The Imagined Village
01 : The Captain’s Apprentice
02 : New York Trader
03 : Wintersinging
04 : The Guvna
05 : Sick Old Man
06 : Nest
07 : Fisherman
08 : Get Kalsi
09 : Washing Song
10 : Bending The Dark
First released in the UK 14 May 2012 by ECC Records ECC006
1 : Winter Singing2 : Washing Song (Red Snapper remix)
1 : Bending The Dark
Recorded live at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, 25 May 2012.
NMC press release: Composer Sheema Mukherjee’s piece Bending The Dark has been written from the point of view of a second-generation immigrant tracing the path of the Indian diaspora across continents. It is performed by The Imagined Village, a band that unites some of England’s finest traditional musicians alongside leading figures on the UK Asian and alternative, electronica music scene.
New Music 20×12 is the brainchild of Jillian Barker and David Cohen who wanted to put new music at the heart of the Olympic celebrations in 2012. It is delivered by PRS for Music Foundation in partnership with BBC Radio 3, London 20×12 and NMC Recordings. For a full list of funding partners click here.
20 outstanding new works, each lasting 12 minutes, commissioned to feature centre stage of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. New Music 20×12 is a UK-wide commissioning programme consisting of twenty new pieces of music, each of 12 minutes in length, celebrating the talent and imagination of the UK’s musical community as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
Over the next 12 months you will be able to enjoy performances of these 20 new works in a wide range of venues and unexpected locations across the length and breadth of the UK – from churches, arts centres and concert halls to public spaces, festivals and a train journey. Each piece will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and available to purchase as mp3/FLAC download from NMC.
Visit our New Music 20×12 Project Page for more information about the twenty works.
Chris Wood: guitar on New York Trader/fiddle on The Guvna; Mawkin, Steve Knightley & Jim Causley: backing vocals on Winter Singing; Saul Rose: melodeon on Washing Song; Ged Lynch: additional percussion; Kick Horns: horns on New York Trader & Fisherman; Simon Clarke: arranger on New York Trader/alto and baritone saxophone/piccolo; Tim Saunders: arranger on Fisherman/tenor saxophone; David Liddell: trombone; Ryan Quigley & Darren Wiles: trumpets; Richard Henry: bass trombone
01 : trad. arr. Jackie Oates/Kathryn Roberts
02 : trad. arr. Eliza Carthy/Simon Richmond/Ali Friend
03 : Simon Emmerson/Simon Richmond/Jackie Oates
04 : Ali Friend/Sheema Mukherjee/Simon Richmond
05 : Simon Emmerson/Eliza Carthy/Simon Richmond
06 : Simon Emmerson/Eliza Carthy/Jackie Oates
07 : Eliza Carthy/Ali Friend/Simon Richmond
08 : Simon Emmerson/Barney Morse-Brown/Sheema Mukherjee/Johnny Kalsi/Ali Friend/Simon Richmond
09 : trad. arr. Eliza Carthy/Simon Richmond/Ali Friend/Saul Rose
10 : Sheema Mukherjee/Andy Gangadeen/Eliza Carthy
Recorded at Corncrate Studios, West Dorset; The Dug Out, Hampshire; The Labour Exchange, Bath; The Live Room, London; Panda Sounds, Robin Hoods Bay; Heath Studio, Surrey; Sea Bass Studios, London; The Strongroom, London; Pacific East Studios, London.
Main recording engineers: Richard Evans, Oliver Knight, Paul Grady, Mass, Simon Richmond.
Mixed by Paul Grady with Simon Emmerson and Simon Richmond.
Produced by Simon Emmerson and Simon Richmond (except track 10: produced by Sheema Mukherjee)
Press Release / Promo Videos:
The Imagined Village, Bending The Dark, ECC 006. Band Press Statement February 2012
Bending the Dark, as a title doesn’t refer to trendy new Physics, deviant sexual practices or even Lord of the Rings wizardry, it’s really very simple:
“It doesn’t matter how bad things are if you pull together you can turn the situation around and come out of the darkness stronger and more confident.”
