Lutine ‘Died of Love’

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An album of remixes from folk duo Lutine  seems surprising. And it is.

In 2014 Lutine released an excellent album of traditional folk-styled songs called ‘White Flowers’, featuring some beautiful harmonies and subtle instrumentation recorded in the church at Stanmer village. Now they’ve taken the bones of those tracks and invited a range of different artists to try their hand at remixing them for a collection titled ‘Died of Love’. The results are quite extraordinary and haunting.

The opening track below remixed by Laura Cannell is in some ways the most traditional, although the Sarah Angliss and Stephen Hiscock mix of the sublime ‘Sallow Tree’ also falls within their earie early-70s British horror movie soundtrack vein. After that it gets even weirder, with a ghostly mix of ‘Death and the Lady’ by Michael Tanner, an hypnotic choral approach by Kemper Norton and a brilliant brutal noise-fest by Bela Emerson, before the music descends into some dance-based mixes until ending on Pete Wiggs brilliant reinvention of the gorgeous ‘So It Goes’.

This is a highly original and fascinating reinvention of the folk idiom and a memorable release from the Brighton duo of Heather Minor and Emma Morton which is well worth searching out.

‘Died of Love’ is available to download from March 4th from Front & Follow

 

 

 

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Hiawatha Telephone Company plays Passengers Greatest Hits

‘Passengers Greatest Hits’. You might think this was a collection of songs by Mike Rosenberg but its title comes from the series of photographs of forlorn commuters which feature in the lyric book that accompanies this new CD by our occasional Brighton Music Blog contributor and photographer in his alternative moniker of Hiawatha Telephone Company. We spoke to Jon about what he thought he was up to.   BMB: How was this album made? JON: The whole thing was written in two parts – half of the songs in February 2013, the other half in February 2014 and then it was recorded a couple of days later pretty much in single takes by Martyn Lewis Moss (Butterfly House) in his Kemp Town attic on a Tascam cassette recorder. No computers or wizzardry involved. Then Martyn added some bass and keyboards, Maria Marzaioli (Slum of Legs, Reds) came along the following day and played some violin on some tracks she’d never heard before and there you have it. Wham bam, it’s an album, man! It sounds primitive. Do you wish you’d spent more time on it? Passengers Greatest Hits Probably. It’s a hard album to get into because there is no compromise with modern technology or much in the way of professionalism to be honest. But that also means it doesn’t sound like anything else. It won’t age because it already sounds old. We just wanted to get it down really quickly. And Martyn has this thing about never trying more than three takes of anything. If it isn’t working you should just move on, is his recording motto. In most cases we left it at just the one take. The flaws are so obvious that to get into the album you have to overlook them and treat it differently from the things you’d normally listen to. I think listening to it should feel more like a stroll around a small art gallery, rather than putting on a CD. Did it have any particular influences? I’ve always loved those old crackly blues and country recordings from the 1930s and so on [Ed: the first Hiawatha Telephone Company album was named after folklorist Harry Smith who specialised in collecting such 78s] and some of the songs take that approach. There’s the early primitive pop songs of Daniel Johnston, also recorded onto tape and those sound even more flaky than these do. And I was listening to a fair bit of Bill Callahan this winter, so some of these songs sounds a bit like Smog to me. But who knows? We’re just a mess of all the things we absorb over time, aren’t we? Tell us about the songs. I’m really proud of the opening song ‘If I didn’t love you’. I thought I was going to write a love song. Turned out it was a splitting up or a morbid death song. It was the first one we recorded and I told Martyn his piano should sound like the cold desolate Nordic sound of Sibelius, which it kind-of does. The shortest song is ‘keep it simple’ which started out as a bit of a joke that I wrote in 5 minutes playing around in the chord of D. It’s not really recorded right but we just left it and I think it’s cute. Oddly the next two shortest songs are the ones with the most words in them, both songs I’m really proud of. ‘Song about time’ has some great poetry in it, about needing to live life for the moment. Because you cannot battle time? Yep. The other one is ‘The Cost of Going To Work By Train’ which is an epic by my standards, full of words and stories. I intended it to be a bit of a mythical song, in the form of a traditional folk song, but one firmly rooted in modern lived experience. It’s clearly not about any one real person but it tries to represent the common man. At least I think it tries. There are some proper country songs in this collection aren’t there? Yes, two at least. ‘Ain’t no rainbow’ is a lovely song I think, soft, simple with the same four chords throughout but I like the clichés it uses which still manage to sound surprising to me. And I like how I just told Maria to play something sad and rural, and she came up with this wonderful violin line that’s totally infused with straw and cow-shit. And then there’s Woody’s Song, which I’m really proud of. It’s based on the New Year’s Rulin’s that Woody Guthrie wrote and I have as a poster in my kitchen but he never turned them into a song so far as I know. So I did. I think it could sound better of course, much as I love Maria’s beautiful country-fried violin. But I still hope someone else records it. I think it could be a big hit in Nashville! Passengers Greatest hitsDo you see all of these as songs other people might record? For sure. I think they’re good enough and ought to exist in other versions. They’re all pretty simple, but pretty little tunes. I ought to record other versions myself! What about Dave? A lot of people will think that’s about one person [our present Prime Minister].  That wasn’t really the intention, although I can see why people think it might be. It’s not how I see him – if anything it’s more about the sorts of people he probably thinks he’s against. It’s a song I really like playing live. It gets a reaction. It isn’t the only political song on the album by any means, although none of them are very obviously political I suppose. Do you have a favourite song?  I’m fond of Waking Up With You, more for the verses as I still don’t feel like I’ve finished the chorus. I might rewrite it, but I just wanted to record it for my wife. I didn’t really expect to include it in the album but it turned out OK so I did. And I really like the last song ‘I’ll never Leave you Baby’ which is another simple love song, but one with a twist. It’s a fun song to play live and I also really like Martyn’s bass line on it. A stupidly simple song, but it works. The CD’s only available in physical copy at the moment. Is that right? Yes it is. It’s a proper CD with a nice little printed photo-lyric book in a numbered edition, and it’s dead cheap. You can buy it or just listen on bandcamp, download a couple of tracks for free via Soundcloud or I’d send the mp3s (and the lyrics and chords) to anyone who asks nicely. I’ll probably make the thing available for download but only when most of the CDs have gone. Any plans for more recording? Well it took me five years to get around to recording my first album and another five years for this one. That said, I have plenty of other songs in a big book which never get played so maybe I should record some of them. So many songs, so little time. And we managed to go the whole interview without asking about your band name. Yep. Well done for that. Thanks. {smiles} ‘Passengers Greatest Hits’ is available now in a limited numbered 1st edition of 100 from the Hiawatha Telephone Company bandcamp site Hiawatha Telephone Company

