Sing a Song of Sixpence

“This is so, so cool, it’s so much better than I remember the track from my childhood!” BBC Introducing, Jericho Keys

“The energy is infectious and exhilarating. I’m a fan of this track.”  Chillfiltr

“Charged with a real intensity… such an evocative sound.” Various Small Flames

“The orchestration is amazingly clever.” Alt77


I’m delighted to announce the release of Sing a Song of Sixpence, a reimagined nursery rhyme fusing melodic pop with the avant-garde. It is the lead single from Maxim, my forthcoming album with No Spinoza

Maxim is a lockdown project born of the slow burn of remote collaboration and a shared passion for experimentation with musical heritage. Over the past 18 months or so, Thomas Pearson (No Spinoza) and I have whiled away many an hour shaping and reshaping fresh iterations of old childhood curiosities in our home studios. Various drafts have passed to and fro over the internet’s ether, allowing them to build up a palimpsest patina. The result is a series of 10 modern retellings of familiar tales, laced with urgent vibrancy and an underlying dark melancholy.

This particular track is an outlier of sorts. It finds its genesis in a concept album that No Spinoza was putting together about Canary Wharf some years ago. Tom’s bandmate Christopher Wright had left an old unfinished track in hibernation, but still pulsing with kinetic energy and blazing 80s synths. When Tom sent me the draft last year I could hear a re-rendering of the Sixpence lyrics scanning over the skittering rhythms. Tom wove in a riff incorporating the essence of the ‘original’ childhood rhyme amidst the pizzicato fizz.

It was a lot of fun finishing this up down at Echo Zoo Studios in Eastbourne with Dave Izumi Lynch over the summer. We were joined by the rhythmic behemoth Phil Wilkinson who added his own unmistakable flavour to the drums. And of course we had to layer up some of those beautiful old analogue Moog synths for the fluttering blackbird riffs at the close.

I hope you like it.

The Finale: Angel Wharf

Well it has been a long time coming, but I am delighted to finally release the last video and concluding track from the CRUCIBLE audio-visual project: Angel Wharf.

For this video I was privileged to collaborate with my dear friend Thomas Pearson, a poet, designer and architectural conservationist who also produces music under the moniker No Spinoza. Thomas and I have previously shared both stages and [numerous] pints together, and continue to indulge a mutual love of London’s gorgeous architectural heritage and hidden stories.

Angel Wharf found its kernel of inspiration in a night walk of mine on the Thames. I asked Thomas if he would be kind enough to write a companion piece for the track. In response he crafted the fabulous poem ‘W’, one of a series of works rooted in, and reflecting on, the Walbrook. The two of us then spent a day trawling through old deeds and records in the National Archives before strolling from the Walbrook to Angel Wharf, shooting as we walked. The footage from these exploratory expeditions has been knitted together to form this entirely indulgent video. I am indebted to Thomas for his wordsmithery, camerawork, editorial skills and creative generosity, all of which contributed to this final video.

No Spinoza can be found at nospinoza.co.uk His stunning second album ‘All and Some’ is due for release in November 2016. The first release The carnal and the crane is a must watch.

I have truly enjoyed pursuing this video project over the past year, crafting 10 of the 11 videos which have now been released for every track on the record (again, a h/t to Kevin McGloughlin for the cracking video he created for The Underground Man.)  The entire canon is now available to digest in one bloated sitting as a Youtube playlist. For the kids.

Thank you for your time.

 

 

[vide]Ode To Stepney

This is the penultimate video of my CRUCIBLE audio visual project.

The kernel of this song’s inspiration was unearthed in William Palin’s evocative essay ‘The Lost Squares of Stepney’, published in the forever inspiring Spitalfields Life blog: http://spitalfieldslife.com/2012/12/30/the-lost-squares-of-stepney/ I was born in Stepney and now reside in neighbouring Bow. Reading the sad tales of the demise of Wellclose and Princes Squares triggered an elegaic response in me, wrapped around an old nursery rhyme. Hence this Ode to Stepney.

