I like music that has a purpose. These instrumentals were composed with a guitar in my hand whilst watching the news. I wanted to not engage fully. The purpose of the music is to distract. You can watch the news with the sound down anyway. There’s one tune for every day of the week. I hope this is useful to you in some way.
All instruments by Darren Hayman, except Saturday, which features viola by James Topham.
Darren Hayman returns with the new album Home Time, due out on 22nd May via Fika Recordings. An autobiographical album about break ups, the record is tender, honest and frequently funny. Darren set an 8 track, acoustic rule for the record. Everything sounds warm, close and intimate. Darren’s own love-worn, London voice is joined on every song by the sweet antipodean tones of Hannah Winter and Laura K, recording artists and songwriters themselves with Common or Garden and Fortitude Valley.
When Darren Hayman made his debut in 1997 with the acclaimed indie band Hefner his lyrical remit was the broken hearted. His early songs told the story of the lonesome and lost, and broken dreams of love on the back streets of London. After Hefner, Hayman’s palette grew to include a unique take on place and memory. In the early 2000s he wrote a trilogy of albums around the history of Essex. In 2012 he made an instrumental album describing the tranquillity of Lidos. In 2016 Darren was awarded ‘Hardest Working Musician’ by the Association of Independent Music for his epic project on Thankful Villages, the 55 villages that survived the Great War with no casualties. His most recent record, 12 Astronauts, tells the personal story of the only men to have walked on the Moon.
Darren is continually obsessed with the idea of what songs can be, and the stories they can tell. As he explains, “With projects like Thankful Villages, I became interested in what a record could be, using field recordings, interviews and songs to make sound collages. I wanted to return to the stricter art of song writing and try and make the twelve best compositions I could. I wanted to make useful songs, words that could be comfort, not just thoughts that would depress.”
The songs for Home Time were written over a three-year period but recorded quickly, and with love, in Darren’s home. Home Time is a fragile, subtle slice of prettiness. Wrap it around you.
Three digital singles will be released; ‘I Tried and I Tried and I Failed’, a song about the endless, circular nature of being human, ‘I Was Thinking About You’, a song about the uncontrollable nature of memory and how it continues to haunt us even when we consider the long buried, and ‘The Joint Account’, about how when trying to negotiate matters of the heart and mind, it is sometimes the physical objects that anchor us down in the mire.
A baby sister album I Can Travel Through Time with ten one-minute songs squeezed on a seven inch is coming out alongside it on the Formosa Punk label.
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Slightly overdue but this is the vinyl re-issue for ‘The Fidelity Wars’ by Hefner. We are releasing it on 22nd Nov and accepting pre-orders now.
Long out of print and fetching silly prices on discogs this re-issue comes in black or blue vinyl, together with download. It remains many people’s favourite album of Darren’s. Odd and angular, it is a brutal reading of falling and out and in of love and contains his most well known songs.
The CD re-issue is almost as desirable with 29 extra tracks b-sides and outtakes.
NME – “‘The Fidelity Wars’ is a treasure and comfort for anyone who’s set out on the bumpy road to love, and gotten distracted by the scenery along the way.”
Pitchfork – “Lots of bands write songs about girls. Some bands don’t write anything but songs about girls. And then there are those select few bands that elevate writing songs about girls to a hallowed art form. If David Gedge (erstwhile Wedding Present leader and current Cinerama frontman) is the president of this club, then Darren Hayman, the cocky leader of Hefner, is surely the up- and- coming VP.”
Pre-order now, prices include P and P.
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Vinyl sold out. We may repress though and they may still be some lurking in shops.
Fidelity Wars 2CD set with 40 songs including b-sides and unreleased songs
In the two decades since he fronted indie heroes Hefner, Darren Hayman has established himself as a prolific and acclaimed solo artist, with many of his projects having a powerful, often literal focus on location, history and community.
After a recent release focused around the Apollo astronauts and his previous mammoth Thankful Villages project, Hayman is releasing a delightful travelogue album written and recorded during and after a visit to India in early summer 2019.
The collection of instrumentals (apart from one track with lyrics) is called Songs of High Altitude, and comes complete with a digital booklet of notes and paintings from the trip.
A few words on the format of this release from Darren…
“I do understand that a lot of my audience would prefer a physical record or CD. I just get so behind with things. I know it’s a brag but I really do write a lot of songs. Writing songs is like a cure to my procrastination, or perhaps more accurately, writing songs IS my procrastination. I tend to to do that instead of doing the long winded business of releasing them. I have a hard drive here with at least 5 unreleased albums going back over the past ten years. The fact that they are unreleased is no reflection on their quality. It’s luck and circumstance as to what comes out.
Anyway, I thought it would be fun for a change for people to hear the most recent thing I’d done. I made this earlier this year. Try not to think less of it because it’s a download. I just wanted to do it as an experiment. No press, no reviews, no manufacturing, boom, here it is.
