IMAGINED VILLAGE – Empire & Love (ECC Records ECC002)

To the opening strains of Sheema Mukerjhee’s sitar joined by Mr Carthy’s trademark guitar the Imagined Village cross fertilisation of different cultures continues apace with a clever re-interpretation of the ballad “My Son John” utilising a more chilling, modern ‘take’ on the song’s powerful anti-war stance. Building to a suitably dramatic finale of pounding rhythms and electronica the band in full flow prove a powerful force to be reckoned with. And this is only the first track of what turns out to be an innovative and exciting album. In addition to Simon Emmerson’s cittern and production credits the personnel now includes Andy Gangadeen (drums), Johnny Kalsi (percussion), Ali Friend (bass), Barney Morse Brown (cello) and Simon Richmond’s inventive use of keyboards. Now a more cohesive unit having as it were, organically grown shaken free of the confines from which they were originally formed the ten artists including amongst them the aforementioned Martin Carthy, Chris Wood and Eliza Carthy there is a certain energy that wasn’t perhaps as obvious before. Of course the texture of instrumentation helps as your senses are thrown here, there and everywhere but in a pleasing way and after a while feels more natural than you would have imagined. I’m not sure what Ewan MacColl would have made of the band’s interpretation of his song “Space Girl” but I hope that he would be looking down from on high with a wry grin as indeed I am finding the arrangements both challenging yet stimulating. For those of us of a certain age be prepared to cast off any preconceptions of what you thought this album might sound like and embrace a new age of originality. By the way, have I mentioned “Cum On Feel The Noize”?


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