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The Constant Pageant


LP version. Glasgow four‐piece Trembling Bells release their third slice of Caledonia dreaming, following on from the acclaimed Carbeth (HJR 043CD/LP) and Abandoned Love (HJR 047CD/LP). From its very first notes, The Constant Pageant flies the flag -- a banner of arms -- with a more confident, anthemic sound than ever before. Trembling Bells are 21st century troubadours who know their history, on a quest to connect with the core tradition of Song, and live deep within its mysteries. Medieval ballads, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen are amongst the guiding lights in a music that embraces British folk‐rock, American roots and electric psychedelia. The album title pays tribute to folkloric culture as "omnipresent in my thinking, and a source of personal joy and affirmation," says the Bells' Alex Neilson. "A kind of florid, seething, creative wellspring that taints everything I do. Though, with this collection of songs, there were a number of other influences too. I think of traditional folk music as being like my first serious girlfriend, and all subsequent dalliances with other forms have been indelibly affected by it." It's a record of windswept bitterness and joyous elation: "Cold Heart Of Mine" is a paean to embattled lovers written in the shadow of Verona's ancient amphitheatre; "Where Do I Go From You" and "Torn Between Loves" describe doomed romance, dramatized by Mike Hastings' screaming fuzz guitar. There's also a strong sense of place. Neilson's native Yorkshire is the setting for "Goathland" -- home of folk's first family, the McCarthy‐ Watersons (not to mention the BBC's Heartbeat) -- and "Otley Rock Oracle," in which a small Yorkshire market town is re‐imagined as a place of dead roads, where severed golden heads and cauliflower‐clouds clue in a young adept. Classical and early music come to the fore on "Colour Of Night" -- in which a medieval feast seems to be taking place behind the song's stately gavotte -- and the melancholic closer, "New Year's Eve's The Loneliest Night Of The Year," a tribute to favorite modern songwriters like Gordon Jenkins, Nelson Riddle and Hoagy Carmichael (with a cheeky aside about stolen Roman marbles). The Constant Pageant is a rhapsodic celebration of the power of Song, from one of the UK's most eclectic and inventive groups.