Always perfectly capturing the zeitgeist, Darren Hayman releases his 18th solo album, 12 Astronauts, on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing
12 men have walked on the moon, and 12 Astronauts includes a song for each of them – from Neil Armstrong to Harrison Schmitt and Gene Cernan (the Apollo 17 astronauts who quibble about who was the last man on the moon – was it the last person to set foot on the moon (Schmitt) or the last person to take his foot off the moon (Cernan))
Darren has always had an interest in space travel;
o In 1977 he saw Star Wars
o Back in 2001 Hefner (Darren Hayman’s previous band) released a single called Alan Bean about the 4th man on the moon (an all new version is included on 12 Astronauts).
o In 2011 he contributed songs and pictures to Vostok 5, a London exhibition (and compilation album) about people and animals in space (he has also illustrated the cover of 12 Astronauts).
o In March 2014, as part of a year-long residency at Dalston’s Vortex, he played a set of his space-related songs supported by Robin Ince (this included the live debut of a number of tracks from 12 Astronauts).
o His record label, ‘Belka’, is named for one of the first two dogs to go into earth orbit and return alive, so it should come as no surprise that the 12 Astronauts were in the back of his mind while he researched, wrote and recorded his classics about Thankful Villages, the Essex Witch Trials, Lidos, William Morris and British seaside resorts
The songs are works of historical fiction. Although Darren researched heavily he is essentially imagining himself as each astronaut and singing in the first person. The songs are not all set during the Apollo missions. Buzz Aldrin battles with his demons and fights for his marriage. Pete Conrad sympathises with his partner’s fear of an accident in flight. David Scott wonders what happened to his bodyguard on his press tour. Gene Cernan lists every object he can think of that was left on the moon.
Although the subject is big Darren has always written songs about small things and this album is no different. Darren collects together tiny moments from magnificent lives.’
The album itself is curious in its genesis as Darren conceived and started the album back in 2008 and only recently came back to complete it. Some of the vocals are recorded 10 years apart.
The album is released on space coloured vinyl (in spot-gloss sleeve), CD (with fully illustrated booklet), download and as a set of 12 collectors cards.
Order 12 Astronauts on CD INCLUDING POSTAGE AND PACKAGING
Order 12 Astronauts on 12 Collectors Cards plus downloads INCLUDING POSTAGE AND PACKAGING
Released on 9 November, to coincide with the hundredth anniversary of the end of the First World War, Thankful Villages Volume 3 is the final instalment of Darren Hayman’s epic study of rural British life.
A ‘Thankful Village’ is one where every soldier returned alive from the Great War. Darren has visited all 54 of these villages and made a sound recording, painting and film in each one.
Thankful Villages doesn’t concern itself exclusively with the War, however. It is an exploration of rural communities, including collected stories, interviews, folk songs, soundscapes, field recordings and new original songs.
The record takes the form of a fantastical radio show as Darren unearths lost human stories from hidden rural idylls.
The first volume of Thankful Villages revolved around a theme of churches, while the second volume focused on rivers. This third chapter concerns itself with the younger generation. In Hunstanworth, County Durham, Darren records a young girl called Ruby reading a poem written by her grandmother in 1974, on the day of that village’s school closing. The school itself is still signposted by the Giant’s Stride, a Victorian playground apparatus that towers above the village and features on the cover of Thankful Villages Volume 3.
In Wysall in Nottinghamshire, Darren finds lost cine film of the village shot by two sisters, locally known as ‘the Miss Evans’ and unseen for decades. Julia relates a poignant memory of the closing the village school she went to as a pupil, and how in winter the children warmed themselves around the single stove in the middle of the sole classroom.
In the village of Teigh in the county of Rutland, we hear Sally Beers tell us about her grandfather, the Rev Henry Tibbs, who was arrested and jailed for being a Nazi sympathiser during the Second World war; we learn about mysterious lights in the church and swastikas painted on the door of the vicarage. The soundtrack to this story is in collaboration with the esteemed film composer Simon Fisher Turner.
Since the dissolution of his first band, Hefner, Darren Hayman’s work has increasingly explored location and history. Thankful Villages Volume 3 is the beautiful and poignant culmination of this process; tiny, human vignettes plucked from Britain’s blanket of green.
Thankful Villages Volume 3 was completed with generous funding from the Arts Council of England. Darren was awarded with the ‘Hardest Working Artist’ gong by the Association of Independent Music for his work on Thankful Villages Volume 1.
Previous volumes of Thankful Villages have been extensively covered in features in the Financial Times, The Guardian, The i and the New York Times. Darren has appeared as a guest discussing the Thankful Villages project on BBC Radio 4’s PM and Loose Ends, and The Verb on Radio 3.
He has filmed a segment about Thankful Villages for a documentary to be shown on ITV on 11 November. He is available to write and talk as a musical guest and also as a historical expert on the subject of Thankful Villages and British rural life.
Praise for Thankful Villages:
“Enchanting and oh so English in execution and eccentricity.” fRoots
“An intoxicating collection of folk songs, dreamy instrumentals and poignant interviews set to music, layered with sounds harvested from his visits.” The Financial Times
“Listening to Thankful Villages is to hear a range of stories stretching across history.” The Independent i
“The project resembles a fascinating, occult history of the British countryside, filled with largely forgotten rural stories.” The Guardian
Order Thankful Villages Volume 3 on CD INCLUDING POSTAGE AND PACKING
(record will be sent out for you to receive before November 9th)
Order Thankful Villages Volume 3 on vinyl with download code INCLUDING POSTAGE AND PACKAGING (record will be sent out for you to receive before November 9th)
You can also pre-order the digital version of this album for just £7