Fading within the dwindling sun

Shindig !

US AND THEM Fading Within The Dwindling Sun
If that vogueish Scandi phrase hygge can be represented in purely sonic terms, then Swedish duo Us And Them capture the vibe perfectly. This is music to sink in to,as warm and welcoming as a blazing hearth in deepest winter. his is FdM's first 10", and a fine release it is too, featuring a handful of songs associated with Sandy Denny, constructed around sparse, warm, mostly acoustic arrangements, overlaid with breathy, close-miked vocals from Britt,who seems to be whispering sweet intimations rather than simply singing. This is alluringly beautiful stuff, sounds and voices hanging in the air like chilled,frost-touched breath.

Prog Magazine

Swedish folk-rockers Us And Them pull off a label peak with a ten-inch album covering five Sandy Denny songs. Backed by Anders' crystal backdrops and Tony Swettenham's Mellotron, singer Britt wins over this daunting challenge by perfectly capturing the late singer's pure unearthly beauty on haunting versions of Winter Winds and Farewell, Farewell.

The Strange brew

Taking on five signature Sandy Denny tracks is quite a challenge. So it was with some trepidation I gave their forthcoming Fruits de Mer 10 inch EP 'Fading Within The Dwindling Sun' a spin. How would Britt and Anders tackle songs made famous by the great British female folk singer? Exceedingly well in fact. My favourites are the Sandy's penned tracks, 'Winter Winds' - a softer take of the Fotheringay song, the stripped back glacial feel of 'Next Time Around', and finally the folky interpretation of Sandy's ballad 'Take Away The Load'.

Harmonic distortion

This coloured 10" vinyl is out now on Fruits de Mer Records. It's a five-track tribute to Sandy Denny featuring three Denny-penned tracks and two more songs she made her own. Anyone doubting that Us and Them can due justice to the music of Sandy Denny need only check out the 7" they released a couple of years back which contained a sterling cover of 'By The Time It Gets Dark'.

As we approach the solstice, the sun is dwindling it does indeed get dark early. I can't think of a better soundtrack for to accompany the midwinter stillness. My advice - avoid the High Street madness, do your shoppong online (from Fruits de Mer reputable mail order service), find a quiet spot and let this music take its effect. It's a perfect piece of wintry folk, and another jewel in the Fruits de Mer catalogue. Just right for those moments of quiet reflection, when you take stock of the preceeding year and charge your batteries for the next 12 months. Have a great solstice everyone.

A box of Dreams

Charming, begas we approach the solstice, the sun is dwindling it does indeed get dark early. I can't think of a better soundtrack for to accompany the midwinter stillness. My advice - avoid the High Street madness, do your shoppong online (from Fruits de Mer reputable mail order service), find a quiet spot and let this music take its effect. It's a perfect piece of wintry folk, and another jewel in the Fruits de Mer catalogue. Just right for those moments of quiet reflection, when you take stock of the preceeding year and charge your batteries for the next 12 months. Have a great solstice everyone.uiling and essential listening for those long winter evenings

This is a forthcoming 10″ EP (the first for the label) of US and THEM interpreting tracks by the much missed muse Sandy Denny.

The band have spent the last year working on the 5 tracks that make up this EP and give Sandy's work a new twist adding to the sheer brilliance of the material that Sandy originally recorded.

Banks of the Nile was always my favourite Sandy song (recorded originally by her band Fotheringay) and as much as I want to like what the band have done to the song here there seems to be something lost in this version (maybe because I am so familiar with the original and use it to introduce Novice's to Sandy's illustrious back catalogue). No complaints whatsoever though about the remaining 4 numbers and the band are to be congratulated for their thoughtfulness in the arrangements.

love everything this band have put out and....

Goldmine Magazine

Love her or loathe her, there is no denying that Sandy Denny left a monstrous footprint upon the soul of traditional music, one of the precious few songwriters (former Fairport bandmate Richard Thompson is another) whose own work was often indistinguishable from, and is frequently still confused with, the folk tunes within whose shadow she wove.

