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Reviews about ”On shipless ocean”

On Shipless

Goldmine magazine

Second album time from the Swedish Fruits-and-Dodo duo and, though it’s scarcely “make or break” time, still they have a few questions to answer.  Beginning with, how much of their own press do they believe?  Every band, after all, is saddled with a lexicon of terms to which every writer is compelled to refer, and terms like “distorted,” “aggressive,” “nightmare” and “wired” are not at the top of the list.

But just a few minutes into the version of Kevin Ayers’ “Lady Rachel” that devours half of side one’s twenty minute playing time, and it’s clear that neither Britt Ronnholm nor Anders Hakanson have any intention of playing to the peanut gallery.

Like the version of Bowie’s “All the Madmen” that graced the back of their last 45, the challenge seems not to have been to cover the song, but to kidnap it as well.  It’s electrifying, not only in terms of Us and Them’s own past accomplishments (which itself is a major achievement), but in relation to Ayers’ original, too.

Twice the length and maybe twice as fast, there’s a Madchester rhythm pattern around the careening Third Ear soundscapes, while Ronnholm shrugs away Ayers’ gentle, caring questioning, and sounds positively, wildly gleeful.  If music were a Batman comic, it’s the difference between Bruce Wayne wishing you a goodnight and sweet dreams, and the Joker saying the same thing.

The lead up to the song is not too far removed from more traditional pastures.  Well, not wholly. “The Trees and Sky Above” is lovely, pastoral… what else could it be with a title like that?  But “From the Corner of my Eye” builds on murmured vocals and menace; and “A New Life” echoes with a darkening ennui that the opening lines have already prefaced – “no surprise who the murderer in my book will be.”  And behind Ronnholm all the way, a guitar pattern haunts like a metronome, while strings push in to polish its claws.

Side two keeps the pressure up – “Changes and Choices” and “People Like Us” are, respectively, blue moody lush and echo-fed sparse, while “Time” ticks like a wordless nursery rhyme, even after the vocals chime in.

“Extract from the 17th of November,” however, makes you wonder precisely what the whole day looked like. Think “Careful With That Axe, Eugene,” if a bunch of robots deleted all but the bass line… and then wonder why nobody thought to crossfade it into the album’s other epic, the slow burning nine minute “Tail” –  and, no matter how powerful the rest of the record, it’s clear that this is what it was all building up to.

Indeed, it’s almost an anti-climax when the CD continues for two songs more – “She’s Not Me” and “We Are Not Alone”; placed elsewhere on the disc, their impact would have been far more pronounced.   Absent from the vinyl, On Shipless Ocean might have ended, but it sails on in your mind regardless.

So, where does that leave Us and Them?  Well, those questions were answered long ago, and the lexicon has no bearing on the band.  Just as they have for ten years already, Us and Them continue to plough their own peculiar furrow, and you’ll think twice before referring to them as psych-folk again.  They’re far more perfect than that.

The Psycidelicatessen

On Shipless Ocean is the second full-length long-playing album by Swedish duo Us And Them and if you are familiar with their debut album, Summer Green And Autumn Brown, as you’d expect, it’s a record laced with their unique brand of beautifully mellow Psychedelic Folk and gentle Folktronica. Britt Rönnholm, who sings, and Anders Håkanson, who plays the instruments, are masters of light and shade, ethereal translucent moments drift into rich dense textures, that evoke an autumnal stillness on a crystal-clear day. Delicate acoustic guitars are tempered by subtle electronica that adds a wash of modernity to a beguiling traditional Psychedelic Folk sound deeply inspired by the music of Sandy Denny, Donovan, Bert Jansch and Vashti Bunyan. With a limited edition 7” teaser for the album, ‘From The Corner Of My Eye; due for release mid April, On Shipless Ocean will be the first full release of mainly original songs from Us And Them for quite a while……………..’From The Corner Of My Eye’ with the non album cut ‘The Iron Maiden’ on the flip is the perfect introduction to the new album with the previously sparse sound of Us And Them now filled out with beautiful string/woodwind arrangements and Mellotron. The single also comes with two non album bonus download tracks ‘When Life Begins’ and a beautiful cover of Bowie’s ‘All The Madmen’.

Since the release of Summer Green And Autumn Brown, which was possibly the most mellow record we have ever heard, Us And Them have spent studio time expanding their sound with lush textures…………it’s still jaw droppingly strange and beautiful but with with much more depth of sound. On Shipless Ocean gently ebbs and flows through 10 stunning tracks with the real highlights being the two exquisite near 10 minute long tracks where Us And Them really stretch out…………..Imaginative cover versions of classic Psychedelia and Folk are Us And Them’s thing and how they first caught the attention of the discerning music lover, closing side one there is a brilliant reworking of Kevin Ayers’ ‘Lady Rachel’ where they slowly deconstruct the song and then reassemble it in a strange new form. Taking Kevin Ayers original classic track as a mere sketch, Us And Them twist the tune into something barely unrecognizable keeping just the bones of the song adding synth washes and hazy spoken word as ‘Lady Rachel’ evolves into swirling Folktronica. The epic, sprawling closing track on side two, ‘Tail’, is a mesmerizing pastoral Psych tune that echoes the early 70s twisted Folk of Shelagh McDonald with a lush expansive string/Mellotron arrangement building then slowly fading out in a buzz of electronics . Fans of the previous Us And Them releases will not be disappointed with On Shipless Ocean as it is packed with some of the most drop dead gorgeous songs you are going to hear this year, but there is now real substance to what where quite fragile songs on the previous LP. Like a brilliantly coloured butterfly escaping it’s cocoon, Us And Them are changing from a stripped back Psych Folk/Folktronica duo into something with a much bigger sound that fully embraces their late 60s/early 70s influences but with one foot in the now…………..and it’s a truly intoxicating listening experience.

Terrascope

The wonderful Swedish folk rock duo returns with their second full length album. After a few releases for the Fruits de Mer label they have been picked up by Mega Dodo for this beautiful album. Britt’s voice is like a honeyed Eartha Kitt and works to great effect throughout this album. I have nearly all of their previous releases and have followed their career since first hearing them on the Fruits De Mer 7”EP Summerisle, featuring four Wicker Man Songs being instantly hooked on their particular brand of hushed folk.

This new record builds upon their last full length one entitled “Summer Green And Autumn Brown which was released in 2015. The record kicks off with “The Trees And The Sky Above” a delicate filigree of a folk song with strong violin lines and stately appeggio electric guitar. “From The Corner Of My Eye” is an achingly beautiful organ led ballad, that reminds me of Vashti Bunyan at her most elegiac. “A New Life” moves along at a slow pace, the instruments framing Britt’s exquisite vocals, a crepuscular ballad with nothing hurried, its glacial beauty slowly revealed and enhanced by light touches of electronica.

Kevin Ayres “Lady Rachel” slots right into this folktronica setting, synth washes and twinkles, gently strummed electric guitar, accompanied in places by very slight skittering beats and spoken word passages. Here it is rendered almost unrecognisable from the original. “Changes And Choices” continues the icy folktronica sound, lushly arranged, lifted by Mellotron, Britt’s soft vocals framed by woodwind and various percussive sounds.

“People Like Us” is a pastoral musing upon the seasons, a delicate dreamy song that has a soporific effect, a soothing lullaby. “Time” builds slowly, the palette of instruments used to fine effect, creating an eerie softly intoned whirring song of rare beauty. “Extract From The 17th Of November” sees organ, electronica and percussion fusing together on a short instrumental. “Tail” rounds out the album, slowly building to a climax with choral washes. Instruments are gradually introduced, starting with acoustic guitar, adding Mellotron, violin, ebowed electric guitar and light percussion. An awakening and also like Lady Rachel over ten minutes long, a languid narcotic fugue which ends this beguiling album on a high. (Andrew Young)

HeyDay

Well, what can I say? I’m a fan, and I have be honest, there have been very few artists/bands I’ve listened to in recent years that have had quite the emotional effect on me that Britt and Anders have. Their music is quite simply some of the most beautiful I’ve heard. I can’t help but be moved by it.

Strangely, ‘On Shipless Ocean’ took quite a few plays to appreciate though, but in a Zen-like enlightenment moment, it all started happening for me. ‘I never looked back, and saw what we became’ Britt sings in ‘From The Corner Of My Eye’. Not so! To me this album is all about reflection, looking back, remembering, it’s dripping in melancholy. Not in a ‘I feel sorry for myself’ way, no-one’s looking for sympathy here. As I’ve said before about Us and Them, there’s a strength to ‘carry on’ in the lyrics, but the past can be an emotional place, the passing of time and the changes we all go through may bring a little sadness now and then. This is what the songs ‘On Shipless Ocean’mean to me. Very potent music, and in what seems like an age of disposable ditties, it’s most welcome too.

The album grows more in feeling as it continues, with an early sign of what’s to come with their version of the Kevin Ayers track ‘Lady Rachel’. This clocks in at around ten minutes and has a sense of the epic about it. This is new territory for Us and Them and no minute is wasted in the arrangement either. A little later on, ‘Time’lifts the mood of the album slightly with some interesting electronic effects, but then it’s into the short instrumental ‘Extract From The 17th November’which acts as a prelude of sorts to the album’s closing and standout track ‘Tail’. Yet another track of about ten minutes, but it’s a deception, it doesn’t feel like that long a song. You catch the flow and go with it, all the way. This is haunting. Ghosts are everywhere. Towards the end, a chorus of voices can be heard in what seems to be the beginning of the closing of the song, but no, Britt returns, a few more words, then she gently hums as the song then finally fades. This seems to last forever. Turn the volume up and it’s another array of electronics that finally bring the song and album to a close. Talk about a slow fade. This song is a real achievement for Britt and Anders, to me their best so far. Let’s see how they follow it.

A very classy album indeed, but remember to give it time.

Time Machine

Us And Them, are back* with their 2nd album which is scheduled for release mid-June 2018, through Mega Dodo Records. This Swedish Baroque-NeoFolk-Pop duo of Britt Rönnholm and Anders Håkanson made an album (11 songs, 52min in total) that flirts with various Folk sub-genres like Acid-Folk, Dreamy-Folk, Medieval-Folk, Psych-Folk, developing their unique brand of light psychedelized folk music. All songs show a great musicianship filled with artistic acoustic instrumentation dressed with superb female vocals. Oh, these vocals! This voice! Britt’s voice combines and simultaneously emerges Nico’s melancholy, Marianne Faithfull’s fragileness, Sandy Denny’s crystalline structure and Jacqui McShee’s warmness!!!  Pretty amazing, e? By now, you should have guessed the musical background that this album moves to, but in my humble opinion, this LP ‘hides’ 2 Magical, Superb, Brilliant and Unexpected surprises! The 9:37min “Tail”, a psych-neo-folklore epic tune that can melt the inside of your brains by the first listening and the Shocking Sensational 10min trip “Lady Rachel”. Yes, Kevin Ayers’ “Lady Rachel”, it’s really unbelievable what they did to this already-amazing song. They moved further. A beauteous delicate electronically flavoured Psychedelic Folk Epos! Kevin would have been proud! For sure! Tim would be proud too… “Long afloat on shipless oceans / I did all my best to smile / ’til your singing eyes and fingers / Drew me loving to your isle”

New underground music

Het album, dat 11 nummers bevat, begint met “The Trees And The Sky Above”, waarin de band me een fantastische rustige folk song voorschotelt, waar ze patent op lijkt te hebben en dit nummer wordt gevolgd door de A-Kant van de single “From The Corner Of My Eye”, een schitterende rustige folk song, die melodisch klinkt en prachtige samenzang bevat (luister naar dit nummer via de soundcloud link onder de recensie), waarna “A New LIfe” volgt en ik opnieuw zo’n prachtige folk song te horen krijg, die in een traag tempo gespeeld wordt.
In “Lady Rachel” zet de band me een verrukkelijke rustige licht psychedelische folk song voor en in “Changes And Choices” speelt Us And Them een nogmaals een mooie rustige melodische folk song.
Daarna hoor ik “People Like Us”, een geweldige melodische folk song, die in een gemiddeld tempo gespeeld wordt en aanzet tot dansen en gevolgd wordt door “Time”, een afwisselende song, die in een niet al te hoog tempo gespeeld wordt.
Verder hoor ik “Extract From The 17th Of November”, een kort eentonig instrumentaal nummer, dat ruimtelijke psychedelische invloeden heeft en licht hypnotiserend klinkt, waarna de band “Tail” ten gehore brengt en hierin krijg ik een fantastische song voorgeschoteld, die lichte psychedelische invloeden bevat en in een rustig tempo gespeeld wordt.
Als toegift verrast de band me op 2 nummers, die niet op de hoes vermeld staan en de eerste daarvan is “She’s Not Me” en ook in dit nummer speelt Us And Them een mooie melodische song, waar heerlijke samenzang zit en in het laatste nummer, “We Are Not Alone” zet de band me nogmaals zo’n song voor.

“On Shipless Ocean” van Us And Them is een schitterende plaat met prachtige rustige folk songs, die een genot voor het oor zijn en ik kan deze schijf dan ook sterk aanraden aan hen, die van dit genre houden.

 

Reviews about ”From the corner of my eye”

From the corner of my eye

HeyDay

‘ Do you know what keeps this job satisfying? It’s receiving something new to listen to, and in this instance it’s by Us & Them. John from Mega Dodo kindly sent me a link to download their new single to be released shortly by the label. Many thanks again John!

I can become seriously lost in a reverie while I listen to this Swedish duo. Britt has one of the most beautiful voices. The music by Anders is sparse, but every instrument is well arranged. I can kick back and follow their songs forever.
Outside my window at the moment, Spring is slowly appearing. There’s a hint of colour on the ground, but the trees are bare. There’s a glint of sunshine. I’m listening to the new single and I’m amazed at how in tune with the season Us & Them put me, and they do this all year round, whatever release of theirs I listen to. Wonderful! I think I may have said all this before in a previous entry, but this is how they make me feel. I’m also too old to care if this makes me a hippy!

What of the new single? There are two tracks on the vinyl with a download code to receive two more, so four new tracks in total. A taster for their forthcoming album if you like. ‘From The Corner Of My Eye’, a new Us & Them track, has a reflective lyric but Britt remains defiant. It’s backed by a cover of Woolly Wolstenholme’s ‘The Iron Maiden’. A tasteful arrangement featuring flute (or is it a Mellotron?) and even bells, I think! The songs available for download are ‘When Life Begins’, another new track, that reminds me of Nico a little in Britt’s phrasing (with a wonderful uplifting harpsichord(?) passage) plus a version of Bowie’s ‘All The Madmen’, not as sinister sounding as the original, but just as effective. Two vocals on ‘Madmen’ and I’m pretty sure there’s a flute and Mellotron on board this time. Us & Them’s arrangements are so subtle my ears can’t always tell, or am I still lost in reverie?

I’m happy I listened.

Goldmine magazine

Previewing Us and Them’s upcoming On Shipless Ocean album, “From the Corner of My Mind” follows in what has long been a tradition for this most enchanting of modern combos, a four song EP that mixes the possibly-familiar with original material, then dares you to choose which is which.  

