The Owl Service – Garnering Garlands Wherever They Land

os1Among the manifold bands and performers that can be said to lead the latest wave of British folk bands, a roster that travels from the brightest-eyed ingenues to a veritable flood of revitalized veterans (have you heard the new Steeleye Span album yet?), the roster of acts comprising the Stone Tape Recordings family are indisputably at the helm.

The brainchild of Steven Collins, a native of the same climes that gave us Depeche Mode, Stone Tape launched in January 2012… it was, Collins says, the fourth label he’s operated,  although “they were all essentially a continuation of my first label, Hobby-Horse, which began in the summer 2006.  As time went on, others became involved in the label and by the middle of 2011 I was feeling like it wasn’t really my label any more. I eventually decided to leave the Rif Mountain collective at the end of the year, and to start up on my own again, and so Stone Tape Recordings was born.”

Named, as British cult TV fans will quickly tell you, for an especially spine-chilling piece of BBC horror broadcast back in 1972, Stone Tape Recordings (STR) has been responsible for some of the most startlingly original, yet deeply traditional, music of the last couple of years: a truly spectacular solo mini-album by Diana Collier, captivating debut releases by Collins’s own Country Parish Music and Greanvine projects, “and a wonderful album of music and poetry from Scots folk singer Alasdair Roberts and Scots poet Robin Robertson, which was a real coup for me. I’m a huge Alasdair fan, of course, so it was really a labour of love, but it’s also been very good for raising awareness of STR.”

Of these, Country Parish Music epitomizes an element of folk song that is very close to Collins’s heart, and which fans of the genre’s most original practitioners, at least, will agree. “CPM is very much about Rosemary Lippard’s voice .  For me, the singer shapes the song, and so working with a different singer gives a whole different vibe to the music.”  It also offers a startling contrast with Greanvine – whose debut album is forthcoming, but who can already be heard via one of the most compulsive collections of recent years, the Witch Songs, and a version of Donovan’s “Season of the Witch” that you need to hear right now.

os3Yes, another one.  “The tune was seminal,” Donovan wrote of “Season of the Witch.”  “The riff is pure feel.  My early practice on drums found its way into the groove.  The lyric of ‘Season of the Witch’ proved to be prophetic in the months to come.  There is a line in it that goes ‘some other cat looking over his shoulder at me,’ and there were certainly cats looking over their shoulder at me.  Soon these bad cats would come calling at my door.”

He told his The Hurdy Gurdy Man autobiography, “Led Zeppelin often played ‘Season of the Witch’ [actually, it was the solo Robert Plant] [and it] would be recorded by Al Kooper and Steven Stills.  Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger would also make it a must in their music.”  He is being modest.  Since “Season of the Witch” first fetched up on his Sunshine Superman album, and long before Greanvine took it in hand, fabuloys covers by, indeed, Driscoll/Auger and Kooper/Stills have been followed by fresh takes by Vanilla Fudge, Terry Reid, Pesky Gee!, Dr John, Hole, Luna, Joan Jett and Richard Thompson.

Of these, Pesky Gee!’s version is simply shimmering, with Kay Garrett staking her claim amongst the most astonishing, and astonishingly unsung, British vocalists of the late 1960s.  Jett’s version is strangely spectral; Thompson’s is tired and world-weary.  But Driscoll/Auger’s is perhaps the finest, despite Auger admitting, “I never imagined I would ever be doing a Donovan cover.  A lot of those tunes that Julie chose, they were kind of enigmas to me, how to turn them around so they sounded like Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity!  If you listen to the Donovan version, it’s much, much faster tempo, and so these things were kind of conundrums, how to arrange them so that they fit into our repertoire, and we give them our own stamp?”

With Collier’s spectral vocal both icy and impassioned, Greanvine’s version is equally groundbreaking.  Compiling a collection of songs relating to the witch trials of historic infamy, “we found loads of witch themed songs that we could have done, but the lyrics were all from the wrong viewpoint. It was all ‘Burn witch, burn’; none of the songs took the side of the accused, or displayed any sympathy at all. So Diana [Collier] wrote her own song, ‘May Usher,’ and we then adapted ‘Season of the Witch’ slightly to go with it. I’ve always loved Donovan – I think he seems to get an unfair rap from a lot of folk fans. I probably prefer him to Dylan, although…” he drops his voice conspiratorially… “I don’t know what that says about me.”