The careers and catalogs of both Fairport and Fotheringay ricochet with compositions that are oft-regarded as neither one-thing-or-the-other, and one cannot help but glance with pitying scorn at those so-called caring record company voices who convinced her to delve into poppier tones... or even cover other people's pop hits... in their quest for the hit they all swore she deserved. As if the public, given the choice between hearing her sing Elton John or Trad Arr., would ever take "Candle in the Wind" over "Banks of the Nile."

Fading Within the Dwindling Sun is Swedish duo Us and Them's five track tribute to Denny in all her chosen guises - songwriter, interpreter and, via Fairport's "Farewell Farewell," the voice of one of Richard Thompson's most frequently miscredited compositions - "Farewell Farewell" matched a fresh lyric to the tune to the traditional "Willie O'Winsbury," and slowed here to a eulegiac fraction of its original pace, it pinpoints both the majesty of Denny's original delivery, and that which Us and Them bring to this project.

Britt Ronnholm's vocals lend themselves perfectly to the words that Denny made her own - meaning that, unlike so many other tributes, she does not even try to emulate the original's perfect phrasing, preferring to rely on her own exquisite tones. The breathy "Next Time Around," haunted by instrumentation that itself is as redolent as the words, might be the EP's highlight; but "Winter Winds," the opener, chills as it ought to, and the brief "Take Away the Load" is a fitting coda to the collection.

The true piece de resistance, however, is "The Banks of the Nile," the EP's one traditional song. In Denny and Fotheringay's hands, it is sounded out with defiance, even anger; Ronnholm voices it with a tremulous softness, her focus on the sentiment of the song as opposed to the performance that dominated Fotheringay's version.

Mellotron and strings add to the atmosphere, trepidation and doomed determination enfolding the lyric as they draw the listener ever deeper into the unfolding story.Which is all that these songs have ever asked of either performer or audience.

Is this Fruits de Mer's finest ever release?

It's certainly one of them.

Exposé online

Just in time for Christmas Sweden's Us & Them have a new color vinyl ten inch on Fruits de Mer. And quite an ambitious one as they cover five different songs by the iconic Sandy Denny. Attempting to cover a song belonging to Sandy is dangerous as it will immediately draw comparisons. Fortunately Britt's pure and breathy voice adds a new dimension to these songs along with the acid folk reinterpretation. The disc opens with a Fotheringay song "Winter Winds." Sandy's vocals on the original were a bright light. In contrast Us & Them's cover adds a darker and sadder feel to this delicate and eerie song. The next is Richard Thompson's "Farewell, Farewell" that is so similar to Pentangle's "Willy O'Winsbury." What Us & Them have done is taken this beautiful song and enhanced it with Andy Settenham's Mellotron. The third song, "Next Time Around," is from Sandy's solo album North Star Grassman and the Ravens. This is another dark introspective cover with violins and drones. The traditional "Banks of the Nile" from Fotheringay is next. This song is one of the best known ballads arising out of the British campaigns against Napoleon. It is a touching song about a young woman wanting to go to sea with her man. He prevents her by taking shelter behind Naval regulations. When Sandy sang this song, she sang all the verses. Us & Them change it up by having Britt sing the girl's part and Anders sing the sailor's. And contributing to this painful parting of ways, Us & Them layer on more Mellotron and bass clarinet. The last song "Take Away the Load" is a song by Sandy written for Dave Swarbick and only appeared as a demo, though Swarbrick did eventually release it on Fairport's Gottle O'Geer. This final exquisite song is the shortest on the disc. Their cover brings a tear to your eye. If you step back and separate yourself from your Sandy Denny prejudices, you will find great joy in this release. And for those unfamiliar with Sandy Denny, you can approach this release with a wide open mind and enjoy the music by itself.


Something of a dream come true for label owner Keith with Britt and Anders from the band covering six Sandy Denny tunes ( Sandy being Keith's favourite singer).

'Winter Winds' introduces this project with some fine gentle meshing acoustic guitars and Britt's ethereal untrammelled pure vocal, It has a nice icy feel, not just because of the song title but it just feels wintery.

'Farewell, Farewell' is the Richard Thompson song, a fairly straight forward treatment of it accompanied by some Mellotron from Tony Swettenham.

'Next Time Around,' one of the three songs written by Sandy on this EP, is lovely, a dreamy number with plenty of space for the instruments to frame the beautiful voice of Britt. Not many singers can take such a classic and do it justice but hats off to Britt, she does a fine job here.