True, half the package is available as bonus downloads alone, but they are worth the bandwidth. First, the duo’s own “When Life Begins” soars on augmented classic folksong wings, before Bowie’s “All the Madmen” sends the eerie dislocation of the original soaring into the red, not only in terms of delivery, but also execution.  Play it, you’ll see.

“From the Corner of My Eye,” too, startles, a haunted ballad with Britt Ronnholm’s vocal hung as mysterious as the lyric, to conjure up a fission that a monochrome cover of Barclay James Harvest’s “The Iron Maiden” only enhances.  On this form, the album cannot come quickly enough.

Record collector

REcord collector rec ension

Bliss / Aquamarine

New single from Swedish psych-folk project Us and Them, available as a limited edition 2-song 7″ or 4-song download. From the Corner of My Eye is a taster for their forthcoming album On Shipless Ocean, and combines a traditional-style folk melody with a luxurious and atmospheric arrangement. The Iron Maiden was written by Woolly Wolstenholme (Barclay James Harvest/Maestoso), and sets airy folk-tinged pop to lilting flute, delicate acoustic guitar and ethereal keyboards. When Life Begins is a beautiful slice of folk-pop wrapped within lush accompaniment with strings, harpsichord and shimmering spacey synth. Final track is a cover of David Bowie’s All the Madmen, pairing Middle Eastern flourishes with cosmic synth burblings. Very lovely stuff – available 20th April

The Sunday experience

On limited issue through mega dodo, featuring two original pens and two covers, Us and Them give hint of wonders to come this May when full length ‘on shipless ocean’ is released. In terms of tracks heard thus far this year, only Beautify Junkyards’ incoming on Ghost Box demurs in equal grace and poise. Measured, mercurial and mesmeric, Us and Them court a breathless lightness of touch to this quaint quartet of shy eyed gems, the dizzying genteel baroque folk waltzing of ‘when life begins’ and the seductively spacey psychedelic tethering applied to Bowie’s ‘all the madman’ are pressed with such exquisite mastery as to be strong enough to individually grace an A side in their own right. That said it’s to a cover of Barclay James Harvest’s ‘the iron maiden’ and ‘from the corner of my eye’ – a teaser from the previously aforementioned full length happening that rightly vie for affection here, the former a slice of sweet enchantment twinkled and romanced in a close intimacy that’s hushed to the spectral allure of ghostly garlands, whilst just edging it, the lead track fixes you in beguilement concocting a softly stirred spell craft whose timeless tapestry is turned in an ancient folk tongue dappled in floral posies woven into a dream like mirage, a transfixing turntable delight in a pressing of just 250 copies.

 Gew Gaw

Us And Them are Sweden’s Britt and Anders, and this single will be released in April by Mega Dodo in 250 copies! Us And Them are friends of folk, add some acid or psychedelic elements and offer us beautiful and special music. This single, on the first side, has the wonderful and unique pop/folk track from the corner of my eye and on the other hand a very good performance on the iron maiden, original by Wolly Wolstenholme (Moody Blues). There are two more songs when life begins and the excellent adaptation to all the madmen of David Bowie, which can be downloaded by anyone who gets this cool 7΄΄!!

Extremely interesting (and) this new release of the US and Τhem!!

Dj Astro

his is a brand-new 7″ by my favourite Swedish psych folk duo Us and Them. As always with Mega Dodo this is a limited edition release and there are only 250 hand-numbered copies made. The actual 7″ has just two beautiful, emotional songs but the download has two more. The melancholic title track “From the Corner of My Eye” is perhaps the one I love the most: it really is touching and pretty. Nice acoustic guitar and organ, slow drum beat, simple bass and amazing female vocals, what else do you need? Okay, some string sounds in the chorus and more instrumentation later on, of course! Just wonderful. On the B-side, “The Iron Maiden” has a more traditional folk vibe that I also really like. I didn’t even first realise that it’s a 1970 Barclay James Harvest cover.

The download includes one more original and one cover song. The just over two-minute “When Life Begins” has a more positive mood and David Bowie’s “All The Madmen” has received a very cool folky Us and Them treatment. This one also features guests on flute and drums. Too bad that these bonus tracks are not on the vinyl, since they would have fitted on 33 1/3 RPM. Get this 7″ soon before it’s gone and while you’re at it, the new full-length On Shipless Ocean is also now on pre-sale so you can get them both at the same time to save on postage!

House of prog

Us and Them are back with another folktastic single for your third favourite record label. The follow-up to last year’s When I Was Walking finds Us and Them returning with four, yes count them four!, cracking wistful acid tinged songs. From the corner of my eye is taken from their forthcoming album (May release date) On Shipless Ocean. The Iron maiden makes up the second side of the 7-inch. When life begins and All the madman are available as bonus downloads. All of them are beautiful, timeless songs with more hocks than you’ll find in your local B&Q.

New underground music

De A-Kant, “From The Corner Of My Eye”, is schitterende rustige folk song, die melodisch klinkt en prachtige samenzang bevat (luister naar dit nummer va de soundcloud link onder de recensie) en in “The Iron Maiden” laat het duo me nogmaals genieten van een verrukkelijke song, die lichte psychedelische invloeden heeft, in een rustig tempo gespeeld wordt en me tot rust brengt.
De eerste van de 2 downloads heet “When Life Begins” en daarin krijg ik opnieuw zo’n heerlijke rustige song voorgeschoteld, waarna “All The Madman” volgt en
ook speelt het duo een fantastische licht psychedelische folk song, die Oosterse invloeden heeft, waarbij het tempo niet al te hoog ligt, terwijl de muziek tevens melodisch klinkt.

“From The Corner Of My Eye” van Us And Them is een geweldige single, waarik zeer van genoten heb, dus die ik elke liefhebber van folk ten volle kan aanraden.

Reviews about ”When I was walking”

front-with-text

Goldmine Magazine

It’s no secret that Us and Them are heir to so many Anglo folk thrones that the very fact that they’re Swedish feels like an act of outright subversion.  Nobody else has taken the likes of Sandy Denny, Pink Floyd and the Wicker Man to the heights that Anders Håkansson and Britt Rönnholm have dared raise them, and while we impatiently await the duo’s next album, the latest volume of the Mega Dodo Singles Club unfurls a green vinyl glimpse into what they’ve done lately.

Two new songs echo the last album’s reliance on self-composed material, and – despite the plaudits that their covers richly merit – it’s through their own pens that we see Us and Them at their unimpeachable best.

“Folky” in as much as that’s the vein through which they flow most freely, but guileless in the ease with which they step beyond that, they conjure whispered symphonics and back-of-the-mind remembrances, the taste of summer days and the touch of remembered woodland, over which Rönnholm’s voice floats with soul-snagging beauty.  And then nags you with such fearless hooks and chorus lines (“Green Couch” has a fade to die for) that you never want to sleep again.

Record Collector

Another month, another Us and Them 45. Last time it was Sandy Denny covers, now it’s originals in that U&T style; weird folk of the unexpected. When I was walking is an intimate song about love, but you’d be a pretty strange couple if this was ‘’our song’’. With the tempo of a Tudo waltz, it lurches almost gaily, yet will smother you with a lavender-scented pillow while you sleep. Green couch is a place of refuge to watch the grim normal world go by, unseen but missing nothing. A fantastic electronic abstract noise like smoke swirling from a roll-up adds a vibe. Far odder than all the dark rock bands you can think of, loving, gentle and cruely twisted. These people should be stars.

Shindig !

I don’t have this review digital but Shindig ! gave ”Fading within..”. a great review. In the same issue of the magazine they also give our January single 4 out of 5 and say: ”They continue in a similar vein on the Mega Dodo single ”When I was walking” has a kind of wyrd-folk wibe to it, like an outtake from a strange Wicker Man-style 70 pagan horror flick. It’s beguilingly lovely , but with an odd, otherwordly feel. Timeless and capitvating.”

The Strange brew

The Swedes follow up their EP of covers with a 7 inch of two original songs that deservedly nestle alongside the Denny classics. ‘When I Was Walking’ is gorgeous Wicker-esque acid folk, with the introspective b-side ‘Green Couch’ more straight ahead pop-folk but no less enchanting.

A Box of dreams

Beautiful, Timeless and utterly bewitching. If the winter winds don’t give you icy chills, this will.  This harkens back to the classic days of acid folk and if you miss this you deserve a one way trip to Summer Isle for May Day Celebrations as their guest of honour.

Sunday experience

alas no sound cloud links on this one just yet, part of the mega dodo singles club and due for release early January, this is the quite exquisite Us and Them. Already responsible for having us all a swoon following having had the listening pleasure of hearing their imminent outing for Fruits de Mer, this one arrives arrives strictly limited to just 150 copies – all on green vinyl and features two newly cuts – ‘when I was walking’ and ‘green couch’ the former of which is a beautifully beguiled spectral mysterio that loosely orbits the dark seduction of the Stones’ ‘playing with fire’ as reappraised a few years ago by – if I recall rightly – Crystaline Josephine all dreamily and bewitchingly hushed in a floral nocturne tapestry. ‘green couch’ on the flipside is quite something else, genteelly surrendering and shyly tender its elegant eeriness and adoring undulates tinkerishly daydream whilst drawing the dots between Beautify Junkyards and the Shortwave Set under the guiding hand of Renaissance.

Bliss Aquamarine

Two new releases from Swedish folk duo Us and Them: a 10″ EP of Sandy Denny covers, out now on Fruits de Mer, and a 2-song 7″ of their own material, released in January 2017 on Mega Dodo. The 10″ is pressed on coloured vinyl and includes three songs written by Sandy Denny, along with two songs she is known for having performed: the Richard Thompson-penned Fairport Convention track Farewell Farewell, and the traditional folk ballad Banks of the Nile. Winter Winds is beautiful, hushed psych-folk augmented by lush strings. Farewell, Farewell has a soft and dreamlike feel, with guest musician Tony Swettenham’s Mellotron adding to the ethereal mood of the arrangement. Next Time Around is reinvented as retro-futuristic, experimental folk-pop. Banks of the Nile has a luxurious feel with use of oboe and strings alongside floaty, atmospheric synth. Take Away the Load is gentle folk-pop accompanied by acoustic guitar and Mellotron orchestration.

The 7″ is available as a limited edition of 150 green vinyl copies exclusive to members of the Mega Dodo singles club, and 150 black vinyl copies available on a wider basis. When I Was Walking is informed by traditional folk whilst also incorporating psychedelic whimsy and a gentle, ethereal brand of retro-futurism. Green Couch is delicate folk-pop, with sparse acoustic guitar alongside evocative, whirling vintage electronics. Both releases are simply beautiful and well worth checking out.

Penny Black Music

It happens that you just know what to expect from a band or artist sometimes from the label they have chosen to release their music. Swedish duo Us and Them recently issued an EP on the wonderful Fruits de Mer label made up of Sandy Denny covers. For those yet to experience the beauty of the music that Britt Rönnholm and Anders Håkansson make together the results were just as you’d expect a handful of Sandy Denny songs to sound when given the Fruits de Mer treatment. In other words it is hauntingly beautiful.

Hot on the heels of that EP the label that many feel is the rightful home to Us And Them, the equally wonderful Mega Dodo label issue a limited edition green-vinyl 7” which is exclusive to members of the Mega Dodo Singles club. Thankfully for non-members the single is also available as a regular black vinyl edition, although this too is only being issued as a small run.

If I had to explain Sweden, the Sweden that I know at least and what I feel is the true picture, I’d advise people that although some of this Scandinavian noir gets close, ‘hygge’ (ok, ok, Danish, but close enough), the other Scandinavian trend that us Brits seem currently obsessed with, and which after twenty years of ties with both countries I’ve yet to experience (but it sells books, so, hey…) I’d point them in the direction of Us and Them. This duo captures the unsettling beauty of their homeland perfectly. No doubt every country has areas you wouldn’t want to venture in to but the woodlands of Sweden are like no other place on earth. Vast woodlands that are so inviting yet have this dark undercurrent lurking around every twist and turn. You feel safe but at the same time feel an element of danger is never more than the sound of a footprint falling on a broken twig away.

Us and Them are aware of this sensation. One of their EPs was titled after their cover of Sandy Denny’s ‘By The Time It Gets Dark’; until the duo’s recent above mentioned EP of Denny covers had one of her songs ever sounded so chilling? Another Us and Them EP featured songs from ‘The Wicker Man’. Are the pieces beginning to fall into place? Us and Them draw us in because we’re never sure of what is going to happen. There’s always this element of surprise, this tiny part that longs for the weirdness, but is always safe in the knowledge that the good will always outweigh the bad.

Rönnholm and Håkansson are far from the only musicians who trade in this strain of psychedelic folk but they lend it a more honest, a more believable and yet an almost terrifying edge than any of their contemporaries. ‘When I Was Out Walking’ begins with gentle, acoustic guitar, otherworldly yet captivating sounds faintly blowing across the gorgeous melody, then Britt’s bewitching vocals enter to complete the spell. Like most of their music, this track is also one of contradictions. Britt’s vocals are at once both fragile yet tough, the melody and musical backing both comforting and slightly disturbing. The images the music conjures up capture both the melancholy feel of autumn and the promise of summer. The music is superbly performed, it appears to have been made on the most primitive, obscure instruments but is crystal clear and compliments Britt’s vocals perfectly.

‘Green Couch’ is even better. With Britt’s vocals almost reduced to a whisper, or as near to a whisper you can imagine this extraordinary vocalist producing, Anders provides such a rich yet concise musical accompaniment which brings out the best in the fragile beauty of Britt’s vocals.

Many moons ago a couple of R’n’B enthusiasts tried to capture the beauty of one of their girlfriends on record and partially succeeded but the songs have begun to sound a little dated now; Us and Them have taken that template and made music that is not only beautiful but added shades of darkness which somehow ensure that this music should never sound dated. For those who always wanted a little more shade and depth in the young Marianne Faithfull’s Decca recordings check out Us and Them. And be smitten.

 

Reviews about ”Fading within the dwindling sun”

fading

Shindig !

US AND THEM Fading Within The Dwindling Sun
★★★★
If that vogueish Scandi phrase hygge can be represented in purely sonic terms, then Swedish duo Us And Them capture the vibe perfectly. This is music to sink in to,as warm and welcoming as a blazing hearth in deepest winter. his is FdM’s first 10”, and a fine release it is too, featuring a handful of songs associated with Sandy Denny, constructed around sparse, warm, mostly acoustic arrangements, overlaid with breathy, close-miked vocals from Britt,who seems to be whispering sweet intimations rather than simply singing. This is alluringly beautiful stuff, sounds and voices hanging in the air like chilled,frost-touched breath.

Prog Magazine

Swedish folk-rockers Us And Them pull off a label peak with a ten-inch album covering five Sandy Denny songs. Backed by Anders’ crystal backdrops and Tony Swettenham’s Mellotron, singer Britt wins over this daunting challenge by perfectly capturing the late singer’s pure unearthly beauty on haunting versions of Winter Winds and Farewell, Farewell.