Perhaps the best-known of all STR releases, however, have been its painstaking anthologizing of the Owl Service, Collins’s other other band, and perhaps the most significant addition to the British folk tapestry this century.  (And beyond.)

Like the label, the Owl Service took their name from a slice of English cult culture, Alan Garner’s spellbinding novel of pre-Christian ritual in a remote corner of Wales; which in turn became a late 1960s TV series, starring (among others) Gillian Hills, hitherto best-known as a pop star in France.

So it’s ironic that Collins had not actually seen the show itself.  “Essentially what I was trying to do at the start was to somehow capture in sound the feel of some films and TV shows that had a major effect on me as a child – things which, for reasons I can’t explain, have always evoked the same feeling in me as my favorite folk music. Films like The Wicker Man, Blood on Satan’s Claw, and the Quatermass films [also the work of the aforementioned Nigel Kneale], and also TV shows like Children of the Stones, The Stone Tape and the BBC’s MR James adaptations. But not The Owl Service, funnily enough. I didn’t see that until much later.”

Occupying very different sonic pastures, but drenched in the same memories regardless, it’s a landscape that the Book of the Lost have been exploring recently.  But whereas their approach is deliciously targeted towards the moods of such shows, Collins digs deeper – towards their meaning, and that peculiar vein of rural pagan imagery that was draped across so much UK TV of the early 1970s.  Dig out the BFI’s recent exhumation of the BBC’s Christmas chiller Stigma, and the Owl Service could have soundtracked every minute of it.

os5The Owl Service launched in 2006, although Collins say he had been wanting to form a folk band since 1990, “ever since I discovered the first Fotheringay album. I didn’t know anyone who liked folk music then, and I didn’t even know much about folk music myself (still don’t really, if I’m being honest) – it all seemed quite alien to me.

“I went to a few folk clubs, and really felt like an outsider – it seemed like some kind of secret society that only accepted you if you came from the right lineage and I found it all rather hostile. Although I loved the music (or some of it anyway), I didn’t feel the folk club scene was for me, so I began learning folk songs by listening to the key records from the 1960s and ’70s revival.”

Neither did he confine his attentions purely to the British end of things.  ”A Christmas Fantasie,” from the Owl Service’s Collected Compilation Tracks download anthology, channels Richard & Mimi Farina with eclectic glee, while we might also remember that many traditional English songs are only known today from their survival on this side of the Atlantic.  ”Katie Cruel” might well be of Scottish origin.  But the best known version (at least until the Owl Service snatched it up) is American through and through, a Revolutionary War era anthem that Karen Dalton took for her own on In My Own Time.

“Fast forward to June 2006, I went to see Vashti Bunyan in concert with a friend, and midway through her set he leant over to me and whispered ‘you could do that’. It got me thinking that maybe I could do it, and for the next few days, I found myself listening to a lot of folk (and folk-inspired) music made by people who didn’t follow the folk blueprint, and who hadn’t come to prominence by trudging around the UK folk clubs night after night.

“I eventually ended up with a vision in my head of how I could fuse the folk revival sound that I loved with other influences, and maybe come up with something interesting and exciting.”

His earliest musical interests flowered in the early 1980s, dictated by the synthpop of the era, and of hometown Basildon’s most famous sons.  “That kind of led into an obsession with electronic music from the States. Some of those sounds still resonate with me today, and we’ve recently begun using synths in Greanvine and they’ll be used a lot on the next Owls record.

“Later on in the 1980s, I became a big heavy metal fan and a lot of that has stayed with me too – my favorite guitar players from that era still influence me hugely; people like Randy Rhoads, Alex Skolnik and Denis D’Amour. Then, when I began discovering folk music in the early ’90s, it was people like Anne Briggs, Shirley & Dolly Collins, Young Tradition, Pentangle, Steeleye, Fairports/Sandy. All the usual stuff.

