Hayden Thorpe announces new album, Ness

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Written following Thorpe’s first visit to Orford Ness with Macfarlane where they ate lunch “beside bomb craters and destroyed buildings” in a place where “within living memory an Armageddon was being prepared”, “They” questions the comfort that might be found in thinking of deep time. “For me, it’s Ness in summertime,” says Thorpe. “Full of the lightness and looseness of a blue afternoon. Musically speaking, it’s a riff on our experience of time. The interweaving polyrhythms and delays are a play on that.”

To mark the release of Ness, Hayden will be part of Ness Speaks: Words and Music, curated by the National Trust at Orford Ness on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 September. Featuring an intimate and acoustic performance by Thorpe and joined by Propellor, the event will also include a Q&A session with Robert Macfarlane and a chance for visitors to explore the sights and sounds of Orford Ness’ unique landscape.

Using a process of redaction, Thorpe brings songs to life from the pages of best-selling author Robert Macfarlane’s book of the same name. Ness is inspired by Suffolk’s Orford Ness, the former Ministry of Defence weapons development site during both World Wars and the Cold War. Acquired by the National Trust in 1993 and left to re-wild, it to this day remains a place of paradox, mystery and constant evolution. Thorpe’s Ness is an ode to Orford Ness, the physical place and the book it inspired, both featuring the words of Robert Macfarlane and the artwork of Stanley Donwood.

Thorpe first encountered Macfarlane’s work via a copy of his 2012 book Landmarks which then led him to Ness, Macfarlane’s 2018 collaboration with Stanley Donwood. “He writes about non-human forms in a way that captures an essence that, as humans, we can understand,” Thorpe enthuses. After the pair met and then collaborated at the Kendal Mountain Literature Festival, the idea developed that Thorpe make an album from Macfarlane’s prose.

Tracklist:

  1. Merman
  2. WTF Is That?
  3. In The Green Chapel
  4. It
  5. Gull
  6. He
  7. Hagstone
  8. She
  9. Song Of The Bomb
  10. They
  11. V.
  12. As
  13. Closer Away
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