BTD is an album about group survival.
The Imagined Village are:
Eliza Carthy (fiddle, vocals) EC; Martin Carthy (guitar, vocals) MC; Simon
Emmerson (guitars, cittern) SE; Ali Friend (bass, vocals) AF; Andy
Gangadeen (drums) AG; Johnny Kalsi (dhol, tabla, percussion) JK; Barney
Morse Brown (cello, vocals) BMB; Sheema Mukherjee (sitar, vocals) SM;
Jackie Oates (fiddle, vocals) JO; Simon Richmond (keyboards, electronics,
This is the band written press statement.
Around the time of writing material for the 2nd album Chris Wood kept saying ‘if the band’s going to survive we cant keep covering material from the Martin Carthy song book” a sentiment Martin shared.
MC: ‘The Imagined Village was an experiment started back in 2004 to see if trad and non trad musicians could work together on what was largely my back catalogue, something I was only to happy to go along with but what really interested me was how we’d progress from this”
With this in mind we came off the road in 2010 hoping to embark on a period of writing fresh, original material or interpretations of trad songs not normally covered within Martin’s repertoire.
EC “It was apparent that if the band was to move on we had to write a new body of songs based on our skills as lyricist and composers embracing contemporary issues as well as reflecting an English musical identity .”
SE “Our intention was a series of writing sessions followed by live dates enabling us to work the songs into our live performances then go back into a studio and record what we had. We really wanted the album to sound as live as possible”
Norma Waterson’s heath issues late 2010 interrupted this strategy; Martin was not able to do the proposed tour. We had 2 choices: cancel the tour or continue and use any profits to help support the family in times of need. We chose the 2nd option. The final gig of the tour was on the 1st March 2011 in London at Cecil Sharpe House and we closed the tour and set with a live mobile phone link-up to Martin in Robin Hoods Bay, where he told the assembled crowd back at the London venue that Norma was on the road to recovery and he’d be back in the band as soon as he had learnt the new material, which, he added, all sounded very good down the phone. Following the tour Chris Wood decided to take the rest of the year as a sabbatical to concentrate on his own writing. Which was fine but then we experienced another major set back. Mass, who SE has used as an engineer, mixer and co-producer since the 2nd Afro Celt album back in
1999, was suddenly unable to continue working on the album due to his father’s illness. Again we were a key player down, so the two Simons had to step up and fill in for Mass, adding engineering duties to writing, producing and performing. We continued regardless with the recording, revising and refining a body of over 20 potential songs. The rhythm section was ready to record in the Strong Room studios, London in October 2011 and January 2012 with our new engineer Paul Grady, from Doncaster, who completed the project as the mixing engineer.
SR: “Martin eventually came to our studio in December 2011 and we all felt the band sound was complete again. It was great to have him back.”
The mixing was complete early February 2012.
SE ‘As a band we feel we’ve come through tough times but just through dogged perseverance and the simple joy of playing together we’ve achieved what we set out to do when we came off the Empire and Love Tour January 2010: make a recording that reflects both the fun and energy we generate as a live unit, plus our respective skills, eccentricities and unique identities as song writers, arrangers and musicians. We’ve never felt more united as a band and we hope this comes across on the album’
1 Captain’s Apprentice – SR was at a JO’s gig during early stages of writing material for the album:
SR “Jackie sang the CA and I instantly felt it could be connected to NYT as a spooky intro to an equally ghostly story all about murder at sea. She learnt the song from the singing of Kathryn Roberts. At the same gig, Jackie performed a series of Cornish dance instrumentals which later became the basis for Winter Singing”
2 New York Trader – SR: “ NYT is a proper example of a tune’s development process through band input. I wrote the original 5/4 track – it was a slow and gentle piece based around a guitar figure and chilled
beats. EC heard this and suggested the trad song ‘New York Trader’ would fit perfectly as it’s also in 5/4. She then sang it in 4/4. AG and AF came to do the rhythm track and took it into the double-time, 10/8 feel. Simple, really…”
So now you know. We then took the whole arrangement to our pre-tour rehearsals where the strings and fiddle riffs were worked out. NYT is a great example of us developing an arrangement to support the narrative of the lyric – in this case a harrowing ghost story based on the old superstition that a ship is cursed if its captain has committed murder.
