FALSE LIGHTS – Harmonograph (Wreckord Label FL003)

HarmonographThe second crop of fruit from the joint project between Sam Carter and Jim Moray brings in Stuart Provan on drums and adds Archie Churchill-Moss’s melodeon to Tom Moore’s violin with Barnaby Stradling on bass.

As with their Salvor debut, it’s rooted in traditional folk songs given a contemporary and often off-kilter treatment with contemporary resonance, case in point being album opener ‘Babylon’ which, opening with a radio broadcast sample, takes the shapenote hymn by the scruff of its neck and lurches into a driving rock drum beat bulked up with electric guitars and brass, the “Babylon’s falling” chorus refrain chiming with its described reaction to current British and US politics.

The drums and guitar solo may lean to the heavier side of folk rock, but there remains a definite traditional air to the 19th century transportation ballad, ‘Black Velvet Band’, set to a new, moody and slow-paced six minute plus tune by Moray that’s a far cry from the familiar rousing Dubliners’ version, the verse melody leeching off the similarly-themed ‘The Whitby Lad’.

The Roud collection also provides the source for ‘William Glenn’, Carter taking nasally lead on a nautical tale of mutiny, superstition and the crew casting overboard the captain they deemed responsible for the storms, a rousing, urgent shanty-founded interpretation learned from Nic Jones with the addition of new lines based on Tony Rose’s version as ‘Sir William Gower’.

Written by Moore, ‘The Ombudsman’ provides an instrumental break, violin naturally to the fore over a dampened bass drum thump, the initial nervy African-textured guitar work giving way to fierce, almost prog-folk riffs, the fury subsiding for the leaving song ‘Far In Distant Lands’, another shapenote hymnal, taken from The Southern Harmony 1854 as ‘328 Missionary Farewell’, it’s timely echoes of the migrant crisis delivered over a wheezing drone and a tinkling repeated keys pattern, building to a climax with wind effects before its final ebbing way.

It’s back to sea for the album’s lengthiest number, ‘Captain Kidd’, the Roud broadside about the legendary alleged pirate who was executed in politically controversial circumstances in 1701, the tune based on ‘159 Wondrous Love’ from The Sacred Harp, starting out in acoustic mode with Moray’s vocals accompanied by fiddle and drone before erupting around the two minute mark into steady-paced but full-blooded electric folk rock.

Another folk standard ballad, ‘Murder In The Red Barn’, the Suffolk-set true story of how Maria Marten was shot dead by her lover William Corder who was subsequently tracked down, found guilty and hung in 1828, events also giving rise to a popular melodrama and something of a local tourist industry, with even part of Corder’s scalp, ear attached, being displayed in Oxford Street. Unusually sung from Corder’s viewpoint, it’s set to a folk rock combination of ‘129 Heavenly Amor’ and ‘146 Hallelujah’, two tunes by shapenote composer William Walker that appear in The Sacred Harp, and featuring an almost Byrdsian jangling guitar solo. A fine companion piece to ‘The Murder Of Maria Marten’ recorded in 1971 by Shirley Collins and The Albion Band.

Featuring in both the Child and Roud collections, ‘Serving Man Become A Queen’ gets a sweeping rework, barreling along on both a newly written Moray tune and a borrowing from The New York Trader as it moves from high velocity drums-driven urgency to a slower passages with a brief touch of almost Bach organ.

The penultimate track and another nautical tale, here about one of three Scottish brothers who turned to piracy to support himself and his siblings, ‘Henry Martin’ begins with clattering African-styled percussion from Laurence Hung before Provan’s drums and glowering electric guitar take control, the number venturing into almost improvisational jazz rock territory towards the end. It ends in suitably jaunty form with melodeon akimbo and fiddle surging for ‘Drink Old England Dry’, a song originally written in response to Napoleon’s boastful threats to invade and drink the country dry, the French subsequently variously substituted by the Germans and Russians, but here reworked to tone down any pro-Brexit sentiments with Moray and Carter trading the new verses and joining together on the suitably rowdy, glasses raised chorus.

