Review: January Sounds – Cannell & Ellis by K A Laity

Indie, K A Laity, Music

Brawl Records has begun a new year long series These Feral Lands, growing out of last year’s release of the same name.

Brawl Records is proud to present JANUARY SOUNDS from UK and Ireland based musicians Laura Cannell and Kate Ellis. Featuring Cannell’s signature evocative overbowed violin alongside Ellis’s deeply expressive cello playing.

This release is the first in a series of twelve as part of a major new project:

THESE FERAL LANDS – A Year Documented in Sound and Art. An ambitious and exciting creative documentation of 2021 from two innovative and highly acclaimed instrumentalists with new music released monthly, and bespoke films published at Caught by the River.

Cannell has been on my buy immediate list for some time and this EP is a good showcase of why that is. January Sounds features three tracks by Cannell & Ellis that capture those twin threads of strangeness and beauty that arise from the land. Folk horror has become such a powerful trope in recent years across so much media, but folk beauty has sometimes been more elusive. These two extraordinary musicians manage to convey both.

‘Wastelands’ captures that windswept bleakness with all the surging power lying under it, waiting to break free in something unexpected. Violin and cello have long been a beautifully expressive pair whether in folk or classical music but there’s something so knit together in the sound here that it’s mesmerizing.

‘Sea Tower’ conveys the liminal coastal space so evocatively that you will swear you can smell the salt water and wind. It sends me back to Galway but you’ll doubtless have your own windswept memories evoked by this track.

‘Harts Blood’ conjures up medieval tales for me; hunting has so much lore and tradition and, often in the stories, magic involved with it. The hunt was a matter of prestige as well as valour. But there’s also a blood red dahlia called Harts Blood so it might just as well be a tribute to those vivid petals. This is the kind of music that lets your mind soar.

The cover art captures the mood too: inspired by medieval graffiti, simple and stark. I wholeheartedly recommend the entire catalogue of Brawl Records and I can’t wait to see what February brings.