Dead Rat Orchestra - Album Launch Night
Dead Rat Orchestra – ‘The Guga Hunters Of Ness’ FILM SCREENING with LIVE SOUNDTRACK PERFORMANCE + C JOYNES + THE CLOISTERS (MICHAEL TANNER/PLINTH)
Monday 9 July 2012
Door Times : 8pm
In July 2012, London label Critical Heights will be releasing the new album from Dead Rat Orchestra. It was originally recorded as the soundtrack to Intrepid Cinema's critically acclaimed BBC Documentary The Guga Hunters of Ness, which follows the journey of ten men from the community of Ness on the Isle of Lewis as they embark on a traditional hunt for gannets. Utilising their customarily unconventional instrumentation to create precarious and powerful abstract-folk, the trio of Daniel Merrill, Robin Alderton and Nathaniel Mann have come up with a powerful score, with compositions seeded in hours of study of Hebridean folk song. This evening for Cafe Oto they will be revisiting that score and performing a live interpretation of the material to a rare screening of the film, as well as a short set on their own. Dead Rat Orchestra have become the slow burning backwater of British music; perpetually hovering on the fringes of distinct scenes, yet never fully on-board, they remain their own mutable paradigm. They perform with violins, harmoniums, logs, axes and pigeon flutes; folly snow-boxes, semi-strung guitars, home-wired glitchers and record player clunks; they use organ pipes like hunting horns, which are overblown like great whales; and with shards of metal, cast to the floor in shimmering joy. For nearly a decade Dead Rat Orchestra have effortlessly remained the most original and unconventional live act around, both challenging the traditional concert setting and bringing a powerful and innovative performance aesthetic to their music whilst never falling into the trappings of novelty. Over the past two years they have performed or collaborated with the likes of Baby Dee, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Marc Almond, Eric Chenaux, David Tibet, A Silver Mt Zion, Natural Snow Buildings, Sandro Perri, Trembling Bells and many others. About the Film - The Guga Hunters of Ness: Ness is the last place in the UK where young gannets, known in Gaelic as guga, are hunted for their meat. The hunting of sea birds was outlawed in 1954 in the UK, but the community of Ness on the Isle of Lewis continues to be granted the only exemption under UK and EU law allowing them to hold the annual hunt. Every August, ten men from Ness set sail for Sula Sgeir, a desolate island far out in the Atlantic. Following in the footsteps of countless generations, they leave their families behind to journey through wild storms and high seas to reach the remote hunting ground. The men live on the island for two exhausting weeks, sleeping amongst ruins left behind by monks over a thousand years ago.
“In much of the film there is very little or no talking, but in those silences there was a powerful ambience captured and recreated in the soundscape created by the DRO. I think they have embodied the experience in a completely transportive way, melding together and fusing the new and the old in a very special piece of music.” - Mike Day – Director
The Recording Process: To record the soundtrack for The Guga Hunters of Ness, the band converted a decommission LightShip (Light House Ship) on a tidal river in Essex in to a recording studio, which is probably the only studio in the world whose acoustics changes with the rising and falling of the tide. Working closely with the film’s director Mike Day, the Dead Rat Orchestra camped out for the best part of a week immersed in transporting the listener on the journey the ten men of Ness endure. The band extensively researched old melodies from Ness in conjunction with Malcolm Taylor at the Vaughn Williams Memorial Library. The director also took field recordings of the Ness Church Choir, where they performed a unique form of psalm singing, which appears on the track “Saltslide”.