Available today in the Ghost Box guest shop, this remarkable collaborative LP by Alasdair Roberts and James Green (of Big Eyes Family Players ), on Clay Pipe Records. The passionate syncretism of Roberts’ own songs and those he selects coupled with Green’s varied and unusual instrumentation, is at times reminiscent of The Incredible String band. But rather than the fey and whimsical there’s a more visceral variety of mysticism at work here. This is a thing of rare and uplifting beauty.
Alasdair Roberts explains how Plaint of Lapwing came about:
“Mayday 2012: an email from James Green in Sheffield reached me in Glasgow. I knew James a little – not particularly well; we had met a few times over the years and had collaborated a little too (I’d sung on a couple of songs on the album Folk Songs 2 by his group The Big Eyes Family Players). I understood that he played the harmoniflute, an instrument somewhere between a harmonium and an accordion, and seemed very enamoured of it. His email read: “had an idea about approaching you with… an ep or few songs (trad or otherwise) accompanied by my harmoniflute, and nothing else… just an idea once the dust has settled, maybe…”
The dust was not long in the swirling before coming to rest upon both of our past endeavours, and shortly we set to work on the project which became Plaint of Lapwing. My initial thought was to concentrate on just four pieces – I’d just recorded the Drag City LP/CD A Wonder Working Stone and had some songs left over from that. In a process which James was later to characterise as ‘surreal’, I started emailing him recordings of my disembodied voice; in response I would eagerly await, tracks featuring aforesaid voice with James’ harmoniflute accompaniment.
The project gradually, almost imperceptibly, developed in scope and complexity over two years. I began sending James more vocal takes as well as other sonics I’d generated, for a variety of original compositions and some by other authors (including a song by the Perthshire folklorist Hamish Henderson, an arrangement by Benjamin Britten of a piece by the Irish poet Thomas Moore, a lyric by beekeeping Cornish film maker Timothy Neat and a setting of a work by the Angus poet Violet Jacob). James in turn increased his instrumental palette to include drums, guitars and all other kinds of musical things.”
The absolutely stunning sleeve art and design is by label owner, Frances Castle and as always with Clay Pipe records it’s a beautiful and high quality package. It includes a free download code and detailed sleeve notes by Alasdair Roberts himself on the background to each song.
The guest shop will be carrying the red version of the album sleeve – limited to only 500 copies.