Caulbearers have dropped their new single titled ‘Over Comes A Cloud’. Funky and original in such a quirky way that the sauvé jazz-infused style and improv mindset create such a tasty track that you will find yourself giving multiple listens within the same sitting. All music should be this progressive.
Caulbearers are a Manchester-based collective of musicians, but with contributors also hailing from around the UK and Europe.
Based on the songs of producer and vocalist Damien Mahoney, their sound has been described as “archaic Funk fables and Soul migrations… bittersweet songs of the self, soul, and society” and “roots music from the rainy city… Psychedelic Soul with poetic, social observation.”
The 8-piece ensemble weave together elements of Hip-Hop, Funk, Dub, Soul and Jazz, with plenty of grit and discord in the mix. Caulbearers’ rhythms, arrangements and soundscapes are hugely inspired by many forms of electronic music, but are solely channelled through the use of live instruments.
The lyrics and sound invite the listener to explore the frailties and contradictions of our minds, the difficulties of the societies we create and inherit, yet also the celebration of this existence, of each other and what it can mean and feel like to be human.This music reflects Manchester’s melting pot of culture and unashamedly draws from that rich heritage, but it’s influences and inspirations extend out globally.
With previous releases via Jack To Phono Records and Single Cell Recordings, brand new material is due out in 2020 with a full album to follow in 2021. Incredible singer Ruth Blake joins Damien on vocals throughout the album, which also features appearances from members of Cinematic Orchestra, The Breath, GoGo Penguin, Homelife, The Earlies, Cherry Ghost & Beats & Pieces Big Band, amongst others.
The blistering new single from Caulbearers veers from discordant, dystopian breaks & piercing guitars to soulful yet gritty Funk. The song builds to a crescendo as the battle between ‘the order and chaos’ of the lyrics plays out through the strings, horns, distorted textures and layered voices of Damien Mahoney & Ruth Blake.
The words are a call to lift the veil of nobility, pride and entitlement that empires throughout time have often hidden their violent & oppressive actions behind. The song asks if we can be conscious enough to see these shadowy impulses and desires in ourselves and not only look to blame others for their actions.
The initial recordings were recorded at Toast in Salford, with live performances recorded onto analogue tape.
All subsequent production and editing, including the recording of overdubs and additional instruments, has been done at vocalist Damien Mahoney’s attic studio in Old Trafford, Padded Cell.
The track has been mixed by Seadna Mcphail (Badly Drawn Boy, Doves, Jah Wobble, Everything Everything, Thea Gilmore, I Am Kloot, Happy Mondays) https://www.seadna.org/
Mastering has been done at Optimum Mastering in Bristol (Beak, Portishead, J Dilla, Roy Ayers)
The track features Grenville Harrop on drums (formerly of Cherry Ghost), Will Lenton on Saxophones (Mr. Wilson’s 2nd Liners), Anton Hunter on guitar (Beats and Pieces Big Band, Article XI), Ruth Blake on backing vocals with Damien Mahoney on lead vocals. Cellos by Stefan Skrimshire, percussion by Gavin Mullan. The bass guitar was played by Dan Mitchell, who also wrote the signature, brooding harmonic bassline that inspired the song. The original guitar part was written by former Caulbearers guitarist Matt Gannicliffe.
The song lyrics were written a number of years ago whilst in Italy and visiting Pompeii and Herculaneum. They refer to the contrast of the beauty and power of marble structures, statues, buildings, colosseums and great art, with the brutality that the Roman Empire employed and that all empires use to gain and keep power and exert control over others.
The lyrics are inspired by the idea that empires often hide the violent, oppressive aspects of their activities and the effects on those who are exploited, enslaved and oppressed, yet project images of authority, nobility, bravery and righteousness through their buildings, art, culture and the stories they tell themselves, others and which are passed down through history.
The natural disaster that wiped out these two Roman towns so quickly is a lesson in how our so-called civilisations can be reduced to piles of ash and rubble in an instant. It is a reminder that all that is considered great in human terms, will ultimately crumble and decay, and in many cases the dominant empires that emerge end up consuming themselves through growing out of balance with nature, due to greed and corruption and the overuse of resources. This was the case with the Roman Empire and many others in history.
The song is also challenging the notion that humanity can often fall prey to, that we are on an upward, linear trajectory towards a better, more civilised society and we have surpassed the ideas, beliefs and practices of our ancestors and also of other cultures (particularly indigenous ones that have maintained a more balanced and reverent connection to the natural world and all it’s mysteries.) By continuing this arrogant mistake, we perpetuate the inequalities, misunderstandings and persecutions of colonialism, perhaps ultimately leading to the collapse of our current society which bears such a huge empirical legacy.
Rather than merely accusing ‘others’ of being the perpetrators and aggressors in this dynamic, the song recognizes that we all have a responsibility in this story. ‘Upon this cruelty, we have built the myth of progress’. The lyrics also fluidly move through different narrative perspectives: ‘we’ll make an order from the chaos’ acknowledges the aspect of the human psyche that feels compelled to do this. Groups of people have established strategic practices to gain advantages over competitors, and the security to create settlements, then towns then cities and the cultures that thrived due to these advantages and relative safety gave birth to so many benefits, inventions, art forms, and insights. So many of us have gained from these ‘progressions’, where predecessors have sought to create order from the chaos and to gain more control of their environments, but in doing so often hone practices of cruelty to maintain their place in ‘the order’. If we only look to blame others for these habits, we aren’t being conscious enough to see these impulses and desires in ourselves. And this unconsciousness further perpetuates both these actions and the denial of our role in them and this aspect of our nature.
The lyrics and message of this song feel particularly resonant at this moment in time/history, with the recent protests and challenges about the icons and statues that stand in our town and cities and the reality of the violence, oppression, and inequalities that they often represent. We find ourselves facing multiple challenges including global health, climate change, racism, political and cultural polarisation, and a battle involving opposing notions of truth and reality, waged increasingly via our reliance on digital technology. Can we heed the warning signs, the clouds gathering, and come together to face these challenges, which requires honesty to look at the realities and histories of our cultures?
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