The video was created using three pieces of degraded archival footage:

– ‘Housing Problems’, a 1935 film by Arthur Elton and E.H. Anstey for the B.C.G.A;
– ‘New Town’, a 1948 public information film by the Central Office of Information for Ministry of Town and Country Planning; and
– ‘Charley’s March of Time’, a 1948 public information film by the Central Office of Information for Ministry of National Insurance.

The Gentle Author was kind enough both to feature my video on Spitalfields Life and to invite me to play at a fundraiser for the Save Norton Folgate campaign. Hosted by Griff Rhyss Jones and also featuring Suggs & Stick in the Wheel, the evening is raising funds to challenge Boris Johnson’s flagrant abuse of executive power. He has overriden Tower Hamlets’ rejection of a major development in the historic conservation area of Norton Folgate in favour of ‘British Land’. It is the 14th of 14 times that Boris has ‘called in’ a development in favour of corporate development against the wishes of a localities’ democratically elected council.

If it sounds like your cup of tea, tickets are here. Fittingly the gig is at St Leonard’s (of ‘Rev’ fame), the same Shoreditch church referenced in Oranges and Lemons

Video #8: Flood of Red

My new video has been exclusively premiered on New York Music Site Baeble. I am honoured by their write up here:

“One of the most promising acts I’ve heard in the last year is UK neo-folk artist Drew Worthley. We had the chance to chat with him last July about his single “Bone China Savior” and in September, we premiered the music video for his track “The Underground Man.” His music has the sparse intimacy of folk but he pairs it with an understated lushness (or in the case of “The Underground Man,” Phil Spector-esque walls of sound). And on his latest track to get the video treatment, “Flood of Red,” a Sufjan Stevens-esque baroque folk style is paired with heartbreaking conceptual lyricism about wine and desperation.

We have the exclusive premiere of the video for “Flood of Red,” and it’s a masterclass in the Kuleshov Effect (the notion that the juxtaposition of images can directly alter how you perceive an image that might otherwise be neutral…except now the juxtaposition is between sound and images). Consisting entirely of non-copyright video footage (including old Charlie Chaplin shorts), Worthley is able to make footage that might seem happy in its natural context seem devastatingly sad and alienated when paired with his song about wine…drenched in religious metaphors as well as those that seem to ring of addiction.”

Video Vol. VII: Daemon

With gratitude in abundance to DarwinFish 105 for electing to share his incredible footage of Tokyo under a Creative Commons licence. Do take a look at some of his other beautiful videography.

Video Number 6: Derivative Calves

Welcome one, welcome all to December’s video, marking my sixth visual creation from the new album CRUCIBLE. This one is a favourite track of mine, ‘Derivative Calves’. As ever, I am dependent on the kindness of strangers in offering up raw material from which I can mold my creative collage. I actually recorded a raggedly live version of this track a couple of years back, where I also wrote a little about its genesis as follows;

The song itself had a cluster of inspirations (including Matthew Arnold, Bill Shakespeare, Saint Augustine and John the Baptist) but foremost a quotation from John Maynard Keynes that got me thinking about the dogmatic certainty of our prevailing economic orthodoxy. I make no claim to be well versed in theories of economics, but am nonetheless intrigued by the power of fiscal hegemony and its ability to so strongly dictate the Western economies of the 21st Century. The song is pretty much a lament for the absence of such a powerful dissenting voice as JMK’s in today’s world. When it comes to combating the glorious follies that forge our idolatrous calves, the compassionate wisdom and shrewd intelligence of Mr. Keynes is much missed.

 “When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues. We shall be able to afford to dare to assess the money-motive at its true value. The love of money as a possession — as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life — will be recognised for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease … But beware! The time for all this is not yet. For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still.”

