xyz
Art and design by Andrew Heath
Here’s a glimpse of the packaging files, which you can see via the slideshow below: