Big thanks to Folk Radio UK for including Friends and Enemies; Lovers and Strangers in their Best Folk Music Albums of 2015 list. It’s a great list, including lots of friends and artists I admire, as well as a host of music I’ve never heard and want to check out.

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Hen Llan Recordings, an EP of instrumentals I recorded in North Wales using some of Harriet Earis’ harp parts for Friends and Enemies; Lovers and Strangers as starting points is released today on Reverb Worship.

Hen Llan Recordings

Here’s a video I made for one of the tracks:

The cd is a limited edition of 50, orderable here.

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The last few weeks have been busy, so there’s quite a lot of news to catch up on.

deux_oursI had a wonderful time in Belgium and Germany, playing shows together with Will Z, Alice Artaud, B’ee and Elysian Elderwood and returned home with an exciting stash of records I haven’t yet had time to listen to. My favourite venue of the tour was Deux Ours in the tiny town of Nandrin near Liège, which looked like a hunting lodge from Twin Peaks, decorated in antlered deer skulls, sepia photographs and other odd and fantastic items.

Whilst staying in Liège I recorded a radio show for Radio Rectangle, containing live tracks, short interview snippets, and a selection of tracks from some of my favourite artists. You can listen to the show here:

Backwards#3 by Will Z. on Mixcloud

Whilst I was away, Frances Castle at Clay Pipe has made a couple of lovely risograph print sets based on the artwork for my album and they’re available to order from the Clay Pipe Shop.

 

 

 

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Just published by Wyrd Harvest Press is Folk Horror Revival: Field Studies – a collection of essays and interviews on folk horror-related subjects. It includes an edited version of the paper I gave at A Fiend in the Furrows – ‘Subtle Magic and the Thrill of The Wicker Man‘, together with essays by Adam Scovell, Phil Legard, Andy Sharp and interviews with Philip Pullman, Alan Lee, Julia Jeffrey and Drew Mullholland.

 


 

I’m performing at some exciting events / places over the next couple of months. Coming up this sunday (Oct. 11th) is a Clay Pipe Special at the Betsey Trotwood in Farringdon together with Directorsound. Nick Palmer will be joining me on bouzouki for some of my set, as will be Olly and George Parfitt, on Moog and drums respectively. Frances Castle has designed some gorgeous posters, which will be available as freebies on the day.

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Later this month, on October 24th I’ll be taking part in ‘Spectral Landscapes; Explorations of the English Eerie‘ at the Old Fire Station in Oxford. It’s an evening of film and discussion centred around the work of filmmaker Adam Scovell, who I met at ‘A Fiend in the Furrows’ last year. Adam’s blog – Celluloid Wicker Man – is a great resource on cult films, film music, folk horror and his recent short film collaboration with Robert Macfarlane, ‘Holloway’ is mesmerising.

I’ll be giving a short film and video presentation called ‘In the Vale of the White Horse’ as well as performing in collaboration with Arianne Churchman.

 

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Towards the end of October, Harriet Earis will be joining me for a couple of concerts, one in Sheffield and one in Loughborough. We’ll be performing songs from Friends and Enemies; Lovers and Strangers, a rare occurrence given that Harriet’s in Mid Wales and I’m in Sheffield.

Next month I’m off to Belgium and Germany to play some shows. It’ll be great to return to Belgium again, and it’ll be the first time I’ve gigged in Germany, so I’m excited about that. Here’s a lovely poster Wim at Morc has designed for my Gent show.

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Last year poet Helen Tookey and I performed together, collaborating on pieces that wove music around her poems. The combinations seemed effective so we decided to record them. We’ve been recording a collection of poems and music this month and the project is due to be released/published by Wounded Wolf Press later this year.

It’s an interesting project for me. I’ve been responding instinctively to Helen’s poems with music, not trying to understand what they mean, and the relationship between the words and the music is very different to the way words and music work together in songs.


