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Chris Pell aka Murlo is something of a polymath. As well as producing and DJing, the Manchester-based artist is also an avid graphic illustrator, having adorned many of his releases with hand-drawn artwork. His productions have often lent themselves to these depictions: often employing an impish, playful flavour, they seem to call for a narrative.
We’ve been fans of Murlo for some time, so were thrilled to hear his debut album, ‘Dolos’, bursting with the buoyant energy, garage-meets-bassline rhythms and neon colours of his previous releases. He’s lent his illustrative efforts to ‘Dolos’, too: the record comes accompanied by a 36-page, A4 graphic novel and a series of art prints, all handcrafted from scratch by Murlo’s pen.
Following the arrival of his album, we invited him to name some of his influences for the paper offering he’s produced. “These are five books that I read that have had some kind of impact on the way I approached making ‘Dolos’, Murlo says. “A selection of graphic novels, books and non-fiction.”
Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain (Reader Digest, 1973)
“When I was putting together the backdrop for ‘Dolos’ I found this book a massive help. I was always interested in Pre-Roman Britain, of old folklore and myths that have still survived today here in some form or other and so I wanted to set this scene for the character to escape to. I came across this book at my friend’s house, after flicking through her copy I wanted to keep reading it so I got kind of obsessed with getting my hands on my own version and I managed to find one online. The name of the book pretty much sums it up, it basically serves as an archive of hundreds of stories and myths that span most of the written history of Britain, but mostly focusing on the edge of what they started to record, and it weaves through tropes and similarities that connect them all. Quite a bit of iconography and characters were referenced from this book for ‘Dolos’.”
The Image Maker, Tcherevkoff (1988)
“I came across this book randomly when I was browsing for records in Oxfam. The thing that took me back right a way was how computer generated all of his work felt and then learning that it was all made with models, coloured lights and painted backgrounds. The book is from 1988 and it feels very much of that era, but its wicked to see how you can approach making visuals differently and be reminded that there isn’t just one way of doing things.”
The Electric State, Simon Stålenhag (2018)
“I couldn’t get enough of this book. He’s an artist and writer that is very much inspired by conceptual art and world building, and it really shines through in this book. This was a big influence on my own outlook to try and flesh out the world I was creating for ‘Dolos’ and the Coil Universe. I also love the storytelling and how the narrative flows using large blocks of text and large images instead of panels. I really suggest people should check this out if they haven’t!”
Geis, Alexis Deacon (Nobrow, 2016)
“Apart from series’ like Incal and Akira, I tend to struggle finishing large graphic novels as I’m pretty easily distracted, it’s why I don’t read a lot in general because it isn’t often I’m in a headspace where I can focus (and I don’t have work to get on with). Even though Geis isn’t a long book, it’s filled to edges with energy and character and I was pretty hooked from the first couple of pages. I’m a big fan of the care and attention to the paper stock and printing as well, Nobrow-published books always tend to be really well crafted.”
Idoru, William Gibson (1996)
“I started reading Gibson maybe two or so years ago and I’ve read the majority of his stuff now. Idoru was one of my favourites and throughout reading the book was maybe the most visual for me whilst reading it. As with most of these books, it had a really vivid vision of his world and he definitely was a big inspiration for me in the early days of creating the Coil city.”
Listen to Murlo’s ‘Dolos’ in full:
Purchase Murlo’s ‘Dolo’s album, graphic novel, and art prints here