The Root Folk Band The Ritual Year

Folklore Tapes
2nd June 2023

Format Info

* 12 minute 33rpm seven-inch * Screen printed handmade manilla sleeve * A4 insert * Digital Wav download & link to film

Between 2014-16, Folklore Tapes begun the series Calendar Customs, commissioning artists to research and respond sonically to the four corners of the ritual year; May Day, Midsummer, Midwinter and Hallowe’en. This culminated in a box-set of 4x LPs and accompanying extensive booklet with essay by FT pen smith Jez Winship. FT also produced a detailed customs wall calendar and a cassette collaged using field recordings taken from amateur youtube footage.

In 2022 artist and Dave Pearson archivist invited Folklore TapesDavid Chatton Barker to write a score to a new animation by Chinese artist Kain Leo. The animation was commissioned to act as a creative extension to the Dave Pearson archive and website.

The Root Folk Band were a once fictional group found within the pages of the children’s books Mossy. They were brought to life for this unique project and its members are; Bridget Hayden, Mary Stark, Sam McLoughlin and David Chatton Barker.

The score was largely made ahead of the film, as Kain Leo prefers to work with the music during her editing process. The first stage of writing the score saw the band collect together old folk custom sheet music and cut sections out and re-paste to create new passages. These were first played using whistle and percussion. The Root Folk Band split the recording between two locations, the first; an ex-telephone repeater station high up on Shap Fell, Cumbria and the second; at a house in Cornholme, West Yorkshire. These sessions incorporated improvisation alongside the original music drawn from the cut-up traditional scores.

Around 3 hours of material was recorded, played on a variety of traditional and self-built instruments. This material was then cut-up and collaged into a 12min musical calendar and edited with field recordings taken from the 2016 FT cassette.

Traversing the light and the dark months of the year across several hundred years of English ritual, the resulting score is perhaps described as sitting sonically between the seminal soundtrack to the 1973 film The Wickerman and the 2012 album Witch Cults of the Modern Age by Broadcast and The Focus Group.