FdM Volume 20
Summerisle - Songs from 'The Wicker Man'
7" ep - on sale October 10th
WE SOLD OUT INSTANTLY - INCLUDING a 200 COPY RE-PRESS, but try emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and he'll try to point you in the direction of a shop that might still have a copy available
Cult 70's UK film soundtrack meets Fruits de Mer on a windswept hill-top. Two of FdM's favourite 'acts' get together to reinterpret four songs from the film that DIDN'T feature as much of Britt Ekland's bum as you might think, but DID featured Christopher Lee in a kilt.'The Wicker Man' is one of those rare cult films that lives up to its reputation - very British, and utterly spellbinding. Our artists combine to create something very, very special.
The artists involved are:
Us and Them (aka Britt and Anders, the Swedish acid-folk duo who released the wonderful 'Julia Dream' 7" on FdM in 2009)
supported by Frobisher Neck (who contributed a stunning version of Neu!'s 'Isi' on our 'Roqueting' album).
Together, they build on the simplicity of the soundtrack to recreate the eerie mood of the original film - we'll post a track here soon.
The four tracks on the ep are: Corn Rigs, 'Gently Johnny', 'Fire Leap' and 'Willow's Song'
..and here's 'Willow's Song'
...and just an excerpt from 'Gently Johnny'...
....there are more excerpts on youtube, if you're still not convinced!
Our Wicker Man press release (approach with caution - it does go on a bit)
Take THE all-time classic 1970s UK folk-horror cult movie, with an unforgettable acid-folk soundtrack that added to the mystery, myth and magic of the film…
...and a brilliant Swedish acoustic duo who spent long, dark, cold winter months reinterpreting four of the songs to mesmerising effect...
...then add in the subtle, atmospheric keyboard sounds of a UK-based mellotron wizard to help recreate the eerie tension of the original film...
....and deliver it all on an exclusive, 500 pressing, colour-vinyl 7" single
Now read on...
Fruits de Mer Records presents
SUMMERISLE...by Us and Them
an ep of songs from 'The Wicker Man'
colour vinyl - limited to 500 copies - on sale October 3rd (Fruits de Mer 20)
'The Wicker Man' - is there another UK film from the early ‘70s that has created such an remarkable cult following – and actually lives up to its reputation? A cast list that included Christopher Lee, Edward Woodward and Britt Ekland.
A storyline that invoked tales of witchcraft/paganism ("folk-horror", as some describe it), with unforgettable scenes such as Britt's erotic thrashings round her bedroom (featuring Britt's "butt-double", as it transpires) and the burning effigy, all underpinned by a soundtrack that was pivotal to the eerie tension of the film.
A film that was then mangled or almost lost, due to film industry mismanagement and politics, together with a series of hardly-believable errors and misfortunes
But 'The Wicker Man' has somehow managed to overcome everything, to become an acknowledged classic of British cinema.
Fast-forward to 2011 and the Swedish acid-folk duo Us and Them (aka Anders and Britt) reinterpret four songs from the Paul Giovanni soundtrack during a long Swedish winter. Master of the dark arts of the mellotron, Frobisher Neck (Tony Swettenham) then adds subtle keyboard washes to the tracks to help recreate the atmosphere of the original film.
Us and Them are already known to Fruits de Mer fans for their wonderful 2009 single, including Pink Floyd's 'Julia Dream', while Frobisher Neck contributed a stunning version of Neu!'s 'Isi' to our 'Roqueting Through Space' compilation earlier in 2011.
Cult movie + classic soundtrack + brilliant new interpretations = review/feature material (we hope)
Summerisle - songs from 'The Wicker Man' (front cover image is 'The Colossus of the Druids')
Summerisle - an ep of songs from 'The Wicker Man'
1 Corn Rigs
2 Gently Johnny
3 Fire Leap
4 Willow’s Song
All songs on the EP are recorded and produced by Us and Them
All instruments are played by Us and Them
mellotron and hammered dulcimer by Frobisher Neck (Tony Swettenham)
and additional vocals on Gently Johnny by Ludvig Josephson
All songs written by Paul Gionvanni except 'Corn Rigs' (trad. with lyrics by Robert Burns)
Anders Hakanson from Us and Them comments on the songs...
"During 2010, we released an EP on the Fruits de Mer label, ‘Julia Dream (of all the pretty little horses)’. When we read the reviews of that record, three of them related to the music from a 70's horror movie called the Wicker Man. One of them also wrote that 'this is music from the serene people of Summerisle, which also is a reference to The Wicker Man. We had never heard of either the movie or the soundtrack so, of course, we had to check it out.
When we first saw the movie we thought it was rather absurd, rather typical of the 70's. But somehow some of the scenes popped up again and again in our consciences. We bought the soundtrack and discovered how fantastic the music really was. After a while, we saw the movie again and this time it gave us a totally new impression. Although we knew how it would end, it was a lot more frightening this time - the fact that so many people, of different ages and personalities, had a mutual plan that was so evil. And this time we noticed the important role the music has in the movie.
After spending a time with The Wicker Man in our mind we decided to do something about it and the work on these four songs started. The idea was to keep the combination of innocence, naivety and the underlying threat that is unique to the Wicker Man soundtrack, then do more arranged and mellow versions of the songs, and of course make them more Us and Them-ish.
