2010 : Empire & Love

The Imagined Village

01 : My Son John
02 : Sweet Jane
03 : Space Girl
04 : Byker Hill
05 : Scarborough Fair
06 : Mermaid
07 : The Handweaver and the Factory Maid
08 : Lark In the Morning
09 : Rose Buds in June / Mrs Preston’s Horn Pipe
10 : Cum On Feel the Noize
11 : Scarborough Fair (String Reprise)

Download only additional tracks available on iTunes:

12 : Space Girl (demo bonus track)
13 : The Handweaver and the Factory Maid (demo bonus track)


First released in the UK 2010 by ECC Records ECC002

Personnel
Andy Gangadeen, drums
Eliza Carthy: vocals, fiddles, viola
Martin Carthy: vocals, guitar
Simon Emmerson: cittern, guitar
Simon Richmond: keyboards, electronica
Ali Friend: bass
Sheela Mukherjee: sitar, vocals
Chris Wood: vocals, fiddle, viola, guitar
Barney Morse-Brown: vocals, cello
Johnny Kalsi: percussion, dhol, tabla
with
Jackie Oates, vocals on track 8

Credits
Produced by Simon Emmerson, Simon Richmond & Andy Gangadeen
except tracks 5 & 11 produced by Simon Emmerson & Richard Evans
Main recording engineer and additional production by Mass
Additional recording engineers: Richard Evans, Oliver Knight, Geoff Webb, Sheema Mukherjee, Mark Constantine, Magnus Robb, Samuel Navel
Mixed by Richard Evans with Simon Emmerson
except tracks 1-2 mixed by Mass with Simon Richmond & Andy Gangadeen
and tracks 6 & 8 mixed by Mass with Simon Richmond

Design and illustration by Mark Higenbottam / Stylorouge

January 2010 UK tour memorabilia

Tour flyer

This ‘bath ballistic’, inspired by the song Space Girl, was produced as a limited edition by Lush cosmetics and sold on the January 2010 Imagined Village UK tour.

Bath ballistic on display at the Manchester Lush store, February 2010

Imagined Village Press Release (John Crosby, 2009)
One of the most unusual collaborations of the past decade, The Imagined Village made a significant impression with their critically acclaimed and commercially successful début album (released via Peter Gabriel’s Real World label). They toured extensively, appeared on TV’s Later…With Jools show and won out at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. If the band had initially developed as a loose collective of singers and musicians, they have subsequently consolidated into a working, growing, organic aggregation. This stability in personnel is shiningly reflected in the brand new, follow-up album, which is also their first on the new record label ECC. Titled “Empire and Love”, it is released on 11 January 2010, a few days prior to a major UK tour that will include prestigious gigs at Scotland’s Celtic Connections Festival and London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall.

How did this ‘second stage’ of The Imagined Village come about? Well, in April 2009 the band members met at Simon Emmerson’s house in remote West Dorset to discuss doing a more ”live”-sounding album, something more reflective of their stage energy. The cost of residential recording was prohibitive, so the band set about converting Simon’s garage. The sleepy village soon got used to seeing a Turbaned Sikh percussionist, a female sitar player and folk dignitaries wandering about the place. The local pub started running folk sessions, a curry night based on band recipes was established – the drummer’s fish curry being the local’s favourite. In six months the studio was built, the album finished and mixed ready for release on Simon’s new label.

“The last album took 5 years to make. This one took 6 months, including starting the label, playing the summer festivals, doing the garage conversion and keeping the village pub in business. By the end of it we no longer felt like a band but a local parish council.” – Simon Emmerson

“Empire and Love” is released on ECC, Emmerson, Corncrake and Constantine a new label conceived by a partnership between Simon Emmerson and Mark Constantine (owner of the Lush chain of shops and spas). The label is distributed by Proper.

When the project launched at WOMAD in 2007 the group walked on stage having only met at rehearsals. The band was put together to play material that had previously only been constructed in the studio – most of the musicians had actually never met each other. The resulting Autumn 2007 tour saw an amazingly ambitious live show with screens, synched-up backing tracks, midi triggers and at times over 16 people on stage including guest vocalists Billy Bragg and Sheila Chandra. This project turned into a fully-fledged live band culminating in the entire core members wanting a follow up record, and one to which they could all actively contribute. The basic concept remains the same: traditional material interpreted by a band formed not from the usual suspects and a front line of English folk musicians. This time the focus is on the band not the participation of guest singers.