Phil McMullen started the Ptolemaic Terrascope as a print magazine about psychedelic and other weird music 25 years ago. The Terrascope, the Terrastock festivals, and what Phil sometimes calls ‘the Terrascopic family’ – the looseknit network of musicians, writers, labels and music-lovers connected through the Terrascope – have provided much-needed support for my music and lifelong friendships.

Simon Lewis, Reviews Editor at the now-online Terrascope, has compiled a digital compilation, featuring a selection of ‘Terrascopic’ artists, to celebrate 25th Anniversary.



I had a good chat with Adam Scovell about the inspiration for and recording of ‘Pilgrim Chants and Pastoral Trails’ and he wrote a feature called ‘The Myth and Landscape of Sharron Kraus‘ for Caught by the River.

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Graham Tomlinson recently interviewed me about the Mabinogion and working on the new album for Wales Arts Review.

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Some nice reviews for Friends and Enemies; Lovers and Strangers have been coming in:

Folk Radio UK: ‘a highly original collection of compositions which can be enjoyed as a folk album like any other, but which repays a much closer listening to reveal a depth of understanding of its sources which shines a light on a classic text too often overlooked’

The Active Listener: ‘As otherworldly as the folk tales that inspired the music, this is an album that demands complete, rapt attention and careful listening … I cannot recommend this album highly enough.’

Terrascope Online: ‘Whilst the album features an array of instruments that add depth and texture to the songs, at its heart lies the unique and beautiful voice and songwriting of Sharron Kraus, this collection being, quite possibly, her finest to date, each song shining like sunlight on a distant mountain top, timeless and captivating.’

fRoots (May 2015): ‘a beautifully recorded and immensely atmospheric record, full of alternative tunings, dark modes and devils’ intervals.’

Bright Young Folk: ‘Friends and Enemies; Lovers and Strangers is an album that gives up its secrets slowly. It takes a few listens to get to grips with these deceptively simple songs, but the time and effort involved is more than worth it. An album to live with and to savour.’

BLISS Aquamarine: ‘The songwriting is contemporary, and whilst the harp, recorder and dulcimer arrangements are evocative of the medieval era when the tales from the Mabinogion were written down, the overall feel is not one of aping the past, but of using the past as a starting point for creative innovation.’

Daily Information: ‘What a magnificent album! Sharron Kraus’ latest album is influenced by her long stay in rural mid-Wales and is a retelling, in English, of some stories in the Mabinogion, a collection of stories written in Medieval Welsh. But far from being set in the past, these stories of love, betrayal, migrations and magic continue to resonate today.’

Norman Records: 7/10 ‘Friends and Enemies; Lovers and Strangers has a particular strand of folk DNA in it, a type that sounds ancient and conceives of a time long gone. Kraus’ interpretation, though, is fresh and crystalline, both recorded and performed as if these were wholly new stories.’

Sly Vinyl

Atalho de Sons (in Portugese)

Music Won’t Save You (in Italian)


Folkradio UK asked me if I’d do a guest mix for them, so I’ve done one with a loose Beltane / Summer theme called ‘Renewals and Reunions’.

Renewals and Reunions by Sharron Kraus by Folk Radio Uk on Mixcloud

It was a lot of fun to do and reminded me of making mix tapes as a teenager. I enjoy thinking about what songs follow on nicely from each other, creating a sequence of songs that flows and shifts, tells a kind of story.

That’s something that comes naturally to my dj brother Jon K, who takes me on a voyage through his record collection whenever I visit. You can check out some of his mixes here:



My new album, Friends and Enemies; Lovers and Strangers, is now available for pre-order from Clay Pipe Music. It’s a beautifully illustrated limited edition 12″ LP with artwork by Frances Castle.

Frances has also made a beautiful animated video for ‘Stranger In Your Land’ from the album.

If vinyl’s not your thing, the album’s also available as a digital download from my Bandcamp site.