By the time it gets dark
From Shindig ! Magazine
"Swedish acid-folk duo Us and Them return to FdM with a mesmerising rendition of a rare Sandy Denny song, whose initmacy and heartbreak many have tried (and failied) to replicate - Britt Ronnholm nails it, and she also provides a glistening medieval air to Donovan's magical madrigal 'Jabberwocky'. The pair's original 'Do I Know You' reminds one of Marianne Faithfull's smokey-throated warbling with an elegaic backing that'll appeal to fans of Fit & Limo, Trembling Bells and the other freaky folkies in our own Jeanette Leach's acid-folk bible, Seasons They Change"
From Record Collector
I'm writing this on a wet Wednesday afternoon in 1971. The dustmen have been and the bins have blown over, The gas fire is on low, jumpers on high. a double-tracked unison voice with the precesne of a lover's breath on your neck sings Sandy Denny without sounding like her, but every bit as personal. The intimacies of love or perhaps the quiet joys of, er, motherhood come through loud and clear, while termolo guitars and what my uneducated ears imagine to be cello purr away underneath. This sounds perfect and glowing for today; in the summer it may be different. Also on offer, a creepy bouree through Donovan's adaptation of Jabberwocky, with pizzicato somethings and a chorus of recorders. On the flip, the self-written Do I Know You is edgier, colder and nigh-on seven minutes of hypnotic folkadelica that allows some bleeps among the dark thoughts delivered by Britt, who has waited for the house to empty before she goes through your stuff. Slightly terrfying, deeply alluring"
From Goldmine magazine
A new EP from Us and Them (Winkle 14) means three new slices of magical melancholy, cunningly disguised among the loveliest sounds you'll hear this year. One of which is their own "Do I Know You," to which you'll repeat the same question as their flawless absorption of all the right influences bleeds into a sparse, drifting and deeply absorbing soundscape, over which vocals rise just this side of murmured, to haunt your very dreams. Spellbinding!
But flip the disc and you will melt.... and I mean seriously, literally, disintegrate into a little puddle of goo on the carpet... as Britt and Anders turn their attention to a couple of songs, by a couple of singers, that very few people indeed have ever truly triumphed over.
Donovan's reading of Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky" is so enshrined in the folklore of late psychedelia that even attempting to echo it should receive a ticket to that unpleasant asylum we popped into a few paragraphs back. But Britt does it, and having done so, she then turns in one of the best Sandy Denny covers you have, or will, ever hear.
"By The Time It Gets Dark" never actually made it onto any of Denny's official albums; demoed in 1974 and recorded in 1976 (during the Rendezvous sessions), for many years it was available only as the cover that Julie Covington included on her self-titled, Joe Boyd produced debut album in 1979.
Slowly, though, the Denny demo crept out, and the Rendezvous out-take as well, and there's at least a dozen of other covers going the rounds right now. From which Us and Them really don't deviate too far, but rise above them regardless through the sheer warmth of a pristine, simple vocal, and an accompaniment that paces it perfectly.
Oddly, there's a hint of Saint Etienne around the chorus, a "Hobart Paving"-y heartbreak that may or may not have been intended. Either way, it works in a way that precious few Denny covers ever have.
From Psychotropic zone
Okay, here's the latest release by this amazing psych folk duo from Stockholm, Sweden. For this limited 7" EP Britt and Anders have recorded two wonderful covers and one longer original for the B side. The EP starts off with a beautiful and sunny "By the Time It Gets Dark" originally by Sandy Denny. I have not heard the original (or any other songs by this favourite female singer of Fruits de Mer's Keith) but I have a feeling I should... This is just amazing stuff that is perfect for lighting up a dark morning. You just can't feel bad after hearing this song. I love Britts soft voice and the instrumentation is perfect including acoustic and electric guitar, strings and something that sounds like Mellotron and vibraphone. The Donovan song Jabberwocky is based on prose by Lewis Carroll and is closer to traditional folk music. Great stuff that takes us into a forgotten mystical age! What touches me the most is still the duo's own song "Do I Know You". This a bit longer composition at 6:38 and has a dark, melancholy but beautiful mood. After the three-minute-marker we also get some electronic beat and soundscapes that gives their folk a new dimension. Acid-folk/folktronica, as Keith calls it! I love this song. This 7" should be available soon so pre-order it before it's gone like most of the releases on Fruits de Mer / Regal Crabomophone. Also, don't miss the rare opportunity to see Us and Them alive with four other excellent acts on May the 3rd at our Crabstock on Ice - Fruits de Mer Festival of Psychedelia at Club Darkside in Helsinki!