“A few years later, when the internet made it so much easier to delve a bit deeper, I found Comus, Forest, Fresh Maggots, Steve Ashley, Shelagh MacDonald, Spirogyra, Mellow Candle etc. Some of which I knew about before, but had never been able to track down due to their scarcity. All of this stuff was massively influential for me when I began recording as the Owl Service.”

He still didn’t know anybody else who shared his interests, though, so his first steps were taken very much under a cloak of dark obscurity, a fictitious collective whose name was circulating long before there was any music to back it up.  “

“I already had the name (having decided some time before that if I ever formed a folk band it would be called The Owl Service) and so I set up a MySpace profile for the band, listing five [fictitious[] band members whose names I took from characters in British horror films; a whole set of influences; and a deliberately tantalizing biog. Even though I had no music ready at that time, I quickly started to build a following, and it dawned on me that maybe there was a ready-made audience out there waiting for a band like The Owl Service to come along. I quickly began working on the debut EP.”

That was Wake the Vaulted Echo, released on Hobby Horse in 2006, and still one of Collins’s personal favorites.  “It’s the sound of me cramming as many of my influences into twenty minutes as possible, and if you listen closely you’ll hear that at that time I was obsessed with Boris, Alice Coltrane, Six Organs of Admittance, Bohren Und Der Club of Gore, Funkadelic, and the British folk revival of the 1960s/70s.”  A second extended player, Cine, followed before year’s end.

Meanwhile, a “real” band was now coalescing, with a membership that has risen as high as seven musicians, plus four or five regular contributors, all spread out across south-eastern England and London.  And swiftly they tapped into what was, at the time, a thriving scene.

“There was a burgeoning ‘alternative folk’ movement happening back then. You had all that great stuff coming out of Philadelphia, and a whole generation of guitar players influenced by John Fajey, Sandy Bull etc. as well as really interesting UK acts like Tunng and The Memory Band, and the Green Man Festival was a really important part of it all.”

Beyond that, things were less encouraging.  “The live folk scene in 2006 was pretty much how it still is today – polarised would be the best way to describe it. There’s still a ‘folk club’ scene in the old sense – run in pub function rooms/village halls/working mens clubs, usually happening every week or at least monthly, mostly run and attended by people who are 50+, and they’ll tend to have local singers supporting established acts who are constantly playing the club circuit.

“Then you have arts centres, who will attract a slightly younger audience alongside older folk fans, and they’ll be able to book acts with a higher profile than the clubs, partly because they’re more professionally run and partly because they usually have funding. And then there’s people like the Nest Collective and Pull Up the Roots, who attract younger audiences by booking more left field folk acts and presenting their events in cool ways in an array of nice, intimate venues (usually in London). They also use social media as a promotion tool to very good effect. You’ll find some crossover between the three, but not a lot.”

The Owl Service became, in many ways, champions of that cross-over.  Utilizing social media to its full extent, reaching out not only to “new” converts but also to established folk fans, and uniting, too, with names that past generations would already have been familiar with,  Mellow Candle’s Alison O’Donnell among them.

“I found Alison on MySpace; we exchanged a few messages and, before I knew it, we were writing songs together. She needed no persuading at all; I’ve spent a fair bit of time with Alison since that first encounter ,and I can honestly say she has more energy and enthusiasm than anybody else I’ve ever worked with.

“Our first batch of gigs together included a show in Manchester and, as there was so many of us, only half the band stayed together in a bed-and-breakfast, and the rest of us made other plans. We’d driven up from Essex that morning, it took hours, and the gig ran on quite late; I think we left the venue around 1 or 2 in the morning. Even after all of that, Alison was still up trying to get a jam session going in the B&B at 3am. That’s what she’s like – this ball of creative energy that never sleeps. She’s amazing and inspiring.”

The first Owl Service album, A Garland of Song, arrived in 2007.  “The first Owls record was very much a learning process for me. It was the first time I’d recorded anything using a computer, and it was also the first time I’d attempted to arrange traditional folk songs, and to write original material in that style.

