The Imagined Village is a folk musical project founded by Simon Emmerson of the Afro Celt Sound System. Aiming to produce modern folk music that represents modern multiculturalism in the United Kingdom, it features musicians from a wide variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Martin Carthy says ‘The Imagined Village was an experiment started back in 2004 to see if trad and non trad musicians could work together on what was largely my back catalogue, something I was only too happy to engage in…”. For this second album however they decided they needed to write new material in order for the band to move forward - as Simon Emmerson says, “It was apparent that if the band was to move forward we had to write a new body of songs based on our skills as lyricist and composers embracing contemporary issues as well as reflecting an English musical identity that isn’t specifically rooted in the folk tradition.”
What you have with The Imagined Village is an eclectic mix of instruments and styles that have been brought together to create something new and unique.
"The Guvna" comes as a bit of a shock at first as its got such a different sound with the electronics, but once you get over the initial surprise what you're left with is a really nice piece of music. The initial dominance of the electronics is replaced by other instruments for much of the track although they make a return later but in a less dominant way. There are no real lyrics as such, but a voice is used almost as an instrument to enrich the sound. A lovely piece of music.
The choice of female vocals for "Sick old man" is an odd choice as the lyrics are an old man telling his story, so having a woman sing it does feel wrong for the lyrics. It's a nice song though and the vocals do go well with the music even if not with the lyrics.
"Bending the dark" - The title came from a typo; the original was ‘Bending the Da’, the Da being the 6th note in the Indian Scale. But like all good mistakes it stuck.
This is certainly a very interesting album. At times there is a real celtic folk feel, but at other times there is an indian feel, and those are just two of the sounds you get in this album - there is such a unique blend of influences that you're not going to hear anything quite like this anywhere else, and for me that's a good thing as it's important for bands to do new things and to try and make their music stand out from the crowd.
A really enjoyable album thats well worth checking out whether you're a fan of folk music or world music.
"Bending the dark" will be released on 14th May.
The Imagined Village are:
Eliza Carthy (fiddle, vocals)
Martin Carthy (guitar, vocals)
Simon Emmerson (guitars, cittern)
Ali Friend (bass, vocals)
Andy Gangadeen (drums)
Johnny Kalsi (dhol, tabla, percussion)
Barney Morse Brown (cello, vocals)
Sheema Mukherjee (sitar, vocals)
Jackie Oates (fiddle, vocals)
Simon Richmond (keyboards, electronics, vocals)
1. The captains apprentice
2. New York trader
3. Winter singing
4. The Guvna
5. Sick old man
8. Get Kalsi
9. Washing song
10. Bending the dark