sat 21/10/2017

CD: Darren Hayman & the Short Parliament – Bugbears | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Darren Hayman & the Short Parliament – Bugbears

CD: Darren Hayman & the Short Parliament – Bugbears

Contemporarily resonant take on the uncertainties of 17th and 18th century England

Darren Hayman & the Short Parliament's 'Bugbears': go for the vinyl edition

Darren Hayman isn’t a chap who stands still. The former Herfner frontman’s last-but-one album, Lido, was a series of mood-music compositions inspired by open-air swimming pools. In 2011 came The Ship’s Piano, a collection of piano pieces. Rather than being a follow-up to his most recent album The Violence, Bugbears complements it. While researching East Anglia’s Civil War-era witch trials for The Violence, he was compelled to dig further into the 17th and 18th century’s songs. Bugbears is the result.

Instead of being a straight folk album, or even trying to recreate the sound or ambience of the era, Hayman brings new settings to the material he’s uncovered. “The Owl”, a song celebrating soldiery’s love of drink, becomes an instrumental with a sparse acoustic guitar accompanied by brushed drums and what might be the string sound of a Mellotron. The discomfiting mood is akin to that of “Downs”, from Big Star’s Third. Although not strictly concerned with authenticity, Hayman nonetheless, evokes moods which are ageless yet ancient. “Bold Astrologer” creepily tells the tale of a girl hoodwinked by an astrologer. This is not happy-clappy Mumfords territory.

The album’s packaging is superb, and shines most for the vinyl edition. Each song has its own specially commissioned illustration. There is though – from the Pendle witches to Ben Wheatley's film A Field in England – an awful lot in the air at the moment looking back to the uncertainties of the English Civil War, its era and olde wyrd England. With Bugbears, Hayman stands apart.

Visit Kieron Tyler’s blog

Watch the video for Darren Hayman & the Short Parliament’s “Martin Said”

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