“I had grand plans for that album, and it was always going to fall short, but I had to approach it that way. Firstly to encourage myself to keep going with it, and to also attract collaborators to the project. The original plan was to record ten trad songs with ten different vocalists, and to have original instrumental interludes between each vocal track.”  In the event, five of the ten tracks were Collins originals, while “Apple Tree Man,” by the Straw Bear Band’s Dom Cooper and Lewis Hill, was rooted in its composers’ original demo. “‘Flanders Shore’ also came from a demo, recorded by Laura Hulse and Paul Mickelthwaite, who were playing together as a duo called Yealand Redmayne at that time. It’s actually their demo on the record, with my instrumental embellishments.

“Sonically, it was always my intention to make a record for people who loved acid-folk and psych-folk, but who also liked heavy, traditional folk records like Crown of Horn [Martin Carthy], Galleries [the Young Tradition] and Love, Death & the Lady [Shirley and Dolly Collins].

“Regarding song choice, apart from ‘Flanders Shore,’ I selected all the traditional songs – it was basically my own trad greatest hits.”  Fresh and fragile, near-iconoclastic interpretations of “Katie Cruel,” “Turpin Hero,” “The Gardener Child” and “The Rolling of the Stones,” A Garland of Song swept the mid-2000s folk scene aside a bulldozer, and that despite the initial July 2007 release appearing only as a limited edition (100 copies) CD-r on Hobby Horse.

It would not remain in obscurity for long, however.  “Through a friend of mine, a copy found its way into the offices of Southern Records, [where] A&R was being handled by Tony Sylvester (current Turbonegro vocalist).  Like me, he loved both heavy metal and folk music and it clicked with him immediately. Tony contacted me asking if they could give the album a full CD/LP release, which we did, and that version saw the light of day in June 2008.”  Since that time, an expanded version of the album has supplanted it on the racks, the Garland Sessions collection.

“The revisited version of the debut album is probably the best Owl Service release, and it’s certainly the best place to start if you’ve never heard us before. The original album fell well short of what I’d intended, but I think it had a certain charm and that’s why people took it to heart. However, for me as a musician, I’d always wanted to make it the album I’d originally planned it to be and a few years down the line I felt I’d improved enough as a musician/arranger/producer to make it happen. The end result was pretty much how I’d wanted it to be originally.”

Further EPs followed, each one advancing Owl Services name into folk circles.  “I felt things were really taking shape by [the time of] The Bitter Night [summer 2008]” – a claim justified by the closing rerecording of Lal Waterson‘s ‘Fine Horseman,’ originally covered on the Wake EP, but best exemplified by “The Lyke Wake Dirge,” an English chant telling of the soul’s journey from Earth to Purgatory, so ancient that scholars believe it to be one of the few musical survivors of the country’s pre-Christian tradition.

The dirge is scarcely a stranger to modern interpretations, from the Young Tradition to Al Stewart, and onto Steeleye Span, who once toured the US (opening for Jethro Tull) with an a capella “Lyke Wake Dirge” as their opening number.  Bet that went down well with the Aqualung crowd.   The Owl Service electrify it, in ever sense of the word, doom-laden and dramatic, yet never overwhelming, a wall of raw guitar that perfectly complements the lyric.

“And sandwiched between those two,” Collins continues, “are a couple of freeform, doom-laden tracks which again hinted at the stuff I was listening to outside of folk music.”

os2The Fabric of Folk, in 2010, introduced Alison O’Donnell to the band, five tracks that exquisitely meld one of the most glorious voices in British folk with one of the most idiosyncratic bands; paving the way for future collaborations, of course, but also establishing the Owl Service among the select handful of modern artists who have made definitive inroads into that most hoary of folk song collections, the Child Ballads.  Their version of “Flodden Field” has few peers no matter how far back you travel through the canon.

Collins laughs.  “I should first point out that I’m no authority on folk music of any kind, and I don’t approach it in that scholarly fashion which so many do. I don’t know a great deal about Frances Child or the songs he collected, and my general folksong knowledge is limited. I guess, like many, I initially saw the name Child cropping up on the sleeves of many folk records I picked up, without having the slightest idea what it meant.  But they always seemed to be the best songs!”

