Following last year’s evolution from solo Ishmael to the expanded Ensemble, the Severn Songs series marks the most full-bodied and ambitious project yet from Pete Cunningham. The collection of 7”s will branch out like tributaries from the main concept across the year, as Cunningham pays loving tribute to his hometown of Bristol and the surrounding region. “Severn Songs 01” kicks off the run with two rich cuts that sound quintessentially Ishmaelian, but simultaneously an expansion of his palette.
“The Chapel” starts as a glimmer on the horizon, yet develops to a war cry, a clarion call of grace and impact. Cosmic synth gurgles fill the initially sparse atmosphere, before being subsumed by overlapping sax lines; by the end, only a ghostly imprint of squall lingers in the air. On the flip, “Full Circle” brings us down from the sky to the earth. Busy, clipped drums are encircled by synthetic flurries, culminating in a climatic release. As a whole, the release keeps these two divergent approaches to jazzwise electronica rotating in tandem. It’s an approach that is due to be explored with more collaborators on later instalments.
“The Chapel” comes with a video by Amie Nowlan - who also took the aesthetic lead for Ishmael’s live Boiler Room performance in 2016 - which matches the colour and fluidity of the Ensemble’s playing. With Nowlan’s involvement, the assembling of a crack team of talented friends to flesh out the vision on record, a nostalgic name, and even sleeve art provided by his father, Severn Songs is a new path for Cunningham - but one that ultimately loops back home.
released June 29, 2018
Pete Cunningham: Saxophone, Synthesizers, Keys
Chris Hillier: Keys
Holly Wellington: Piano
Stephen Mullins: Guitar
Jake Spurgeon: Bass
Rory O'Gorman: Drums
Jackson Lapes: Percussion