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.
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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
(Papernut Cambridge is a band in which Darren plays drums, bass, keyboards and saxophone in).
Here Ian Button returns with a core of Papernut regulars plus additional friends and collaborators, and perhaps the most introspective and direct Papernut Cambridge album so far. There’s both flippancy and openness here in a set of songs that mix topics such as self doubt in love, agoraphobia, stealing a dog from Battersea Dogs’ Home, St Peter’s admin troubles in Heaven, father-to-son advice and more. There’s fun, hooks and tunes…but also mortality……stoicism….a kind of spirituality…….all set against music and arrangements that span sunshine guitar pop, Hunky Dory-esque piano flourishes, tearful pub ballads, baggy country glam, even psych boogie woogie.
Outstairs Instairs takes its title from inventor/architect Richard Buckminster Fuller’s idea for a more astronomically accurate way of describing going up or down stairs i.e. outwards from the centre of the earth, or inwards towards it. On the vinyl version, side one plays from the centre outwards, side two from the outside in.
12″ vinyl LP pressed on 140g black vinyl. Side A is an INSIDE OUT cut (plays from the centre label outwards), and side B is cut normally. The LP comes in a brown paper inner sleeve and reverse board outer sleeve (green artwork) with an A4 card lyrics insert.
Includes a CD version of the album.
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The Great Electric was formed in the winter of 2012 by Malcolm Doherty (Guitars, FX), Rob Hyde (Drums), Darren Hayman (Synth), and Pete Gofton (Bass/Production). Alumni of bands as diverse as Hefner, Kenickie, GoKart Mozart & Mum and Dad, the band was united by a love of the classic German electronic and progressive acts of the 1970s coupled with the pop music sensibilities, hooks and production of 90s bands such as Stereolab, Quickspace and Electric Sound of Joy.
Limited to 300 copies
A2 Music And Colour
A3 Night Music
B1 Top Of The Tower
B2 Mount Nod
B3 Fata Morgana
B4 All These Words Are Yours
Recorded by Pete at Wang Computers, except tracks A1, A3 and B2, recorded by Alex Wastnidge at West Wing.
On this record you will hear:
Mellotron M400, Moog Rogue, Wurlitzer EP200, Sequential Circuits Prophet 5, Roland RE201 Space Echo, Moog Source, Roland Juno 60, Eurorack Modular, Jen Electronics SX-1000, Anturia Minibrute, Jenco Vibraphone, Fender Telecaster, Gretsch Single Anniversary, Fender Mustang Bass, Gibson J160, Slingerland & Premier drums, Zyldjian & Paiste cymbals.
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This is a beautiful album, packaged beautifully. I play drums on it and sing a bit, I probably do some other daft shit on it as well.
The album on 2 x limited run 110g white vinyl 10″ records in plain white disco bags (one hole) with a postcard insert, all inside a printed 11″ x 14″ degradable white plastic carrier bag. Green/white artwork throughout.
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CD version/mixes of the album in green/white CD wallet with green/white onbody printing.
Love the Things Your Lover Loves on CD INCLUDING POSTAGE AND PACKING
Buy the album on download direct from Papernut Cambridge…
Gathering together a rhythm section consisting of Michael Wood (Whoa Melodic/Singing Adams) on bass and Cat Loye (Fever Dream) on drums, The Hayman Kupa band create brash, bold and effortlessly melodic power pop. Sharing writing duties and sometimes singing each other’s words, lines are blurred and creativity explored in a wonderfully exuberant collection of songs. The album, recorded in three days at Big Jelly Studios in Ramsgate, is an exploration of relationships and, at its heart, it’s the sound of a friendship being made.
Darren explains more about the collaboration and how they got the band together:
It’s only happened a few times but just once or twice I have seen someone on stage and thought, “I want to be in a band with them.” But I thought it the first time I saw Emma playing with her magnificent and under-rated band Standard Fare.
I met her properly a little later in Sheffield when we played together. Before the gig I said I was suspicious of bands that wore hats. She wore a hat on stage.
