Djrum has shared “Waters Rising,” the second cut shared from his upcoming Portrait With Firewood LP, coming out August 17 on R&S. 

The track sees the producer linking up with vocalist Lola Empire for a skittering, whiplash-inducing breakbeat jam. It was originally written around a piano sketch that was sent back and forth between the two artists until it became the fully realized song you hear now.

Djrum explains: “I really hadn’t expected love to be a theme in the album, but I was chatting with Lola and she told me how she’d fallen in love. I sent her the initial sketch for this and told her I didn’t think love was an appropriate subject for it. But she came out with this, “Love is dark,” she said.”

Portrait With Firewood is described ass Djrum’s (a.k.a Felix Manuel) “most personal” body of work to date, the product of an emotionally turbulent 2017, capturing the range of feelings and emotions he went through in vivid sonic beauty. By putting aside his previous approach of sampling, he returned to his childhood instrument of the piano as a core starting point.

“It’s a confessional record… I realize that’s a word mostly used to describe singer/songwriter rather than (largely) instrumental music, but I think it’s apt. There’s a sort of emotional candour.”

Djrum is classically trained in the jazz tradition and influenced by the likes of Keith Jarrett and Alice Coltrane. We’re told that he was previously shy at the prospect of fans hearing his piano playing but, determined to overcome this fear, he has brought forward a new honesty to his work.  “Finding the confidence to work with my own piano improvisations was a big part of that. Once I had figured out how I was going to make the music, it actually fell in to place rather quickly.”

Felix’s goal was to create something “overwhelmingly beautiful”, but also to capture the “inherent melancholy in beauty in all its impermanence and fragility”. He took inspiration and solace from performance artist Marina Abramovic. “She [Abramovic] has an incredibly deep understanding of the human condition, and expresses it in such a poetic way. Many of the themes of her work had particular resonance for me over the course of 2017 as I worked on the album. I was moved to tears on several occasions watching her videos or reading about her work.”

Felix’s new approach expanded to experimentation with field recording, contact micing his piano, and purchasing his first hardware synth, all in service of enriching the personal, humane quality of the record. 


01. Unblocked

02. Waters Rising

03. Creature Pt. 1

04. Creature Pt. 2

05. Sex

06. Blue Violet

07. Sparrows

08. Showreel Pt. 3

09. Blood In My Mouth

Portrait With Firewood LP will land on August 17 via R&S Records, with “Waters Rising” streaming in full via the player below.