30 June – 1 July 2015
Trembling Bells return to OTO for the first time since 2009 for a packed residency ahead of new album, The Sovereign Self, on Tin Angel Records.
The Sovereign Self - named after a line from Dennis Potter, the late television auteur - is the fifth album by Trembling Bells, their first 2012’s The Marble Downs, a collaboration with Will Oldham. It is a driving, dramatic and at times hallucinatory work, filled with a great sense of tension and release; a witches’ brew, a psychedelic stew mixing up the range of the band’s musical interests - everything from countryish ballads to ancient May Day chants, swaggering acid rock to swirling prog epics.
For this two day residency, Trembling Bells are joined by collaborators old and new. On Tuesday acclaimed Scottish folk artist Alasdair Roberts, eclectic folk trio the Family Elan, and Alex Neilson, Sybren Renema and Lucy Stein's free jazz project, Death Shanties. Then on Wednesday, they perform alongside Incredible String Band founder Mike Heron, with support from legendary folk artist Martin Carthy, songwriter Dan Haywood, and Trembling Bells acapella offshoot, Crying Lion.
Trembling Bells are 21st century troubadours who know their history, joyously attempting to synthesise traditional folk forms with the bathetic romanticism of country music, the deceptive complexity of medieval music and the swagger of classic Rock. Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen are the guiding lights in a music that embraces British folk-rock, American roots and electric psychedelia. They are on a quest to connect with the core tradition of Song and live deep within its mysteries … a rhapsodic celebration of the power of Song.
In Spring 2012 the Trembling Bells played, sang and duelled with Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, performing a new collection of songs written by the Trembling Bells some of which appear on the collaborative album ‘The Marble Downs’, out on Honest Jon’s.
In this album Alex Neilson has synthesized his love of seat-of-your-pants improv and raw folk into his songwriting with the Bells. While Bonnie has long since shed the Appalachian dirt of his earlier records to enter a fertile period of grace. Now these paths converge on ´The Marble Downs´ – a triumphant exercise in major key ensemble playing concerned with minor key heartbreak, and a marriage of some of the most mercurial and imaginative musicians of our time.
Trembling Bells have enjoyed much success since their inception in 2008. The band have gained favour with such musical titans as Joe Boyd, Paul Weller and the The Unthanks as well as unanimous critical acclaim for their first three albums, Carbeth and Abandoned Love and The Constand Pageant (all on Honest Jons records). They featured heavily in the Wire cover story alongside Alasdair Roberts documenting the emerging experimental folk scene in Scotland (Caledonia Dreaming, March 2010), while also being mentioned in Rob Young’s book, Electric Eden.