We have to mention the role that Tony Swettenham (aka Frobisher Neck) has had on this record. When we got the first response from Fruits de Mar about our versions, they had a proposal for us to consider. They liked our versions but thought that a mellotron virtuoso called Tony could add something extra to some of these songs, and he certainly did - we were overwhelmed by the result.
We hope you enjoy to listen to these songs as much as we enjoyed making them. If you also get some disturbing feelings when you listen, we don’t think that is a bad thing."
Tony Swettenham, aka Frobisher Neck, on his contributions...
Hmmm, where do you start with such sublime songs, all from an equally breathtaking film?
Us & Them certainly pulled off an amazing feat with their lovely quartet of Wicker Man covers, and they already sounded very strong indeed when I first heard them...I was asked if it was possible to lend an added layer of a haunting, ethereal, mystical-yet-bordering-on-sinister quality to these versions. I must admit, I wasn't sure if I could at first (not wanting to risk gilding the lily and all that), but that didn't stop me from jumping at the chance! As soon as I heard what Us & Them had done, as well as listening to the originals again, that gave me all the inspiration in the world. And luckily, Anders and Britt agreed to it.
So, poised with various Mellotron tapes, a hammered dulcimer and some home-made swirling drones, I set about endeavouring to conjure up, among other things, cornfields out of oboes (I hear an oboe and think of cereal crops, always have done, no idea why), creeping smokey darkness out of thick and slightly unhinged woodwinds, smooth-but-twisty background textures, and mist-laden silvery windswept dawns out of echoed strings, flutes and wind-chime dulcimers. Just a mix of various moods and 'sound pictures' which would work with the moods of the songs. Sound pretentious? Maybe, but never mind, eh! I think I got an effect which was something close to all that, but I couldn't have got there without Us & Them's versions already being so good to start with, I think the whole collaboration worked really well. And I hope you all enjoy it too
The Wicker Man – the film and the soundtrack (info mostly taken from wikipedia)
Background to the film
The Wicker Man - a 1973 British film, combining thriller, horror and musical genres, directed by Robin Hardy and written by Anthony Shaffer. The film stars Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Diane Cilento, Ingrid Pitt, and Britt Ekland. Paul Giovanni composed the soundtrack. The film is now considered a cult classic. The story centres on the visit of Police Sergeant Neil Howie to the isolated island of Summerisle, in search of a missing girl the locals claim never existed. Howie is a devout Christian, and is appalled by a religion loosely inspired by Celtic paganism practised by the inhabitants of the island. Memorable scenes include Britt Ekland’s erotic dance (or at least her butt-double’s erotic dance) and, of course, the burning of the wicker effigy and, within it, Sergeant Howie.
Film magazine Cinefantastique described it as "The Citizen Kane of Horror Movies", and during 2004 the magazine Total Film named The Wicker Man the sixth greatest British film of all time. It also won the 1978 Saturn Award for Best Horror Film. A scene from this film was #45 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments.
In his 2010 BBC documentary series A History of Horror, writer and actor Mark Gatiss referred to the film as a prime example of a short-lived sub-genre he called "folk horror", grouping it with 1968's Witchfinder General and 1971's Blood on Satan's Claw.
A 2006 Canadian/German/American remake was produced, starring Nicholas Cage, from which Robin Hardy and others involved with the original have disassociated themselves (“we’re not surprised” – Fruits de Mer)
The Wicker Man - the soundtrack...
Composed, arranged and recorded by Paul Giovanni and Magnet, The Wicker Man soundtrack contains folk songs performed by characters in the film (including some by members of the cast). The songs were arranged to hint at a pre-Christian pagan European culture and vary between traditional songs, original Giovanni compositions and even nursery rhyme in "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep".
This mix of songs contributes to the film's atmosphere, contrasting rabble-rousing songs that depict the island's community like "The Landlord's Daughter" and the child-sung "Maypole" with the sinister "Fire Leap" and the erotic "Willow's Song" before culminating in the islanders' rendition of the Middle English "Sumer Is Icumen In". The opening music and "Corn Rigs" are arrangements of the Robert Burns ballads "The Highland Widow's Lament" and "Rigs O' Barley", respectively. The instrumental parts of the score are based on traditional Scottish, Irish, and English tunes.
The soundtrack was unavailable until a 1998 release on Trunk Records of a mono album dubbed from the music and effects tapes at Pinewood, from the shorter original cut of the film (hence missing the song "Gently Johnny"). It was not until 2002 that Silva Screen Records released a stereo version using cues from the tape held by Gary Carpenter, mixed with recordings from the first Trunk Records release. This release includes the missing "Willow Song".
A live performance of the soundtrack at the Brosella Folk Festival in Brussels in 2006, underlined the cult status of the film and its music. The organizers were looking for something to mark three decades of the festival and as such, for the final act of the evening, they assembled "The Wicker Band". This ensemble included many eminent performers from the thriving Flemish folk-rock scene, as well as the singer Jacqui McShee, founding member of Pentangle, and fellow ex-Pentangle member Danny Thompson. The band performed music from the film, plus a few selected songs from the folk and singer-songwriter repertoire that seemed to fit the mood before, shortly after midnight, the director's cut of the film was shown on a giant screen.
All copyrights reserved 2010
...hear the tracks.. ..buy the vinyl.. ..smell the fish...