The Strange brew

Taking on five signature Sandy Denny tracks is quite a challenge. So it was with some trepidation I gave their forthcoming Fruits de Mer 10 inch EP ‘Fading Within The Dwindling Sun’ a spin. How would Britt and Anders tackle songs made famous by the great British female folk singer? Exceedingly well in fact. My favourites are the Sandy’s penned tracks, ‘Winter Winds’ – a softer take of the Fotheringay song, the stripped back glacial feel of ‘Next Time Around’, and finally the folky interpretation of Sandy’s ballad ‘Take Away The Load’.

Harmonic distortion

This coloured 10” vinyl is out now on Fruits de Mer Records. It’s a five-track tribute to Sandy Denny featuring three Denny-penned tracks and two more songs she made her own. Anyone doubting that Us and Them can due justice to the music of Sandy Denny need only check out the 7” they released a couple of years back which contained a sterling cover of ‘By The Time It Gets Dark‘.

As we approach the solstice, the sun is dwindling it does indeed get dark early. I can’t think of a better soundtrack for to accompany the midwinter stillness. My advice – avoid the High Street madness, do your shoppong online (from Fruits de Mer reputable mail order service), find a quiet spot and let this music take its effect. It’s a perfect piece of wintry folk, and another jewel in the Fruits de Mer catalogue. Just right for those moments of quiet reflection, when you take stock of the preceeding year and charge your batteries for the next 12 months. Have a great solstice everyone.

A box of Dreams

Charming, begas we approach the solstice, the sun is dwindling it does indeed get dark early. I can’t think of a better soundtrack for to accompany the midwinter stillness. My advice – avoid the High Street madness, do your shoppong online (from Fruits de Mer reputable mail order service), find a quiet spot and let this music take its effect. It’s a perfect piece of wintry folk, and another jewel in the Fruits de Mer catalogue. Just right for those moments of quiet reflection, when you take stock of the preceeding year and charge your batteries for the next 12 months. Have a great solstice everyone.uiling and essential listening for those long winter evenings

This is a forthcoming 10″ EP (the first for the label) of US and THEM interpreting tracks by the much missed muse Sandy Denny.

The band have spent the last year working on the 5 tracks that make up this EP and give Sandy’s work a new twist adding to the sheer brilliance of the material that Sandy originally recorded.

Banks of the Nile was always my favourite Sandy song (recorded originally by her band Fotheringay) and as much as I want to like what the band have done to the song here there seems to be something lost in this version (maybe because I am so familiar with the original and use it to introduce Novice’s to Sandy’s illustrious back catalogue).  No complaints whatsoever though about the remaining 4 numbers and the band are to be congratulated for their thoughtfulness in the arrangements.

love everything this band have put out and….

Goldmine Magazine

Love her or loathe her, there is no denying that Sandy Denny left a monstrous footprint upon the soul of traditional music, one of the precious few songwriters (former Fairport bandmate Richard Thompson is another) whose own work was often indistinguishable from, and is frequently still confused with, the folk tunes within whose shadow she wove.

The careers and catalogs of both Fairport and Fotheringay ricochet with compositions that are oft-regarded as neither one-thing-or-the-other, and one cannot help but glance with pitying scorn at those so-called caring record company voices who convinced her to delve into poppier tones… or even cover other people’s pop hits… in their quest for the hit they all swore she deserved. As if the public, given the choice between hearing her sing Elton John or Trad Arr., would ever take “Candle in the Wind” over “Banks of the Nile.”

Fading Within the Dwindling Sun is Swedish duo Us and Them’s five track tribute to Denny in all her chosen guises – songwriter, interpreter and, via Fairport’s “Farewell Farewell,” the voice of one of Richard Thompson’s most frequently miscredited compositions – “Farewell Farewell” matched a fresh lyric to the tune to the traditional “Willie O’Winsbury,” and slowed here to a eulegiac fraction of its original pace, it pinpoints both the majesty of Denny’s original delivery, and that which Us and Them bring to this project.

Britt Ronnholm’s vocals lend themselves perfectly to the words that Denny made her own – meaning that, unlike so many other tributes, she does not even try to emulate the original’s perfect phrasing, preferring to rely on her own exquisite tones. The breathy “Next Time Around,” haunted by instrumentation that itself is as redolent as the words, might be the EP’s highlight; but “Winter Winds,” the opener, chills as it ought to, and the brief “Take Away the Load” is a fitting coda to the collection.

The true piece de resistance, however, is “The Banks of the Nile,” the EP’s one traditional song. In Denny and Fotheringay’s hands, it is sounded out with defiance, even anger; Ronnholm voices it with a tremulous softness, her focus on the sentiment of the song as opposed to the performance that dominated Fotheringay’s version.

Mellotron and strings add to the atmosphere, trepidation and doomed determination enfolding the lyric as they draw the listener ever deeper into the unfolding story.Which is all that these songs have ever asked of either performer or audience.

Is this Fruits de Mer’s finest ever release?

It’s certainly one of them.

Exposé online

Just in time for Christmas Sweden’s Us & Them have a new color vinyl ten inch on Fruits de Mer. And quite an ambitious one as they cover five different songs by the iconic Sandy Denny. Attempting to cover a song belonging to Sandy is dangerous as it will immediately draw comparisons. Fortunately Britt’s pure and breathy voice adds a new dimension to these songs along with the acid folk reinterpretation. The disc opens with a Fotheringay song “Winter Winds.” Sandy’s vocals on the original were a bright light. In contrast Us & Them’s cover adds a darker and sadder feel to this delicate and eerie song. The next is Richard Thompson’s “Farewell, Farewell” that is so similar to Pentangle’s “Willy O’Winsbury.” What Us & Them have done is taken this beautiful song and enhanced it with Andy Settenham’s Mellotron. The third song, “Next Time Around,” is from Sandy’s solo album North Star Grassman and the Ravens. This is another dark introspective cover with violins and drones. The traditional “Banks of the Nile” from Fotheringay is next. This song is one of the best known ballads arising out of the British campaigns against Napoleon. It is a touching song about a young woman wanting to go to sea with her man. He prevents her by taking shelter behind Naval regulations. When Sandy sang this song, she sang all the verses. Us & Them change it up by having Britt sing the girl’s part and Anders sing the sailor’s. And contributing to this painful parting of ways, Us & Them layer on more Mellotron and bass clarinet. The last song “Take Away the Load” is a song by Sandy written for Dave Swarbick and only appeared as a demo, though Swarbrick did eventually release it on Fairport’s Gottle O’Geer. This final exquisite song is the shortest on the disc. Their cover brings a tear to your eye. If you step back and separate yourself from your Sandy Denny prejudices, you will find great joy in this release. And for those unfamiliar with Sandy Denny, you can approach this release with a wide open mind and enjoy the music by itself.

Terrascope

Something of a dream come true for label owner Keith with Britt and Anders from the band covering six Sandy Denny tunes ( Sandy being Keith’s favourite singer).

‘Winter Winds’ introduces this project with some fine gentle meshing acoustic guitars and Britt’s ethereal untrammelled pure vocal, It has a nice icy feel, not just because of the song title but it just feels wintery.

‘Farewell, Farewell’ is the Richard Thompson song, a fairly straight forward treatment of it accompanied by some Mellotron from Tony Swettenham.

‘Next Time Around,’ one of the three songs written by Sandy on this EP, is lovely, a dreamy number with plenty of space for the instruments to frame the beautiful voice of Britt. Not many singers can take such a classic and do it justice but hats off to Britt, she does a fine job here.

‘Banks Of The Nile’ (trad) is the standout song for me, imagine Willow’s song from The Wickerman crossed with Scarborough Fair, that should give you an indication of the style here. The song is actually a pretty harrowing tale, concerning a conscripted soldier’s fate.  Sung by Britt and Anders, It has a lovely chamber folk arrangement with some cool orchestral touches, accompanied again by Tony’s sympathetic Mellotron programming.  It is a stunning song, capable of thawing the most icy of hearts.

We end the EP on the short but sweet ‘Take Away The Load’, a delicate song of release, and an acoustic song, again written by Sandy.

Pure and perfect, this is a record to play again and again though the long winter months ahead, a keeper.

House of Prog

Swedish band US & THEM consist of the duo of Britt Rönnholm and Anders Håkanson, and together they aim to create, explore and release “fragile, dreamy, otherworldly music”. They have done so on two full albums and half a dozen of EPs so far. “Fading Within the Dwindling Sun” is the most recent of the latter, and was released as a 10 inch vinyl album by UK label Fruits de Mer Records towards the end of 2016.

Fruits de Mer Records are known for inviting artists to recreate the psychedelic music of yesteryear, and in this case we’re treated to an EP consisting of five songs from Sandy Denny’s repertoire. Songs Sandy made her own, some penned by her, one by Richard Thompson and one traditional tune. I understand that Sandy Denny is quite the name in the right circles, and as she is also listed as an inspiration by Us & Them I rather guess this has been a challenging task due to that context.

I’ll have to acknowledge that the originals are not items all that known and precious to me, but my impression is that Us & Them have made a good job: This is an entertaining and well made EP, and one the band can be proud of in it’s own right.

Of the five tracks here, three are shorter creations with a clear and distinct singer/songwriter foundation, and I suspect they were made with merely the acoustic guitar and vocals in mind. On this occasion each of them have been lightly flavored with orchestration details, adding depth and emotional impact, with concluding cut Take Away the Load also featuring a sequence I’d describe as pastoral.

The two long cuts on this EP expands the canvas ever so slightly. While clearly folk-oriented in style and perhaps also with something of a singer/songwriter foundation, these have been broadly expanded to include not just orchestration details but also a liberal array of fleeting, mystical and ever so slightly exotic sounds. Neatly and carefully done I should add, and flavoring these compositions with a distinct psychedelic sound and presence.

The soft, slightly cold and careful vocals of Britt Rönnholm is the delicate presence that really gives life to these songs, the almost ethereal chill breeze of her voice giving these songs a distinct identity. On the one song where Anders Håkanson joins her, his dark, smooth and calmly warm voice comes across as a perfect supplemental contrast.

Careful, well made and delicate music is what Us & Them provides with their versions of Sandy Denny’s music. All of them operating out from a singer/songwriter foundation, expanded either by orchestra details or more elaborate yet careful psychedelic textures. Those who finds that description compelling or merely have an interest in artists covering the material of Sandy Denny might want to take note of this EP.

My rating: 80/100

 Heyday

Us & Them’s ‘Fading Within The Dwindling Sun’ 10” is also released by FdM in December, featuring five tracks usually associated with Sandy Denny. There’s something about this Scandinavian duo that evokes feelings of reflection in me. Not sadness though, I come out of it overwhelmed by the beauty. One day I’ll be better able to put it into words, but for now, let’s just say I love their music.

Their releases always arrive in tune with the current season. Nights are drawing in, the colours of Autumn now fading (they’ve been spectacular this year haven’t they?) and Us & Them return with the perfect soundtrack yet again. There’s a warmth in Britt’s vocals, now missing outside, crystal clear yet slightly melancholic and Anders is always there with tasteful arrangements letting the songs breathe. The two tracks that really work for me are both Sandy Denny originals – ‘Next Time Around’ and ‘Take Away The Load’. Both ideally suited to Us & Them. Lovely to have this duo around.

Sunday experience

Till us andthem.se: A review for our forthcoming 10 inch Fading within the dwelling sun from The Sunday experience: ” When you consider the wealth of releases and the names who’ve graced the label – the pretty things, soft hearted scientists, beau, vibravoid, the chemistry set et al, as impeccable and illustrious the FdM back catalogue is, this might just well be the finest thing they’ve put out to date.” Read the whole review on the reviewpage here on usandthem.se.

More incoming Fruits de Mer loveliness, this time I think I’m in saying, the labels first 10-inch release – indeed it is I’ve just specced the press release, pressed upon which you’ll find Us and Them entrancing one and all across five sonic interpretations of songs once upon a time gracefully touched by Sandy Denny. I’ll admit on a personal note that I did fear for this release, it’s not so much that Denny covers are a sometimes perilous and foolhardy venture as the press release so rightly notes, its more to do with the fact that across five tracks the attention stakes are set high and well let’s be honest Denny purists are a critical and fickle lot and anything less than mercurial would be deemed a failure.

It’s okay and plausible to have a stab at maybe one track, but five is an audacious order to undertake and as much as we’ve tried to find fault to criticise, this set is so stunningly crafted that you’d be hard pushed to prize a cigarette paper between the tracks to decide your favourite. I’ll be honest we’ve listened to this twice through, the first time it was all woos, coos and aah’s with each passing track having us furiously scribbling out and switching our ‘best track’ allegiances. Second listen, the fear now gone, you’re able to sit down and enjoy the delicacy of the magic unfurling within. From the moment the ghostly florals of ‘winter winds’ usher in you are immediately struck by the lightness of touch of the musical craft and the tender siren like tones of Britt’s demur, its something that crystalises eloquently on the chasing track for adored with a hymnal phrasing, ‘farewell, farewell’ has that breezily cosy autumnal toning perfect for the coming season to which just fills you with an inner fuzzy glow. Matters shift a pace in terms of creative perspective with the appearance of the spellbinding ‘next time around’ – a frost chimed crystal tipped floral posy who minimalist murmurings touch to form an enchanted circle with broadcast, beautify junkyards and lake ruth, utterly beguiling. And while you busy yourself picking up your jaw from the floor along ghosts the exquisitely breathless fragile and shy eyed love note ‘banks of the nile’ to softly serenade and captivate, quite something else and quite possibly the finest nine minutes you’ll hear all year. Its left to ‘take away the load’ to round out the set’ all at once intimate and giving, though at this point your pretty much past caring, bewitched as you are by the rich lush harvest pressed upon these affectionately crafted grooves.

When you consider the wealth of releases and the names who’ve graced the label – the pretty things, soft hearted scientists, beau, vibravoid, the chemistry set et al, as impeccable and illustrious the FdM back catalogue is, this might just well be the finest thing they’ve put out to date.

Astral Zone

Okay, this beautiful 10″ was released alredy in December but unfortunately I’ve been too busy to review it before. This excellent psych folk duo from Stockholm, Sweden have released two albums and eight singles & EP’s but this is their first release in the very cool 10″ vinyl format. Keith from Fruits de Mer got the lovely couple of Britt and Anders convinced that it would be a good idea for them to record five folk rock songs sung by his favourite singer Sandy Denny. Some of you might remember her from bands like Fotheringay, Fairport Convention or Strawbs and her career ended in 1978 when she died tragically at the age of 31. In addition to Britt’s brilliant voice and the exquisite guitars, keyboards and electronics of Anders the recordings also include Tony Swettenham on Mellotron. Now, you already know the potential of this collaboration from the brilliant Summerisle EP from 2011 and they work together like magic this time as well. I got to say the end results do sound amazing!

