I’m often to be found either at Wigmore Hall listening to classical music or in my car listening to Leonard Cohen. I happily oscillate between the two. However, last night I went to the RADA Studios to hear a unique band launch Filth, their new album.  If you are too impatient to read on, skip what follows and go straight to their website www.buriers.co.uk

There are three reasons why it’s hard to describe what it’s like for me (not necessarily anyone else, just me), to listen to A Band of Buriers

The first I’ve already told you; my love of classical music – Schubert’s music being the absolute tops for me.  A Band of Buriers doesn’t sound like Schubert (not that this is a criticism; they didn’t ever set out to sound like Schubert!).  The singer does sound a bit like a young Leonard Cohen but, whilst there are parallels, A Band of Buriers doesn’t sound at all like Leonard Cohen’s band.  I find The Buriers’ music more ethereal, more subtle, deliberately less tuneful – often they use simple, repetitive notes.  I suspect their sound is unique – and anything unique has me struggling to describe.

Here is how they describe themselves; ‘A Band of Buriers are an English alternative folk band that blends folk and alternative rap elements together. The band consists of James P Honey, an accomplished alt rapper, singer and poet and Jamie Romain, a classically trained cellist. Their melodic blend of cello and acoustic guitar, combined with a beautiful female backing choir, compliments the abstract and imaginative poetry of their lyrics, resulting in grand songs fractured with a fragile beauty’.  In addition to the three backers, Annie Broadbent, Anna Byers and Georgia Maguire, dressed in fetching, yet somhow pure, white night dresses, there is also a solitary violin played hauntingly by Laura Mallows.

The second reason for my difficulty is that the lyrics, ‘abstract and imaginative’, are amazing but beyond my comprehension. Again, this is not a criticism – only an honest admission of my own inadequacy. I have written before about my liking for doggerels (see ‘I blame Spike Milligan’ posted on this website on 24 February). Doggerels, by definition, are low brow – you can’t get lower than a doggerel.  By stark contrast (as stark as a contrast can get!), the lyrics of A Band of Buriers are deep, profound, thought-provoking, obscure, unsettling. Listen to this (preferably literally – the song is called Slides By, enhanced by a very good video):

The wind plays and paints an art nouveau

swirl within your hair

you’ll go to pains to make straight come

the wide eyed morning

Yet still the curtains still so strangely still it

feels like a sheet of solid steel or porcelain.

I once wrote a doggerel about meeting the girl who was eventually to become my wife.  Contrast my banal lines with those of The Buriers in their song ‘Oh my one’.  Me, banal, first:

Way back in the mists of time

When I was young and in my prime

I went to a party in Singapore

Not expecting that I’d score.

But there before my very eyes

I came across a nice surprise

A gorgeous girl, only seventeen,

As beautiful a vision as I’d ever seen

I didn’t know her name of course

To ask straight away seemed a sauce

But there she was, slim yet curvy,

It made me feel, well, topsy-turvy.

And now make the vast ascent (so sudden you might need a pressure suit to protect you from the bends) to the lyrics of The Buriers:

 I wonder if when our hair is white

will we still like to lie afloat?

High over those greedy dumb mouths

tearing into the peeling ceiling of sky

And my, oh my, how you and I grew young

building a bridge with all the things

we’ll get wrong.

My professor at university used to say, ‘no perception without contrast’.  How right he was!

The third reason why I find it difficult to describe the experience of listening to A Band of Buriers is that James P Honey, the ‘accomplished alt rapper, singer and poet’, is my son.  And Jamie Romain, the ‘classically trained cellist’ (cellos are my favourite instrument!) I have known for at least ten years since James and he met at university. So, you see, I can’t listen to their poetry/music dispassionately; I’m hopelessly involved – not practically, but the most involved you can be; emotionally.  I sit there marvelling that the little nipper I used to take around the Cotswolds on the back of my moped (he can’t even remember!) has turned out to be a talented performing poet/songwriter, perhaps even a genius.

But please don’t take my word for it.  Go to their website www.buriers.co.uk  Better still, support them by buying the album.  It comes with a booklet of the lyrics so, like me, you can marvel at the beauty of the words and ponder their possible meaning.

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