Right from the moment the tune went up-tempo, SE wanted to try brass on it, so called up his old mates from the Kick Horns, who he had worked with whilst producing Baaba Maal and Femi Kuti. This was the final session of the album, days before they started mixing. We used to start our live set with CA and NYT as a perfect opener, introducing to our audience our new singer JO.
3 Wintersinging – JO played the fiddle motif based on a Cornish 5/4 dance known as a Kabm Pemp. SR wrote a backing track around it and the 2 Simons wrote a chorus and lyric about celebrating solidarity at a period of darkness and not letting hard times overcome our spirit. The lyric seemed to fit the times and what the band was going through.
SE: “We were holed up in our West Dorset Studio, winter was closing in and people were taking to the streets across Europe as the recession was deepening”.
The song was originally a fairly full-on electronic arrangement with a Drum and Bass feel. AG insisted on trying out a lighter, gentler feel for the drums, and this approach of using the programmed beats to inspire and eventually be replaced by live performance became a kind of template for the album.
SR: “It was like starting with a re-mix and then creating the original song after.”
Eliza wanted more blokes singing on the chorus to give it weight and stop it sounding ‘too hippy dippy’, so we got in the lads from the Essex band Mawkin who aren’t hippish by any stretch of the imagination, plus Steve Knightley and Jim Causley who just happened to be in the studio on that day working with Mawkin. An anthemic chorus was born. The band performed the track on the Radio 2 2day live session from Maida Vale in June 2011.
4 The Guvna – AF brought the demo to the studio with the feel and vibe all there from the off and the band fell in love with its nod towards eccentric English TV scores, the mighty Jerry Dammers and the days of Delia Derbyshire and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. SR added what has come to be known in the band rather alarmingly as the “Supertramp” middle key board breakdown, and sampled AF’s guide vocal ideas for a melody – creating an Alivox synth sound layered with a Theremin. AG added rhythmic loops, SR brought a bit of Bays-style dub trickery, and by the time the piece was ready for studio recording, SE had refined all the ska and rock-steady guitars into place, something he will openly admit is closer to his own roots than English trad. The spelling of the The Guvna was taken by AF from the Urban Dictionary:
“A mysterious group of prophetic gentlemen that hide in the shadows and wait for unsuspecting older women”
some thing he could identify with. It is also the only track we are aware off that has inspired a charcoal based underarm deodorant powder called “The Guv’nor” designed by Simon E’s bird watching companion, record label partner, Lush founder and radical perfumer Mark Constantine. The band are proud to stand in a line of song/deodorant collaborations going back to ‘Smells Like Tean Spirit’ by Nirvana. Free samples will be available on request.
5 Sick Old Man – Originally a guitar-based backing with a dub step feel written by SE, it was always intended to cover ground not usually heard in conventional folk composition – the bluesy crushed notes and more open 9ths were an attempt to move away from the open C tuning that both Chris Wood and Martin use, and get into some weirder chord shapes. EC wrote the allegorical lyrics based around the trad piece “Raggle Taggle Gypsies” but took the song into the 21st century, with its tale of England’s squandered resources and growing intolerance of immigrants. SR programmed a Drum and Bass feel for the track before the piece went through a series of rhythmic developments. In rehearsal for live performance the tune finally settled into its present arrangement.
