Trembling Bells have never been concerned with keeping with the times. Instead of angsty modern themes, they deal with gigantic archetypal forms like love and death, their clattering folk rock writ large in primary colours of bold, crashing chord progressions and songs studded with references to mainstream poets like Dylan Thomas.
They’re anachronistic, but not in a shallow way. Far from the psychedelic folk revivalists they’re often portrayed as, they’re much more redolent of a classicist impulse informed by lead songwriter Alex Neilson’s love for Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, which has in the past made for some potently emotive, sky-punchingly romantic music. Their last album, 2015’s The Sovereign Self made gestures toward more conventionally progadelic moves and scaled back on the impassioned folk tonalities, and that approach still holds some sway over Dungeness. However, while they perhaps aren’t producing skyscraping bangers in the vein of ‘Goathland’ and ‘Willows of Carbeth’ at the rate they once were, this album claws back much of the wonkiness that initially made them so unique. Continue reading
It took almost 40 years for Shirley Collins to recover her voice, and with it her identity. After realising that her second husband, fellow musician Ashley Hutchings, was cheating on her – an actress wore his jumper to one of their concerts – the folk singer was struck by dysphonia, and could no longer sing. Continue reading
Seems like we’re only a few days into 2018 and we’ve already had some brilliant new tracks. Here’s another one, maybe the best. Trembling Bells return with ‘Christ’s Entry Into Govan, a Leige & Leif slice of freak folk, that has this startlingly brilliant arrangement, full of intricate guitars and lovely harmonies, but it’s so packed full of ideas and melody that its staggering. And if that wasn’t enough, it winds up into a wild, folk wig out to close.
The influences that seeped into oth the track and the forthcoming album Dungeness are perhaps not what you’d expect. “I’ve never studied music for fear it would kill my interest, or at least railroad my sense of what was creatively possible” says the bands Alex Neilson, which perhaps explains the beautifully elusive metaphors he uses when describing his own music. “Instead, my musical activity has always been nourished by an interest in other things” “Christ’s Entry Into Govan” was inspired by Flemish Expressionist James Ensor’s painting Christ’s Entry Into Brussels.