Hiawatha Telephone Company release Dave

Hiawatha Telephone Company

The lead single from the forthcoming Hiawatha Telephone Company album has a name, and it’s called ‘Dave’.

Dave has a powerful lyric and after its forceful but quiet, steady introduction, a strident John Cale-style violin riff (by Maria Marzaioli of Reds) that will appeal to fans of the Velvet Underground and Bill Callahan along with the act’s more typical singer-songwriter, alt-Country, alt-Folk fans.

The song was recorded at Brighton’s Margaret Street loft by Martyn Lewis Moss (Butterfly House) in one-take, straight onto cassette. The resultant sound is unusually primitive but has a special lo-fi warmth.

The song ‘Dave’ is being released independently on-line on Monday (17th March) via Bandcamp (as a free download) and as part of an EP with another taster from the album and two non-album tracks. However, Brighton Music Blog has an exclusive first-listen at the link below:

You can find the Hiawatha Telephone Company on Facebook here

(Photograph by Will Georgantas)

Brighton Music Blog Advent Calendar / Day 24 / Willkommen Records – Sons of Noel and Adrian – The Miserable Rich – Laish – Emma Gatrill – Redwood Red – Hamilton Yarns and the rest

It’s been a strange year for Brighton’s neo-alt-folk-rock collective Willkommen Records.  A busy year, but it’s felt like a label that’s been growing up, some of the kids moving on, some of them moving out…

The Willkommen monster band The Sons of Noel and Adrian released their second album ‘Knots‘ in the Spring, and in spite of building beautifully on the frantic neo-folk rock orchestration of the first album managed to stay well under the radar. A shame, as this band deserve to be heard and are a must-see experience on stage.

They also released a stunning compilation of various singles and odd tracks that found their way onto other things with the bizarre title of ‘Your Tunnel That Connects My Arm To A God​-​Fearing Woman Who Lives In The Dark‘. It’s a terrific introduction to the band who will be back playing in Brighton on March 1st at the Green Door Store after a short European tour early next year, beginning in London on 15th February.

Check out the video for ‘Come Run Fun Stella Baby Mother of the World‘ from the album Knots, below.

The Sons of course aren’t the only child of the collective by far. Most of the band’s members feature in other acts associated with the label, all of whom offer a wild variety of musical treats. Some links to check out follow.

Daniel Green’s Laish was completely remodelled this year, and features the softer playful side of Martha Rose and Emma Gatrill coupled with a more powerful rocking rhythm section, all in support of Dan’s superlative songwriting. Their Obituaries EP this year was a great introduction to their new songs and sound, and judging from their live shows Laish’s second album when it drops early in 2013 should be highly anticipated.