The 10″ starts with Denny’s beautiful and melancholic “Winter Winds” originally recorded by Fotheringay in 1970 and I’m loving it. “Farewell, Farewell” is next and this very touching Fairport Convention song fits perfectly for Us and Them as well. Just wonderful. “Next Time Around” is a slow and somehow mysterious sounding song that was originally released on Denny’s second solo album in 1971. Us and Them’s spell-bounding version is almost two minutes longer than the original and really gets under your skin in a good way. On the B-side we first got the almost nine-minute version of the traditional “Banks of the Nile” and I really enjoy the fragile, emotional vibes on this one. Later on there are also some male vocals by Anders. Lots of Mellotron on this one! The 10″ is finished with the two-minute folk piece “Take Away the Load” (recorded by Fairport Convention as “Sandy’s Song”) and it’s a pretty, a bit more positive way to end this brilliant release. There are 700 copies of this beauty on orange vinyl and also 200 on white. Go and get yourself a copy!

Carrys new underground Music (in dutch)

Us And Them is een Zweeds folk duo, dat bestaat uit: Britt Rönnholm – zang en Anders Hakanson – gitaar en synthesizer.

Het duo maakte in 2008 hun debuut met de CD “Based on a True Story”, die via het eigen Withdrawn Recordings label verscheen en vooraf gegaan werd door de EP’s “Canning Oak” (2006), “Seagulls” (2006) en “Man O’ Sand To Girl O’Sea” (2006), die eveneens via dit label werden uitgebracht.

Vervolgens bracht het Fruits De Mer label in 2009 de vinyl EP “Julia Dream Of All The Pretty Horses” uit, waarmee het duo lovende kritieken oogstte van Mojo en Record Collector, gevolgd in 2011 door de EP “Summerisle” (Fruits De Mer) en in 2012 bracht het Ritual Echo Records de EP “Walk Light” uit, waarna in 2014 de EP “By The Time It Gets Dark” (Fruits De Mer) verscheen.

Het Mega Dodo Records label bracht 23 oktober 2015 het album “Summer Green And Autumn Brown” op zowel 180 gram zwart vinyl uit in een beperkte oplage van 250 stuks, plus als CD digipack, maar ook verscheen er een gelimiteerde oplage van 100 stuks als 4CD, inclusief de 3 CD EP’s, die via Fruits De Mer werden uitgebracht en was alleen maar via de Mega Dodo’s Bandcamp pagina te koop, dus niet in de winkels.

Op 12 december 2016 verschijnt de 10″ EP “Fading With The Dwindling Sun” op gekleurd vinyl via het Fruits De Mer Records label en deze bevat 5 songs, die Sandy Denny (Fairport Convention) zong, waarvan er 3 door haar geschreven zijn, plus 1 van Richard Thompson en een traditionele.

Het eerste van de vijf nummers, waaraan Us And Them een jaar gewerkt hebben, heet “Winter Winds” (Sandy Denny) en daarin hoor ik de band een schitterende rustige folkpop song spelen, waarin gebruik van strijkers wordt gemaakt. (luister naar dit nummer via de youtube link onder de recensie)

Daarna schotelt de band me “Farewell, Farewell” (Richard Thompson) voor en krijg ik een prachtige rustige melodische folkpop song te horen, die gevolgd wordt door “Next Time Around” (Sandy Denny) en ook dit is een zeer rustige verrukkelijke folk song, die op ingetogen wijze verolkt wordt.

Dan volgt “Banks Of The Nile” (Traditioneel), waarin ik beiden hoor zingen en Us And Them me opnieuw een fantastische rustige folk song voor zet, waarna het laatste nummer volgt, getiteld “”Take Away The Load” (Sandy Denny), waarin het tempo laag blijft en ik nogmaals een uitstekende rustige song voorgeschoteld krijg.

“Fading With The Dwindling Sun” van Us And Them bevat 5 heerlijke rustige folkpop songs, die liefhebbers van Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny en folk in zijn algemeenheid, zeker op waarde zullen weten te schatten en ik kan hen dan ook ten zeerste aanraden, eens naar deze schitterende schijf te gaan luisteren.

 

Reviews about ”Summer green and autumn brown”

Us and Them - Summer green

Goldmine 

How long have we been waiting for this?

Across a string of priceless, and damned near peerless EPs, the Swedish duo of Britt Rönnholm and Anders Håkanson have established themselves among the most tantalizing outfits around, be it their so-evocative reawakening of The Wicker Man soundtrack, the Walk Light EP, or their take on Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky”… or more.

Hasten thee to Bandcamp and pick up one of a limited edition (100 copies) of a four CD box set that includes three past EPs from their Fruits de Mer catalog; then envelop yourself in the fourth (which is also available on standalone vinyl), the debut LP we’ve been demanding for so long.

In many ways, it’s unknown territory, for listeners if not for the band.  The lion’s share of Us and Them’s past releases has comprised covers; Summer Green and Autumn Brown, on the other hand, is resolutely self-composed, but it’s unmistakable regardless.  Rönnholm’s vocals have such a distinctive tone, after all, halfway between seductive lilt and conspiratorial murmur, and with instrumentation that both matches and, occasionally, counterpoints, her moods, the album builds, slowly but swiftly, into the sound of…

Falling leaves, chill evenings, blue mornings, an album that could only be released as fall gets its grip on you, but will leave you dreaming of woodsmoke and damp undergrowth all year long.

Of course that’s an image that the album title only encourages, but close your eyes and you can hear the wind as it whispers through bare trees and scrappy undergrowth, and Rönnholm’s is the voice that sings above the sounds of nature, the witch who croons as she stirs the cauldron; the music you wish you’d learn to hum as you read the brothers Grimm in your childhood.

If this is truly folk music, then its roots are more ancient than any you’ve heard, and that’s as true in the fragility of the instrumentation and melodie, as it is in the occasional abruptness of the lyrics… a review of the album at Heyday Mail Order has already commended Rönnholm for delivering the most beautifully sung “fuck” in recorded history (“State of Mind”), but “Another View of Us” is one of the most ornately honest portraits of a relationship you’ll ever hear, too.

Never raising its voice, never getting over-excited, Summer Green and Autumn Brown finds its place and states its intent with its opening, extended, intro, and does not lose sight of it till the needle hops off after “Insight.”  Again, other reviews have suggested there’s a conceptual air to the full cycle, and maybe there is.  Better, though, to view it as one long and lingering frozen moment; one that you hope will never end.  Although, when it does, you can always play it again.

Terrascope 

The latest in a series of varied albums put out by the ever-expanding Mega Dodo Records is “Summer Green And Autumn Brown” by Us And Them, which, as the album title suggests, is a pastoral, folk-inspired work evoking woods, forests and much more. After a delightful introduction of acoustic guitar the first full song ‘We Are Sacred’ develops into an acid-folk trip through beautifully recorded, played and sung music. The duo are Swedish, though the songs are sung in English, and all the songs have that heart of melody so often shown by Scandinavian bands, not least Deleted Waveform Gatherings, La Fleur Fatale, Barr and The Migrant, with this latter pair particularly good comparisons. ‘Late Night Early Morning’ is softly quiet, with perfectly judged synths and accompanying instruments, while ‘State Of Mind’ reminded me of the ethereal songs of Kelli Ali, in vibe and vocal style. ‘Another View Of Us’ opens with more 12-string acoustic magic, before another absorbing song wends its way through bucolic landscapes: “I have learned a trick or two to make you smile.” Lovely song. ‘Here Again’ adds subtle vocal/reverb effects and a synth swish or two to the spectral mix, before a fuller chorus tugs the listener away; and again the mix of synths and subtle guitar is perfect. ‘Precious Moments’ has a faster tempo and multi-tracked vocals, while its melody, though original, somehow evokes folk standards, perhaps through its waltztime structure. ‘Me And My Mission’ end with vocals that are as near to “anthemic” as this laid back duo are going to get, while ‘From The Inside, Looking Out’ adds a drumkit and strings mellotron to the mix, providing the album’s only jarring moment. Album closer ‘Insight’ adds flute mellotron and acoustic guitars that inevitably evoke the early Genesis sound, though it’s another high quality song entirely of its own. There is a tradition of melodic, albeit often melancholy songs in Scandinavia, and this band follow that tradition in their own way. It’s an enchanting work for lovers of the groups mentioned above. A couple of limited editions are being made available, so get one while you can.

Expose

After a string of EPs and compilation appearances on Fruits de Mer, Swedish duo Us and Them release a full album’s worth of original tunes, Summer Green and Autumn Brown. Both the LP and CD are limited editions of 250 copies each. Also available as a Bandcamp exclusive are 100 sets of a 4 CD package including the band’s past FdM releases plus the new album. And if you wait too long and can’t snag a copy, you can always listen to the album on Bandcamp. Now to the music, Britt and Anders continue their exploration of acid-folk, psych, and gothic psych. If you are familiar with their cover tunes on FdM, you will be thrilled with Summer Green and Autumn Brown. The opening bucolic instrumental, “A New Beginning,” is an apropos title for a collection of original songs. “We are Sacred” is an excellent acid-folk song with electric guitar, synths, and a tasteful harpsichord line at the end. Some songs feature simple melody lines, and others like “Another View of Us” contain beautiful melodic harmonies. I particularly enjoy “Me and My Mission” with its strong vocals and melody, plus there is some violin sneaking up at you in the middle. Then of course there is the epic “From the Inside, Looking Out” that also contains the lyric that forms the album title. This song is dark and eerie; the vocals alternate between sinister and melodic forming a gothic love song of sorts for the end of summer. And the album closes with “Insight,” a song with a pleasant mix of acoustic guitar and synths, perfect for a summer’s eve. Now that Us and Them have joined the Mega Dodo team, I hope that we will be hearing much more from them.

The Sunday experience  

If the promise of a delightfully dinked festooning of pastoral posies make your heart skip just a little faster, then may we gently guide you in the general direction of something simply enchanting about to break cover from its shy hideaway via mega dodo records. Us and Them ought to be no strangers to observers and passing visitors to these pages, several releases via fruits de mer have all found an affectionate ear here, however new platter ‘summer green and autumn brown’ is quite something else and ought to elevate them to the echelons of psych folk’s top table. Mindful that the label appear quite smitten with the track ‘we are sacred’ (our copy coming replete with sticker apologetically pointing out the type pressing cock up preferring to have it as ‘we are scared’) and indeed it is a most beguiled thing, we here are rather taken with the ghostly romance unfurling on the simply mesmeric ‘state of mind’ which subtly dripped in 60’s haloes whilst traced in spectral shadow play betrays an ever so gently nod in the direction of a youthful Broadcast. Be heartened for there will be a full review of this (I’m certain I’ve read somewhere of limited vinyl pressings and an expanded 4CD set – but don’t quote me on that) along with fond words aplenty for a near perfect Beautify Junkyards, a live set from the immortal Brinsley Swartz and a mention for that ‘a Séance at Syd’s’ book and companion CD set to come. Incidentally they all live here

Days of purple and orange

Us and Them are Swedish duo Britt Rönnholm (vocals) and Anders Hakanson (guitar and keyboard) who produce some of the most mesmerising and beautiful acid folk that have graced these ears in a long time. The duo should be familiar to afficionados of the Fruits de Mer label and have had 3 EPs released via that label. ‘Summer Green And Autumn Brown’ is their debut long player and it is the wonderful Mega Dodo label who have the honour of putting it out. When one thinks of female folk voices the name Sandy Denny is inevitably the first name from people’s lips, however, Rönnholm’s vocal musings should run a very close second; her melancholic yearnings the expression of a pastoral idyll from days gone by. That’s not to say that ‘Summer Green And Autumn Brown’ is backwards looking, on the contrary, it mixes bucolic folk with some proggy elements and delving at times into experimental electronica, but never to the detriment of some beautifully performed and intelligently written songs. There is a definite edge to the duo’s material, a sharpness that raises it above the normal folk fair; some songs are embued with a darkness and sadness that, perversely, make the album all the more satisfying. Special mention should go to the baroque stylings of ‘We Are Sacred’ and the 10 minute long ‘From The Inside, Looking Out’ the start of which sounds like Delia Derbyshire gone folk; it artfully mixes hauntological electronica with melodious folk to great effect. ‘Summer Green And Autumn Brown’ is a spellbinding collection of songs. As I sit listening and writing on a gloomy November Friday afternoon it takes me to sunnier places at times and to windswept, leaf-strewn autumnal glades at others. If you are to by one folk album this year then it should be this one.

Heyday

‘Summer Green & Autumn Brown’. It’s the perfect soundtrack, now the days are getting shorter and the backdrop from my window is a wash of the colours brown, red, orange and yellow.

Us & Them are a male/female duo from Sweden who release gentle psych/pop/folk. The vocals are a notch above a whisper and the music, reflective, unfolds in its own time. There’s no rush. It’s all very beautiful!

I’ve returned to this album every day since receiving a copy. It’s a song cycle of sorts, from the opening instrumental ‘A New Beginning’ to the closing ‘Insight’ (a reprise with the chant-like lyrics of ‘Stay a while, stay for summer, stay for good’) In-between, introspective lyrics, full of feeling. ‘Summer Green…’ is a well thought out piece of work. I’m grateful to have this job and have albums like this land in my lap!

The intro to ‘We Are Sacred’ is so intricate, it nearly knots itself as it twists and turns. The song is the sound of clockwork. I’ve never heard the ‘f-word’ sung so beautifully either, check out ‘State Of Mind’! ‘Here Again’ hits me every time I hear the words ‘…and start the life I should be living’. Why? Probably because it’s a statement of intent. There’s strength in these lyrics, despite the gentle delivery. ‘Me and My Mission’ is a beautiful tune, uplifting chorus too. ‘Step by step….’ There’s a film to be made by someone where this will roll out over the closing credits. Centre-piece is ‘From The Inside, Looking Out’. The mellotron passage haunts, the lyrics yearn for freedom. Listen and weep.

On the surface, an album that may seem unassuming, but listen hard for the rewards. ‘Summer Green And Autumn Green’ is a Pandora’s Box of emotions – sometimes things may not be right, but there’s always hope.”

 

 GeGaw fanzine 

Swedish Us And Them are two people. Britt Rönnholm and Anders Hakanson, and Summer Green and Autumn Brown is an exquisite folk/psychedelic album. They have released lots eps and a cd on their own label in 2008. As I write above this album is excellent, incl. ten songs, ten magical elegies, ten dreamy moments. The voice of Britt is fabulous! The music is first of all folk, is psychedelic, swirls in heaven, ascends to stars and leads us into deep space.

Starting from songs like the wonderful folk/prog late night, early morning, the kindly gentle state of mind, and continuing with the insurmountable here again, we are confronted with the magic me and my mission that has something of the magic of Pearls Before Swine. Finally, there is the 10minutes masterpiece from the inside, looking out, a beautiful song that encompasses all the magic of the music of Us And Them: folk/psych/prog with cosmic elements. Excellent album, recommended for many nightly takeoffs!!