He had already tackled two of the Ballads, “The Rolling of the Stones” and “The Gardener Child,” on A Garland of Song.  But it was O’Donnell who brought “Flodden Field” to Collins’s attention, a gift she repeated when the pair recorded “The Lover’s Ghost” for the band’s second album.  She recalls, “I looked around for a song with a strong and passionate story, and settled on Child Ballad No. 168. Steven listened to a version by [the] 70s band Vulcan’s Hammer, and together we created an arrangement.”  She admits she had never heard any previous recording; “I just got the basic melody, so that I could make it my own. I try never to do a cover or a traditional song unless I can really put my own spin on it.”

A mark of the venture’s success is its inclusion on Floo’ers O’The Forest, a truly magnificent 2CD compilation released last year, to mark the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden… “a bloody encounter between the Scots and the English,” explains O’Donnell,  which James IV paid for with his life. Most Scottish families lost a loved one. I was aware of the battle but not much beyond that it was a fight that furthered the ambitions of Henry VIII and in which many thousands died.”

Musically, The Fabric of Folk is astonishing.  But beneath the music itself, something else was stirring, as Collins found himself becoming aware of some very disquieting developments in the wider world.

In just the few short years since it had been coined, the “psych-folk” tag had become something of an albatross around a lot of necks, as curious ears began lumping any even-remotely obscure, or under-rated folk album into its clutches… Steve Ashley, creator of the groundbreaking Stroll On album back in 1974 (and a guest on the next Owl Service album), was both astonished and dismayed to hear his work being lumped into a bag that could not have been further from his mind when the record was made, and he was not alone in his disapproval, as Collins, too, acknowledges.

“By the time I started work on the second Owl Service album, The View from a Hill, a few things were already shaping the thinking behind it. The whole psych-folk thing was starting to feel very hackneyed to me. I suppose it’s always been a fairly loose term, but people were beginning to use it to describe all sorts of things, a lot of them neither folky nor psychedelic, and I took a conscious decision to distance the Owl Service from that tag.”

Even the album’s title spoke to this aim.  “It was a reference to [both] the MR James short story, [and to] the song ‘I Was a Young Man,’ which was one of the key tracks on the album.  It summed up how I felt about our place in the folk scene – or rather away from the folk scene; that we’re ‘folk outsiders’ surveying the scene from a distance.”

Another feature that shaped the album was the band’s own sense of self.  “We’d been playing as a real band for nine months or so, and I wanted the second record to be more of a group effort. Although I still did the vast majority of instrumentation myself, there was definitely more of a group feel to the record as a lot of the songs were arranged by all of us sitting around and playing them.”

The View from a Hill was the second part of what Owl Service called the Pattern beneath the Plough series; released earlier in the year (but actually recorded after the album itself), The Burn Comes Down was recorded and released within three months, a speedy turnaround that Collins imparted “a freshness that other Owls releases don’t have, and it neatly captures everything the Owl Service is about.”

The View from a Hill itself is a remarkable album, deeply steeped in the mystic energies that permeate the best of British folk, but encased, too, in an enigma of its own making.  Collins explains, “generally, I chose mostly lesser-known songs for second album and I really tried to record them with a more timeless sound. I didn’t want it to sound modern in any way, but nor did I want it to sound like we’d made a concerted effort to be retro. I guess I wanted it sound ‘unproduced,’ in a kind of Steve Albini style. In fact one review of the album likened it to an Albini production – that was very pleasing.”

“The Banks of the Nile,” “Polly on the Shore,” “Willie O’Winsbury” (a song recently brought back to life by Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer’s Child Ballads project), and a lovely version of the late Austin John Marshall’s “The Ladies Go Dancing at Whitsun” rank among the album’s highlights, every one of them instantly recognizable but twisted through the Owl Service’s own unique vision of folk’s constantly shifting place within the historical record.