To keep you going until then, Laish have a sweet Christmas song ‘A Poor Man’ Christmas‘ which is free to download over on bandcamp. It was recorded last Christmas, but Christmas is Christmas, right?

Other adventures from the Willkommen clan this year, included the beautiful harp-driven folksongs of Emma Gatrill, who launched her album ‘Chapter 1‘ in the delightful  Church of the Annunciation in Hanover.

Emma Gatrill

Marcus Hamblett has been busy as ever, not least helping out on Emma’s album and in producing and playing on the amazing ‘The Birdschool of Being Human‘ album by Woodpecker Wooliams.

Marcus has also edited together a massive 14 minute ‘Patchwerk’ of music with contributions from pretty much everyone who is associated with the label – it’s very beautiful, sounding a bit like one of the early Mothers of Invention albums to my ears, as well as a dozen other things. You can download it for free via Soundcloud – or listen below.

Cathy Cardin has been writing new songs under the moniker Redwood Red. Some of these songs have begun to emerge quietly unannounced but sound beautiful. There’s a possible album in the pipeline which will be something extraordinary I think judging from a short live set as part of the alternative Great Escape Festival in May and the few songs over on bandcamp.

The wonderful madcap genius of Hamilton Yarns slipped out yet another album – Calm Down Grandad – apparently more pop and less free jazz, but with the Yarns one always knows any album will not be quite like anything else. And that followed their 32-track double-CD compilation/introduction called ‘Are You Still There?’ earlier in the year.

And former Willkommen associate and Brighton resident, but now world-roaming minstrel, Rowan Coupland slipped out an album called ‘Slow Wave of the Future‘ which after a series of intriguing EPs represents his first full-length collection. With no promotion to speak of, you could blink and miss it – but don’t, because it’s a fantastic and highly original achievement, and my album of the year.

The Miserable Rich

Finally, and sadly, at the end of November one of Willkommen’s and Brighton’s finest bands The Miserable Rich announced they were going to hang up their bows and bells. I guess having produced three stunning albums of beautiful lush string-driven pop songs to only modest interest in the UK (a little more in Germany), there’s only so long you can live on praise and kudos alone. Nevertheless, their final gig to a packed house as part of Brighton Source magazine’s new music night in November was a fitting  send off, and I am sure we will hear new things from the band members soon enough.

Brighton Music Blog Advent Calendar / Day 16 / Woodpecker Wooliams

Woodpecker Wooliams has played a great second half in the game of her year.

Back in May we saw her play a beautiful short set in the tiny Fishbowl Pub to an audience of about a dozen blokes who probably hadn’t heard of her. However, her album ‘The Bird School of Being Human‘ was released in September and since then she has garnered an array of great reviews, including a great band-of-the-day piece in The Guardian, and much airplay for the album and its lead single ‘Sparrow’. It really is one of the most original and enchanting albums of the year.

The video for the single, by Gemma’s sister, involved puppets and a lovely cranky sound helped on by producer Marcus Hamblett of The Sons of Noel and Adrian. Watch it below. New single Gull is out now and another slam-dunk classic.

Woodpecker Wooliams - Photo by Jon Southcoasting

Words and Picture by Jon Southcoasting

Brighton Music Blog Advent Calendar / Day 3 / Birdengine

Lawry Tilbury III, aka Birdengine, is a Brighton institution who’s been purveying his unique brand of gothic folk for more than five years now. His last album ‘The Crooked Mile’ is a masterpiece and essential listening. This year he’s been quietly gigging and working away at some new songs, in preparation for a much-anticipated new album in 2013. In the meantime, you should check out his website and take a look at the amazing video for the single ‘No Arms’ below.Image

Words and Picture by Jon Southcoasting

Emma Gatrill album release

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Emma Gatrill (of Laish, Sons of Noel and Adrian etc) launched her first solo album ‘Chapter One’ in the beautiful environment of the Church of Annunciation last Friday night. The quirky but holy surroundings perfectly suited Emma’s hushed yet accessibly moving harp-based songs. The album is really lovely and well worth checking out – available now from the Willkommen label http://www.willkommenrecords.co.uk/shop/releases/emma-gatrill-chapter-i

Support acts on Friday came from two local acts I had not seen before –  the Steve Aston Trio who played some beautiful jazz-based guitar in the style of Django Reinhardt (whose name I surprisingly spelled correctly at the first attempt!), and the opener who was the amazing Nick Edward Harris, who managed to play some extrordinary songs on the guitar using some impressive slapping and tapping and quite original ways of playing that instrument. Both supports are also well worth catching if you get the chance.