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Playlist: Fusion

Gaming, folk, feminism and ... the Vengaboys?

By Andy PottsPublished about a month ago 3 min read

Me Lost Me – Eye Witness

This one is all about fusion. Electronica, modern jazz, hints of folk and an endless appetite for experimentation come together in a beguiling mix of sounds. While it’s fairly easy to throw together diverse influences, Newcastle-based Jayne Dent has the talent to ensure that the end result is more than the sum of its parts.

So, it is folk music? Well, yes. If you define folk as self-led creativity, art presented on its own terms rather than conforming to a top-down orthodoxy, this is undoubtedly folk. It’s a vision that contains the trad-folk world of fiddling and jigging but is in no way contained by it.

The experimental sound world has echoes from all over: for me, there’s a whiff of early Deine Lakaien in the funeral march chorus, plus a soupcon of Budapest-based Armenian art-folk-rockers Deti Picasso. Her most recent album, 2023’s RPG, takes gaming as one of its starting points, allowing for the beeps and bongs of a PlayStation to blend with raspy reeds on Eye Witness, one of the stand-out tracks. With entrancing visuals and thought-provoking lyrics, this is one of those tracks that’s likely to stay with listeners. Me Lost Me has a busy touring schedule this summer and is next due to play in Jayne’s native Northeast in October at the Beyond the Moor Festival at Gosforth Civic Theatre.

Re:Vulva - SlangpolXka

This is an intriguing new project. Something of a supergroup of local female musicians, Re:Vulva is busy reinventing the local music scene. There’s a strong feminist vibe here, from a provocative name to a mission statement all about gender equality and inclusiveness.

But don’t assume that idealistic = plodding. These four musicians, vocalist Holly Clarke, Janice Burns on mandolin, percussionist Amy Thatcher (also known as a demon accordionist) and Shetland fiddler Cathy Geldard don’t have a dull bone in their bodies. While not much of their collective work is widely available just yet, what there is suggests a highly danceable melange of traditional folk seasoned with a swirl of contemporary pop to create a potent brew.

With an upcoming gig on March 31, sharing top billing with Dumfries & Galloway’s Heen at the Lubber Fiend, Newcastle audiences have a great chance to get a taste of what it’s all about. The evidence of the material available up to now suggests it’s going to be a raucous evening.

The Hemp Queens – Boom Boom Boom Boom!

In “Good Omens”, the Gaiman / Pratchett novel, there’s a great running joke that riffs on the concept of musical metamorphosis: specifically, the idea that any tape left in a car will eventually turn into Queen’s Greatest Hits. The pay-off is that a tape recording could see the demon Hastur, Duke of Hell, transformed into Freddie Mercury (for younger readers, tapes were a big deal in the 1980s when you had to work to access new music).

The Hemp Queens, an ever-inventive collective from Newcastle put that idea into reverse: the annoyingly perky summer time electro pop world of the Vengaboys gets put through the sonic mill and emerges as a weird an disturbing slab of neo goth. There’s a doleful echo of the choral opening to “This Corrosion” to kick it off, while the whispered vocals could easily veer off into the cartoon macabre of E Nomine. In short, it’s brilliant. A truly subversive cover, taking the original into an entirely new world.

In fairness to the Hemp Queens, they are more than just a novelty. Their recent compilation, “Everything we’ve done so far”, shows off a colourful musical palette – from Sleaford Mods to George Formby – in a collection of smart, witty tracks that repay closer inspection. Brighter reviewers will surely home in on more sophisticated gags, but that doesn’t mean we should overlook the cheap thrill of taking a wannabe Ibiza anthem and giving it a swift kick in the Balearics.

Thanks for reading another playlist. If you liked it, give a like and subscribe. If you really liked it, consider buying me a coffee. But, most of all, please consider supporting the artists by buying their music or attending their gigs.

Previous playlists: Folksy flavours / Politics / Stockton Calling / Russia / Aelius / #6 / Border Crossings / #8 / Safe hands throwing stones / More Than a Stone’s Throw

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About the Creator

Andy Potts

Community focused sports fan from Northeast England. Tends to root for the little guy. Look out for Talking Northeast, my new project coming soon.

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    Andy PottsWritten by Andy Potts

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