Given the easier migration of travellers and workers from Eastern Europe and beyond, moving around the world over the past 20 years, perhaps it is not a surprise that a new wave of that rather hypnotic easy flow of traditional European folk music has travelled alongside them, and lodged itself in our musical conscious.
I’m no stranger to this melding of musical cultures; for some years I’ve particularly loved Canadian Ben Caplan and his magnetic mix of Tom Waits vaudeville and Hungarian folk, and I’ve seen my friends in Yorkshire based East European folk influenced band Klonk! live quite a few times. Perhaps it would be inevitable that I would also groove to the heady mix of prog rock, European and Middle Eastern folk strains from Bristol locals My Octopus Mind. If you have ever thought of asking Aphex Twin to produce a classical, ambient song to be the Moldovan entry for the European Song contest then this track Elska could be a good substitute.
Here on their first released single track Elska, My Octopus Mind have melded eastern traditional folk, the prog rock of the likes of 1970’s Yes, Pink Floyd or Caravan and thrown in a bit of classical jazz for good measure. The band have played live regularly over the past couple of years, but this is their first formal music release, and there is an album to follow later in the year.
The word Elska is old Norse for to love, to cherish or precious and the track is a careful relaxed (almost) 6 minute ramble to love. The music is more soulful than dance but it sneaks itself tidily into your head. More than that, with the blend of guitar, drums and double bass, cello and violin this is music distinctly on a higher plane.
The band (Liam O’Connell – Guitar/Vocals, Izy Ellis – Double bass/Cello, Oliver Cocup – Drums, Rowen Elliott – Viola and Anneka Sutcliffe – Violin) are making a trek up north to perform at the Old Abbey Taphouse in Manchester on 16 February. For those less familiar with out of town Manchester music venues, the pub is just further out of town past the main Manchester University Campus so entirely walkable; it’s a definite Saturday night opportunity to combine curry (or pizza at the pub), real ale and quality music so what are you waiting for?