Monday, 28 March 2011
Griff says; They that go down to the sea in ships.
Cornwall is one of my favourite places in England. Its isolated, rugged landscapes, its wind-blown western seascapes and its place names and people mark it out as a Celtic relic and bring a welcome sense of easy familiarity to any Celt otherwise marooned in the territory of our large and sometimes troublesome neighbour. The Sea Kings, the fine young musical trio whom I want to introduce tonight, all hail from Cornwall but are currently exiled in London. Interestingly, seperation from their roots has produced within them a yearning for their home by the wild sea that runs like a silver thread through their music and art; the sure sign of the Celt far from home.
The Sea Kings are James Wills (Vocals/Guitar), Joe Holtaway (Vocals/Mandolin) and Jake Alexander (Vocals/Percussion/Cello). They describe themselves thus:
"The sound that The Sea Kings make is rooted in folk music but with branches twisting through rhythmic asymmetry, carefully-crafted vocal harmonies and contemporary pop melodies, all under an acoustic canopy."
They go on to admit that their music doesn't fit one particular genre but if you must have a tag for your MP3 player then you might file them under; Folk, or Sea Shanties, or Harmonies, or best of all perhaps, "Medieval pop". That's certainly the tag I'll be sticking with. I can certainly hear how this strange reference has arisen, as one of the most distinctive parts of their sound is undoubtedly Jake Alexander's djembe playing. Rather than providing a straight-forwardly rhythmic underpinning, he experiments with unusual shifting tempos and time signatures that are unlike anything else I've heard from the English folk scene. This gives the music its unusual 'Olde Worlde' feel and also, in many ways, makes it somewhat reminiscent of 'Celtic fusion' folk acts like Old Blind Dogs. The other distinctive element of The Sea Kings sound is their beautifully arranged, three-part, vocal harmonies, which you will hear used to good effect on the two songs we're bringing you tonight (below). Both tracks are taken from the band's debut EP 'An Introduction To The Sea Kings' and the band have kindly agreed to let us make them available as free downloads to Streetlamp readers.
Track 1 is the romantic and aching Villages:
Villages - The Sea Kings by SadPanda
Track 2 is the more boisterous Sails and Boards:
Sails and Boards - The Sea Kings by SadPanda
Aaah, you can almost smell the sea-salt in the air; hope you enjoyed that. The band are currently hard at work recording their debut album (hopefully out sometime later this year, keep your eye on The Streetlamp for details). You can also find out more about The Sea Kings, and hear more songs, on this excellent fansite and on Facebook and Myspace.