posted April 13th, 2020

During this current period of isolation, the What News trio of Alasdair Roberts, David MacGuiness and Amble Skuse have emerged with two new songs, right in time for Easter! The A-side is the trio's take on "Easter Parade" and "Maria Muoter" contains a gorgeous rendering of a 'flagellant song' from the days of The Black Death thus creating a release of semi-disembodied music made of vocals, piano and electronic manipulation of ancient music to apply to recurrent aches today.

The creaking of boats on water and the distant hiss of crickets on "Easter Parade" create an ionosphere that binds together the solemnity of Alasdair Roberts' vocals and David MacGuiness' piano, recasting the holy dirge of The Blue Nile's 1984 original with an Eno-like light of transcendence and a furious climactic push of modern drone electronics from Amble Skuse. Listen to both songs above!

A note from the band:

"'Easter Parade' (written by P. Buchanan and R. Bell, published by Flag 22). This song originally appeared on A Walk Across the Rooftops, the 1984 debut album of Glasgow band The Blue Nile. Alasdair, David and Amble first developed their arrangement of it to perform as an encore during tour dates for their 2018 Drag City album What News.

'Maria Muoter Reinû Maît' is ein Geisslerlied - a 'flagellant song'. Geisslerlieder were the songs sung by wandering bands of self-flagellating penitents in mediaeval Europe (particularly in Italy and Germany), mainly during two periods in the 13th and 14th centuries. It was during the second period, at the time of The Black Death, that a priest, Hugo Spechtshart of Reutlingen (1285-1360), noted down the words and music of some Geisslerlieder as he heard them sung. He presented them in his work Chronicon Hugonis sacerdotis de Rutelinga (1349), making him perhaps one of the earliest known collectors of vernacular song. Reutlingen lies in modern-day Baden-Württemberg, south-western Germany (coincidentally, it also happens to be the town where Alasdair's mother Annegret was born)."

Artists in this story: Alasdair Roberts