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Johnny Flynn & Robert Macfarlane

Lost In The Cedar Wood

    ‘Lost In The Cedar Wood’, Johnny Flynn’s much-anticipated fifth album, is co-written with his friend Robert Macfarlane.

    Johnny and Robert began work on the album in the first weeks of the pandemic, wanting to make music that sang of those dangerous, disorienting spring days; when birdsong was brighter –– and the sense of bewilderment more powerful –– than any of us had known before.

    They drew inspiration in part from The Epic of Gilgamesh, the oldest surviving work of world literature; an epic poem from Ancient Mesopotamia that contains the earliest version of the Flood Myth. To Johnny and Robert, Gilgamesh resonated eerily with the present moment –– and it catalysed their song-writing.

    For Gilgamesh is a story of friendship, love, loss, grief, bad governance and good dreaming; of natural disaster and environmental crisis. It also contains the first recorded act of human destruction of the natural world: when Gilgamesh and Enkidu travel to the Sacred Cedar Wood, slay the guardian spirit of the forest, and cut down the trees with their axes, thereby bringing catastrophe upon themselves.

    Johnny and Robert wrote the album between March 2020 and February 2021, during a year in which we all wandered unsure of our path, lost in the cedar wood. The songs were composed in large part as a correspondence, through a back-and-forth of notebook pages, voice-recordings and WhatsApp-messages, at a time when lockdowns made meeting in person impossible. The first eight songs were recorded in an off-grid cottage deep in a Hampshire forest, with the sounds of chainsaws felling trees drifting in through the windows along with the birdsong.

    The result is an album at once urgent and ancient, which fuses poetry, landscape, myth and music into something unique. These are songs that ring with hope, love and sadness –– and one need not know anything about The Epic of Gilgamesh to be touched by them.


    TRACK LISTING

    Side A
    1. Ten Degrees Of Strange - Johnny Flynn
    2. The World To Come - Johnny Flynn
    3. Gods And Monsters - Robert Macfarlane
    4. Bonedigger - Robert Macfarlane
    5. I Can’t Swim There - Robert Macfarlane

    Side B
    6. Nether - Robert Macfarlane
    7. Flood In The Desert - Johnny Flynn
    8. Tree Rings - Johnny Flynn
    9. Enkidu Walked - Robert Macfarlane
    10. Home And Dry - Robert Macfarlane
    11. Ferryman - Robert Macfarlane

    Poliça & Stargaze

    Music For The Long Emergency

      Coming together again in October 2016 to prepare for a week-long residency culminating in a festival at the Funkhaus in Berlin — the former headquarters of the GDR state radio - the players wrote, rehearsed, and developed the ideas they had been pinging back and forth via the internet in the venue’s Studio 2, an exquisite, wood-panelled room with remarkable acoustics. “What that room created is pretty indescribable,” recalls Leaneagh. “It was a little cocoon.”

      When Stargaze arrived to premiere the project in Minneapolis however it was the day after Trump’s election, and they found their new bandmates reeling. It was in the wake of this news — and just a day before the premiere, that Leaneagh wrote one of the album’s most sublime pieces, How Is This Happening. “The famous question is always ‘which came first the music or the words?’” says de Ridder. “And I honestly think in this project the music came first and then Channy found the words that were going to capture the atmosphere of the music. Or transcend them. Or contrast them. So it was interesting with How Is This Happening, at the last minute to turn the process on its head.

      She just made up her lyrics and her vocal line, and she sang it to us, and we started playing to it, and arranging it as we were playing, everyone being aware of what was happening in America at that time.” The resultant album feels more than a simple collaboration, something more than a sum of its parts, a record with its own unique life force and distinctive voice. For de Ridder, the album’s title, Music For The Long Emergency, reflects the confusion of the times. “It had a meaning of music being a haven, giving you a ray of hope,” says de Ridder. “An alternative reality. And that became a theme of the music too. Quite a lot of the music is a little dark, and it does reflect what has been going on, but also incredible beauty at the same time which we hung onto because we needed to.”

      TRACK LISTING

      1. Fake Like
      2. Marrow
      3. Speaking Of Ghost
      4. Agree
      5. Cursed
      6. How Is This Happening
      7. Music For The Long Emergency


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