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.
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.
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.