Invented in 1844 by Scottish mathematician Hugh Blackburn, a harmonograph is a mechanical device that uses two balanced swinging pendulums to draw geometric pictures, two different but equal forces working in perfect harmony to create a complex whole. What better metaphor for the musical symbiosis of False Lights could you ask!

Mike Davies

If you would like to order a copy of an album (in CD or Vinyl format), download one or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website.

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Artists’ website: www.falselights.co.uk

‘William Glenn’ – official video:

English Folk Dance and Song Society awards funding for new music

Creative Bursary

Seven projects will create new music rooted in the English folk tradition following the latest round of funding awards by England’s national development agency for the folk arts.

The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) has made four awards under its 2017 Creative Bursary scheme and three through its Creative Seed Funding programme.

Both initiatives are funded through the PRS for Music Foundation Talent Development Partner scheme. They come under the umbrella of EFDSS’ Artists’ Development Programme, which provides professional development support, both creative and business, to artists at all levels of their career.

Katy Spicer, EFDSS Chief Executive and Artistic Director, said: “All the successful applications are rooted in the folk arts but will bring a fresh take on their subject matter.

“By its very nature, folk music has always evolved and reflected the issues of its generation and these awards will help to develop some very innovative and relevant proposals. We look forward to supporting and working with the artists as their ideas take shape.

“Our bursary and funding schemes are designed to kickstart projects, giving the recipients time to bring their ideas to life. A great example is Sam Sweeney’s Made in the Great War music and storytelling project which began thanks to an EFDSS Creative Bursary.”

The Creative Bursary scheme invited applications from more established artists for an award of up to £2,000 to support creative research and development, together with use of rehearsal space at Cecil Sharp House and access to the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. They have been made to:

·       Alex Vann (Spiro) to create an instrumental concert trio using traditional English tunes as the basis for improvisation where each performance is one piece of improvised music using traditional tunes as the cornerstones

·       Tom Moore and Archie Churchill-Moss (Moore Moss Rutter) to develop and produce an album of new art-music based compositions and devised improvisations with their roots in local English folk tune traditions

·       Alma (John Dipper, Emily Askew & Adrian Lever) and Nick Hennessey to devise a new multi media experience including lighting, data projectors and other technology to enhance the performance and build bridges between inherited traditions and modern media experiences

·       Fiddler Rowan Piggott to explore traditional and contemporary folk songs highlighting the decline and environmental threats to our native honeybee and bumblebees.

The Creative Seed Funding Programme was open to emerging artists and involves a £750 bursary to research and develop new work linked to the English folk arts. The awards have been made to:

·       Emily Mae Winters to research, record and tour new songs dealing with modern socio-political issues including the movement of people, feminism, fake news, global warming, war and social media

·       Heg Brignall (Heg & The Wolf Chorus) to research new material based on modern day myths or myths and legends that have found their way back into our culture, leading to a single/EP release and finished studio album in 2018

·       India Electric Company to research, write, record and release the second in a series of releases for 2017 with the theme of country and the city on a six track EP/album.

More information: https://www.efdss.org

Moore Moss Rutter – new album out now

Moore Moss Rutter 2

A series of remarkable, intimate preview gigs has heightened the sense of anticipation around the reunion of Jack Rutter (Seth Lakeman Band), Tom Moore (False Lights) and Archie Churchill-Moss (Beyond the Marches) in the trio that won them the 2011 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award. The intervening years have seen them play with some of the biggest and best acts in English folk music, and in 2015 they reconvene to release the follow-up to their acclaimed, eponymous debut album.

Widely regarded as three of the best players of traditional folk amongst a precociously gifted generation, their finely-crafted arrangements wield a rare potency. II is the culmination of everything they have been striving for, a documentation of their music-making. The result of four solid years of graft, of touring, of performing, and most importantly, of growing in the tradition. It features ancient traditional material from Britain as well as newly composed tunes and songs. II focuses on their own movements from the countryside to large cities, and the contrasts that come into play, liberally sprinkled with the sound of modern electroacoustic grit. This album has as much to do with contemporary music as it does with folk or baroque. Produced by Andy Bell, the record was made in Sheffield in December 2014.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (in CD or Vinyl format), download one or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website.

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artists’ website: http://www.mooremossrutter.co.uk/mmr/Home.html