Hayden Thorpe – “They”

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Hayden Thorpe – “They”


Hayden Thorpe is best known for his role in the British rock band Wild Beasts. Today, he announced his new solo album Ness, arriving in September. The lead single “They” is out now.

Ness brings to life author Robert Macfarlane’s 2018 book of the same title through the process of redaction, or what others may refer to as blackout poetry. “They” comes with a video directed by Thorpe and Andy King. The song was written after the musician’s first visit to Orford Ness in Great Britain with Macfarlane where they ate lunch “beside bomb craters and destroyed buildings” in a place where “within living memory an Armageddon was being prepared,” Thorpe explained. “For me, it’s Ness in summertime,” he continued. “Full of the lightness and looseness of a blue afternoon. Musically speaking, it’s a riff on our experience of time. The interweaving polyrhythms and delays are a play on that.”

“I feel like I’m getting to work with Dylan Thomas or James Joyce whose sing-song prose is only ever a melody away from music,” Thorpe said about working with Macfarlane. “Rob is an extremely generous collaborator, which likely explains the impressive cannon of music he has been involved in. After hearing the sketches, he empowered me with free rein over the words.”

He continued:

It might be easy to think of this album as a less personal one, but my personhood was carried in Ness and in-turn, Ness in me. The same lifeforce that so possessed Robert Macfarlane to write the book carried forward like an electrical current. Ness is uniquely qualified to teach us of what has been and what can be. It is the place where weapons developers learnt how to train the sun’s energy onto those we disagree with. Today, amid new horrors and hostilities, Ness stands as a poignant reminder of those end-of-days-ways and the restorative powers of the natural world.

Macfarlane added, “My philosophy on collaboration is always find the people who are making extraordinary work, and then just trust them. Hayden had a beautiful phrase that really sang with me that he heard the language and the place as a kind of desert music. I was absolutely knocked over by his way of being in the world; that deep calmness, quiet grace that is very sensitive, compassionate, kind, thoughtful.”

The album also has orchestral parts from Propellor Ensemble that were arranged by Jack McNeill, who also plays clarinet on the record. Kerry Andrew contributed choral arrangements and some spoken word performances. Watch the video for “They” below.

01 “Merman”
02 “WTF Is That?”
03 “In The Green Chapel”
04 “It”
05 “Gull”
06 “He”
07 “Hagstone”
08 “She”
09 “Song Of The Bomb”
10 “They”
11 “V.”
12 “As”
13 “Closer Away”

Ness is out 9/27 on Domino.

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