‘Thamesis’ from Mishaped Pearls “…empathy, talent and a singular vision”(May 14, 2014)
The band that is ‘Mishaped Pearls’ came to life through a collaboration between songwriter and musician Ged Flood and mezzo soprano Manuela Schuette. Together they welded elements of vernacular music and narratives to orthodox foundations and explorative interpretations to forge their category-defying creation ‘Thamesis’. This album is at the same time both comforting and disturbing, moving through a collection of tales and images that constantly metamorphose as the album progresses.
The opening chords of ‘Old Father Thames’ evoke an otherworldly faery-world feel with perhaps an Eastern tinge, and then the vocals conjure echoes of medieval mystery to build a strange mix of ancient sounds dancing around whimsical electronica. There’s soft harmonies and sweeping instrumentation adorning ‘Cornish Girl’ and the reworking of the Irish song about mistaken identity and death, into ‘Jimmy’ - lifted through ominous chants, pulsing bass and percussion to a stirring new level. By now I’m thinking, no single classification could adequately sum up this album. There’s a distinctly threatening presence to ‘Tamesis’, the wraithlike ‘Three Ravens’ is breath-taking, while it’s not hard to imagine the eerie horror of ‘Six Dukes’ conjuring spirits to rise.
For those interested in such minutiae, the band name derives from the Portuguese ‘barroco’, Spanish ‘barroco’, or French ‘baroque’, which freely translate into "rough, misshapen or imperfect pearl". And it’s the shape and texture of their music that catches your attention as they manipulate and fuse ancient influences in music and poetry to create their sound. Fusion of any sort demands imagination. Coalescing disparate stimuli from multiple origins to form a coherent whole doesn’t just happen, it requires empathy, talent and a singular vision.
Alongside songwriter Ged Flood (acoustic and tenor guitars, saz baglama, tenor banjo, mandolin, bass, bodhran, charango, percussion, vocals) and Manuela Schuette (vocals) the album includes Gerry Diver (violin, piano, bass, tenor guitar, banjo, ukulele, dulcimer, slide guitar, loops) Calie Hough (hand drums, percussion) Naomi Burgoyne (cello, vocals) plus Andrew Sleightholme, Tom Finigan, Massimo Troiani, Sean Harrington (vocals) Patricia Ramirez Rienoso (viola) Josephine Lloyd (violin) Maria Ryan (violin) and Elspeth MacLeod (violin).
Treat yourself to ‘Thamesis’ here: www.mishapedpearls.org
Reviewer: Tim Carroll