Mark Losing today

If the promise of a delightfully dinked festooning of pastoral posies make your heart skip just a little faster, then may we gently guide you in the general direction of something simply enchanting about to break cover from its shy hideaway via mega dodo records. Us and Them ought to be no strangers to observers and passing visitors to these pages, several releases via fruits de mer have all found an affectionate ear here, however new platter ‘summer green and autumn brown’ is quite something else and ought to elevate them to the echelons of psych folk’s top table. Mindful that the label appear quite smitten with the track ‘we are sacred’ (our copy coming replete with sticker apologetically pointing out the type pressing cock up preferring to have it as ‘we are scared’) and indeed it is a most beguiled thing, we here are rather taken with the ghostly romance unfurling on the simply mesmeric ‘state of mind’ which subtly dripped in 60’s haloes whilst traced in spectral shadow play betrays an ever so gently nod in the direction of a youthful Broadcast. Be heartened for there will be a full review of this (I’m certain I’ve read somewhere of limited vinyl pressings and an expanded 4CD set – but don’t quote me on that) along with fond words aplenty for a near perfect Beautify Junkyards, a live set from the immortal Brinsley Swartz and a mention for that ‘a Séance at Syd’s’ book and companion CD set to come. Incidentally they all live here

Bliss/Aquamarine

Us and Them are a Swedish psych-folk duo comprising Britt Rönnholm and Anders Håkanson. Following a number of EPs on Fruits de Mer, Ritual Echo, and their own label Withdrawn Recordings, they are now releasing their debut album, which will be out on 23rd October, available as a CD, 180 gram vinyl limited to 250 copies, or a 4 CD set limited to 100 copies, which includes the album plus 3 CD EPs. We Are Sacred is beautiful psych-folk combined with vintage electronica and prog touches. Late Night, Early Morning is delicate folk-pop ornamented by twinkling electronics that evoke an image of soaring through the cosmos. State of Mind sounds like Vashti Bunyan being accompanied by members of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Here Again has a warm and cosy sound yet with that slightly eerie and melancholic undertone that you get with all the best psych-folk. Right at the end, the track morphs into a slice of intense, spacey electronic experimentation to rival that of any spacerock outfit. From the Inside, Looking Out is an epic track more than 10 minutes long, featuring cinematic electronics blended with vocal harmony-driven folk with a perfect balance of light and dark. This truly is a top-class album, which perfectly combines mellow psych-folk and retro electronica in a way that really works. It’s right up there with the recent Beautify Junkyards album also on Mega Dodo; if you dug that then be sure to check this one out too

The Active listener

Us and Them are a lovely, chilled out acid folk duo from Sweden. Britt Rönnholm (vocals) and Anders Hakanson (guitar and keyboard) resonate like a great lost folk group from the late 60s, keeping company with the likes of Fairport Convention or The Incredible String Band. They have that closeted, intimate warmth often associated with bedroom recordings. The sound is spare, maybe even lo fi, but its delicate meanderings are mesmerizing and austere. Britt paints her songs with lacy strokes, her lovely alto darkening things just enough to keep the listener from floating away altogether. I am especially taken with the gorgeous “Another View of Us”, which is airy and has meaningful lyrics that stay with you after the tune has faded away. This is music with an autumnal vibe, a soundtrack to accompany the listener through multihued forests. It also wraps itself warmly around my ears like a comfy afghan, drawing me into its depths. “We Are Sacred” is a pastoral gem, with its combination of chamber pop (think harpsichord) with folk overtones. “Late Night, Early Morning” is aptly named, a song for a cold, gray November day with beautiful vocals from Britt, and equally lovely music to accompany her. The band also uses synths sparingly, which lends enough variety to the instrumentation to keep it all very interesting. “Here Again” is bright and charming with wispy vocals and chiming guitars and keyboards, but also has a hint of mystery to intrigue listeners. “Precious Moments” is close and confessional, delicately rendered with unique musical flourishes. “From The Inside, Looking Out” starts off disquieting and chilling, quite a different feel from the rest of this record. And then it transforms itself on the bridge to a sunnier feel, but that doesn’t last long. “Insight” is short and peaceful and winds down this beautiful release in a fitting manner.

This is a wonderful album that is highly recommended for fans who like edgy, folk-influenced music with deep roots in the past.

Aural-innovations.com

Us and Them are the Swedish duo of Britt Rönnholm and Anders Hakanson. They debuted in 2008 with a CD on their own Withdrawn Recordings label and also have had EPs on the Ritual Echo and Fruits de Mer labels. My introduction to the duo was their stunningly gorgeous Pagan-Folk inspired Songs from The Wicker Man collaboration with Frobisher Neck, released by Fruits de Mer. And now Mega Dodo has released their first full length of original songs: Summer Green and Autumn Brown.

Us and Them create some of the most beautifully delicate and pastoral Folk based Psychedelia I’ve ever heard. Britt’s vocals out Sandy Denny’d the original with their cover of Denny’s By The Time It Gets Dark on last year’s Fruits de Mer EP. But there are Prog and spacey influences as well. The music at times evokes early acoustic driven Genesis, but can also be gently symphonic and nearly always includes a spacey Pagan-Folk vibe, plus bits of Medievalism, dashes of Baroque and elements of 60s Pop-Psych. We’ve also got the added twist of cosmic synths and sci-fi effects. The spacey elements are typically light… They color. They embellish. They put Us and Them outside the box without being overly intrusive. The melodies are spellbinding, with guitars and vocals flowing like an enchanted forest magic carpet ride. From one song to the next I felt like I was hearing a siren call, enticing me into Rönnholm and Hakanson’s dreamy wilderness.

The synths get more front and center attention on a couple tracks. Here Again is a little different, going deeper into space than other songs and even getting into some intense electronic experimentalism. And the 10 minute From The Inside, Looking Out is the album’s Space-Folk-Prog epic, with its cosmically moody atmospherics and sometimes doomy vibe that intersperses with the trademark Us and Them Folk infused surrealist beauty. They should have named this album The Seduction. A shoe-in for my Best of 2015 list.

The psychedelicatessen.blogspot

More strange things are happening in Sweden………….. In early 2010 Swedish Acid Folk duo Us And Them released the Julia Dream Of All The Pretty Horses EP on Fruits de Mer Records. It was very well received by Mojo and Record Collector and is now sold out. In October 2011 Fruits de Mer released the Summerisle EP where Us And Them covered four songs from the The Wickerman. In 2012 they joined Ritual Echo Records and released four of their own songs on the Walk Light EP. Following these well received EPs, Us And Them now release their first album, Summer Green And Autumn Brown, on Mega Dodo Records. Made up of Britt Rönnholm, who sings, and Anders Håkanson, who plays the instruments, Us And Them play beguiling Psychedelic Folk deeply inspired by the music of Sandy Denny, Donovan, Bert Jansch, Vashti Bunyan, Duncan Browne and Pentangle and this beautiful record reveals all these influences.

As if by strange magic, Us And Them have created an album of such fragile beauty that is part pastoral folk, part something more melancholic…Dominated by Britt’s haunting voice Summer Green And Autumn Brown reflects the changing of the seasons, slowly shifting from a trippy, slightly proggy, stroll through lush fields and woodland landscapes flecked with sunshine and shadows to a hazier place where the dark nights are slowly drawing in and there is a chill in the air. Like label mates BeautifyJunkyards, Us And Them write gorgeous songs that absorb the best of 60s/70s Acid Folk inflected with an element of Folktronica that suggest that they are both from the past and the not too distant future. Summer Green And Autumn Brown opens with the soothing instrumental, ‘A New Beginning’, which sets the mood for the rest of the album before easing into ‘We Are Sacred’……. synths gently bubble up from beneath the surface of a gentle pool of acoustic guitars and Britt Rönnholm’s beautiful voice evoking a serene 60s/70s alternative universe where Donovan is fated as a living deity. The remainder of the album is woven from the same delicate gossamer thread where songs drift out of ether before being caught on the wind. There is a change of mood on the trippy ‘From The Inside, Looking Out’ which has more of a Prog Rock feel and is a wonderful ten minutes of woozy, swirling psychedelia, part cosmic and part from the dark forest. This is a stunning Acid Folk record and we can’t recommend it enough………….turn on, tune in……..bliss out.

 

Reviews about ”By the time it gets dark”

Front - The artwork

Shindig ! Magazine

“Swedish acid-folk duo Us and Them return to FdM with a mesmerising rendition of a rare Sandy Denny song, whose initmacy and heartbreak many have tried (and failied) to replicate – Britt Ronnholm nails it, and she also provides a glistening medieval air to Donovan’s magical madrigal ‘Jabberwocky’. The pair’s original ‘Do I Know You’ reminds one of Marianne Faithfull’s smokey-throated warbling with an elegaic backing that’ll appeal to fans of Fit & Limo, Trembling Bells and the other freaky folkies in our own Jeanette Leach’s acid-folk bible, Seasons They Change”

Goldmine magazine

A new EP from Us and Them (Winkle 14) means three new slices of magical melancholy, cunningly disguised among the loveliest sounds you’ll hear this year.  One of which is their own “Do I Know You,” to which you’ll repeat the same question as their flawless absorption of all the right influences bleeds into a sparse, drifting and deeply absorbing soundscape, over which vocals rise just this side of murmured, to haunt your very dreams.  Spellbinding!

But flip the disc and you will melt…. and I mean seriously, literally, disintegrate into a little puddle of goo on the carpet… as Britt and Anders turn their attention to a couple of songs, by a couple of singers, that very few people indeed have ever truly triumphed over.

Donovan’s reading of Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” is so enshrined in the folklore of late psychedelia that even attempting to echo it should receive a ticket to that unpleasant asylum we popped into a few paragraphs back.  But Britt does it, and having done so, she then turns in one of the best Sandy Denny covers you have, or will, ever hear.

“By The Time It Gets Dark” never actually made it onto any of Denny’s official albums; demoed in 1974 and recorded in 1976 (during the Rendezvous sessions), for many years it was available only as the cover that Julie Covington included on her self-titled, Joe Boyd produced debut album in 1979.

Slowly, though, the Denny demo crept out, and the Rendezvous out-take as well, and there’s at least a dozen of other covers going the rounds right now.  From which Us and Them really don’t deviate too far, but rise above them regardless through the sheer warmth of a pristine, simple vocal, and an accompaniment that paces it perfectly.

Oddly, there’s a hint of Saint Etienne around the chorus, a “Hobart Paving”-y heartbreak that may or may not have been intended.  Either way, it works in a way that precious few Denny covers ever have.

Record collector

I’m writing this on a wet Wednesday afternoon in 1971. The dustmen have been and the bins have blown over, The gas fire is on low, jumpers on high. a double-tracked unison voice with the precesne of a lover’s breath on your neck sings Sandy Denny without sounding like her, but every bit as personal. The intimacies of love or perhaps the quiet joys of, er, motherhood come through loud and clear, while termolo guitars and what my uneducated ears imagine to be cello purr away underneath. This sounds perfect and glowing for today; in the summer it may be different.  Also on offer, a creepy bouree through Donovan’s adaptation of Jabberwocky, with pizzicato somethings and a chorus of recorders. On the flip, the self-written Do I Know You is edgier, colder and nigh-on seven minutes of hypnotic folkadelica that allows some bleeps among the dark thoughts delivered by Britt, who has waited for the house to empty before she goes through your stuff. Slightly terrfying, deeply alluring”

Terrascope

Next up, Scandinavian duo Us and Them offer two covers and an original, all of them in a hazy, acoustic, dream-pop style. It could be seen as a foolish move to cover a Sandy Denny tune, but when you possess a voice as gorgeous as this band then the risk is minimal as the duo do something quite delightful with “By the Time it Gets Dark”, leaving a happy feeling and a huge grin on the listener, that feeling still remaining after their rendition of “Jabberwock” (Donovan/Carroll), another Psych-Folk gem. Finally, “Do I Know You” proves the band can write as well, the gentle and mesmerising intro slowly developing over six minutes into a haunting a beautiful song complete with elements of Electronica that add sparks of electricity to the tune.

Harmonic distortion

It’s a brave act that dares to cover a Sandy Denny classic. Sweden’s Us And Them have done just that with their version of “By The Time It Gets Dark”. Sandy’s late night thoughts and reflections are re-visited with a simple acoustic arrangement of guitar, xylophone, a light keyboard wash and closely mic-ed breathy vocals. It’s this version’s taste and simplicity that marks it out as something rather special and a fitting tribute to one of the country’s greatest ever singers.

The EP’s other cover ventures into a more surreal world, it being a version of Donovan’s “Jabberwocky”. The Lewis Carroll prose which Donovan set to music for his HMS Donovan album has lost none of its childlike appeal. Daft, yes, but offset by a sinister darkness. Like the best psychedelia, it has that blend of venturing into the mysterious of the unknown while simultaneously returning to the sanctuary and security of early childhood. A comforting darkness as it were.
The EP’s sole original track is the biggest revelation here, and the stands up with the two cover versions. “Do I Know You” is, if anything it’s even more potent than the other tracks. With a simple nursery rhyme acid-folk tune evolving into a folktronic, slightly Krautrock middle section before returning to the ethereal folkiness of the opening section. Here’s hoping for a full album of original material from Us And Them soon.

Blissaquamarine

This month (March 2014), Fruits de Mer Records and its offshoot Regal Crabomophone have released a batch of new 7″ singles and EPs, starting with Us and Them’s By the Time It Gets Dark. Us and Them are a Swedish duo consisting of Britt and Anders, who specialise in contemporary folk with psychedelic undercurrents. They perform a version of Sandy Denny’s By the Time It Gets Dark, with some nice use of woodwind and glockenspiel, followed by a cover of Donovan’s musical interpretation of the Lewis Carroll poem Jabberwocky, which brings together a traditional folk inspired melody with ethereal orchestral synths and whimsical glockenspiel. Finally they provide a composition of their own, Do I Know You, in which delicate acoustic guitar, swelling ambient synth, and retro-futuristic bleepage provide a backdrop for a melancholic folk-pop song. Some very nice atmospheric folk sounds on offer here; this is a band I would like to hear more from.

Spacerockreviews.blogspot.se

Moving right along then, Scandinavian duo Us And Them have a three-track single, including one original track. I’ve never heard Sandy Denny’s ‘By The Time It Gets Dark’ before, and the promotion for this single identifies it as a lesser-known entry in the Denny canon, but the Us And Them take on it is crystalline, fragile, affecting and moving, the thinnest china, so delicate that it might shatter and be lost from a single glance but lovely and precious to behold. Alongside it is a cover of an interpretation, as it were, a take on Donovan’s appropriation of Lewis Carroll’s ‘Jabberwocky’, followed by an Us And Them original, ‘Do I Know You’, a sparse but elegant piece. Way outside of the remit of this blog, of course, but FdM’s releases are becoming so well-loved that anything they conjure up is worth investigating.

Writingaboutmusic.blogspot.se

Us and Them is really Britt and Anders (Sweden). They start the 7” off with the Sandy Denny song that is the title track of this 7”. It is very serine and dreamy and clearly difficult to sing and capture the original Sandy magic. A Donavan song is next and is quite cool and really does evoke this creepy story by Lewis Carroll. The 7” ends with a band original called Do I Know You. This track is 6½ minutes and also very beautiful and magical in a way with just simple instrumentation to start but then the drums come in and flute, etc.. Perfect track to start the Sunday morning!

Instrumentali.com

The passing of the hour and the dimming of the day seem to have been among the late Sandy Denny’s foremost preoccupations. In this fresh reading of By The Time It Gets Dark, the Swedish duo Us and Them closely observe the minute hand rather than dwelling on the seconds as they tick away. It’s among a rash of single releases from British label Fruits de Mer and it stands out a voice of calm amidst their ebullient, and sometimes manic output.

