Dancing on the Dark
Maximalist cosmic voyagers Free School have managed to create an album that explodes with color and scatters the industrial behemoth of Birmingham with rainbow sparkles. A huge-sounding album, Dancing on the Dark features a fearless band of shamanistic vocalists, effusing uplifting, stirring messages of hope in a time when hopelessness reigns supreme. Tomlin Mystic (Friendly Fire Band), a truly mysterious wise man who speaks in poetry, features on "Love Calling," the epic, cosmic second single. "French Cousins" has Free School's live vocalist Greg Bird (Mark E, Speech Fewapy Records) crossing boundaries that shouldn't be crossed. Sex-wise. Sigmund Frued, Birmingham's hottest young MC, fires state-of-the-city barbs to contrast with Greg Bird's hopeful yearning on "End Time Ministries." Disco stomper "Don't Make Your Life So Hard" takes a sample from free jazz classic "The Healer/Don't Break" by E.W. Wainwright and beautifully crescendos with soaring, caressing strings. Chilean Katy Prado plays the spurner to Tomlin Mystic's spurned lover on "Major Crimes." "Hudson's Whistle," the first single from the album, is a feel-good, hook-laden instrumental romp with melodies aplenty to tug on your heartstrings. "Good People" features the soft optimistic harmonies of Maps (Mute), while Greg Bird appears like an angel in the chorus to sing of endeavoring to change and improve. The album closes with the reprise of "Good People," rising from the ashes of the life-transcending "Ugly Kids" to burst into life. Free School have set sail for bolder territories with Dancing on the Dark. Free School signed to the renowned Tirk label in 2011, with which they released their critically acclaimed album Tender Administration in 2012. This followed two 12" EPs, featuring remixes from Richard Norris (Beyond the Wizards Sleeve/The Time & Space Machine) and Mark E (Ghostly International), and a string of remixes for the likes of Roots Manuva, Phil Oakey, and Maps. Their first two EPs on Static Caravan won the support of Lauren Laverne, Steve Lamacq, Gideon Coe, Gilles Peterson. The duo's live show features a live drummer and a string of guest vocalists and have seen them support Editors, Andrew Weatherall, Walls, Ulrich Schnauss, and Fujiya & Miyagi. In addition to playing Supersonic Festival and The Garden Festival (Croatia), Free School headlined the Rise of Birmingham show to celebrate the launch of the Library of Birmingham and held a residency in the Moog Sound Lab in June 2015.