on December 20, 2016
The postman recently brought my contributor copies of a new compilation album and book. The album is 'Gathered Leaves', a compilation of tracks from the CD's included with Ptolemaic Terrascope magazine, released by Sugarbush Records. It features an old banjo track of mine that was recorded by Jeffrey Alexander along with tracks by The Bevis Frond, Six Organs of Admittance and Damon & Naomi with Kurihara. It was a really nice surprise, as I hadn't realised it was being compiled. A blast from the past! The book is Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music: America Changed Through Music, a collection of essays published by Routledge that I was invited to contribute to. My essay is entitled 'How Weird is Folk?' and it looks at differences between the way folk music is perceived in the US and the UK. It's very exciting to be included in an academic publication like this, as I left academia for music about 15 years ago and have recently been reconnecting with the academic world, writing papers for conferences that explore ideas that relate to the music I make.
on November 3, 2016
There's a lot of news to catch up on, as I've been neglecting this blog recently. Some nice reviews of If You Put Out Your Hand: Caught by the River: 'The weave between word and melody is largely unnoticeable, and as organic as the places many of the poems explore.' Norman Records: 'frightening and lovely, measure for measure'. The Active Listener: 'This is hypnotic, essential, occasionally (and pleasingly) disquieting and ultimately affirming work; these pieces are filled with breath and with life.' Also, reviews of Time Takes Away: Folk Radio UK: 'This is music that celebrates and is born out of friendship, and as such is a testament to the aesthetic and moral benefits of collaborative creativity. Its very originality makes it difficult to categorise, so I will just say that it is one of the most stunning albums I have heard all year, and one whose power remains long after the songs have faded.' The Active Listener: 'In short, 'Time Takes Away' is a triumph. It is no leap of the imagination to picture this album being played and revered in twenty year’s time in the same manner that we do with our copies of 'Basket Of Light', 'Swaddling Songs' or 'Commoners Crown'. This is a hugely accomplished and truly special recording; trust me, you need this album.' The Terrascope: 'Dealing with break ups, communities, time passing and new beginnings the second album from folk duo Rusalnaia contains the same breathtaking harmonies and sweet melodies as their first offering, this time, however, the mood is heavier and perhaps darker' fRoots (398/399 - Aug/Sept 2016): 'a bewitchingly powerful album' Bliss Aquamarine: 'A superb album, very highly recommended!' FATEA: 'Time Takes Away is every bit as bewitching as its predecessor, yet it may not yield up its riches quite as readily, for its musical climate is moodier and more opaque for much of the time. The largely exotic-acoustic-based settings of Rusalnaia's debut album have yielded to an altogether heavier primary backing involving frequent use of drumkit (courtesy of guest Mark Wilden) and replete with electric guitar texturings, whose slight air of fuzziness may often require the listener to be more attentive in order to penetrate the fog and reveal the wild, primordial poetic power of the lyrics.' Oxford Nightshift: 'There are moments of dappled sunlight here, and `Lullaby For a Future Generation’ is a gorgeous, sleepy-eyed reverie, but it’s those bleaker, more oppressive moments where the pair’s witchy magic works best, conjuring a form of timeless folk music a world away from cosy snug bar sessions or the cheery bonhomie of Cropredy, headed instead into shadowy places - hollow hills and dead forests – where fairytales come with a hefty dose of horror. It’s another miniature work of wonder from Sharron, a musician we’ll always be proud to call one of our own, and whose extensive catalogue you should investigate immediately. Though perhaps not alone.' Rusalnaia were also featured in the October issue of fRoots: Last month was Folk Horror Revival at the British Museum, which was a good opportunity to catch up with friends I'd met the previous year at A Fiend in the Furrows, as well as meeting new folk and taking part in a panel discussion with organisers Andy Paciorek, Darren Charles and Jim Peters; Shirley Collins and Reece Shearsmith. I started recording my next album just over a week ago, and so far we've laid down guitar, bass, drums and keyboards. The vocals and other instruments will be added over the next few weeks, and I'm hoping we'll be mixing before the end of the year.
on July 15, 2016
We finished a good run of Rusalnaia shows last week and today the album's officially released.
Gill and I enjoyed playing as a 4-piece with Nick Jonah Davis on electric guitar and Guy Whittaker on drums, and the gig we did with amazing oil projections at the Golden Lion in Todmorden was a highlight. It was just a shame to wake up into the nightmare of Brexit the next morning. Here's a video clip from that show.
on June 16, 2016
'Cast A Spell' from the forthcoming Rusalnaia album Time Takes Away was premiered at Folk Radio UK yesterday.
Gillian flew in yesterday and we'll be setting off on tour to showcase the new album as well as revisiting some tracks from the old. We'll mostly be performing as a 4-piece with Nick Jonah Davis on electric guitar and Guy Whittaker on drums.
on June 9, 2016
on March 4, 2016
The Big Eyes Family Players' new album 'Oh!' was launched last week at the lovely Regather Works in sheffield. The album's released on vinyl by Home Assembly Music and you can listen to it here. Reviews have started coming in, including a nice one from Folk Radio UK: ' the overall result is akin to the eerie, time-bending stories of Alan Garner or Susan Cooper and the proto-psychedelia of Lewis Carroll... it becomes clear that they are at the very top of their game, and that ‘Oh’ is perhaps their finest album to date.' Here's the nice video Annie Watson made for 'Pendulum':
on February 3, 2016
on February 1, 2016
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. Here's a video I made for one of the tracks: The cd is a limited edition of 50, orderable here.
on November 25, 2015
The last few weeks have been busy, so there's quite a lot of news to catch up on. I 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: 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. 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.
on October 7, 2015
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. 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. 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.