Alison Cotton ‘All Is Quiet At The Ancient Theatre’ LP
Pre-order. Due 5th November.
‘All Is Quiet At The Ancient Theatre’ begins in cold droned echoes of Nico’s ‘Frozen Warnings’ but Alison Cotton laments vanishing English customs, performance and countryside. Viola, harmonium and recorders bring lost sounds - the deathly percussive march of ‘A Tragedy In The Tithe Barn’, ballad themes of departure in ‘The Bells of St. Agnes’. Cotton’s music searches a past of stillness and desolation but where Nico’s is an icy tundra, Cotton’s viola and choral layers hold earthy, distinctly English experimental resonances with early music modalities. It’s mournful, yes, but with contemplative spaces of light and renewal.
With gliding viola and choral forces, ‘Only Darkness Now’ is a more alive, peopled landscape than its predecessor. Moods remain contemplative, concerned with vivid, historical netherworlds and torments - we see this in extended album centrepiece ‘Behind the Spiderweb Gate’ and in ‘In Solitude I Will Fade Away’. However, despite its title, ‘Only Darkness’ now has a brighter expanse: Cotton layers viola, chimes and Omnichord - an electrical ghost-like medieval drone - alongside percussion, harmonium, piano and voice. This is a confident record, lifting ‘Shirt Of Lace’ by medieval revivalist Dorothy Carter, from Celtic lament to cathedral like grandeur.
Original cassette releases on Bloxham Tapes and limited vinyl editions by Cardinal Fuzz sold out instantly with little press.
Both albums available to independent retailers on coloured vinyl (‘All Is Quiet At The Ancient Theatre’ on yellow vinyl, ‘Only Darkness Now’ is on silver vinyl) with altered artwork by Luke Drozd.
For fans of John Cale & Nico, Tony Conrad, Laura Cannell, Linda Perhacs, Max Richter, Tony Conrad, The Unthanks.
Catalogue number: FRLPR002
Label: Friendly Recordings