They say imitation is a form of flattery and I was glad that I noticed when I wrote the song “Boy, Look at What you Can’t Have Now” that it sounded like the sort of thing Emma might write. I covered up my theft by asking her to sing on it.
When we were recording the song I suggested that we should write a whole album of duets. Musicians suggest things like this all the time because they are stupid or drunk. A few months later Emma told me she had started writing the album. This is what Emma does; she says something then does it. I race to play catch up.
The songs were written over three weekends at her house and mine. Co-writing is something I’m not used to. It’s very intimate and me and Emma became friends through the process. Emma’s lyrics are sharp and precise whereas mine are more metaphoric. It was lovely seeing how quickly we settled into something in between. We talked about relationships and that’s what the album is about. It’s about our fears and paranoias and the search for trust and love. We deliberately swapped lines and genders so the narrative is never truly that of traditional duets. I sing Emma’s lines often and she sings mine. It’s two voices singing the results of our conversations. We became close friends whilst writing these songs.
We wanted a band to make the album and chose Michael Wood and Cat Loye. We never considered anyone else. They brought a brash, bold sound to the songs and we rehearsed twice and then recorded the album in three days at the Big Jelly studios in Ramsgate. I was thinking about the Beatles and very early 1960s pop records. We recorded everything live including the vocals with only a handful of overdubs. We put a microphone high up in the ceiling to get bright, rackety sound and mixed it in mono. We recorded it two and a half years ago and it has remind locked like a time capsule whilst me and Emma released five other albums. I like this album a lot. It’s the sound of a friendship being made.
Buy the Hayman Kupa Band Album now
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English songwriter and former Hefner frontman Darren Hayman continues his journey around the United Kingdom’s 54 Thankful Villages. A Thankful Village is a village where every soldier returned alive from World War One.
An ongoing and hugely ambitious folk project, Thankful Villages is only partially concerned with the war itself, moreover it is a celebration of British rural life. Darren pulls together first person interviews, folk tales and songs, field recordings and his own personal experiences to create a vast patchwork depicting community, history and legend.
Thankful Villages Volume 2 is less an album but something akin to an arcane musical radio documentary. The success of the first volume of Thankful Villages has encouraged Hayman to go deeper into his subject. Themes of “the river” and “death” weave their way through these eighteen villages. A centuries old drowning is uncovered in “Arkholme” on bonfire night. Dennis, the river man, tells us of a tragedy on the Weir in “Cromwell”. Judy Dyble, the original singer of folk legends Fairport Convention, joins Darren in the village of “Upper Slaughter” and sings a lyric about the generations flowing like water through the village.
Darren uncovers two World War II air disasters in “Woodend” and “Wrigsley”, where he records in the abandoned control tower at the airfield, the so-called cemetery of lights. Perhaps the most shocking and miraculous of tales is found in “Flixborough” where in 1974 the local plastics factory exploded killing everyone inside but nobody in the lucky village. Derek and his son tell us the story of finding each other amongst shards of glass.
However, glimpses of light shine through the darkness; a sunny day of wild swimming in “Telisford”, a village fete with bell ringing in “East Norton” and a tale of a grateful Belgian Refugee in “Norton Le Clay”.
Thankful Villages Volume 1 garnered a great deal of media attention, with features in broadsheets including The Guardian, Financial Times, The Independent and The i Paper. Darren also appeared on The Verb with Ian Mcmillan, Loose Ends and interviewed for a feature on Radio 4’s PM programme.
Darren played special concerts around the release, doing a rendition of his Thankful Villages set with accompanying visuals and films, headlining with a full band as well as solo supporting British Sea Power. A collage of Britain’s hidden places, rich in history and community, Thankful Villages is a further chapter in Darren’s journey and a testament to his remarkable work ethic.
In 2016 Darren was awarded the title of ‘Hardest Working Artist’ at the AIM Awards for the Thankful Villages project and his prolific career.
Thankful Villages Volume 3, which will appear in November 2018, has been given funding by the Arts Council.
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