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Dead Space Chamber Music - St Kenelm's - The Sapperton Sessions


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>> Tiny amount back in stock, the very last copies <<

Celestial dark britannica and sinister fairytales spun through guitar, cello, voices and unearthly ambience.
The latest Dead Space Chamber Music cassette is ours! Accompanied by a gorgeous mini-zine setting the scene of black and white tree roots, lichen, smashed ceramics and wires. Reading this with the tape running, the artwork stretches round your eyeballs and into your ear holes.

Listening to Dead Space is like entering a folk horror masterpiece of heightened tension, cloaked in the eerie rituals of this strange island

This is exquisite ambient chamber goth of the highest order -  with an aching sense of physical dialogue with St Kenelm's church in medieval Gloucestershire. The 3 long tunes are improvised on location and recorded straight to reel to reel. We could write a whole dissertation on the acquired meaning of DSCM's site-specific outtings and livestreams over lockdown. But that still wouldn't capture the ghosts in the spools

Long live Dead Space Chamber Music: truly the most captivating aural trip in Avon.

& totally essential if you like: Dead Can Dance, candlelight, Hildegard von Bingen, Jozef van Wissem, A Field in England, early Demdike Stare or Ghost Box


About the tracks:
1, O Virtus Sapientiae 8:57
A reinterpretation of a chant by Hildegard Von Bingen, 1098-1179

2, Lachrymæ 10:36
An improvisation following a tradition found in hymnody, where the melody combines two songs - the words of one set to the tune of the other. The songs in question are Flow My Teares by John Dowland (1563-1626) and Je Vivroie Liement by Guillaume de Machaut (1300-1377), both of which feature on the debut album, Dead Space Chamber Music.

3, Black Desert 10:07
A semi-composed improvisation around the half-whole diminished scale. Integrating Ellen’s vocal field recordings as additional atmospheric textures, the piece has been gradually developed and shaped through live performances over several years. The vocals are an improvised glossolalia, with Welsh inflections.

Dead Space Chamber Music
St Kenelm’s: The Sapperton Sessions

The Sapperton Sessions were recorded in May 2019 in the atmospheric setting of the medieval church of St Kenelm’s, in the tiny rural village of Sapperton, Gloucestershire.

St Kenelm’s is nestled in a picturesque graveyard, full of ivy-covered headstones and ornate stone tombs. The heavy wooden doorway to the church is approached through a tree-tunnel of looming dark yews - the experience of which evokes ancient myths and dark fairy tales.

The church dates back to the 13th century, itself integrating an earlier 11th century building. It is thought that prior to this it was a pre-Christian sacred site, which only deepens and amplifies the intense feeling of the place. The interior is remarkable for its many ornate statues, and for its abundance of dark carved wood. Together with its ancient stone and large leaded windows, St Kenelm’s harbours a beautifully warm acoustic, which the band leant into deeply, allowing it to augment and ‘speak back’ their sound.

The recordings were made in a 'live session' set up, with cello (Liz Paxton), guitar (Tom Bush) and voice (Ellen Southern) playing together and responding to each other in the moment (note that this recording pre-dates the addition of Katie Murt on drums / percussion to the band in early 2020). All three of the resulting pieces blend form with improvisation, and the stillness and intimacy of the space lent itself to this process perfectly. Tom Berry (recording / editing / mixing) set up an entire mobile studio in the church, complete with 'reel to reel' tape recorder. The analogue aesthetic perfectly captures the rounded live-ness of the sound, and careful listening reveals not only the sound of the tape machine ‘rolling’ but also the occasional ‘pop’ of the idiosyncratic church electrics.

The ensemble took residence for 2 days in the church, allowing visitors in between takes, including a group of hikers from Belgium, who were intrigued to say the least! A local wedding party just up the road also popped in one evening for a listen to some playbacks. They had been made curious by the eerie and uncanny sounds emitting from the church and being carried on the wind through the village.

This release has an almost site-specific quality in that it is so much about the dialogue between the sound created and the space it rang through. The band hopes that feeling reaches out to the listeners too, immersing them in this vivid document of a very special time and place. This feeling is only stronger now. With the covid pandemic affecting everyone’s lives, and music-making in general, this recording feels even more like a glimpse into another world.
released December 4, 2020

Guitar, sampler – Tom Bush
Cello – Liz Paxton
Voice, vocal field recordings, sound-making objects (broken ceramics, stone on serrated knife) – Ellen Southern

Produced, engineered and mixed by Tom Berry
Mastered by Callum Godfroy
Executive produced by Chuck Berry
Artwork and design by Tommy Creep and Ellen Southern

Doug Hemmingway (Trianglecuts) for great mixing notes
Kate Gunthorpe for joining us as we discovered many rural churches

Special thanks to the Churches Conservation Trust who care for St Kenelm’s, and so many other unique sacred buildings. Special thanks to Ed McGregor, Patrick Joel, Helen Booker, and to local volunteer Elizabeth for assisting with accessing the building and being so welcoming.

A dontation to the CCT will be made from the sale of this album.

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