The song itself did not make it onto Rendezvous, Denny’s final studio album, even though fans might have warmed to it more than her incongruous version of Candle in the Wind. It resurfaced on a boxed set of Denny recordings a few years back and is tenderly curated here on this new EP by folktronic imagineers Us and Them.

The similarity of the chord voicings to the famed Who Knows Where The Time Goes might have sealed this song’s fate as a lost treasure, but the melody is a wonderful example of Denny with a much lighter touch. It’s a gift to gentle singer like the slightly enigmatic Britt Rönnholm, and the considerate musicianship (and presumably arranging) of Anders Håkansonand.

There are lots of cover versions that subvert or invert our ideas about the artists who made the originals. Some of them travel far for the source material in a desperate attempt to appear original. However, the most rewarding covers are those that approach a devastatingly sweet and simple tune with a proportionate duty of care. This is one of those little gems, for it applies imagination to an eminently biddable melody without pushing it around.

It happens rarely, but sometimes a cover makes you curious about the artists, their songs and the things that engage them. Fruit de Mer specialize in re-interpretation and re-imagining obscure objects of desire. Most of the artists are true to the spirit of the originals, but tend to heavily overlay them with their own sonic widgets. Us and Them differ, I think, because the have taken care to stitch their ideas seamlessly into the weave.

Also included on this three-track offering are Donovan’s setting of Lewis Carroll’s unsettling Jabberwocky. The flaky one’s dittiness is set aside in favour of the storyteller’s art as the nonsense words are framed to invoke a slightly worrying tip-toe through the Tulgey Woods. There is also an Us and Them original in the shape of Do I Know You? Musically, it has more in common with Nico than Sandy, but retains much of the sylvan impressionism suggested in Jabberwocky.

Brokenheartedtoy.blogspot.co.uk

Us and Them contributed an ethereal reading of “Butterfly” to the various artists compilation Re-Evolution: FDM Sings The Hollies, and apparently this Scandinavian duo has been on the label’s radar for some time. For their new single, Us and Them offer a beautiful version of Sandy Denny’s “By The Time It Gets Dark.” Lead singer Britt Rönnholm’s classic folk singer vocals are set to Anders Håkanson’s beguiling guitar and keyboards arrangement. Us and Them bring an authentic medieval ambience to “Jabberwocky,” Donovan’s reworking of the Lewis Carroll poem, and impress with the haunting vocals and atmosphere of their own composition, “Do I Know You.”

Aural-innovations.com

Us and Them are the Swedish duo of Britt Rönnholm and Anders Hakanson. I’ve heard a few of their contributions to Fruits de Mer releases, the standout being their stunningly gorgeous pagan-folk Songs from The Wicker Man collaboration with Frobisher Neck. For their new single, Us and Them offer up two covers and one original.

I might upset some by saying that anyone could do a Sandy Denny song better than Sandy, but Us and Them take Denny’s By The Time It Gets Dark and do their delicately dreamy acid-wryd-Folk magic, adding additional, though still light, instrumentation. The flute and bells are lovely, making for a trippy romp through fields of flowers. And Britt’s vocals are simply beautiful; we’re talking melted hearts and minds. Ditto for Us and Them’s interpretation of Donovan’s Jabberwocky, which itself was a musical rendition of Lewis Carroll’s poem. For the flip side we’re treated to an Us and Them original, the nearly 7 minute Do I Know You, which is like a psychedelic lullaby from the space angels, and parts of it bring to mind a more spaced out take on the Genesis circa Trespass sound. Absolutely awesome and another band I’d love to see do a full LP on Fruits de Mer.

The single will be available late March, and as usual this is vinyl ONLY, no CDs or downloads. If interested you better hurry because Fruits de Mer releases sell out QUICK!

Expose.org

This new slab of FdM vinyl is Us and Them’s third release on the label. Label owner Keith Jones has been secretly wishing for quite some time that Us and Them would cover a Sandy Denny tune; his wishes have been granted on this release. Us and Them chose one of Sandy’s lesser-known songs “By the Time It Gets Dark” and put their stamp on it, creating a beautiful and relaxing folky nursery rhyme, with echoing guitars, chimes, and Britt’s vocals. Britt is one of the few singers that can do justice to Sandy Denny. Their choice for the second track is an excellent cover of Donovan’s “Jabberwocky.” Their version approaches dark folk with its dreamlike use of chimes and acoustic guitar. The B-side is an original song “Do I Know You” with a spooky and haunting melody that reminds me of “All the Pretty Little Horses / Julia Dream” from their first FdM release. This is a very magical release and it stands apart from the other FdM releases this year.

therocktologist.com

The Swedish duo of Us and Them is at it again, releasing cover versions of folk classics, once more for those naughty lads at Fruits de Mer Records. But that’s not all, ladies and gentleman – the duo also presents a brand new epic composition, Do I Know You.

First off, it’s a Sandy Denny cover and the band absolutely nails it. Add to the folk some subtle horror movie effects and it’s a winning combination every time.
Donovan’s Jabberwocky is next. Another inspirational cover with only slight touch ups – but they make the world of difference.

Again, Us and Them thrill with their own material. Do I Know You is an epic journey, full of lush acoustic guitar work and textural synthesisers and effects. The vocals are skillfully layered throughout. The piece has a distinct dramatic feel as it continuously goes towards the final climax.

Us and Them prove once more that their own compositions are their strong side. Even though the covers are excellent, the original material is so beautiful and touching, it overshadows the old classics. Highly recommended!

8.5 out of 10.

Psychotropiczone.blogspot.fi

Okay, here’s the latest release by this amazing psych folk duo from Stockholm, Sweden. For this limited 7” EP Britt and Anders have recorded two wonderful covers and one longer original for the B side. The EP starts off with a beautiful and sunny “By the Time It Gets Dark” originally by Sandy Denny. I have not heard the original (or any other songs by this favourite female singer of Fruits de Mer’s Keith) but I have a feeling I should… This is just amazing stuff that is perfect for lighting up a dark morning. You just can’t feel bad after hearing this song. I love Britts soft voice and the instrumentation is perfect including acoustic and electric guitar, strings and something that sounds like Mellotron and vibraphone. The Donovan song Jabberwocky is based on prose by Lewis Carroll and is closer to traditional folk music. Great stuff that takes us into a forgotten mystical age! What touches me the most is still the duo’s own song “Do I Know You”. This a bit longer composition at 6:38 and has a dark, melancholy but beautiful mood. After the three-minute-marker we also get some electronic beat and soundscapes that gives their folk a new dimension. Acid-folk/folktronica, as Keith calls it! I love this song. This 7” should be available soon so pre-order it before it’s gone like most of the releases on Fruits de Mer / Regal Crabomophone. Also, don’t miss the rare opportunity to see Us and Them alive with four other excellent acts on May the 3rd at our Crabstock on Ice – Fruits de Mer Festival of Psychedelia at Club Darkside in Helsinki!

Aboxofdreams.com

Aficionados of the music of the late Sandy Denny can be very critical of anyone making an attempt to interpret her songs.
One very successful artiste whom I feel did her repertoire justice was folk singer Vicki Clayton who some time ago now did a tribute album to Sandy which has been out of print now for many years. Vicki has also sung with Fairport at their annual Cropredy Festival in Oxfordshire and is well thought of by original founding members of the band.

This leads me into the first of the batch of 5 new singles on Fruits de Mer as one of them contains the song “By The Time It Gets Dark”. This song was never released on any of Sandy’s official albums as it was recorded as a demo at home in Byfield, Northamptonshire in 1974, accompanying herself with 12-string guitar. This demo was eventually released on the Who Knows Where the Time Goes box set.

Scandinavian duo “Us and Them” have released an absolutely beguiling and charming version of the track which really does the much missed Sandy’s legacy justice and will be welcomed by the many fans of the great lady.

The band then tackle a poem by Lewis Carroll entitled “Jabberwocky” (Not the Version by Boeing Duveen and the Beautiful Soup) but the version akin to what Donovan recorded on his “H.M.S. Donovan” double LP from the early 1970s. Until its CD re-issue, “H.M.S. Donovan” was always one of his harder LPs to locate and when I did finally manage to track a copy down many many years ago now after paying an “arm and a leg” for it, I found myself disappointed with its contents as I had been expecting something similar to “A Gift from a Flower to a Garden”. Us and Them however give the song something that is missing from Donovan’s interpretation and make it their own. The duo end the disc and continue on a high with their own composition entitled “Do I Know You?”

The disc will be made available on limited pressing coloured vinyl and hits the shops on 30th March with the catalogue no. (Winkle 14). I would advise a pre-order on this if you want to snag a copy as many of the last batch of Fruits de Mer singles proved to be extremely difficult to track down and I found myself unable to get copies on vinyl of 2 of them so be warned folks!!

Marklosingtoday.wordpress.com

Next up and the first of the seasons Regal Crabomophone releases arrives courtesy of a simply adoring three track slice of charm pop from FdM old masters Us and Them. Combining the beautified, the frail and the fragile, the simplistic care free tonalities of this Swedish duo embrace both an un-worldliness and slender enchantment, much like label mates the Beautify Junkyards, Us and Them’s softly stirred palette is demurred and teased in an exquisite and eclectic detail that’s softly opined in an alluring nether world of twilight fantasia and the lilting tender brushstroke of a lost craft in floral folk. Again as previously this comes in a limited pressing of coloured wax and opens to a spellbinding treatment of Sandy Denny’s ’by the time it gets dark’, an utterly beguiling rephrasing tweaked in twinkling chimes and shimmered in a softly bathed feel good warmth that tenderly trembles to play peek a boo with the heart strings as it magically weaves and arcs to turn everything that was once monochrome into a lush sea of vibrant swirls – of particular interest one would hasten to add to admirers of Camera Obscura. Next up Donovan’s ’jabberwocky’ gets the us and them treatment, with nods to circulus and the owl service this ghostly retelling chills and charms to a lost archaic folk craft these days seemingly kept alive by the likes of men at tol et al, Wicker man purists will swoon to its weird folk wooziness while traditionalists will coo to its haunting visitation of macabre village fayre spell charms of yore, surely some kind of Donovan tribute must be in the offing after this. Last and by no means least the self penned and disquieting ’do I know you’ rounds up proceedings and avails itself as the best thing here, a frost glowed beauty parched in the kind of hollowing more associated with Nico though here pepper corned with a ghostly mysticism that unfurls delicately into intoxicating spell charmed brew of beguiled bewitchment clipped in spectral yearning, quite something all said.

Strangebrew.co.uk

Us and Them continue to quietly dazzle the listener following a number of excellent releases. This time round they give a gorgeous retelling of Sandy Denny’s ‘By The Time It Gets Dark’ and a charming recut of Donovan’s twist of Lewis Carroll’s ‘Jabberwocky’. They finish by demonstrating that their own tracks are just as good with the enchanting ‘Do I Know You’. More please!

Houseofprog.com

Swedish duo US AND THEM have been creating music for just about a decade by now, with one full length album and a number of EPs and singles to their name. Their most recent effort is a three track single called “By the Time It gets Dark”, named after the opening track, released through the Regal Crabomophone division of UK label Fruits de Mer Records as a gloriously and collectable timeless 7 inch vinyl single.

The first two tracks here are cover versions, and while I am familiar with the artists Sandy Denny and Donovan I’ve never really listened to the material they released, apart from possibly catching some songs played on radio by chance I guess. Just how close or not Us and Them’s takes on these songs are I really don’t know, although my gut feeling is that these renditions might be somewhat different from the originals.

Us and Them appears to be exponents of the folk-oriented parts of the psychedelic rock realm, with a distinct emphasis on folk and perhaps not as much on rock, if at all. Their recordings are sparse, lo-fi sounding affairs, where a singular acoustic guitar motif and the sensual, pleasant vocals of Britt Rönnholm carry the songs.

By the Time It gets Dark explores this territory in a frail and delightful manner, with a metal based careful percussion detail as a recurring supplemental feature, careful flute-sounding details that might or might not be provided by a Mellotron, the same for a brief but important inclusion of strings presumably digital in nature. Jabberwocky is more of the same, but with more room for whatever keyboards are used, a subtle and elegant rise in intensity, layered acoustic guitars if my hearing is tuned in good and some gentle but effective vocal effects thrown in for good measure. A brilliant piece of music in this rendition. Impressive.

Concluding composition Do I Know You is an original by this band, and one a fair degree more experimental at that. Cold, nervously fluttering electronic backdrops a key and recurring detail, a sequence sports sparse, static drums as an additional detail, vocal effects are used again too, as are a flute sounding detail and what appears to be a harpsichord towards the end. Lo-Fi folk inspired music with a distinct psychedelic sound this concluding, and of a kind that I suspect might merit a pointer towards the acid folk environment.

Delicate, fragile folk inspired music is what Us and Them explore, within a fairly lo-fi context, and supplemented with careful psychedelic additional details by keyboards and possibly electronics. From careful constellations of pure beauty to escapades somewhat more challenging in nature, in a manner that might give you associations to shrooms and, indeed, acid, this single should be a treat to fans of acid folk as well as those with a taste for careful folk inspired psychedelic music where much is based around a female vocalist carrying the songs, with a delicate acoustic guitar the main supporting instrument.

My rating: 87/100

Mratavist.com

Scandinavia’s folk duo Us and Them get a bit of their own rhyme going with a different verse on their outing with Jabberwocky. Bookending a retelling of Lewis Carroll via Donovan is a gorgeous love-letter to Sandy Denny with her own By The Time It Gets Dark and a haunting and ethereal original Do I Know You. Denny and Donovan are tough acts to follow, and Us and Them pick up the gauntlet and run with it making Do I Know You a mini-epic of a closer, and the best of the bunch they offer here.

Psychedelic folk

I always look forward to hear any new single of Us & Them. In the tradition of the label, they first cover two classic acid folk tracks. They also added one track of their own.

“By the time it gets dark” is a cover from a Sandy Denny song, arranged with two picking and strumming guitars, glockenspiel, electric piano, somewhat rhythmically echoing guitars mixed with some strings and touches of mellotron further on, all very subtly swelling in the background and with the singer’s breathy sweet voice mixed well to the fore to bring over the song well. The second track is “Jabberwocky” from a text by Lewis Carroll, was originally sung by Donovan. Also this one is arranged, in fundament, by two acoustic guitars, with additional textures and on different sounds of analogue keyboards, with some vocal arrangements that gently weave around the vocals, bringing over the faery atmosphere of a fairy-tale with it. The last track is a self-written track, with picking guitars and harmonium-alike swelling and moody vibrating analogue keyboards. Here the song with double overdubs and partly sung with a lower voice, remains a bit more in the background, as a song with slightly melancholic descriptive story telling.

Reviews about Walk Light EP 

Unwashedterritories.blogspot.se

Us & Them are Britt and Anders, a Swedish duo whose work for the much-loved Fruits de Mer label has featured many times in my shows.  Their most recent FdM outing, as part of the excellent Re-Evolution compilation of Hollies covers, contained their version of ‘Butterfly’, a gorgeous lilting reinterpretation which was, despite some pretty stiff competition, the album’s stand out track.