'Banks Of The Nile' (trad) is the standout song for me, imagine Willow's song from The Wickerman crossed with Scarborough Fair, that should give you an indication of the style here. The song is actually a pretty harrowing tale, concerning a conscripted soldier's fate. Sung by Britt and Anders, It has a lovely chamber folk arrangement with some cool orchestral touches, accompanied again by Tony's sympathetic Mellotron programming. It is a stunning song, capable of thawing the most icy of hearts.

We end the EP on the short but sweet 'Take Away The Load', a delicate song of release, and an acoustic song, again written by Sandy.

Pure and perfect, this is a record to play again and again though the long winter months ahead, a keeper.

House of Prog

Swedish band US & THEM consist of the duo of Britt Rönnholm and Anders Håkanson, and together they aim to create, explore and release "fragile, dreamy, otherworldly music". They have done so on two full albums and half a dozen of EPs so far. "Fading Within the Dwindling Sun" is the most recent of the latter, and was released as a 10 inch vinyl album by UK label Fruits de Mer Records towards the end of 2016.

Fruits de Mer Records are known for inviting artists to recreate the psychedelic music of yesteryear, and in this case we're treated to an EP consisting of five songs from Sandy Denny's repertoire. Songs Sandy made her own, some penned by her, one by Richard Thompson and one traditional tune. I understand that Sandy Denny is quite the name in the right circles, and as she is also listed as an inspiration by Us & Them I rather guess this has been a challenging task due to that context.

I'll have to acknowledge that the originals are not items all that known and precious to me, but my impression is that Us & Them have made a good job: This is an entertaining and well made EP, and one the band can be proud of in it's own right.

Of the five tracks here, three are shorter creations with a clear and distinct singer/songwriter foundation, and I suspect they were made with merely the acoustic guitar and vocals in mind. On this occasion each of them have been lightly flavored with orchestration details, adding depth and emotional impact, with concluding cut Take Away the Load also featuring a sequence I'd describe as pastoral.

The two long cuts on this EP expands the canvas ever so slightly. While clearly folk-oriented in style and perhaps also with something of a singer/songwriter foundation, these have been broadly expanded to include not just orchestration details but also a liberal array of fleeting, mystical and ever so slightly exotic sounds. Neatly and carefully done I should add, and flavoring these compositions with a distinct psychedelic sound and presence.

The soft, slightly cold and careful vocals of Britt Rönnholm is the delicate presence that really gives life to these songs, the almost ethereal chill breeze of her voice giving these songs a distinct identity. On the one song where Anders Håkanson joins her, his dark, smooth and calmly warm voice comes across as a perfect supplemental contrast.

Careful, well made and delicate music is what Us & Them provides with their versions of Sandy Denny's music. All of them operating out from a singer/songwriter foundation, expanded either by orchestra details or more elaborate yet careful psychedelic textures. Those who finds that description compelling or merely have an interest in artists covering the material of Sandy Denny might want to take note of this EP.

My rating: 80/100


Us & Them's 'Fading Within The Dwindling Sun' 10" is also released by FdM in December, featuring five tracks usually associated with Sandy Denny. There's something about this Scandinavian duo that evokes feelings of reflection in me. Not sadness though, I come out of it overwhelmed by the beauty. One day I'll be better able to put it into words, but for now, let's just say I love their music.

Their releases always arrive in tune with the current season. Nights are drawing in, the colours of Autumn now fading (they've been spectacular this year haven't they?) and Us & Them return with the perfect soundtrack yet again. There's a warmth in Britt's vocals, now missing outside, crystal clear yet slightly melancholic and Anders is always there with tasteful arrangements letting the songs breathe. The two tracks that really work for me are both Sandy Denny originals - 'Next Time Around' and 'Take Away The Load'. Both ideally suited to Us & Them. Lovely to have this duo around.

Sunday experience

Till us andthem.se: A review for our forthcoming 10 inch Fading within the dwelling sun from The Sunday experience: " When you consider the wealth of releases and the names who've graced the label - the pretty things, soft hearted scientists, beau, vibravoid, the chemistry set et al, as impeccable and illustrious the FdM back catalogue is, this might just well be the finest thing they've put out to date." Read the whole review on the reviewpage here on usandthem.se.

