“SONG FOR EWE”
with FRAN & FLORA
“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guests are two incredible players, a violist and cellist called Flora Curzon and Francesca Ter-Berg whose album called ‘unfurl’ is tranquil haunting beauty encapsulated, and features cover art by Oscar winning illustrator Alan Lee (“Lord of The Rings”) whose detailed penwork sums up the middle earth mysticism that Fran & Flora‘s intricate playing seems to score so aptly. Choosing a “song for ewe” each, including one from a real favourite artist of mine, welcome to VS, a real class act, Fran & Flora!
Fran & Flora met through working with the likes of Talvin Sigh MBE, Portico Quartet and the London Klezmer Quartet, and have formed an instinctive, unsaid friendship and working partnership transfused by a love of traditional Transylvanian, Klezmer, Romanian, Greek and Armenian music and combined with an insightful will to innovate and interweave with new forms including electronic, ambient drone and vocal effects.
In addition to vocals in Romanian and Yiddish, and the interpretation of a poem and melody by early New York-Jewish writer (of the “Sweatshop Poets” group) Morris Rosenfeld, ‘unfurl’ has an otherworldly, almost magical timeless quality, and Fran & Flora’s telepathy plays into this artful prestidigitation. Recorded by Hejira’s Sam Beste in my old stomping ground with guest performances by contemporary composer, violin virtuoso and horse-whisperer Linde Timmermans and London-based experimental percussionist and improviser Simon Roth on frame drum, it’s all lovingly topped off by the Tolkien-esque magic of Alan Lee’s artwork.
Allow yourself to be immersed by the track “Romanian Fantasies” below…
With their admirable musical knowledge and impeccable taste, I was looking forward to their choice of tune, and I wasn’t disappointed, so without further ado, here’s Fran & Flora’s “songs for ewe”…
“I’ve been listening to the music of Alice Coltrane for about 15 years now. Some guys I went to school with had pretty eclectic taste and an eye for rare gems and introduced me to her.
The song ‘Pranadhana’ (54:15mins) from the album ’Turiya Sings’ particularly speaks to me. The subtle combination and richness of strings, synth, Alice’s low deep voice and reparative lyrics take me to the depths of my emotional spectrum.
The warbling/out of tune aesthetic is vulnerable and uncertain but not self conscious – definitely an inspiration for the track ‘Talking Tree’s’ on ‘unfurl’. I’m happy Alice is now getting the wider global recognition she deserves for her amazing music. “
I’m not sure how to get this track as a stand alone as its quite rare and only on youtube as a full album. Timecoded here:
I first came across Caoimhin O Raghallaigh through one of his projects The Gloaming a couple of years ago. After a concert of theirs I chanced it on one of Caoimhin’s albums “Music for an Elliptical Orbit” – one of his solo albums – as I was intrigued by his sound and style of playing (and because I liked the name of it) and have not looked back.
The spaciousness of the record completely takes me out of myself and into stillness, and the gentle way he played the super resonant, earthy sounding hardanger d’amore draws me in, asking my ears to listen ever more closely.
I’ve chosen the opening track of this album ‘Lithosphere’ because it sets up the the tone of the album so beautifully, hinting at everything that is to follow, and because I find it utterly transporting.
Here’s some Fran & Flora gigs upcoming:
ALBUM LAUNCH @ Cafe Oto, Dalston London. 8pm More details.
SOAS Concert Series. More here.
Pindrop Sessions, Brixton Pound.
‘Unfurl’ is out on 19th Feb, and you can pre-order it here.
MANY THANKS TO FRAN & FLORA, AND TO JAMES VELLA OF PHANTOM LIMB