Us & Them are the kind of band who can make a cover version their own, which is why they’ve fitted the Fruits de Mer roster like a glove.  In their hands ‘Butterfly’ was transformed from an appealing, if fairly insubstantial little ditty into a melancholy psych-folk explosion.

Now, their EP of self-penned tunes, Walk Light, has reached me.  Released this time on the Ritual Echo label, this small but very substantial collection actually came out back in November but found its way through my letterbox only recently.  The result?   I now no longer see Us & Them as purveyors of some of the most wondrous cover versions I’ve ever heard, but as some of the most wondrous songs I’ve ever heard.

If anything, their own stuff is even better.  Only four songs, but each one deserves to be celebrated in its own right.  I didn’t think Weston-Super-Mare could inspire anything other than the most feeble sun tan, but Us & them have made it the title of a great song and freed me, at last, from my association of the town with the great ladybird plague of 1976.  Other tracks are equally as fine, but it’s when you get to the end of the EP that the goosebumps really start and something unspeakably tender starts running around your head and down your spine.

It’s called ‘Oblivion’ and it’s five minutes plus of one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard in the last few years.  I’m playing it in my April show on Dandelion Radio, which you can still hear streaming at various times during the rest of the month: it’s in there alongside, as usual, a lot of abrasive electronics, Hungarian punk and all sorts of other wonderful things, but in their own gentle way ‘Oblivion’ and Us & Them can equal the power of any of them.

Psychedelicfolk.com

Us & Them are Britt and Anders, a Swedish duo whose work for the much-loved Fruits de Mer label has featured many times in my shows. Their most recent FdM outing, as part of the excellent Re-Evolution compilation of Hollies covers, contained their version of ‘Butterfly’, a gorgeous lilting reinterpretation which was, despite some pretty stiff competition, the album’s stand out track.

Us & Them are the kind of band who can make a cover version their own, which is why they’ve fitted the Fruits de Mer roster like a glove. In their hands ‘Butterfly’ was transformed from an appealing, if fairly insubstantial little ditty into a melancholy psych-folk explosion.

Now, their EP of self-penned tunes, Walk Light, has reached me. Released this time on the Ritual Echo label, this small but very substantial collection actually came out back in November but found its way through my letterbox only recently.  The result?   I now no longer see Us & Them as purveyors of some of the most wondrous cover versions I’ve ever heard, but as some of the most wondrous songs I’ve ever heard.

If anything, their own stuff is even better. Only four songs, but each one deserves to be celebrated in its own right.  I didn’t think Weston-Super-Mare could inspire anything other than the most feeble sun tan, but Us & them have made it the title of a great song and freed me, at last, from my association of the town with the great ladybird plague of 1976.  Other tracks are equally as fine, but it’s when you get to the end of the EP that the goosebumps really start and something unspeakably tender starts running around your head and down your spine.

It’s called ‘Oblivion’ and it’s five minutes plus of one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard in the last few years. I’m playing it in my April show on Dandelion Radio, which you can still hear streaming at various times during the rest of the month: it’s in there alongside, as usual, a lot of abrasive electronics, Hungarian punk and all sorts of other wonderful things, but in their own gentle way ‘Oblivion’ and Us & Them can equal the power of any of them.

Four out of five

 Therocktologist

With the re-emergence of vinyl, even EPs have made a comeback. There are now quite a few new record labels, releasing not only LPs, but EPs as well. One such is Ritual Echo Records, which has just released the Walk Light EP, by Us And Them.

I was already aware of Us And Them before getting this album, as they recorded an EP of covers for another vinyl record label, Fruits de Mer Records. On this occasion it was time for Us And Them to release 15 minutes of their own material. I have to say their EP of covers didn’t exactly thrill me, so my expectations were rather low. It’s always a nice surprise to see when a band is actually better at its own music than with cover versions. Luckily, this was the case here.

Us And Them impress with their own slant on folk, which I would call dark “creepy” folk (in a good way, not like the “old man playing with himself behind a tree” creepy), which oozes heavy atmosphere, gloom and lots of character. The first three tracks set the stage nicely, but it’s definitely a case of save the best for last with this EP, as Oblivion not only keeps the folky feel from before but adds a “haunted” dimension with the space rock synths.

Not your everyday folk album, but one with a big personality. It’s very slow-moving, not in-your-face folk. But just like people who are reserved and shy at first and really come out of their shell and shine once you get to know them, so it is with this EP. Doom and gloom at first glance, but very warm and deep in essence.

From Unpeeled.net

SOUNDS LIKE? A snooze. Woozy old hippyshit that shits all over your headphones, but does, annoyingly and cloyingly, drag you in. Lyrically, ”Something out there that we don’t understand” pisses all over yer average new age claim to knowledge and joining Luxembourg to Perth without a logigal seam is pure class. I’m hooked. Of course, they can’t play for toffee, but you’ll care less about that than they do when you’re wrapped in the blunt, childlike innocence of their obvious, but cunningly articulated stories.
IS IT ANY GOOD? Yeah, it’s a growing thing, but it’s a growing thing.

JerryLucky.com

Here’s a Swedish duo, Anders and Britt who’s self-penned music is an outgrowth of performing some cover tunes for another label. It’s a soft and delicate music that rests like a mist on the grass. Heavily folk influenced, there is just a hint of synthesizers providing ethereal soundscapes over which Britt’s vocals melt into. Think of acid-folk music on valium. The four songs on the disc are between three and five minutes in length and while the first Three tend to be more straight forward in structure, they do stretch out and get a little more spacey on the fourth “Oblivion” [5:08]. For my ears this is certainly the most intriguing, and I’d love to hear more tracks like this. I like that contrast between the earthy vocals, acoustic guitar and electronic synths.

 

Reviews about Summerisle

From Shindig ! magazine

Here’s a thing. I like to think of myself as an undying advocate of the “it’s it ain’t broke” principle, so the notion of having songs from Paul Giovanni’s exalted score for The Wicker Man re-recorded by, harrumph, some JOHNNY-COME-LATELIES initially struck me as sacrilegious at worst and pointless at best.

Man, what do i know? Turns out that this limited edition coloured vinyl EP, recorded by Swedish acid-folk duo Us and Them (Britt and Anders) with the assitance of mellotron maestro Frobisher Neck (Tony Swettenham) weaves much the same quizzical spell as the film itself, and, particularly in the case of ‘Willow’s Song’, actually out-lovelies the original version. Also tackled are ‘Corn Rigs’, ‘Fire Leap’ and ‘Gently Johnny’ with a dignified guest vocal from Ludvig Josephson; valid, delicate and persuasive all, but Britt’s vocal on this version of ‘Willow’s song’ would have you chowing your way through that bedroom wall with your bare teeth.

Psychotropic zone

The original Wicker Man movie made in England in the early 70’s is one of the best pagan folk horror movies ever and rightfully deserves its international cult status. The excellent soundtrack music by Paul Giovanni had a big help in creating the unique, at the same time wonderfully naïve and natural but also eerily frightening atmosphere and on this latest Fruits de Mer EP the music has been interpreted by the Swedish acid folk duo Us & Them together with Mellotron/dulcimer master Frobisher Neck. All Fruits de Mer fans should already be familiar with both acts. They have chosen four of the best tracks from the movie for this EP and I must say that the new interpretations do them justice.

“Corn Rigs” is an amazing, a bit more positive folk song where Britt sings softly. The magical and scarier “Fire Leap” starts to create more threatening images and casts the listener under its pagan spell. Also Anders gets to sing on the magnificent song “Gentle Johnny” but occasionally the vocals are by Britt and at times by them both simultaneously. Seductively sweet stuff! The longest track on the EP is the melancholic and peaceful “Willow’s Song” and this is possibly also its highlight. There’s plenty of excellent Mellotron things and Brett’s singing is like velvet! The mood just couldn’t get any better than this. As one of the best releases in 2011 Sumerisle will be a really collectable EP and even though it was just released this week it’s already sold out but you might be able to find a copy someplace. In fact it was just announced on the Fruits de Mer website that they will press 100 more copies so reserve your own!

Flower bombsongs

Us & Them really deliver the goods with this stupendous four song EP of Paul Giovanni covers taken from the soundtrack of an early 70s cult movie from Britain called ‘The Wicker Man’….Quite simply, along with Kes, one of the best films ever made and easily THEE best soundtrack.

It must have been an impossible task to reproduce the brilliance of Giovanni’s original acid-folk songs but Us & Them really capture the macabre sounds and eerie mood of them all. The perfect musicianship and the addition of mellotron and dulcimer into the mix create brilliant new interpretations of ‘Corn Rigs’, ‘Gently Johnny’, ‘Fire Leap’ and ‘Willow’s Song’.

The record was at first released in the usual Fruits de Mer quantity of 500. These sold out within a week, so an additional 200 copies were pressed which also sold out immediately. The label design shows a psychedelicalized picture of the famous Alan Wicker…ha ha ha…hilarious.

Psycedelicfolk.com

Us & Them has spent a whole winter reinterpreting four songs from “The Wickerman” soundtrack. “The Wickerman” (1973) is a kind of cult film known in folk circles because it is about some mysteries surrounding paganism incorporating a few very nice interpretations of old folk songs. One of the songs, “Willow Tree” which knew a very beautiful version in the movie, had already a previous stay-with-you moment on another cult movie called ’The Night Of The Hunter” (1955), a scene related with a lonely night where two kids were fleeing from a murderer disguised as a priest (one of Mitchum’s best roles). “Wickerman” I found a bit typically British, slightly dated, but never the less several images and scenes seems to haunt and stay with you, this impression was shared by Us &Them. The four tracks are thoroughly mixed with subtle layers of arrangements, with the acoustic inspirations up front. “Corn Rigs” has some additional string arrangements, two acoustic guitars and a folk voice. “Gentle Johnny” has dual singing, two acoustic guitars, backing textures of zither and certain echoing sounds. “Fire Leap” has a subtle overdub on the voice, a bit of cello, and “Willow’s Song” has some mellotron added to the picking/voice arrangements. The atmosphere is subtle, moody and with the arrangements this convinces listening to it several times, it is very exciting to expect a full album some day !?!?

The mellotron and, hammered dulcimer were played by Tony Swettenham aka Frobisher Neck. The additional vocals on “Gentle Johnny” were done by Ludvig Josephson.

Waistdas.co.uk

Taking the brave decision to tackle one of the greatest film soundtracks of all time are Us and Them, with a little help from Frobbisher Neck on his mellotron and hammered dulcimer. The results are lush, dreamy and quite beautiful. Whilst the versions here are faithful and recognisable, there are subtle and tasteful new arrangements.While the originals have a very live sound, these bather in studio warmth and depth. ‘Corn Rigs’, ‘Fire Leap’,’Gently Johnny’ and ‘Willows Song’ all get the treatment on this sweet little 7″.”

Norman records.com

Another essential offering from the ever popular Fruits De Mer label. These old hippy dudes are at it again, paying homage to ‘70s cult classic The Wicker Man and Paul Giovanni’s outstanding score. Us & Them are obviously big fans as ‘Corn Rigs’, ‘Gentle Johnny’, ‘Fire Leap’ and ‘Willow’s Song’, four of the best tracks on the original LP, are all treated with the utmost respect. The kid gloves are most certainly on as it were. Giovanni’s original score is one of my favorite records of all time so I’m glad to see the duo haven’t gone mental and butchered the tracks like Neil Labute did the remake of the film. If anything, this is expertly executed.

Therocktologist.com

The acid folk duo of Us & Them is perhaps best known for its Julia Dream EP (a Pink Floyd cover), released a couple of years ago. On this recording they  decided to tackle the music from the film The Wicker Man, a classic movie which cannot be described by any one genre. The music for The Wicker Man was  originally created by Paul Giovanni.

Us & Them chose four of the most representative and most recognisable tracks from The Wicker Man soundtrack and gave them their own stamp of  identity. They open this EP with the Scottish traditional song Corn Rigs and follow with Fire Leap. Both pieces follow the original closely, although there  is a great deal more dreaminess in the music of Us & Them. It’s as if the music of Paul Giovanni simply called for these improvements. The continuation is even grander, with even more keyboards, in particular the Mellotron.

The music stays pretty close to the original, except that some strings are replaced by keyboard instruments, such as the Mellotron, played by the  excellent Frobisher Neck (Tony Swettenham). I also enjoy the wonderful use of the dulcimer, which is definitely an underutilized instrument in modern music  such a wonderful sound.

If you enjoy acoustic folk music with a touch of psychedelic bliss, Us & Them certainly know how to tickle your fancy. It’s not always easy to do an album (even EP) of covers because there’s always a danger of mucking it up. Us & Them have managed to stay pretty faithful to the original and still added  their unique style as well.

Strange brew podcast

The Wicker Man is one of the greatest cult films of all time and integral to this cornerstone of British horror was the enchanting, bewitching pagan folk soundtrack exquisitely produced by Paul Giovanni and Magnet. Swedish acid-folk duo Us and Them have previously reinterpreted Julia Dream by Pink Floyd to stunning affect and label Fruits de Mer knew they were onto a winner when they tasked them with reinterpreting key elements of the original soundtrack.

Opener Corn Rigs is washed with subtle mellotron/keyboards from Tony Swettenham (aka Frobisher Neck) adding a stunning shimmer to this classic of the acid folk era.

Fire Leap retains the wash of mellotron, acoustic folk and introduces the erotic paganism which is a key Wicker Man theme. The medieval folk of Gently Johnny does this beautifully, although it is still male led, Britt’s honeyed female vocals in the chorus only accentuate this sensualism.

Rounding off with Willow’s Song, Us and Them’s take is less rhythmic, giving us the chance to hear the more haunting elements of this timeless melody.

All in all, the delicately crafted Summerisle EP doesn’t disappoint and is an essential purchase for any fans of acid/psych folk.

 

Reviews about Julia dream of all the pretty little horses  

Mojo

This haunting three tracker by Swedish duo Us & Them includes confiding female-voiced acustic renditions of Tudor Lodge’s Home to stay, Jackson C Frank’s Dialogue and an intriguing seven minute amalgam of lullaby All the pretty little horses and a song that borrowed its tune, Pink Floyd’s Julia dream.

Record Collector

These Swedes get to the rustic nub of their source material with a fine dispatch of forest fermented versions. Especially alluring is their concillation of Pink Floyd’s Julia dream with the traditinell lullaby All the pretty little horses, which erects a crystalline faerie kingdom of icicled arpeggios and gossamer goose feathered webs. The b-side’s none to shabby either, featuring a take on Jackson C Frank’s spectral Dialogue that boasts all the unerring, eerie power of the original, while Tudor lodge’s Home to stay gets revisited as a nightmarish nursery verse that’d have sat snugly with the friendly folk of Summerisle. Fruits de Mer’s finest yet, no question.

Dandelion radio

For some reason, I always feel a section of musical history should be set aside for cover versions. There’s a particular art to putting something together that’s doesn’t originate from you, but carries enough of you in it to make it special. And to set it apart from the myriad number of bands I come across, or more often who come across me, who purposely sound exactly like Oasis, Kings Of Leon, Foo Fighters or whatever and are therefore immediately worthless.

