Hello and welcome to my Sunday Review. Every week I read great wildlife and nature books, see engrossing websites and hear wonderful new music – this is my chance to bring you all the best I’ve experienced – every Sunday.
This week, one of the best music releases of the year and an artist who you should discover – if only they didn’t specialise in camouflage.
Our Bright Night – Kirsty Merryn
If I tell you that The Guardian loved Kirsty Merryn’s new album, that might put you off. It shouldn’t. It’s a most beautiful journey in sound through a night of unexpected encounters. Our Bright Night is the follow up to She & I, which I reviewed in Sunday Review 2.
“A mood piece, piano-led, every touch of a key like a warm breath on the neck… Merryn’s voice is a balm for the soul, wide-open and heady.****” – The Guardian
The Grauniad is famous for typesetting errors and there’s yet another mistake here too. They appear to have missed a star off their review.
“Like a warm breath on the neck”, they say? No thank you. Not in the middle of a pandemic. I’ll take balm for my soul though.
The concept of the album is a journey through the night, meeting at twilight, the title of the instrumental piece which opens the voyage. Over the course of the album we are led through a magical journey, meeting ghostly lovers, thieving politicians, and cunning little foxes. The theme which binds all the writing is deception; how we deceive ourselves and how others deceive us.
Here’s the penultimate track, The Wake, recorded live five years ago:
Familiar friends feature, with Phil Beer from Show of Hands on fiddle on Twilight and the super-talented Sam Kelly on vocals on Shanklin Chine. There’s a shruti box, and atmospheric synth and electric guitar, conjuring a magical atmosphere to match the night-time journey. My favourite song is The Deep The Wild The Torrent. I love that someone can imagine a monk in his retreat looking out on the world and seeing beauty many centuries ago and then create an epic soundscape in a tiny box-room studio.
I didn’t want the dawn to come, but when it did it was track 11 and it was beautiful. Let Our Bright Night transport you to another world and the realisation that we all deceive ourselves. Multi-layered, sensitive, epic and intriguing; it’s a glorious collection which will reward repeated plays. And that’s no deception.
You can download the album instantly from Bandcamp. You’ll thank me.
Now then, The Guardian; about that missing star; the star is Kirsty Merryn.
Cryptic real and imaginary wildlife
– Immy Smith
Immy Smith is a fascinating artist. They mix science and skills-based art to create wildly imaginative and beautiful pieces which ooze originality. Whether it’s working with scientists, creating studies of mimicry and crypsis or creating giant hand-made books, they throw themselves into every project wholeheartedly. Here are some examples of natural subjects and patterns from their website:
It’s difficult for artists to make a living, unless their working lives revolve around outrage and marketing, rather than harnessing raw talent, being inspired and working hard to create something with beauty and meaning. I really enjoy Immy Smith’s work and the clever way they apply their ideas. One wonderful idea was creating the Insectadeck of playing cards:
How might moths change if they evolved to hide in a playing card deck? Find out in Immy’s shop full of clever, bright, funny and stimulating ideas. Many artists are using Patreon to support their work. Immy’s got a Patreon account where you can subscribe for a range of modest monthly amounts and receive exclusive content.
Here’s 30 hours of drawing in two and a half minutes:
Immy has biographies on her website of 25, 50, 100 and 200 words. One word would have been enough; brilliant.
Immy has a PhD in pharmacology and experience in human tissue culture. Their interest in science isn’t some passing fad; they’re a scientist through and through. Immy is a proud and vocal member of the disability community and their social media posts are frequently cutting, often ferociously sweary with invented swearwords, and yet usually end with a benediction, wishing everyone well. I wish them well, although I’d rather they didn’t add a swear word to Puffin. Cockwomble is fine, but Puffin? No.
Do spare a thought for me having to edit this post. It appears that autocorrect doesn’t find words like shruti or crypsis in its dictionary.
That’s it for this week.
I’ll be back with more reviews of things you might adore next Sunday.
In the meantime, I wish you a great week.