Alison Cotton is a viola player based in London working in composition and improvisation. As well as her recent solo work, she is one half of the Walthamstow based songwriting partnership, The Left Outsides. She spent almost the last 2 decades performing in bands and collaborating with other musicians.
Her debut album ’All Is Quiet at the Ancient Theatre’ was released in 2018 firstly on cassette on Bloxham Tapes, followed by a vinyl release on Cardinal Fuzz (UK) and Feeding Tube (USA).
In July 2019 her longform piece, ‘Behind the Spiderweb Gates’ was released on the Australian label, Longform Editions.
As well as the viola, she uses an array of other instruments (her voice, harmonium, percussion, recorder, omnichord, shruti box and piano) to create long, haunting folk drones. Many of her pieces are created for, and named after spaces, whether real or fictional, and often of another time. As she plays, she focusses on the image of these places (‘A Tragedy In the Tithe Barn’, ‘All Is Quiet at The Ancient Theatre’, ‘The Bells of St Agnes’ and her recent release, ‘Behind the Spiderweb Gates’).
In 2017, she composed and performed the soundtrack to artist Jessye Curtis’ film, ’36 Dramatic Situations’. In 2018, she was commissioned by the BBC to compose and record a soundtrack to accompany the Muriel Spark ghost story, ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me’ which was broadcast on Gideon Coe’s BBC6 Music show at Christmas. This composition is planned for release on Halloween 2019 on Clay Pipe Music.
‘All Is Quiet At The Ancient Theatre’ was selected by Luke Turner as one of The Guardian Writers Albums of the Year, by Jude Rogers as one of the Guardian Folk Albums of the Month and placed at number 49 in The Quietus Albums of The Year in 2018. ‘Behind The Spiderweb Gates’ was selected by Marc Masters for his Best Experimental Music column for `Bandcamp in July 2019.
“Alison Cotton’s album is a highly memorable suite evoking other times and places with a deftness and a lightness of touch. She is an excellent and restrained songwriter, confidently combining instrumental and vocal music to create a recording that delivers much and promises more to come”. - Tom Bolton, The Quietus
"Alison Cotton creates a psychedelic pagan folk ritual with her viola, recorder, percussion and ghostly voice on 'All Is Quiet At The Ancient Theatre'. Slowing things down to a droning pace, Cotton seems to summon up mystical powers through her eerie Clannad-ish chants on 'The Bells of St Agnes’” - Claire Sawers - The Wire