“The Future”, Essays in Persuasion (1931) Ch. 5, JMK, CW, IX, pp.329 – 331, Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren (1930)

A Cloud | A Hand | The Sea

As part of my ongoing project to create a video for every track on the new album CRUCIBLE, I’m delighted to release this new peach for A Cloud | A Hand | The Sea. I have previously relied heavily upon the good will and generosity of strangers who make their creative video endeavours available for cannibalism by virtue of Creative Commons licensing. This is the first time though that I have been completely dependent on one individual; Swedish animator and filmmaker Tobias Larson. I stumbled across his gorgeous short film Guilt on Vimeo, “a poetic thriller without words, about good and evil” and was immediately struck by how closely the mood and tone mapped onto my song. I subsequently shortened and adapted the footage pursuant to Creative Commons Licence CC-BY-NC 3.0 to create a significantly edited piece for the 3 minute track. Please do go watch the fabulous original video and support the artist.

My use and credit of Larson’s footage does not in any way suggest that he endorses me or my use of his work.

New Single: The Underground Man

The third single from my new album CRUCIBLE drops today, and I’m delighted to say that the good folks at Baeble Music have featured it for their daily premiere. Lauding it as the best single yet, they say “Sonically, the track combines Phil Spector’s wall of sound with a titanic swell and cinematic tension that play into the beauty and grandness of the track’s emotional themes.”

Can’t ask for a better endorsement than that…

I’m also thrilled to present this amazing video created by film-maker extraordinaire Kevin McGloughlin. I gave him an open brief for the piece, and he has pulled out all the stops to truly capture the existentialist essence of Dostoevsky’s grandeur.

New Single: John Proctor’s Lament

It’s time for round 2 from the new album with the release of synth-pop monster ‘John Proctor’s Lament‘. This one draws its inspiration from the glorious Arthur Miller play ‘The Crucible’. I’ve long been a fan of the play. In fact, I once starred as Judge Danforth in a school production at the tender/impressionable age of 17. But it was re-watching the film adaptation a couple of years ago that really stirred the creative juices, with Daniel Day-Lewis’ impassioned closing monologue propelling me to hustle off with guitar in hand to capture his heartfelt cry in song.

In making the video, I wanted to burrow deep into the riven heart of John Proctor, to explore the tension between his honour and his shame, to balance the funneling black intensity of his guilt alongside the explosive colourful passion to clear his name. To that end I am entirely grateful for all those talented filmmakers out there whose generous use of Creative Commons licencing enabled me to cannibalise their superior works for this Frankenstein effort of my own. The reoccurring motif of centrifugal vs centripetal force expressed in kaleidoscopic beauty gave birth to a video that really expresses the essence of this song. The original names and works of these talented people are listed below. My use of their work does not imply that the licensor endorses me or my use of their material in any way.

With deep gratitude.

Jeff Mertz: The City Without You, Alex Lark: Wild At Heart, Kimberly Daul: The Rift A Surrealist Film, Raphael Arar: Gemini Heart, Leif Maginnis: Artstrobe Interactive Light Art, Carlos Vieira: Sepai Technology, Matthew Wilshire Jones: UntitledScarcely Less Bitter: Daniel Bitter, Vorfreuden:  Brody Davis: Seattle Ferry Timelapse, The House of Ia, Pontius.six: Beeple,  VJ001 – Digi World: Anders Goberg, Cargill Grain Animator: Seth Amman & Billy Erhard, Inkdrops: Nurvision, Drop of Ink: Locke Visuals, Ebeil: Toshi Yamamoto along with several videos from Mazwai.com. Should I have accidentally neglected to credit you, please let me know asasp and I will rectify right away.

 

Bone China Saviour [Official Video]

Here it is folks. Behold:

Richard Nixon looking pensive

Wilma Flintstone smoking a cheeky cigarette

Humpty Dumpty having a great fall

Man getting hit in face with pie,

…and many other oddities in this, the official video for the first single ‘Bone China Saviour’ taken from my new record CRUCIBLE, out in a few months. It was a lot of fun to make. I hope it’s as much fun to watch.

You can also stream/buy/download the single (name your price) over at Bandcamp. And at other reputable outlets globally.