Reviewed By The Active Listener.
Steven Collins of the Owl Service has been a busy man of late.
Firstly, he's established his own record label, Stone Tape Recordings ( visit them here ).
They describe themselves as " a new independent music collective inspired by the English folk
revival, Edwardian occultism, Norwegian black metal, the BBC Radiophonic
Workshop, 1970s doom rock and the electronic landscapes of Detroit and
Sounds good to me.
Secondly, The Owl Service have just released a shedload of new or previously unreleased music in a number of formats.
The most high profile of these releases so far is "There Used To Be a Crown", which is a four track e.p of Pearls Before Swine covers, available on 7" with free CD-R (here) or as a digital download (here). As a huge fan of Tom Rapp, Collins agonized over the contents of this e.p and his hard work has paid off admirably. Performed entirely solo except for Diana Collier's haunting acapella "Green & Blue" it's a testament to his affection for the material and his interpretive abilities. His take on "Translucent Carriages" manages the unlikely task of bettering the original - to these ears at least.
here, on the Stone Tape Recordings bandcamp page.
"Collected Tracks", despite being a collection of tracks donated to various compilations, would make an admirable introduction to new listeners, exhibiting the full breadth of the Owl Service's ambition from timeless traditional folk balladry ( "King Henry VII & The Shipwrights" ), to sitar-laden psych folk instrumentals ( "A Christmas Fantasie" ) via a number of unlikely covers ( Scott McKenzie's pop psych "San Francisco" and a nice moody take on the theme from Don Coscarelli's cult horror "Phantasm" ).
"Rise Me Lads" on the other hand is more thematic but no less essential - five traditional sounding folk instrumentals written to help launch "The Pattern Beneath The Plough" series.
( here ) of "She Wants To Be Flowers, But You Make Her Owls" a data DVD containing their entire back catalogue plus a full live show in mpeg format.
The long delayed "Garland Sessions" is due out soon too - expect a full review here.
Collins has also announced that he's hanging up "The Owl Service" moniker after one more release,a third volume of the celebrated "Pattern Beneath The Plough" series, but has a number of other musical happenings on the horizon, among them Stone Tape signings Greanvine and Country Parish Music, so don't worry there's plenty more to come from him.