Album release: Mount The Air by The Unthanks
Release date: 9 February 2015 (pre-orders from 11 November 2014)
Label: Rabble Rouser Music / Cadiz
Listen / more information: on official The Unthanks website
The Unthanks invite you to Mount the Air. An invitation to be free, weightless, airborne, to transcend reality, to enter your imagination, to raise the possibilities above the ordinary, to become one with nature, to give yourself up to nature !and let the wind carry you to new places. To fly.
Or, perhaps you prefer a more objective, bullet-point summary!
- "Mount The Air" is the first studio album by The Unthanks since Last was released four years ago.
- "Mount The Air"has been two years in the making and the first to be made in their own makeshift studio in Northumberland, set up in an old granary building, 200 yards from where Rachel Unthank and Adrian McNally live with their 2 sons, 1 and 3 years old.
- "Mount The Air" is released on their own label, RabbleRouser, despite offers of continuation with major labels.
- It is the first Unthanks record to feature writing from all 5 core members, including debut contributions from both Rachel and Becky Unthank, as well as continued and more extensive writing from pianist and producer Adrian McNally, including the opening 10 minute title track.
- Musically more ambitious than ever, the Mercury nominated Geordies are still a combination of grounded tradition and filmic orchestration, but with Mount The Air, they take on flavours from traditions as diverse as Spain, India, Blue Note and er, Trip Hop.
- While "Mount The Air" has all the hallmarks of a band working in heightened isolation, since releasing Last in 2011, The Unthanks have collaborated with Orbital, Adrian Utley (Portishead), Martin Green (Lau), Martin Hayes, The Voice Squad, Sting, Charles Hazlewood, The Moulettes and German composer Werner Cee, while also producing a film soundtrack,a orchestral scale commission for a brass band collaboration with the National Champions of Great Britain, a WW1 project with Sam Lee, explorations of the work of both Robert Wyatt and Antony & The Johnsons, and a children’s song commission. And Rachel Unthank and Adrian McNally had two children and Becky Unthank got married!
When The Unthanks released Last in 2011, Uncut wrote that “The Unthanks seem to regard folk music the same way Miles Davis regarded jazz: as a launch pad for exploring the wider possibilities”. The Unthanks have taken that analogy a step further on Mount The Air, with a beautiful 10 minute opening title track that has echoes of Miles Davis and Gill Evans in their Sketches of Spain period. Written by Rachel Unthank’s husband and pianist/producer/arranger Adrian McNally (based on the themes of a one-verse traditional ditty from a book of Dorset songs in Cecil Sharp House by Becky Unthank), the piece features the trumpet playing of the world-class Tom Arthurs; a former BBC New Generation Artist and Elysian Quartet collaborator, now immersed in the Berlin improv scene.
With a classic transformation folk tale at it’s heart, "Mount The Air" introduces the album with one seductive layer of texture after another, giving way eventually to driving Blue Note stylings and finally a climax reminiscent of Arcade Fire’s euphoria or Elbow’s anthemic power, but here the power is spectacular, not created conventionally with guitars, but with breathtaking musical colour and beauty.
You can download a more extensive press release here, which features a track-by-track summary of the album.
The album will be accompanied by a UK and Ireland tour - full details are on the tour section of The Unthanks website.