From Shindig ! magazine
Here's a thing. I like to think of myself as an undying advocate of the "it's it ain't broke" principle, so the notion of having songs from Paul Giovanni's exalted score for The Wicker Man re-recorded by, harrumph, some JOHNNY-COME-LATELIES initially struck me as sacrilegious at worst and pointless at best.
Man, what do i know? Turns out that this limited edition coloured vinyl EP, recorded by Swedish acid-folk duo Us and Them (Britt and Anders) with the assitance of mellotron maestro Frobisher Neck (Tony Swettenham) weaves much the same quizzical spell as the film itself, and, particularly in the case of 'Willow's Song', actually out-lovelies the original version. Also tackled are 'Corn Rigs', 'Fire Leap' and 'Gently Johnny' with a dignified guest vocal from Ludvig Josephson; valid, delicate and persuasive all, but Britt's vocal on this version of 'Willow's song' would have you chowing your way through that bedroom wall with your bare teeth.
The original Wicker Man movie made in England in the early 70's is one of the best pagan folk horror movies ever and rightfully deserves its international cult status. The excellent soundtrack music by Paul Giovanni had a big help in creating the unique, at the same time wonderfully naïve and natural but also eerily frightening atmosphere and on this latest Fruits de Mer EP the music has been interpreted by the Swedish acid folk duo Us & Them together with Mellotron/dulcimer master Frobisher Neck. All Fruits de Mer fans should already be familiar with both acts. They have chosen four of the best tracks from the movie for this EP and I must say that the new interpretations do them justice.
"Corn Rigs" is an amazing, a bit more positive folk song where Britt sings softly. The magical and scarier "Fire Leap" starts to create more threatening images and casts the listener under its pagan spell. Also Anders gets to sing on the magnificent song "Gentle Johnny" but occasionally the vocals are by Britt and at times by them both simultaneously. Seductively sweet stuff! The longest track on the EP is the melancholic and peaceful "Willow's Song" and this is possibly also its highlight. There's plenty of excellent Mellotron things and Brett's singing is like velvet! The mood just couldn't get any better than this. As one of the best releases in 2011 Sumerisle will be a really collectable EP and even though it was just released this week it's already sold out but you might be able to find a copy someplace. In fact it was just announced on the Fruits de Mer website that they will press 100 more copies so reserve your own!
Us & Them really deliver the goods with this stupendous four song EP of Paul Giovanni covers taken from the soundtrack of an early 70s cult movie from Britain called 'The Wicker Man'....Quite simply, along with Kes, one of the best films ever made and easily THEE best soundtrack.
It must have been an impossible task to reproduce the brilliance of Giovanni's original acid-folk songs but Us & Them really capture the macabre sounds and eerie mood of them all. The perfect musicianship and the addition of mellotron and dulcimer into the mix create brilliant new interpretations of 'Corn Rigs', 'Gently Johnny', 'Fire Leap' and 'Willow's Song'.
The record was at first released in the usual Fruits de Mer quantity of 500. These sold out within a week, so an additional 200 copies were pressed which also sold out immediately. The label design shows a psychedelicalized picture of the famous Alan Wicker...ha ha ha...hilarious.
Us & Them has spent a whole winter reinterpreting four songs from "The Wickerman" soundtrack. "The Wickerman" (1973) is a kind of cult film known in folk circles because it is about some mysteries surrounding paganism incorporating a few very nice interpretations of old folk songs. One of the songs, "Willow Tree" which knew a very beautiful version in the movie, had already a previous stay-with-you moment on another cult movie called 'The Night Of The Hunter" (1955), a scene related with a lonely night where two kids were fleeing from a murderer disguised as a priest (one of Mitchum's best roles). "Wickerman" I found a bit typically British, slightly dated, but never the less several images and scenes seems to haunt and stay with you, this impression was shared by Us &Them. The four tracks are thoroughly mixed with subtle layers of arrangements, with the acoustic inspirations up front. "Corn Rigs" has some additional string arrangements, two acoustic guitars and a folk voice. "Gentle Johnny" has dual singing, two acoustic guitars, backing textures of zither and certain echoing sounds. "Fire Leap" has a subtle overdub on the voice, a bit of cello, and "Willow's Song" has some mellotron added to the picking/voice arrangements. The atmosphere is subtle, moody and with the arrangements this convinces listening to it several times, it is very exciting to expect a full album some day !?!?