More incoming Fruits de Mer loveliness, this time I think I'm in saying, the labels first 10-inch release - indeed it is I've just specced the press release, pressed upon which you'll find Us and Them entrancing one and all across five sonic interpretations of songs once upon a time gracefully touched by Sandy Denny. I'll admit on a personal note that I did fear for this release, it's not so much that Denny covers are a sometimes perilous and foolhardy venture as the press release so rightly notes, its more to do with the fact that across five tracks the attention stakes are set high and well let's be honest Denny purists are a critical and fickle lot and anything less than mercurial would be deemed a failure.

It's okay and plausible to have a stab at maybe one track, but five is an audacious order to undertake and as much as we've tried to find fault to criticise, this set is so stunningly crafted that you'd be hard pushed to prize a cigarette paper between the tracks to decide your favourite. I'll be honest we've listened to this twice through, the first time it was all woos, coos and aah's with each passing track having us furiously scribbling out and switching our 'best track' allegiances. Second listen, the fear now gone, you're able to sit down and enjoy the delicacy of the magic unfurling within. From the moment the ghostly florals of 'winter winds' usher in you are immediately struck by the lightness of touch of the musical craft and the tender siren like tones of Britt's demur, its something that crystalises eloquently on the chasing track for adored with a hymnal phrasing, 'farewell, farewell' has that breezily cosy autumnal toning perfect for the coming season to which just fills you with an inner fuzzy glow. Matters shift a pace in terms of creative perspective with the appearance of the spellbinding 'next time around' - a frost chimed crystal tipped floral posy who minimalist murmurings touch to form an enchanted circle with broadcast, beautify junkyards and lake ruth, utterly beguiling. And while you busy yourself picking up your jaw from the floor along ghosts the exquisitely breathless fragile and shy eyed love note 'banks of the nile' to softly serenade and captivate, quite something else and quite possibly the finest nine minutes you'll hear all year. Its left to 'take away the load' to round out the set' all at once intimate and giving, though at this point your pretty much past caring, bewitched as you are by the rich lush harvest pressed upon these affectionately crafted grooves.

When you consider the wealth of releases and the names who've graced the label - the pretty things, soft hearted scientists, beau, vibravoid, the chemistry set et al, as impeccable and illustrious the FdM back catalogue is, this might just well be the finest thing they've put out to date.

Astral Zone

Okay, this beautiful 10″ was released alredy in December but unfortunately I've been too busy to review it before. This excellent psych folk duo from Stockholm, Sweden have released two albums and eight singles & EP's but this is their first release in the very cool 10″ vinyl format. Keith from Fruits de Mer got the lovely couple of Britt and Anders convinced that it would be a good idea for them to record five folk rock songs sung by his favourite singer Sandy Denny. Some of you might remember her from bands like Fotheringay, Fairport Convention or Strawbs and her career ended in 1978 when she died tragically at the age of 31. In addition to Britt's brilliant voice and the exquisite guitars, keyboards and electronics of Anders the recordings also include Tony Swettenham on Mellotron. Now, you already know the potential of this collaboration from the brilliant Summerisle EP from 2011 and they work together like magic this time as well. I got to say the end results do sound amazing!

The 10″ starts with Denny's beautiful and melancholic "Winter Winds" originally recorded by Fotheringay in 1970 and I'm loving it. "Farewell, Farewell" is next and this very touching Fairport Convention song fits perfectly for Us and Them as well. Just wonderful. "Next Time Around" is a slow and somehow mysterious sounding song that was originally released on Denny's second solo album in 1971. Us and Them's spell-bounding version is almost two minutes longer than the original and really gets under your skin in a good way. On the B-side we first got the almost nine-minute version of the traditional "Banks of the Nile" and I really enjoy the fragile, emotional vibes on this one. Later on there are also some male vocals by Anders. Lots of Mellotron on this one! The 10″ is finished with the two-minute folk piece "Take Away the Load" (recorded by Fairport Convention as "Sandy's Song") and it's a pretty, a bit more positive way to end this brilliant release. There are 700 copies of this beauty on orange vinyl and also 200 on white. Go and get yourself a copy!Skriv din text här ...