From The Rocktologist
.Okay, here's the latest release by this amazing psych folk duo from Stockholm, Sweden. For this limited 7" EP Britt and Anders have recorded two wonderful covers and one longer original for the B side. The EP starts off with a beautiful and sunny "By the Time It Gets Dark" originally by Sandy Denny. I have not heard the original (or any other songs by this favourite female singer of Fruits de Mer's Keith) but I have a feeling I should... This is just amazing stuff that is perfect for lighting up a dark morning. You just can't feel bad after hearing this song. I love Britts soft voice and the instrumentation is perfect including acoustic and electric guitar, strings and something that sounds like Mellotron and vibraphone. The Donovan song Jabberwocky is based on prose by Lewis Carroll and is closer to traditional folk music. Great stuff that takes us into a forgotten mystical age! What touches me the most is still the duo's own song "Do I Know You". This a bit longer composition at 6:38 and has a dark, melancholy but beautiful mood. After the three-minute-marker we also get some electronic beat and soundscapes that gives their folk a new dimension. Acid-folk/folktronica, as Keith calls it! I love this song. This 7" should be available soon so pre-order it before it's gone like most of the releases on Fruits de Mer / Regal Crabomophone. Also, don't miss the rare opportunity to see Us and Them alive with four other excellent acts on May the 3rd at our Crabstock on Ice - Fruits de Mer Festival of Psychedelia at Club Darkside in Helsinki!
From Aural inventions
Us and Them are the Swedish duo of Britt Rönnholm and Anders Hakanson. I've heard a few of their contributions to Fruits de Mer releases, the standout being their stunningly gorgeous pagan-folk Songs from The Wicker Man collaboration with Frobisher Neck. For their new single, Us and Them offer up two covers and one original.
I might upset some by saying that anyone could do a Sandy Denny song better than Sandy, but Us and Them take Denny's By The Time It Gets Dark and do their delicately dreamy acid-wryd-Folk magic, adding additional, though still light, instrumentation. The flute and bells are lovely, making for a trippy romp through fields of flowers. And Britt's vocals are simply beautiful; we're talking melted hearts and minds. Ditto for Us and Them's interpretation of Donovan's Jabberwocky, which itself was a musical rendition of Lewis Carroll's poem. For the flip side we're treated to an Us and Them original, the nearly 7 minute Do I Know You, which is like a psychedelic lullaby from the space angels, and parts of it bring to mind a more spaced out take on the Genesis circa Trespass sound. Absolutely awesome and another band I'd love to see do a full LP on Fruits de Mer.
The single will be available late March, and as usual this is vinyl ONLY, no CDs or downloads. If interested you better hurry because Fruits de Mer releases sell out QUICK!
From House of prog
Swedish duo US AND THEM have been creating music for just about a decade by now, with one full length album and a number of EPs and singles to their name. Their most recent effort is a three track single called "By the Time It gets Dark", named after the opening track, released through the Regal Crabomophone division of UK label Fruits de Mer Records as a gloriously and collectable timeless 7 inch vinyl single.
The first two tracks here are cover versions, and while I am familiar with the artists Sandy Denny and Donovan I've never really listened to the material they released, apart from possibly catching some songs played on radio by chance I guess. Just how close or not Us and Them's takes on these songs are I really don't know, although my gut feeling is that these renditions might be somewhat different from the originals.
Us and Them appears to be exponents of the folk-oriented parts of the psychedelic rock realm, with a distinct emphasis on folk and perhaps not as much on rock, if at all. Their recordings are sparse, lo-fi sounding affairs, where a singular acoustic guitar motif and the sensual, pleasant vocals of Britt Rönnholm carry the songs.