The mellotron and, hammered dulcimer were played by Tony Swettenham aka Frobisher Neck. The additional vocals on "Gentle Johnny" were done by Ludvig Josephson.
Taking the brave decision to tackle one of the greatest film soundtracks of all time are Us and Them, with a little help from Frobbisher Neck on his mellotron and hammered dulcimer. The results are lush, dreamy and quite beautiful. Whilst the versions here are faithful and recognisable, there are subtle and tasteful new arrangements.While the originals have a very live sound, these bather in studio warmth and depth. 'Corn Rigs', 'Fire Leap','Gently Johnny' and 'Willows Song' all get the treatment on this sweet little 7″."
Another essential offering from the ever popular Fruits De Mer label. These old hippy dudes are at it again, paying homage to '70s cult classic The Wicker Man and Paul Giovanni's outstanding score. Us & Them are obviously big fans as 'Corn Rigs', 'Gentle Johnny', 'Fire Leap' and 'Willow's Song', four of the best tracks on the original LP, are all treated with the utmost respect. The kid gloves are most certainly on as it were. Giovanni's original score is one of my favorite records of all time so I'm glad to see the duo haven't gone mental and butchered the tracks like Neil Labute did the remake of the film. If anything, this is expertly executed.
The acid folk duo of Us & Them is perhaps best known for its Julia Dream EP (a Pink Floyd cover), released a couple of years ago. On this recording they decided to tackle the music from the film The Wicker Man, a classic movie which cannot be described by any one genre. The music for The Wicker Man was originally created by Paul Giovanni.
Us & Them chose four of the most representative and most recognisable tracks from The Wicker Man soundtrack and gave them their own stamp of identity. They open this EP with the Scottish traditional song Corn Rigs and follow with Fire Leap. Both pieces follow the original closely, although there is a great deal more dreaminess in the music of Us & Them. It's as if the music of Paul Giovanni simply called for these improvements. The continuation is even grander, with even more keyboards, in particular the Mellotron.
The music stays pretty close to the original, except that some strings are replaced by keyboard instruments, such as the Mellotron, played by the excellent Frobisher Neck (Tony Swettenham). I also enjoy the wonderful use of the dulcimer, which is definitely an underutilized instrument in modern music such a wonderful sound.
If you enjoy acoustic folk music with a touch of psychedelic bliss, Us & Them certainly know how to tickle your fancy. It's not always easy to do an album (even EP) of covers because there's always a danger of mucking it up. Us & Them have managed to stay pretty faithful to the original and still added their unique style as well.
Strange brew podcast
The Wicker Man is one of the greatest cult films of all time and integral to this cornerstone of British horror was the enchanting, bewitching pagan folk soundtrack exquisitely produced by Paul Giovanni and Magnet. Swedish acid-folk duo Us and Them have previously reinterpreted Julia Dream by Pink Floyd to stunning affect and label Fruits de Mer knew they were onto a winner when they tasked them with reinterpreting key elements of the original soundtrack.
Opener Corn Rigs is washed with subtle mellotron/keyboards from Tony Swettenham (aka Frobisher Neck) adding a stunning shimmer to this classic of the acid folk era.
Fire Leap retains the wash of mellotron, acoustic folk and introduces the erotic paganism which is a key Wicker Man theme. The medieval folk of Gently Johnny does this beautifully, although it is still male led, Britt's honeyed female vocals in the chorus only accentuate this sensualism.
Rounding off with Willow's Song, Us and Them's take is less rhythmic, giving us the chance to hear the more haunting elements of this timeless melody.
All in all, the delicately crafted Summerisle EP doesn't disappoint and is an essential purchase for any fans of acid/psych folk.Skriv din text här ...