No longer the slavish quest for “authenticity” that was once the bain of the Brtish folk maven, hours spent rummaging through the bowels of Cecil Sharp House in search of the ultimate archaeological discovery.  Ballads and verses penned five hundred years back can be reborn today as livid reflections of modern preoccupations, and draped across the right arrangement, the traditional “Sorry the Day I Was Married” (for example) scarcely feels out of place even alongside the Owl Service’s taste in more esoteric covers… the EPs worth of Glenn Danzig songs they covered for a Halloween release last year; the drive-in full of cult movie themes that comprised the Cine EP… or a wealth of other joys that reach from Steve Ashley’s “Fire and Wine” and “Spirit of Christmas,” to Greanvine’s take on Low’s “Long Way Around The Sea,” and even Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco.”

Four years have now elapsed since The View from a Hill, a hiatus that convinced many people that the Owl Service had hooted its last.  Collins, however, is quick to dismiss the epitaphs.

“The Owl Service is very much alive and kicking. I put the band on hold back in early 2012 and started a couple of new projects, but a new Owls album was always on the backburner, and it’s in the making now. We did say we’d stop playing live but we’ve actually returned to the live stage recently. The live group as it was from 2008-2012 has now mostly disbanded, but there’s a new line-up for live performances and you can expect us to play maybe two or three shows a year… assuming people ask us to play of course!”

The establishing of Stone Tape Recordings was one of those projects, of course; another was a positively Brobdingnagian exhumation of the Owl Service vaults, first for a data DVD release that rounded up practically every note of music the band ever recorded, from the rawest demos on (She Wants to be Flowers But You Make Her Owls was titled from the climactic final scenes in the original The Owl Service); and then a series of releases via the Bandcamp website - a repository for all that is great and good in the world of self-distributed mp3s and FLAC files.  Not only that, but the music is also available for as little (or as much) as you wish to pay.

os6“There’s a lot of people who use Bandcamp to discover new music,” Collins explains.  “Our fanbase is absolutely tiny in the grand scheme of things, so it’s a very good way to help the music find a wider audience. Since making the whole Owl Service discography available on a ‘pay what you want’ basis, the amount of downloads we’ve had has gone through the roof. I’ve no doubt only a fraction of those people would have ever checked us out if we’d been charging for downloads, and if just a few of them return to buy the next physical Owls release than I’m happy.”

Refreshing, too, is Collins’s attitude towards filesharing.  In an age where rock’s wealthiest stars plead the perils of imminent bankruptcy as a consequence of some kid in Michigan grabbing a free download of their latest album (an attitude that South Park skewered with characteristic elan a few years ago… remember Britney having to downgrade her private jet?), Collins is adamant.

“I’ve always been able to see the positives of file sharing. Not in the Napster/Limewire way where everything is out there on websites available to anybody who wants to grab it for free, but I grew up taping music from the radio, and from friends’ records, and in some ways file sharing is no different. There’s small communities out there who use file sharing to discover what’s new, and these are people who then go out and buy the records, or the t-shirts, or go to the shows.

“There are plenty of bands now enjoying successful careers whose star initially began ascending after their records were initially enjoyed by thousands of people for free via filesharing networks. In a nutshell, I believe that getting your music onto a lot of hard drives is a very good way of spreading the word, and when you’re a tiny little cottage industry like us, you have to give your content away for free to begin with.”

Besides that, “as someone who loves physical formats, I can’t help but find no real value in digital formats, and so I don’t see it as a big deal to give files away purely as listening matter.

“I can only speak for myself, but I welcome any way of getting your music out there – Bandcamp and Soundcloud are two of the best, and they can really be used to positive effect. Bandcamp is particularly useful for me. Setting up your own mail order site for CDs and vinyl was easy as soon as we had PayPal, but offering downloads was much harder. Bandcamp offers a full digital solution for artists and labels, allowing them to manage their own content and set their own prices, and it’s a much nicer interface than many other regular digital music stores. I’m extremely thankful for its existence.”

Collins and his multitudinous projects show no sign of slacking off.  “Coming up next, we have albums from Irish alternative folk band The Driftwood Manor, a collaboration between Alison O’Donnell and London-based ‘folk noir’ band Firefay; the debut album from leftfield folk artist You Are Wolf; and a full length record from Greanvine.”  The next Owl Service album is underway, while a Stone Tape Singles Club, the appropriately-named You. Must. Listen., has just got underway, and promises a wealth more magical music.