By the Time It gets Dark explores this territory in a frail and delightful manner, with a metal based careful percussion detail as a recurring supplemental feature, careful flute-sounding details that might or might not be provided by a Mellotron, the same for a brief but important inclusion of strings presumably digital in nature. Jabberwocky is more of the same, but with more room for whatever keyboards are used, a subtle and elegant rise in intensity, layered acoustic guitars if my hearing is tuned in good and some gentle but effective vocal effects thrown in for good measure. A brilliant piece of music in this rendition. Impressive.
Concluding composition Do I Know You is an original by this band, and one a fair degree more experimental at that. Cold, nervously fluttering electronic backdrops a key and recurring detail, a sequence sports sparse, static drums as an additional detail, vocal effects are used again too, as are a flute sounding detail and what appears to be a harpsichord towards the end. Lo-Fi folk inspired music with a distinct psychedelic sound this concluding, and of a kind that I suspect might merit a pointer towards the acid folk environment.
From A box of dreams
Aficionados of the music of the late Sandy Denny can be very critical of anyone making an attempt to interpret her songs.
One very successful artiste whom I feel did her repertoire justice was folk singer Vicki Clayton who some time ago now did a tribute album to Sandy which has been out of print now for many years. Vicki has also sung with Fairport at their annual Cropredy Festival in Oxfordshire and is well thought of by original founding members of the band.
This leads me into the first of the batch of 5 new singles on Fruits de Mer as one of them contains the song "By The Time It Gets Dark". This song was never released on any of Sandy's official albums as it was recorded as a demo at home in Byfield, Northamptonshire in 1974, accompanying herself with 12-string guitar. This demo was eventually released on the Who Knows Where the Time Goes box set.
Scandinavian duo "Us and Them" have released an absolutely beguiling and charming version of the track which really does the much missed Sandy's legacy justice and will be welcomed by the many fans of the great lady.
The band then tackle a poem by Lewis Carroll entitled "Jabberwocky" (Not the Version by Boeing Duveen and the Beautiful Soup) but the version akin to what Donovan recorded on his "H.M.S. Donovan" double LP from the early 1970s. Until its CD re-issue, "H.M.S. Donovan" was always one of his harder LPs to locate and when I did finally manage to track a copy down many many years ago now after paying an "arm and a leg" for it, I found myself disappointed with its contents as I had been expecting something similar to "A Gift from a Flower to a Garden". Us and Them however give the song something that is missing from Donovan's interpretation and make it their own. The duo end the disc and continue on a high with their own composition entitled "Do I Know You?"
The disc will be made available on limited pressing coloured vinyl and hits the shops on 30th March with the catalogue no. (Winkle 14). I would advise a pre-order on this if you want to snag a copy as many of the last batch of Fruits de Mer singles proved to be extremely difficult to track down and I found myself unable to get copies on vinyl of 2 of them so be warned folks!!
From Psycedelic folk
I always look forward to hear any new single of Us & Them. In the tradition of the label, they first cover two classic acid folk tracks. They also added one track of their own.
"By the time it gets dark" is a cover from a Sandy Denny song, arranged with two picking and strumming guitars, glockenspiel, electric piano, somewhat rhythmically echoing guitars mixed with some strings and touches of mellotron further on, all very subtly swelling in the background and with the singer's breathy sweet voice mixed well to the fore to bring over the song well. The second track is "Jabberwocky" from a text by Lewis Carroll, was originally sung by Donovan. Also this one is arranged, in fundament, by two acoustic guitars, with additional textures and on different sounds of analogue keyboards, with some vocal arrangements that gently weave around the vocals, bringing over the faery atmosphere of a fairy-tale with it. The last track is a self-written track, with picking guitars and harmonium-alike swelling and moody vibrating analogue keyboards. Here the song with double overdubs and partly sung with a lower voice, remains a bit more in the background, as a song with slightly melancholic descriptive story telling.
