Kate Tempest Releases New Version of Her Song “Holy Elixir” Called “Unholy Elixir”

English rapper and spoken-word artist, Kate Tempest, dropped her new single, “Unholy Elixir,” on Jan. 27. This new song is a reworking of her song “Holy Elixir,” which was featured on her third studio album, Book of Traps and Lessons.  

This is “Unholy Elixir,” said Tempest. “After a year of touring, we discovered new things about the song, and wanted to make a version that reflected those discoveries.”

From the first few seconds, it is evident the new single is superior to her previously released version of the song. The synth and buzzing sound added to the track gives a full feeling for the song, and the shallow yet powerful beats set the tone of the song.

The newly added synth and reproduced beats give an entirely new feel to the lyrics of the song, and the animated video made for the song visually impacts the music. To watch the animation of the city set on fire, and the humans transforming into bird-like humanoids was very visually pleasing.

“We are divisions of a bigger vision,” Tempest poetically raps. “And yet we run around like hamsters, spinning the wheel, spinning the wheel, spinning the wheel.

The song ends with a creepy synth, completed by a classic beat. As the song fades out, it leaves the listener wondering when she will be releasing her next.

Last year in October Tempest released an animated music video for her song “People’s Faces.” The track highlights the singer’s political themes and discusses the pain and agony of those whom are directly facing poverty and oppression.

Tempest is set to play on Feb. 18, at the Melbourne Recital Centre, in Melbourne, AUS. There has been no information released on a possible upcoming album.

Photo credit: Stephen Hoffmeister

Source: Kate Tempest Releases New Version of Her Song “Holy Elixir” Called “Unholy Elixir” –

Robert Burns: Scots Are Right to Revere Their National Poet

The Scots are right to revere their national poet.

It was bizarre. The deafening bagpipes ceased as an actor — wasn’t he in Braveheart? — began frantically stabbing what looked like a pillow encased in plastic. Its gray gut spilled out, and the thespian, dressed in a tartan skirt and woolly socks, made terrifying noises, very occasionally spitting out a phrase or two in English (something about “gushing entrails”). As if this weren’t unnerving enough, the stage prop — a “haggis” — turned out to be edible: dinner, in fact, served alongside mushed turnips and mashed potatoes. . . . This is how I imagined the uninitiated to be experiencing the evening.

Complete with complimentary glasses of Aberlour whisky (too much of the honey-colored one and you’ll knock yourself out), a live cèilidh band, and — yes — the guy from Braveheart, Burns Night at the Harvard Club was just one of countless suppers happening around the world to commemorate the life and work of Scotland’s national poet. To nonnatives, perhaps it seems ridiculous, but it’s not.

Robert Burns was born on January 25, 1759, in Ayrshire and died in 1796 in Dumfries. He was the son of a farmer, and his formal education was limited. He grew up reading Shakespeare, Milton, and Dryden and listening to Scottish folklore. A Romantic and a revolutionary, Burns won many enemies as well as friends in his lifetime. His poetry exhibited extraordinary range and depth, from biting political satire to the heartfelt sincerity of country folk.

For anyone growing up in Scotland, it’s impossible to avoid Burns. At elementary school, there were yearly competitions for those able to memorize his poems and sing his tunes by heart. And in the English department at the University of St Andrews, I studied under the tutelage of his biographer Robert Crawford. Which is why it seems to me as though one evening a year of Burns only scratches the surface.

As with all Scots, Burns’s sensibilities were informed by the landscapes he grew up in. He was a Romantic, so he revered the natural world. He was also extremely class-conscious, always siding with the underdog. This is evident even in his rustic and rural poems. Like To a Mouse (more on that here), written in the Scots dialect in which a ploughman who accidentally turns up a mouse’s nest experiences pity for the “wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie,” prompting him to contemplate “nature’s social union,” i.e., mortality:

But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,

An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
[Emphasis added]

(American readers will of course recognize the emphasized lines from John Steinbeck’s novel of the same name.)

Burns was a songwriter as well as a poet. Which is hardly surprising given the innate lyricism of his verses. His “Auld Lang Syne” is the most sung song in the English language other than “Happy Birthday.” In the years before his death, he collected and wrote the lyrics to traditional Scottish airs, many of which can be found in two collections: Johnson’s The Scots Musical Museum (1787–1803) and the first five volumes of Thomson’s A Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs for the Voice (1793–1818). My personal favorite is A Red, Red Rose.”

O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.

This also happens to be the favorite of Bob Dylan, who cited the poem as having had the greatest influence of any work on his own songwriting. Though he wrote well about love, Burns himself was a cruel and faithless lover. So much so that in recent years he’s come under (anachronistic) fire from the Me Too movement.

Burns was a deeply political thinker. His “Scots Wha Hae” [Scots Who Have] served as Scotland’s unofficial national anthem for years and stands as a defiant statement against English tyranny. After William Wallace led the Scots to an incredible victory at the battle of Stirling Bridge, he was eventually captured and excruciatingly executed. The king of England, Edward I, then abolished the kingdom of Scotland in 1305. But the Scots had other ideas. Undeterred, they crowned Robert Bruce king of Scotland in 1307, who then led them into the battle of Bannockburn:

By oppression’s woes and pains!
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!

Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty’s in every blow!—
Let us do or die!

Burns initially sent the song to his publisher, George Thomas, at the end of August 1793, with the title “Robert Bruce’s March to Bannockburn,” and attributing it to Bruce’s “glorious struggle for Freedom, associated with the glowing ideas of some other struggles of the same nature, not quite so ancient.” This is thought by interpreters to be a covert expression of his sympathies for the French Revolution.

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