Based in Brighton, UK, and bringing together influences as diverse as ambient drone, delicate indie-folk, pop songwriting, electronic music and modern classical, A Lily is a solo project with a far-reaching net.
James wrote and performed almost all of the instrumentation on Id-Dar Tal-Missier himself, recording largely at home on his own setup, creating finished pieces layer by layer. Though the main body of composition is based on guitar and voice, Vella's list of instruments performed also includes banjo, cello, organ, xylophone, an ancient Chinese harp named guzheng, and drumkit, amounting to subtle and intelligent
arrangements, heavenly textures and a more song-based approach to the work he is best known for. Present here are verses and choruses, as if pop music, but also hazy, dreamy journeys through nocturnal sparseness and strangeness.
A few contributions from Vella's friends also grace the record: Mercury Prize Nominee C Duncan lends lush choral vocals to ‘Banana Moth’ and (yndi halda co-founder) Daniel Neal performs violin across several pieces.
Often inspired by non-musical forms, Vella writes that Id-Dar Tal-Missier was instead created under the influence of sensory experiences. He lists filmmakers Werner Herzog and Apichatpong Weerasuthakul; the TV show Stranger Things; his dog Sully; the ("painstaking") process of writing his first novel; books by Cormac McCarthy, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, John Cheever and Carson McCullers; travels around India, South America and the Middle East.
As a live act, A Lily has shared the stage with Amiina, Peter Broderick, Silver Apples, yndi halda, ISAN, and plenty of others.
The artwork for Id-Dar Tal-Missier - both cover and extended - is based on photographs by James' father Mark. These photos were taken in Myanmar in early 2018; here they reference the openness and immediacy of everything...
...And of course it’s a gentle reference to the Father of the record’s title too.