PREMIERE: Nancy Gaffield and The Drift – ‘Song Of The Shingle’: Kent’s High Weald evoked in music and poem



THERE’S been a little upswell in recent times of interesting and brilliantly evocative collaborations exploring the spoken word and the poetic, and how that plays against music. Slowly unfolding atmospheres, words chosen carefully, set to reduce to a fine and rich sauce, every syllable counting.

The touchstone for me is Will Burns and Hannah Peel’s wonderful Chalk Hill Blue: it’s a tale that isn’t for here but, by god.

It’s also interesting how much of the recent British work has been an investigation of the south and east of the isles, pulling back from the high grounds of the west and north to a softer but no less potent landscape.

There’s been Chanctonbury Rings, which sees Sussex’s adopted Pittsburghian writer Justin Hopper in confection with Sharron Krauss and Ghostbox’s Belbury Poly, taking a look at the brooding ridges and eerie hillforts of the South Downs.

Mark Fisher and Justin Barton explored the eroding coast of Suffolk on last year’s Vanishing Land, in tandem with Gazelle Twin, John Foxx and others.

And now please welcome a deep sonic exploration of Kent, and more specifically the lands stretching from the High Weald down to the shingle shores of Dungeness, in which poet Nancy Gaffield works with The Drift. We’ve embedded the video for “Song Of The Shingle” herein to entrance you.

Nancy published Continental Drift in 2014: a tome of poems “about the attachments and appropriations that shape our relationship with the land.” She’s also wrote “Meridian”, a long poem that articulates an exploratory journey along the Greenwich Meridian line across Eastern England. 

She’s taken her lyricism and invited The Drift to give it a broader melodic setting, with excellent results. Who they? You say: well The Drift is a trio comprised of current Catenary Wire and former Talulah Gosh, Heavenly and Marine Researcher Amelia Fletcher; Darren Pilcher, and Rob Pursey (also Amelia’s partner in crime in other aforementioned lovely bands).

They evoke the landscape with bass, harmonium, and melodica, while Nancy gives millennia of geological time a chance to speak.

“Song Of The Shingle” is one of a trio of works that make up Wealden, which will be published as a pamphlet and accompanying CD by Longbarrow Press on Tuesday, November 10th, although you can place your order now. The three tracks will also be available over at Bandcamp from then.

Amelia says of Wealden: “[It’s] a piece about the strange landscape and geology of the High Weald in rural Kent, which runs down to the shingle seascape of Dungeness. Land which is in some parts only a few hundred years old, and could easily be submerged again with rising sea levels.

“The music and poetry were composed in tandem. The first two pieces, ‘Inscape’ and ‘Rumenea’, are more textured; while the final piece, ‘Song Of The Shingle’, is more rhythmic.

“The video is for the third and final of three poems and we will be launching a complete film of the piece soon.”

Me? I think it’s a lovely and deeply engaging, autumnal thing; more of it, please.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR3pPcWUfESMHHAoxGNkcZsjprz4NG7k487WLy_6hHbllLi1SlzWHHQvntov=BpzLpNU1TAU&feature

https://www.youtube.com/watch?youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR3pPcWUfESMHHAoxGNkcZsjprz4NG7k487WLy_6hHbllLi1SlzWHHQvntov=BpzLpNU1TAU&feature
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