Ever since his teens, cutting his teeth in bands and experimenting with old cassette multitracks, John has been developing towards a very unique musical style and sound. However it was only in 2013, many years after already scoring for film and television, that this particular journey culminated in a first solo album, People Do.
Fusing his more emotive, filmic approach with space and rhythm into a very distinctive sound world, this debut saw percussive, prepared piano colliding with abstracted guitar landscapes and disembodied vocal textures to form an electro-acoustic whole. Of the record Igloo Magazine said ‘...[it is] a highly detailed and individual sounding work, sculpted with great attention to texture and shape. With a highly transformative nature, all the tracks are unpredictable and keep the listener in a pleasuring suspense. They twist and morph, chime and throb (…). Lemke fused a myriad of ideas and atmospheres into a unique whole that is stimulating, elegant, and edgy just in the right places. People Do has a distinctive, original personality, and definitely a charming one. This is refreshing music. One of the very best of 2013, no doubt.‘
In 2014 the Walizka EP followed with strong dub influences, while the following year saw the release of Nomad Frequencies, an album conceived during a tumultous period. Having been forced to indefinitely evacuate his Glasgow flat and studio due to structural damage from one hour to the next, with nothing more than a laptop and a bag of clothes, John embarked on a six month odyssey of soul searching, couch surfing and spending an extended period of time in his old hometown of Berlin for the first time in years – it was to be an odyssey that would help ferment and distill the ideas of his second album on which work had just begun. The album saw more acoustic and dub influences coming to the fore, as well as John’s narrative sound design based approach. Of the record Stationary Travels remarked in 2015 ‘All of this sonic craftsmanship and experimentation might sound fascinating in a cerebral way, but what makes Lemke’s albums so captivating is that he grounds them with a brilliant sense of pure rhythm and melody. Tease the layers apart and you will find a dizzying array of ideas and components of sound, but the music can still be enjoyed on a fundamental and visceral level. This is music your intellect and your limbic system can both appreciate.’
Following a seven year hiatus, John finally released his latest album Thawlines in May 2022. The record distills the memories of a deeply impactful journey to Finland in the winter of 2011 into John’s most personal album to date. Shifting away from the electronic feel of earlier records, there is a distinctive new band oriented sound, following the enlisting of drummer Clive Deamer (Portishead, Radiohead, Robert Palmer, Roni Size), cellist Pete Harvey (Modern Studies) and Urška Oreis (rouge-ah). Kulturarchiv Europe noted ‘…[the album] surprises with fragile beauty and enthralling swings to unexpected heights. [It] is a multifaceted journey through nostalgia, melancholy, contemplation, and awakenings.’ John has put together a full band for the album launch at Glasgow’s CCA (11.11.22) and will be touring the record in 2023.
John’s solo output is released via independent German label Denovali Records and published by Tryad Music.