From Brokenhearted today blogspotUs and Them contributed an ethereal reading of "Butterfly" to the various artists compilation Re-Evolution: FDM Sings The Hollies, and apparently this Scandinavian duo has been on the label's radar for some time. For their new single, Us and Them offer a beautiful version of Sandy Denny's "By The Time It Gets Dark." Lead singer Britt Rönnholm's classic folk singer vocals are set to Anders Håkanson's beguiling guitar and keyboards arrangement. Us and Them bring an authentic medieval ambience to "Jabberwocky," Donovan's reworking of the Lewis Carroll poem, and impress with the haunting vocals and atmosphere of their own composition, "Do I Know You."
From Expose orgThis new slab of FdM vinyl is Us and Them's third release on the label. Label owner Keith Jones has been secretly wishing for quite some time that Us and Them would cover a Sandy Denny tune; his wishes have been granted on this release. Us and Them chose one of Sandy's lesser-known songs "By the Time It Gets Dark" and put their stamp on it, creating a beautiful and relaxing folky nursery rhyme, with echoing guitars, chimes, and Britt's vocals. Britt is one of the few singers that can do justice to Sandy Denny. Their choice for the second track is an excellent cover of Donovan's "Jabberwocky." Their version approaches dark folk with its dreamlike use of chimes and acoustic guitar. The B-side is an original song "Do I Know You" with a spooky and haunting melody that reminds me of "All the Pretty Little Horses / Julia Dream" from their first FdM release. This is a very magical release and it stands apart from the other FdM releases this year.
From Mr Atavist.com
Scandinavia's folk duo Us and Them get a bit of their own rhyme going with a different verse on their outing with Jabberwocky. Bookending a retelling of Lewis Carroll via Donovan is a gorgeous love-letter to Sandy Denny with her own By The Time It Gets Dark and a haunting and ethereal original Do I Know You. Denny and Donovan are tough acts to follow, and Us and Them pick up the gauntlet and run with it making Do I Know You a mini-epic of a closer, and the best of the bunch they offer here.
From Harmonic distortion
It's a brave act that dares to cover a Sandy Denny classic. Sweden's Us And Them have done just that with their version of "By The Time It Gets Dark". Sandy's late night thoughts and reflections are re-visited with a simple acoustic arrangement of guitar, xylophone, a light keyboard wash and closely mic-ed breathy vocals. It's this version's taste and simplicity that marks it out as something rather special and a fitting tribute to one of the country's greatest ever singers.
The EP's other cover ventures into a more surreal world, it being a version of Donovan's "Jabberwocky". The Lewis Carroll prose which Donovan set to music for his HMS Donovan album has lost none of its childlike appeal. Daft, yes, but offset by a sinister darkness. Like the best psychedelia, it has that blend of venturing into the mysterious of the unknown while simultaneously returning to the sanctuary and security of early childhood. A comforting darkness as it were.The EP's sole original track is the biggest revelation here, and the stands up with the two cover versions. "Do I Know You" is, if anything it's even more potent than the other tracks. With a simple nursery rhyme acid-folk tune evolving into a folktronic, slightly Krautrock middle section before returning to the ethereal folkiness of the opening section. Here's hoping for a full album of original material from Us And Them soon.
This month (March 2014), Fruits de Mer Records and its offshoot Regal Crabomophone have released a batch of new 7″ singles and EPs, starting with Us and Them's By the Time It Gets Dark. Us and Them are a Swedish duo consisting of Britt and Anders, who specialise in contemporary folk with psychedelic undercurrents. They perform a version of Sandy Denny's By the Time It Gets Dark, with some nice use of woodwind and glockenspiel, followed by a cover of Donovan's musical interpretation of the Lewis Carroll poem Jabberwocky, which brings together a traditional folk inspired melody with ethereal orchestral synths and whimsical glockenspiel. Finally they provide a composition of their own, Do I Know You, in which delicate acoustic guitar, swelling ambient synth, and retro-futuristic bleepage provide a backdrop for a melancholic folk-pop song. Some very nice atmospheric folk sounds on offer here; this is a band I would like to hear more from.
