Music Review: Rafflesia Dreams by Jonathan Tarplee

Here is my review of the new experimental album by local singer/songwriter Jonathan Tarplee.  Here is a track-by-track introduction to a real gear-shift of an album for Jonathan:



Where the Golden Cornfields Grow

Jon surprises from the offset, with this breathy, intimate Kate Bush style song.

Gorgeous guitar layers, dreamy and hypnotic vocals. Like the rest of the album, this needs to be listened to on headphones to take you off to the most beautiful place. Absolutely love this one!


Watch Out (Or I’ll Stick You With My Poem)

This funny song reminded me of the later work of one of my favourites, Jonathan Richman. I heard this one live and it’s instantly a crowd pleasing sing along, but the production of it gives it an extra level. Super catchy and memorable.


Spring Will Come

Once again showcasing Jon’s gorgeous guitar playing, and again, totally transcendent.

The Animals are Revolting

Another great singalong. Lo-fi, acoustic and earthy.


The Day I Die (Live)
Raw, acoustic, warm, true.



Where the Sky Meets the Sea

Difficult to listen to this one objectively, as I produced it a couple of years ago and I just keep thinking all the way through ‘that should’ve been louder, that should’ve been quieter, I should’ve made more of that of this’ etc.. But it’s also one of my favourite of Jon’s songs and it’s great to hear it again!



Venus Vesuvius 

Dark, electric, industrial, experimental and jarring with the rest of the album, but in a good way, showcasing a different side of Jon. Great early Stooges/Velvets feel. A real gear shift for the album and if this was on vinyl I can imagine this opening the second side of the album, as we’re over the boarder in this second half.



Hidden Shallows

Big stadium drums, big ballsy guitars. Sexy, rocky, catchy, sleazy. Love love love this guitar riff!!



Just Us Chickens

Jon’s animal rights passion coming to the fore. Love the chord progressions and 50’s tremolo here.


Outcasts have X-Ray Eyes

The experiments continue with this Talking Heads style twangy/quirky tune. Brings to mind some of the more experimental flourishes on Paul Simon’s Hearts and Bones album, some of PiL’s work. Edgy, funky, dark, broken. Love it.


Just Existing

Jon riffs on modern day life consumerism, personal happiness. Trippy, experimental and fascinating.

A Minute in the Sun

Heard this one live, and it’s every bit as beautiful here, returning the album to its sun-soaked beginning, wrapping it up nicely. Short and sweet.

Back in the Real World

An old song, and one of the first I heard from him all those years ago. Fantastic, folky, political and classic.




Favourites on first listen:

  • Where the Golden Cornfields Grow
  • Outcasts Have X-Ray Eyes
  • Hidden Shallows

I’m so impressed with what Jon has achieved here himself on his first self-produced album.

The first half is like a sumptuous sun-soaked holiday for your ears and your soul. The second half is like a raw, raucous experimental rock n roll masterpiece.

My favourite Jon Tarplee album by some measure. And as I’ve loved every album he’s done, this is saying a lot.

You can listen to the full album here:


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