“The Singles Club came out of a sudden burst of enthusiasm after I heard the two songs from the band Crafting For Foes, which kicked off the series. Crafting For Foes are friends and kindred spirits, and we’d been talking about doing an EP of theirs on Stone Tape for a while, but it had slipped off the agenda. Then Adam from the band sent me their version of ‘The Trees They Do Grow High,’ to see what I thought of it, and I loved it instantly. I said that if he had another trad song to go with it, I’d put both tracks out as a 7” single. He came back the next day with ‘Greenwood Laddie,’ and I suddenly thought it’d be great to make it the first of a series.

“I hit up a few people with the idea and they were all up for being part of it, so I figured it was worth doing. I’ve always loved the idea of the singles club – it’s a chance for artists to try something different, or to maybe use tracks they’re not sure what do to with, so it makes it interesting for the audience too. We’re about to unleash the second and third YML releases from Nancy Wallace and Lost Harbours, then we have singles from Diamond Family Archive, Cath & Phil Tyler, Piers Haslam, Greanvine and The Owl Service.

“The plan is to keep it going as long as I can keep convincing great acts to give me a couple of tracks!”

STONE TAPE RECORDINGS DISCOGRAPHY

The Owl Service – The Pattern Beneath The Plough parts 1 & 2 – Double CD combining the EP The Burn Comes Down and LP The View From a Hill in their entirety, plus nine bonus tracks.

The Owl Service – All Things Being Silent (The Pattern Beneath The Plough part three) – 7″ single containing 2 tracks concerning murder most foul. Heavyweight vinyl in picture sleeve with postcard insert. Limited edition of 250 copies.

Greanvine – An Angel Shone – 4 track handmade CD-r EP containing 2 covers (Low and Vashti Bunyan) and 2 traditional songs.

Diana Collier – All Mortals at Rest – Handmade CD-r in stickered recycled card sleeve with insert. 50 copies only. Six tracks of unaccompanied singing; five traditional songs and one contemporary cover (Alasdair Roberts).

The Owl Service – Garland Sessions – Deluxe reissue of the debut Owl Service album, A Garland of Song contains all 13 tracks from the original album, remixed, remastered and in some cases re-recorded. Also includes an additional 6 tracks from the sessions.

Country Parish Music – Introducing – Five song 12” single

Greanvine – Witch Songs – 3 track handmade CD-r EP, produced for the Witches Prayer event in Southend-on-sea in April 2013.

The Owl Service – Bare Ghosts – Handmade CD-r featuring 4 stripped down mixes of previously released Owl Service tracks.

Alasdair Roberts & Robin Robertson – Hirta Songs – 10 track album concerning the history, landscape and people of the remote Scottish archipelago of St Kilda.

Alasdair Roberts – Live at Leigh Folk Festival (cd-r)

Stone Tape Recordings – A Grove of Bleached Bones – Handmade CD-r recorded for Halloween 2013, contains covers of four songs originally written by Glenn Danzig. Numbered edition of 50 copies.

os4THE OWL SERVICE DISCOGRAPHY

EPs

Wake the Vaulted Echo (2006) (Hobby-Horse)

Cine (2006) (Hobby-Horse)

Cine (The Director’s Cut) (2007) (Static Caravan)

The Fabric of Folk (CD) (2008) (Static Caravan)

The Bitter Night EP (2008) (Hobby-Horse)

The Fabric of Folk (12″) (2009) (Midwich)

The Burn Comes Down (2010) (Rif Mountain)

All Things Being Silent (2011) (Rif Mountain)

There Used to be a Crown (2012) (Hobby-Horse)

Bare Ghosts (2013) (Stone Tape Recordings)

Albums

A Garland of Song (original) (2007) (Hobby-Horse)

A Garland of Song (reissue) (2008) (Southern Records)

The View From a Hill (2010) (Rif Mountain)

Garland Sessions (2012) (Stone Tape Recordings)

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