From Spacerocks review.com
Moving right along then, Scandinavian duo Us And Them have a three-track single, including one original track. I've never heard Sandy Denny's 'By The Time It Gets Dark' before, and the promotion for this single identifies it as a lesser-known entry in the Denny canon, but the Us And Them take on it is crystalline, fragile, affecting and moving, the thinnest china, so delicate that it might shatter and be lost from a single glance but lovely and precious to behold. Alongside it is a cover of an interpretation, as it were, a take on Donovan's appropriation of Lewis Carroll's 'Jabberwocky', followed by an Us And Them original, 'Do I Know You', a sparse but elegant piece. Way outside of the remit of this blog, of course, but FdM's releases are becoming so well-loved that anything they conjure up is worth investigating.
Next up, Scandinavian duo Us and Them offer two covers and an original, all of them in a hazy, acoustic, dream-pop style. It could be seen as a foolish move to cover a Sandy Denny tune, but when you possess a voice as gorgeous as this band then the risk is minimal as the duo do something quite delightful with "By the Time it Gets Dark", leaving a happy feeling and a huge grin on the listener, that feeling still remaining after their rendition of "Jabberwock" (Donovan/Carroll), another Psych-Folk gem. Finally, "Do I Know You" proves the band can write as well, the gentle and mesmerising intro slowly developing over six minutes into a haunting a beautiful song complete with elements of Electronica that add sparks of electricity to the tune.
From Writing about music blogspot
Us and Them is really Britt and Anders (Sweden). They start the 7" off with the Sandy Denny song that is the title track of this 7". It is very serine and dreamy and clearly difficult to sing and capture the original Sandy magic. A Donavan song is next and is quite cool and really does evoke this creepy story by Lewis Carroll. The 7" ends with a band original called Do I Know You. This track is 6½ minutes and also very beautiful and magical in a way with just simple instrumentation to start but then the drums come in and flute, etc.. Perfect track to start the Sunday morning!
From Strange brew.co.uk
Us and Them continue to quietly dazzle the listener following a number of excellent releases. This time round they give a gorgeous retelling of Sandy Denny's 'By The Time It Gets Dark' and a charming recut of Donovan's twist of Lewis Carroll's 'Jabberwocky'. They finish by demonstrating that their own tracks are just as good with the enchanting 'Do I Know You'. More please!
The passing of the hour and the dimming of the day seem to have been among the late Sandy Denny's foremost preoccupations. In this fresh reading of By The Time It Gets Dark, the Swedish duo Us and Them closely observe the minute hand rather than dwelling on the seconds as they tick away. It's among a rash of single releases from British label Fruits de Mer and it stands out a voice of calm amidst their ebullient, and sometimes manic output.
The song itself did not make it onto Rendezvous, Denny's final studio album, even though fans might have warmed to it more than her incongruous version of Candle in the Wind. It resurfaced on a boxed set of Denny recordings a few years back and is tenderly curated here on this new EP by folktronic imagineers Us and Them.
The similarity of the chord voicings to the famed Who Knows Where The Time Goes might have sealed this song's fate as a lost treasure, but the melody is a wonderful example of Denny with a much lighter touch. It's a gift to gentle singer like the slightly enigmatic Britt Rönnholm, and the considerate musicianship (and presumably arranging) of Anders Håkansonand.
There are lots of cover versions that subvert or invert our ideas about the artists who made the originals. Some of them travel far for the source material in a desperate attempt to appear original. However, the most rewarding covers are those that approach a devastatingly sweet and simple tune with a proportionate duty of care. This is one of those little gems, for it applies imagination to an eminently biddable melody without pushing it around.
It happens rarely, but sometimes a cover makes you curious about the artists, their songs and the things that engage them. Fruit de Mer specialize in re-interpretation and re-imagining obscure objects of desire. Most of the artists are true to the spirit of the originals, but tend to heavily overlay them with their own sonic widgets. Us and Them differ, I think, because the have taken care to stitch their ideas seamlessly into the weave.
Also included on this three-track offering are Donovan's setting of Lewis Carroll's unsettling Jabberwocky. The flaky one's dittiness is set aside in favour of the storyteller's art as the nonsense words are framed to invoke a slightly worrying tip-toe through the Tulgey Woods. There is also an Us and Them original in the shape of Do I Know You? Musically, it has more in common with Nico than Sandy, but retains much of the sylvan impressionism suggested in Jabberwocky.