“For our live shows Chris, Eliza and Martin were adamant we drop all the programmed beats and any backing tracks. This meant out with the screen, which to be honest was bankrupting our live shows… As they predicted, with more sonic space on stage and less programmed stuff going on, the band feel just got better and better. The rhythm section is based around Andy Gangadeen on Drums and Simon Richmond on live electronica (The Bays) plus Ali Friend on Bass (Red Snapper). This is one of the most exciting live rhythm sections I’ve worked with – they have amazingly sympathetic ears, so when you add Martin on Guitar you have a groove made in heaven.” – Simon Emmerson

The music on “Empire and Love” is played by Martin Carthy, Eliza Carthy, Chris Wood, Simon Emmerson, Barney Morse Brown, Sheema Mukerjhee, Johnny Kalsi, Andy Gangadeen, Ali Friend and Simon ”Palmskin” Richmond. The ‘Parish Council’ as they call themselves.

Empire & Love Press Release (John Crosby, 2009)
“Some people refer to this band as a folk super group, which makes me laugh as we only really have 3 bona fide folk musicians in a band of 10, all us would say the real stars of the group are not the individuals but the songs. What unites us all is our deep love of these amazing songs and tunes that have survived and grown, kept alive by anonymous individuals and enthusiasts who we owe everything to. They are the super group, not us.” – Simon Emmerson

Throughout 2008 material was collected and demo’d by various band members. That summer conversations continued and ideas happened during a busy festival schedule. In May 2009 the studio was ready and sessions started in earnest.

In June 2009 the band moved to Bridport Arts Centre for a week long rehearsal session culminating in two sold out nights of a set featuring the new material and some old favorites. This new set was road tested at festivals over the summer from Towersey to a sold out WOMAD at the Tower Of London where audience responses were ecstatic.

“This time we wanted to strip it all back to how they used to make records: start with writing new songs, go on the road and work them in live. Only after a full run of gigs were we going to go any where near the record button” – Simon Emmerson

“Empire and Love” includes a first band recording of concert favourite ‘Scarborough Fair’ placing Chris Wood’s vocals on a bed of guitar and sitar. It is perhaps one of the most recognizable English traditional songs, first appearing on Martin Carthy’s eponymous début album in 1965. Paul Simon learnt it from Martin when the former was touring the UK as a then-unknown American folksinger. He recorded it as one-half of Simon & Garfunkel, taking the song into millions of global bed-sits. Returning home, 44 years later, the song having by now become buried in the universal consciousness, the result is thousands of audience members singing along to the version by The Imagined Village (featuring original creator Martin Carthy) at Towersey and Cambridge Folk Festivals. A traditional, yet also very contemporary, song cycle.

Martin Carthy’s stalwart ‘Byker Hill’ slots a tricky 9/8 rhythm under this mining community elegy which, along with ‘Handweaver’, brings themes of industrialization, celebration, loss and love to the album.

‘Space Girl’ is a little known gem from Ewan Maccoll’s pen and concerns relations between humankind and robots – a potential miscegenation scenario which the BNP have yet to warn us about.

‘My Son John” takes a Napoleonic War song from Martin’s repertoire and rolls it right into the 21st Century as carriers return from Afghanistan with their damaged human cargo. Bringing the harvest home.

Guest singer Jackie Oates takes ‘Lark In The Morning’ to a higher level as a duet with Eliza Carthy re-working the original with twitching electronica from new member Simon Richmond and bird sounds recorded by Mark Constantines Sound Approach Company to which Simon Emmerson is closely attached.

Illustrating the bands new collaborative writing skills ‘Sweet Jane’ takes a top line sitar melody from Sheema which emerged on the first day of the rehearsal in Bridport and blends it into Sweet Jayne, an adaptation of a Chris Wood song. In many ways this shows how quickly and effortless the band have come to respond and adapt to each others ideas, as within hours the song was written and played at that nights gig.

‘Hornpipe’ and ‘Mermaid’ are both much more ambitious tracks where the band fully kicks into gear making the material their own and, in the former, allowing Eliza Carthy to once more bring her vocal pipes to bear in a lusty performance.Sitting round the campfire on a Forest School May Day Folk camp often brings out strange ideas – this is exactly where Simon first heard this version of Slade’s ‘Cum On Feel The Noiz’. It was suggested it would be great to hear Martin Carthy sing it, and so this cover was born, bringing out the poignancy of the lyric as only Martin can. You’ll never listen to the song in the same way again.

“Empire and Love” is the sound of a band moving confidently into the second stage of its career.

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