6 Nest – SR wrote the music. SR and SE started to write a lyric about parental paranoia and the Internet but it didn’t seem to work. The piece sat in limbo for a while. Chris Wood had a go but didn’t succeed. The music was waiting for the right moment and feel – hence EC nailing it in November 2011 during an album recording session at the studio of her cousin, Olly Knight. It was at his studio in Robin Hoods Bay, place of the Carthy family enclave, that MC walked in from doing the washing up at his house next door, laid down a perfect vocal, and went home across the road again to finish the dishes. Later on in Dorset, MC would bring haunting guitars to the piece as well. BMB played a sublime cello solo late in the day at a session in Bath to record JO’s final vocals.
7 Fisherman – SR wrote the music, with a working title of “Something Brassy about the North”. Naturally he turned to EC with her deep, northern heritage, to come up with a suitable lyric. She instead wrote a
song about the protest movement and occupation of St Paul’s Cathedral – not 5 miles from SR’s London home. The lyrics address the general absence of non-material, altruistic – spiritual, even – leadership in the present day. EC’s stunning chorus harmonies are complemented by the brass arrangement giving it the expansive filmic quality of York’s most famous son John Barry – born, as it happens, just down the road from Eliza.
8 Get Kalsi – SE approached JK for some percussion ideas for an Imagined Village Bhangra style track. JK sent over some of his tabla and dhol recordings and SR built these into a groove around a synth pattern. AG and AF fleshed it out into the break beat/drum and bass feel it now has. Whilst recording the plucked fiddle riffs at CW’s studio SE wrote the top line as a tribute to one of his favorite genres of traditional music: the English film score. It just happened to be the 40th anniversary of Get Carter, a film often identified by Roy Budd’s distinctive tabla, electric piano and harpsichord theme tune. SM wrote the introduction’s bravura musical flourish, bringing the whole Anglo/Asian feel of the piece into focus. Another tune that got it’s 1st radio airing on the Radio 2 2day live Maida Vale session in June 2011 prompting a huge amount of public feed back and interest.
9 Washing Song – Originally a purely trad song that had caught AG’s ears during sound checks, and that EC brought to the studio as an arrangement for fiddle, accordion and vox. It didn’t seem to quite sit as a piece on an IV album, so at a recording session late in the album’s development, AG suggested there might be a way to re-think the song. SR and AF worked on re-voicing and re-writing the song’s chordal and bass harmonies. The result creates a powerful contrast as the tune moves from the opening feel of Saul Rose’s accordion and Eliza’s fiddle into the warmth of the double bass and piano underneath the vocals.
10 Bending The Dark – SM’s PRS 20/12 Olympic Commission. The title came from a typo; the original was ‘Bending the Da’, the Da being the 6th note in the Indian Scale. But like all good mistakes it stuck. An epic written and conceived by SM – the rest of us did what we could do to be equal to the task of getting the piece completed. The two key hushed moments of
the piece focus on MC’s playing of a trad figure transposed into a very untrad key Sheema found buried in the mix of a rejected album instrumental. She had heard MC play the tune in sound checks and had always wanted to use it to kick-start a bigger composition. AG took the final drum section away from the arena of ‘world music’ and evoked the teen beat don Sandy Nelson, not to mention the swing era big band feel of Louis Prima and Gene Krupa. The dramatic drum battle between AG and JK was one of the most lively and exciting moments in the recording session in London’s Strongroom studio.
Produced, written and arranged primarily by SM, the tune, in all its different twists and turns, provides a showcase for many of the different elements of The Imagined Village. The band felt this was a fitting piece to become the album’s title track.
Produced by Simon ‘Palmskin’ Richmond and Simon Emmerson with band input. Apart from BTD, produced by Sheema Mukherjee.
Album written, arranged and performed by The Imagined Village
Mixed by Paul Grady with the 2 Simons
Out on ECC Records, May 14th followed by a UK tour and summer festival dates.
Electronic Press Kit
Rob O’Connor Press shot
May 2012 UK tour memorabilia