A journey by train, tube, plane, taxi, ferry and bus got me to the 8th Fanø Free Folk Festival to perform with Helen Tookey and Nick Jonah Davis. Nick and I played a set at 1 am the night we arrived, and the three of us performed ‘If You Put Out Your Hand’ the following afternoon. You can see clips from both performances in these video roundups of the festival:
It was an intimate festival on a tiny island that felt a little lost in time, with colourful, thatched cottages, empty roads and endless stretches of sand.
I have a track on ‘From The Furthest Signals‘; the latest compilation to be released by A Year In The Country. Other contributors include David Colohan, Sproatly Smith and The Hare and The Moon. My beautifully packaged contributor copies arrived in the post yesterday, as did hardback and paperback copies of Fenris Wolf 9, which includes my essay ‘Art As Alchemy’.
The paper I presented at last year’s Psychoanalysis, Art & the Occult conference – ‘Art as Alchemy’ is published in the new edition of The Fenris Wolf, along with the other papers presented at that conference.
A box full of lovely Rusalnaia vinyl has arrived from Feeding Tube Records.
The album is officially released on May 19th, in an edition of 500. It’s available for pre-order from Feeding Tube, and I’ll be selling copies at gigs.
I’ve recorded the song I wrote for DRY Project‘s ‘The Reasons in the Fens’, with the help of James Street and Dean Honer. I made a video to go with it using footage I filmed when I was in the Fens for the project and photos people connected with the project sent me.
Rusalnaia’s ‘Time Takes Away’ will get a vinyl release this year courtesy of Feeding Tube Records. The test pressing of the album arrived last week and is sounding good.
The album made it onto Thomas Blake’s Top 10 Albums of 2016 list at Folk Radio UK:
‘Trans-Atlantic duo Sharron Kraus and Gillian Chadwick created the years witchiest, headiest brew of incantatory psych-folk, often switching during the space of a single song from pretty pastoralia to full-on space-rock freak-out mode. It makes for an exhilarating listen, and a great introduction to the impressive careers of both of its creators.’
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.
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:
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.
We finished a good run of Rusalnaia shows last week and today the album’s officially released.