Scottish underground folk artist Alex Neilson has confirmed plans for new solo album ‘Otterburn’
The Glasgow based songwriter is one of the driving forces behind Trembling Bells, but returns to his Alex Rex moniker for this second solo LP.
‘Otterburn’ will be released on March 29th (pre-order LINK), with Alex set to embark on a solo tour this Spring.
New song ‘Master’ is online, with Alex Neilson describing it as “a letter from an exiled submissive to his darling dom. The language is that of cruelty, emotional sleight-of-hand, fetishized regret and haunted accusation. I wanted it to sound like the aural equivalent of a Victorian medical device.”
The full video is online now, and it’s full of intrigue and mystery. He continues:
“The video is presented as a series of postcards from an unspecified love triangle. The relationships unknown and melancholy. It is set in the past and future simultaneously – a future that is already ruined. It was photographed by Tom Chick in Kirkstall Abbey, The Abbey pub, Leeds & Liverpool canal, Harrogate Valley Gardens and my grandad’s house.”
Catch Alex Rex at the following shows:
2 Glasgow Blue Arrow
3 Edinburgh Sneaky Pete’s
6 Bristol The Cube
7 Bath The Bell
8 Leicester The Musician
9 Brighton The Rose Hill
10 London SET
11 Birmingham Hare & Hounds
13 Todmorden Golden Lion
14 Sheffield Bishop’s House
When Alex Neilson was a teenager in Leeds, his musical comfort zone was in the city’s DIY scene – specifically its more improv-based, experimental noise corners. To the young man sporting homemade t-shirts of the free jazz pioneer Albert Ayler, the idea of folk music, with its austerity and cosy certainties, was not on the agenda. Until Neilson had an epiphany.“
There was a bunch of progressive weirdos doing skull splitting drone music that really helped forge/warp my tastes” Neilson told me, “Around a similar time I came across traditional British folk music and that became an alternative way of experiencing British culture- one that was romantic and elemental and connected to the underlying mystery of places that were very precious to me.”
For the last decade now, Neilson’s group Trembling Bells have been quietly reinventing what it means to be influenced by folk music, and as they release their sixth record ‘Dungeness’, it’s clear that Trembling Bells have now found themselves amidst a small blossoming resurgence in the aesthetics and ideas of the acid folk moment of the late 60s and early 70s.The acid folk moment was the point at which traditional British folk music, which had been thriving in the hundreds of folk clubs across Britain in the late 50s and 60s, rubbed up against the mid-60s burgeoning psychedelia (and in some cases jazz). This spawned some of the most incredible British music of its generation, in unique acts like Pentangle, the Incredible String Band, Mellow Candle, Trees and early Fairport Convention. Continue reading →
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 →
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.