The sell-out and critical success of Music Inspired by the Gallows Pole, the debut album by Durham’s The Shining Levels, welcomingly suggested a genuine public interest in musical collectives who make interesting compositions and look to find new artistic spaces.
Drowned in rural folk, loops and electronics, Gallows, a companion piece to Ben Myers’ novel The Gallows Pole, showcased a musical collective with huge amounts of talent and raw power; moving through an artistic journey that took in literature, soundscaping, and a desire to write and record on the edge of England’s Northern Moors.
A couple of years on and the collective return, looking to further push their sound into new directions; this time being inspired by fellow Durham resident and Booker prize-winning author Pat Barker and her novel “The Silence of the Girls”.
Whilst the use of literature again provides the impetus for creation (“When you’re using a great work as your well to draw from, it is very easy, you just pick a thread and then spin it.” Davey James – songwriter), the choice for Silence proves particularly important, “It seemed the perfect fit, here is a book giving voice to the voiceless women. We have three women fronting our band and we knew it was great material. As a mother of young children the subject matter really resonates too, I have a baby boy, in the book he would have been killed and my young daughter would have been enslaved! I can really sing about that!” (Laura Smith – vocalist)
Bringing the project’s narratives to life through ethereal harmonies, flutes, fiddles, and other acoustic instruments alongside vintage synths and electronics, Silence has the mark of a band continually pushing and stretching themselves; looking to create new and interesting atmospherics.
Released on limited edition vinyl by Butterfly Effect Records (pressed at Press on Vinyl) and available following a live launch performance at Durham Book Festival on October 15th, the momentum of Silence is already on the move, with Davey particularly happy with both the end product (“It’s really fantastic to be working with Butterfly Effect, they always put together a beautiful piece of vinyl”) and of the launch venue (“We had such a great time playing there for our last album that it seemed the perfect fit to try and do it again. The venue itself is wonderful and was voted the best independent venue in the country by The Guardian. And let’s not forget, Pat Barker, the reason we’re able to bring out this album is a Durham writer. Durham band, Durham writer, Durham venue, Durham Book Festival, it makes perfect sense to us.”
And as if a glorious soundtrack, interesting composition and genuine artistic search weren’t enough then the limited edition vinyl may be the final icing on the cake with Butterly Effect record label owner Stephen Gill, particularly praising of the work by local plant Press On (“I use Press On Vinyl as it’s the first independent pressing plan in the UK for decades and I think we should rejoice the talent we have in the North East and that’s not just musicians but all the other facades that are part of the record business.”)
An outstanding mixture of North Eastern music, literature, record label, literature festival and pressing plant; this is surely one for us all to get behind and be proud of.