The end is nigh. Two years maximum, to be precise. Earth is dying, and the world is a mess, that is putting it lightly. Disordered. Desolate. Dystopian. An unimaginable terrifying state of untamed packs of youths, Robot companions and entitled extreme heiresses are headed to hell in a wheelbarrow, unless, unless there is a place where only the despairing - a shave from giving up - may enter: a paradise planet named Heaven.
Expansive Graphic Novel Superstate, in association with Z2 Comics, has a partner in crime: an original soundtrack composed by Graham Coxon. The world of graphic novels can appear daunting, with a level of expertise expected for entrance into an exclusive club. It is not so. The Superstate project is a comprehensive collaboration of music from concept creator Graham and Alex Paknadel and Helen Mullane, who penned the 15 narratives. Featuring 15 cutting edge artists, it cumulates in an optical-audible fiesta. Any level of wide-eyed aficionado can get lost, hungry for more.
One frazzled mother has reached the end of her tether in Yoga Town. She is willing to walk out into the danger field, head held high, shades firmly in place, in a dazzling white Hollywood style, leaving her feral kids behind who have also given up on the world, not giving a fuck about anyone and anything. Twinning and opening song featuring Valentina Pappalardo is the most from the combination of tracks that could accompany an Indie film soundtrack. A Cote d'Azur organ and hallmarked Coxon guitar guides as an observer in the shape of a helpless inhabitant conveys their view: "Let me go please."
By chance, our protagonist stumbles upon her yoga teacher, practising a mystical vanishing technique, which, if in possession, can lead to condemnation. She begs to study it; it proves essential. Shades of lime and lilac trickle across Kendall Goode's Yogatown artwork, even coating the mother's hair. The colour pallets for each of the 15 strips are thoughtfully chosen; some utilise monochrome, all are stylish and becoming.
Soo Lee's The Astral Light is a story of ethereal velvet, transcribed with celestial metallic patterns, where the path to enlightenment is not always what it seems. An immaculate woman who only wants to find a peaceful existence for herself and others never gives up on their vision. Nailing that retro - futro quality, with Pappalardo and Sharlene Hector, an early 2000 Rock Disco beat as the chant of the Astral Cluster: "We're Shining, we're bright, we're living in the Astral Light." Mixed in the LP is multiple spices; there is a glitter balled funk to many.
An eye-opening, or obvious to some, aspect to this piece is that the supposedly righteous crew saving us are in cahoots with the government, who as are causing distress in the first place. The Astrals provide the cure, a parallel to an age complaint and aliment to pharmaceuticals, cause and effect. We have to hold on to the belief, for humanity, while our hero hovers upwards, bathed in gold, that she will be fighting for change. Right over wrong; good triumphs evil.
Mournful piano melody and a sad and steady reverberating drum float over the sinister tale of survival and dilemma, Tommy Gun by Minerva Fox. Eviction looms, costs are sky high and illegal to secure safety, with no confirmation if the deal would be honoured. A family - consisting of a mother, father and two daughters - make their journey to a safer land only to be faced with decisions that no parent should ever have to make. The song is a faultless match of the breathtaking skies painted on the page.
Birdsong implies a shift in tone in the story and tune; there is still sorrow but optimism that a devasting life-altering choice will ultimately work out, causing a painful loss to oneself but setting others free to safety. A stranger who may not look the same as everyone else, even a little menacing, is a tattooed angel spreading goodness; these folk still exist and can be called upon when all is lost, helping others for no gain to themselves.
'Pack light or you won't float' is uttered by a guardian in It's All In Your Mind from Paula Andrade and can be read as 'light' in the weight of belongings or to fill one body, mind and soul with 'light' that liberates one from the heaviness of one's troubles. Each tale and song - shadowy, stormy, futuristic, explicit... - scarily don't seem so farfetched. Yet, they all embody hope and truth. With the album and book cover artwork by Coxon himself and leading his assembly, Superstate is ready to busy the senses, decorating coffee tables and bookcases across the land.
Article by Beverley Knight