Nonpareils Announce New Solo Album

NONPAREILS (aka Aaron Hemphill) has announced details of his new solo album, Rhetoric & Terror, out on 20 September 2024 on Mute.

The album launches today with the off-kilter melody of ‘Opening Chord’. While elements might feel recognisable to listeners of Liars, the band he co-founded with Angus Andrew, the new track is unmistakably Hemphill’s. With his voice centre-stage, given more clarity than on previous Nonpareils releases, the melodic hooks are immediate.

Rhetoric & Terror is Berlin-based Hemphill’s second album since leaving Liars back in 2016. No stranger to reinventing his approach towards composition, Rhetoric & Terror feels like we are – perhaps for the first time – opening a doorway into Hemphill’s personal life, to his disparate sonic influences, his wide-ranging journeys through philosophy, and his own reflections on his role as an artist. 

Like different thoughts and feelings emerging in a state of meditation, Hemphill invites you to pause on one ‘scene’ for a moment before moving onto the next. There’s space to get lost here – both emotionally and in the colour of the album’s wide-ranging textures. 

With his wife Angelika Kaswalder on vocals throughout the album and multi-instrumentalist Morgan Henderson – a longtime friend of Hemphill’s since Henderson’s time in the post-hardcore band The Blood Brothers – adding woodwind, Nonpareils is no longer simply a solo project – and it’s apparent in this openness.

The of the album – Rhetoric & Terror – describes this split that Hemphill is making from the conceptual nature of his first solo album (2018’s Scented Pictures), and the new direction that he – perhaps – hopes to continue taking. The title comes from a chapter in Giorgio Agamben’s book, “The Man Without Content”, where he describes the concepts of rhetoric and terror to describe two different types of writers: the rhetorician and the terrorist. The terrorist is a misologist who is only into the feeling; the rhetorician is committed to logic and form. 

“With Rhetoric & Terror, I wanted to start with emotions and feeling. I was playing with my kids, listening to Cocteau Twins, I have a wonderful partner, and it seemed very contrary to any sort of growth to sequester myself from this life in order to get into character as a musician. Instead, I tried to remove the boundaries between my creative life and my responsibilities and have it all be one fluid thing. All things at all times, and trust that this will guide my music rather than more intellectual concepts or limitations.”

Despite its catalysts being in philosophy and conceptual art, Hemphill has created an album that’s deeply “emotionally available”. It’s also helped him take a new stance on life that combines his life as a partner and parent in a kind of unity with his role as the artist. It’s plain to hear as a listener – Rhetoric & Terror, despite its intimidating name, is welcoming and playful, even during its most intense moments.

Rhetoric & Terror is out on Mute on vinyl, CD and digitally on 20 September 2024:

Rhetoric & Terror tracklisting

  1. Opening Chord
  2. Unscripting With The Snake And The Swan
  3. Figures Of Speech
  4. Flowers Like The Rain
  5. Six Six Seven (Monsieur Faux Pas)
  6. Bring It On
  7. The Broken Mirror Shaped Like A Day
  8. Predictable Pan (Theme From A Book Of Perfectly Drawn Lines)
  9. Strawberry Hill