An Introduction to
As Fruits de Mer Records turns 15 this year, Keith Jones decided to begin releasing a series of retrospective albums of some of the artists who've been on the label since its early days. Plus this new series is a departure from the primarily vinyl-only label, as the CD media appears to be in decline now, just as vinyl was back in 2008 when Keith and Andy Bracken launched the label. The Swedish acid folk duo Us and Them is the first featured artist with An Introduction to Us and Them. At Exposé we've covered the majority of the Us and Them music on this retrospective and it is a joy to have these carefully curated songs all in one place. Twelve of the songs have appeared on a variety of FdM releases, and the final four are from Us and Them releases. Perhaps the best song on this compilation, also my first Us and Them experience back in 2009, is their hauntingly beautiful merging of Pink Floyd's eerie "Julia Dream" with the traditional English lullaby "All the Pretty Horses." The melody of "Julia Dream" was loosely based on this lullaby and the nearly seven minute song is pure genius. My other favorite song on this compilation is Us and Them's setting of Edgar Allen Poe's eerie poem "Annabel Lee" to music for a nine minute journey through their acid folk universe. In between there are selected covers of Tudor Lodge, The Hollies, Sandy Denny, and The Wicker Man soundtrack, in addition to their original tunes. You cannot go wrong with Us and Them, just let their music envelope you in its warm soothing textures as it chases the nightmares away. A big thank you to FdM for this wonderful collection of essential Us and Them songs, as well as showing the maturation of the Us and Them sound!
A new CD format only series aims to collect together a lot of long sold out releases and unavailable recordings from their roster of artists. Swedish acid–folkster's Us And Them kick off the series with An Introduction To, for this album they have collected a number of singles and other sundry tracks together on a single disc. Many of these are long sold out so this is great place to get acquainted with their oeuvre.
I mean what's not to love about an album that states "Us and Them sing Sandy Denny, Pink Floyd and The Wicker Man". Britt Rönnholm has a voice to die for and it is fair to say that if you like Sandy Denny then you will like Britt, although she definitely is no copyist, she is always accompanied instrumentally by her partner in the duo Anders Håkansson.
The record begins with an ethereal version of Floyd's Julia Dream which was originally released as a 7" single in an oversized cover with its attendant b side Home To Stay a cover of a Tudor Lodge song. Another early gem was their interpretation of a few of Wicker Man songs and here two of them 'Corn Rigs' and 'Willow's Song' gently impress. They get to grips with the Hollies classic 'Butterfly' and Sandy's 'By The Time It Gets Dark' too. We are then treated to a couple of originals in 'Do I Know You' and 'We Are Sacred'.
More Sandy Denny next with Winterwinds and The Banks Of The Nile taken from there excellent Fading Within The Dwindling Sun 10" EP. They narent frightened to stretch out too as evidenced by the nearly ten minute Annabel Lee written by Poe. Just to entice us further, if needed, the disc also features four songs not put out by FdM, concluding with a stunning 'Evening Song' from their rare as hens teeth album '...and I observed the blue sky'.
Us and Them / Julia Dream Of All The Petty Little Horses (from the CD 'An Introduction To...) This was the first song I heard by Us and Them when it was released as a single on FdM back in 2009. I've liked everything I've heard by the duo since, but this track has always been my favourite. It's a beautiful version of the Pink Floyd song, but the addition of the old American lullaby 'All The Pretty Little Horses' really makes for an inspired pairing. This is the lead track on the first of a new series of CD only releases by FdM, and is perfect for anyone wishing to hear the dreamy duo's recordings for the first time. Lose yourself in the reverie!