‘Gemini City: A Folk Gazetteer’ by Nigel of Bermondsey “…strangely enthralling”(May 19, 2014)
Many of the uninitiated incorrectly categorise folk music. Too often such ignorance conjures images focusing on rustic idylls and pastoral pastimes, mournful tales of countryside enclosures and emigration or interminable songs about dead sailors and deflowered virgins. Any link between ‘folk’ and cities, especially the capital, is either neglected or perhaps unknown. However, there are a few folk artists consistently portraying the wealth of narratives and mythologies that London has to offer - among the leading lights that are righting the wrongs of perception and those that neglect its histories, is Nigel of Bermondsey and his latest album ‘Gemini City: A Folk Gazetteer’ takes a strangely enthralling wander around the city, its traditions and histories. His songs mould the often powerful, regularly gory and sometimes mysterious folk tales from London Town into spoken stories and songs that expound the profusion of antiquity captured within London’s past and present, its streets and buildings.
Nigel winds his songs around the desperate tales such as the ‘Witch of Wapping’ and the well-deserved end of the vile ‘Johnathan Wild’, the endurance of tradition through ‘The Green Man’ and the ghostly persistence of magic and pointless museum exorcism in ‘The Mummy of the High Priestess of Amun Ra’. He explores the darkness of human life and its treatment of people even down to their burials through ‘The Crossbones Burial Ground’ and the equally ominous ‘The Long Fields’ with its dire tale of corrupted earth becoming barren through the shedding of innocent blood.
‘Gemini City: A Folk Gazetteer’ like any comprehensive collection of anecdotes, fables and rumours requires time to absorb its depths. Blending equal parts of gentle humour, rough indignation, undiluted examination and caustic revelation, Nigel offers a series of observations that will fascinate and surprise. The album title comes from an almanac written by the 17th Century astrologer, William Lilly who believed that London had the star sign Gemini.
Find Nigel of Bermondsey here: www.nigelofbermondsey.com
Reviewer: Tim Carroll