Lisa Hannigan has done a great deal in the past decade. Having begun her career providing vocal support to Damien Rice, she struck out on her own in 2008. She forged relationships with other musicians and branched out into voice acting, including a key role in the Oscar-nominated Song of the Sea and an ongoing part in Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe. She moved from Ireland to London and then, happily, back to Dublin. She also got married. Most notable, however, are her three solo albums; the Mercury and Choice-nominated Sea Sew (2008), the Choice-nominated Passenger (2011) and At Swim (2016), a record preceded by writer’s block, imbued with homesickness and produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner [ . . . ]
The musician celebrates the 50th anniversary of Morrison’s Astral Weeks with a reimagining that draws out its latent jazz energy
I remember as a kid regularly going into the West End and spending all of my money on records – so much so that I wouldn’t have my bus fare home. I had a nice hi-fi system so all the local kids would come round to hear the latest albums. It was a ritual: we would sit on the sofa and play the whole thing. We’d want to know what the album was saying and we’d take it all in, from the liner notes to the artwork.
Astral Weeks wasone of those albums that had been floating around my mind in bits and pieces for years. I’d heard odd tracks, like Madame George or Cyprus Avenue, but I’d never sat down and heard it in its entirety. That was until two years ago when a friend, Colm Carty, approached me with the idea to do a whole concert of Astral Weeks. I went away and immersed myself in the record for about a month. I’m a late-night person, so I would come home after a gig at around 3am when the adrenaline was still firing, I’d stick it on and I really started getting into it.
There was a freshness. It felt like Van Morrison could’ve recorded it yesterday, even though this year marks its 50th anniversary. When something is good, it works at any time. I was fascinated by the background of the musicians – jazz artists like the drummer Connie Kay, who came from the improvisational Modern Jazz Quartet – and I liked this idea of music coming from people you wouldn’t normally associate with that genre [ . . . ]
A few more rabbits just moved into “Watership Down.” Rosamund Pike, Peter Capaldi, Gemma Chan, and Taron Egerton are all lending their voices to BBC and Netflix’s upcoming adaptation of Richard Adams’ enduring novel, which was previously made into a notoriously upsetting movie in 1978. The four new cast members are joining the previously announced James McAvoy, Daniel Kaluuya, Nicholas Hoult, Ben Kingsley, John Boyega, Gemma Arterton, Olivia Colman, and Tom Wilkinson; also involved is Sam Smith, who’s performing an original song called “Fire to Fire” for the soundtrack [ . . . ]
Ever since the Forrest family pet unexpectedly entered the food chain in Fatal Attraction, and Frank the mercury-faced leporid walked into Donnie Darko’s waking dreams, rabbits have been officially nibbling around the edges of the horror genre. Right now, they’re at 46th place in the freakiness rankings, sandwiched between abandoned rocking chairs and wind-up music boxes (well below the likes of staring twins and evil clowns). But if there was a moment when the placid little critters first extended their range beyond merely cute, I like to think I was there, and wailing in raw, unfiltered, primal terror.
That reaction was probably wasn’t what Richard Adams had in mind when he wrote Watership Down in 1972, his homily to the timeless rhythms of rural England. I doubt Martin Rosen and John Hubley, directors of the 1978 film version, wanted to scare the bejesus out of their young audience either. But one small section – the apocalyptic vision that leads skittish rabbit seer Fiver to encourage his warren mates to abandon their burrows – was far too vivid. Fiver sniffs around, a whisper of terror in the air: a fencepost rears up like a gallows; a cigarette singes the lush green. Then he sees it: blood blotting a vast field, threatening to engulf them all. Skeletal tree outlines crack like veins through the insanguinated sods. Their branches twist and undulate with queasy malice [ . . . ]