If there were a section for valuable and original cover versions, then both Bracken Records and Us & Them ought to have a prominent place within it. The Vibravoid Krautrock EP that featured as part of this series last year is still a firm favourite in my CD player, and this release now has a place right alongside it.

It’s completely different, of course, from the swirling, vibrant assault of the Vibravoid EP. This one swirls, but in a very different way. Its plaintive vocals add a further element of wonder to Jackson C Frank’s ‘Dialogue’ and the merging of ‘Julia Dream’ and ‘All The Pretty Little Horses’ for the elongated opening track is conceptual genius married to perfect artistic dexterity.

My favourite, and the track I’m featuring in my January show on Dandelion Radio, is the version of Tudor Lodge’s ‘Home To Stay’, where those fragile vocals meet the spiky arrangement head on. This is the track I will feature if I ever get round to repeating the one-off cover versions special that featured on my old Idiot Jukebox radio show back in 1994 (I think).

Essentially, what this means is that the Bracken Records/Fruits De Mer have done it again. They’ve added, and keep adding, to the legacy of the cover version in music. And they’ve introduced me to an utterly wonderful musical project whose work I shall continue to explore with great curiosity.
  

Organart.com

Single of the week 1st December

US AND THEM – Fruits De Mer Volume Eight (Fruits De Mer) – Now this series is always worth checking out, this fine series of singles always throws together an ambitiously interesting set of well thought out treats. They don’t hit the absolute spot every time, they’re always worth checking out though. This eighth one might just be the best of the series so far. Us And Them are a Swedish boy/girl duo, she, Britt, sings and he, Anders, plays all the instruments. The instrumentation is simple, glowing acoustic guitar with some delicate warm keyboard textures underneath – minimal tunes that leave plenty of space for Britt’s beautifully intimate voice to breath and glow, Us And Them are always good, this single is extra special.

Now this is a Fruits De Mer single so there’s always a story and a slightly left-field song or two covered, always something extra to explore… they don’t just throw out singles, this is all cleverly planed and considered and this time a treat of a musical coach pulled by six white horses… Us And Them does automatically pull thoughts towards Pink Floyd and the lead track here is a meltingly beautifully version of the relatively early Floyd classic Julia Dream, only it isn’t quite that either because this almost seven minute version is a little bit more than just a cover. Seems the original Floyd version’s melody was loosely based on a traditional folk lullaby called All The Pretty Horses, this is a gorgeously seamless and deliciously enchanting coming together of the two songs as one. The original traditional English lullaby and the quiet Floyd sound become one melting piece of must play again and again perfection called Julia Dream (All The Pretty Horses). Just right for curling up with, and yes hibernating until Spring with. You just have to hear it, the beauty can’t be described here on (electronic) paper, words are not enough. The Pink Floyd starting point is rather beautiful anyway, never really heard a bad version of Julia Dream, this version is right up there with Rebsie Fairholm’s, this is a special, a perfect mix of traditional folk and Floyd psychedelia… All so simple, all so clever, all so gorgeously rewarding.

And of course there’s more, this is Fruits De Mer, the other two songs here are equally as interesting and almost as good (come on you couldn’t expect these next two to be as good as that sunlight bright upon their pillow can you? Almost though, very close).

Tudor Lodge were one of those obscurely classic early 70’s British acid-folk bands. Us And Them cover a Tudor Lodge song here called Home To Stay, a simple folk song that instantly has us scurrying to the web in search of more (seems they’re still doing things). Meanwhile Dialogue is a Jackson C. Frank song – there’s quite a story to him, big influence on Nick Drake (and an equally tragic figure so it seems), reputedly the person who persuaded Sandy Denny to pack up nursing and take up music full time. Dialogue comes from his much loved by those who know 1965 album. One of the darker tracks and one of the most beautiful, all we can say here is Us And Them have done Dialogue justice, and you know what, might just have been wrong about this not being quite as good as the lead track – definitely wrong, this is painfully beautiful. Easy to see how his songs influenced Nick Drake. And that Tudor Lodge song is beautiful as well, once again Us And Them have covered it in glowing style – all dreamy and intimate and just all so perfectly right. Pretty difficult to imagine Us And Them making anything that wasn’t gorgeously glowing, that wasn’t alive with almost perfect beauty.

This is a very special three track single, a play again and again and again piece of treasure that you really should check out. As always with the Fruits De Mer series, the single will be a very limited 7” pressing so don’t hang around. One of the best singles for a very long time… Almost too good, must be something wrong here, nothing is this perfect? Oh yes, boring artwork… there see, we are being objective.

Head full of snow.com

So begins the first review of 2010. And where better to start than with the latest release from those retro vinyl-pushers, Fruits de Mer Records? This time they’ve called upon the services of Swedish anglophiles (musically, at least) Us & Them, and produced a 3-track EP worthy of Venus herself.

Now, before we crack on, it’s worth mentioning that this site was once tagged by someone out there in the sprawling wilderness of the internets as “anti-folk”. This was on the strength of a review of those warbling cat-stranglers The Incredible String Band and their so-bad-it’s-awful album The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth, and to say that Head Full of Snow loves a bit of acid, pastoral or wyrd-folk is a bloody great understatement.

Which is just as well in the case of Us & Them and their brand of gentle, but dark, folk stylings as demonstrated on the Fruits de Mer Volume Eight EP. Now if we’d been tagged “anti-jazz” that would be a different, yet fairer, matter.

As is the form with these Fruits de Mer limited edition vinyl releases, Us & Them knock out interpretations of songs from the sleepy mists of the sixties and seventies. This time around there’s three of
the blighters, giving the disc EP status (extra player, for those born after 1990). These are Pink Floyd’s ‘Julia Dream’, acid-folk combo Tudor Lodge’s ‘Coming Home’ (though the song actually stems from a later reunion of the band), and American folk legend Jackson C Frank’s haunting ‘Dialogue’.

The girl-boy duo of Britt (vocals) and Anders (instruments) deliver three achingly beautiful acoustic psych renditions, maintaining the high standards set by previous Fruits de Mer singles, but it’s ‘Julia Dream (Of All the Pretty Little Horses)’ that really stands out.

The original Pink Floyd song is given an acoustic workout and seamlessly blended with the traditional lullaby ‘All the Pretty Little Horses’, the melody of which provided the basis for Roger Waters’ original composition. This unique seven-minute arrangement is a ghostly requiem, plucked from a swirling ether of abandoned souls that evokes memories of not only David Gilmour’s original vocal, but Mark Fry’s lingering brand of acid-folk and Jacqui McShee of Pentangle. Once heard, it’s hard to shift the wistful allure of ‘Julia Dream (Of All the Pretty Little Horses)’ from the mind – not that you’d want to.

Full marks, once again, to Keith and Andy on their unorthodox, yet successful labour of love, and for securing the services of the excellent Us & Them in this, volume eight of their cracking series.

 Unpeeled.net

SOUNDS LIKE? You often want excitement and thrills, to enjoy your youth, bright colours, blue skies, you want to be stimulated and given no time to think and reflect.  Other times you get into the thinking and the reflecting, mainly thinking and reflecting on how great it is being young and how not so great it is being older with a mortgage. Luckily the grand palette of music we have at our disposal covers every possible mood and emotion. Whether it’s libidinous lustings or sobbing anger, there is a musical genre out there for your current state of mind. This EP from Swedish duo Us & Them is for the more relaxed moments, for those who like to muse, for the readers and reflectors, the poets and thinkers, the maudlers and the sleeping. Do not expect to pogo. Expect to sit, listen and furrow your brow in contemplation, maybe even stroke your chin.

IS IT ANY GOOD? Most people don’t like music. It’s a fact, though most will try and argue that I’m wrong, mostly by saying they listen to music all the time, like in the car, at the supermarket, in the pub and down the club, which just reinforces my point. Most people don’t like music, they like products and brands, they like unchallenging noise that hooks in their minds and saves them from thinking their own dangerous thoughts.  Most people don’t want challenging music, meditative music or even albums of music anymore. The public wants bubblegum, lots of it, just so long as it can be remixed to a house beat and played in a continuous mix whilst they swallow Sours shooters down the local grease pit, then they are happy. I’m sorry, that’s just people, I see them everywhere like cattle chewing cud into mobile phones, all of them with about as much taste as a used lollipop stick.

This  unfortunately means that most people won’t like Us & Them, which is a shame as they make beautiful, haunting music, a bit like The Wicker Man soundtrack being sung by Capser the Friendly Ghosts mum. All of the songs on this EP are covers, ‘Home to Stay’ by Tudor Lodge and ‘Julia Dream’ by Pink Floyd have become, in the hands of Us & Them so fragile you stop breathing in case you break them. The third cover. ‘I Want To Be Alone(Dialogue)’ is covered in the same way, unfortunately losing the immediacy and emotion of Jackson C. Frank’s original, though still pleasant nonetheless. Highly recommended to anyone who doesn’t watch X-Factor.

Adventures In Plasticland, 98.5 airwave

Simple similarity, sombre sonic serenity, loose languid lucidity. An exquisite ethereal excursion into the realm of one’s psyche. Perhaps peering outside against a frost etched window at a Canadian winterscape it becomes apparent that these three tracks, intermeshed and entwined, become the perfect backdrop on a night such as this. As I listen, the snow glistens and the Mill Race Mild Ale stimulates a parched throat with darkened amber and a new friendship begins.

Fruits de Mer, a gem of a record label, has set another jewel into it’s psychedelic ring. A true record collectors’ label, bands that cover songs that most of us may not of heard, but perhaps read about in our musty and dusty “collectable” bibles.

Us and Them, Anders and Britt. And a new EP : All The Pretty Little Horses/Julia Dream. Guitar strings are plucked and moribund chords fall like molten feathers, betraying the haunted heaviness much as a snuffed candle’s wafting smoke. Her voice…liquid silver drops, spilling against a backdrop of birch trees, standing stark, maddened amidst a whitefall curtain of snow, let pour down, drunken and windswept from a battleship grey heaving sky.

“All The Pretty Little Horses” shimmers, somersaults and splices into “Julia Dream”, non identical twins, seamlessly caressing and cocooning, as much so as the ale spider lacing your grey matter custard. Sheer brilliance, and opulent in their delivery, effervesance illuminating an otherwise bleak path. Happy/sad, familiar in a “womb” sort of way.

“Dialogue”: …”I want to be alone”, sung as a pin dropped to the floor, reverberating. Vocal and guitar transcend a frightened heightened urgency. Alone and scared, a paean to the dark recesses where one’s mind is rapt in torturous ardour. Expecting more, the guitar ends in hiss, guillotined by silence.

“Home To Stay”: Like a fine wine and Julian Bream, then her voice prods like the sun peeking and peering into the crack of a curtain, playfully awakening the senses one by one. A multitude of instrumentation, but just, recedes and then jibes again, complete and replete with a celeste(?).

Here (hear) everything old is new again. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and yes Virginia, in these fading times of vinyl, there is REAL music.

Us and Them……no contest, a true winner. Anders and Britt, take your deserved bow.

Psycedelic folk.com

This latest EP in the great series dedicated to the seasons done by this still unknown Swedish duo, Us & Them, making their vinyl debut with a 7 minute acoustic arrangement and interpretation of a mixture of early Pink Floyd’s “Julia Dream” combined with the traditional “All The Pretty Horses”. Julia Dream originally was based upon this traditional too (even when hardly noticeable), so the duo brought back both inspirations into something new actually. This starts with an intro with two quiet picking guitars directing towards the traditional, with some whispery folkie female lead voice intro, improvising further towards more psychedelic realms that lead logically and quickly to “Julia Dream” which is led by harmony vocals with an echoing rhythm on guitar and a dominating moody, dreamy keyboard arrangement expressing itself as if being inside a clock rhythm based world, an Alice in Wonderland dream, before some electric guitar theme and acoustic guitar theme takes us back to the original of “All The Pretty Horses”.

The second song is a simple, gorgeous guitar with voice (and sparse keyboard touches) cover of “Home to Stay” (from the early 70s acid-folk/folk/acoustic band Tudor Lodge from their one and only  album which was a bit in the Magna Carta vein). But also the sparse interpretation of “Dialogue” (Jackson C. Frank) is equally effective and charming, with its whispery lead vocals and vocal overdub and arrangement, while repeating the same keyboard sound (as on “Julia Dream”) but here with a more bright crystal light fantasy effect. All very effective : highly recommended.

Ice cream for quo magazine

“Beautiful, intimate wintry folk…they do an especially good job on Pink Floyd’s ‘Julia Dream’. Perfectly judged, gorgeous and genuinely haunting, this three-track ep evokes icy fields at midnight. The elegant snowscape artwork/lyric booklet completes a rather lovely package”

Brain-damage.co.uk

A beautiful, dreamy version of the song (Julia Dream), it drifts into your consciousness and makes itself comfy”

Heyday 

A cover of Floyd’s ‘Julia Dream’ merged with the traditional ‘All The Pretty Horses’ that apparently inspired the melody of ‘Julia’…There are also versions of ‘Home to Stay’ (Tudor Lodge) and the haunting ‘Dialogue’ (Jackson C. Frank)…Us & Them make beautiful music, and it’s possibly the best FdM release yet (however, I still really like Stay, Mark Fry & Vibravoid!!!)! Gentle / dreamy female vocals, sparse musical backing…It’s almost perfection! Forget about everything for a while and lose yourself in this!Excellent fragile acoustic psych”

Norman records

Us & Them are the swedish boy/girl duo of Anders and Britt who create a warm, almost paganist style of traditional folk
littered with psychedelic references and canterbury prog-folk tendencies. The second side contains two reworked Tudor Lodge tracks; ‘Home to Stay’ and ‘Dialogue’. Slow burning and eerily atmospheric in approach this tracks are totally Wicker Man… If you know what i’m saying. With the source material translated with great care and enthusiasm these Tudor Lodge tracks feature beautifully arranged instrumentation and act as a fitting tribute to the acid folk pioneers. The A-side features the Roger Waters penned ‘Julia Dream (Of All the Pretty Little Horses)’ as well as a reworking of a traditional arrangement credited to the group. Again, both tracks toy with the acid folk formula and make for incredibly twee listening.

Flower bombsongs

One of my ‘discoveries’ of 2011 were Swedish duo Us & Them, Anders plays all insruments and Britt sings like a Nightingale. This three song EP was released in a quantity of 500 by new English indie label Fruits de Mer during December 2009 and every copy sold within weeks, indeed this record is already commanding bids above $50 on Ebay.

The music on offer is acoustic based; very haunting textures are formed within their aural soundscapes. The lush dreamlike patterns are brushed with colours of melancholy and it’s obvious that Us & Them have well and truely mastered the late 60s’ early 70s acid-folk sound from England.

‘Dialogue’ also known as ‘I Want To Be Alone’ is a version of Jackson C Frank’s folk gem from 1965. Anyone choosing his work to interpret has got to be taken seriously. That guy influenced many a folk troubadour including Nick Drake, but is largely unknown and forgotten.

Other covers follow with ‘Home To Stay’ originally recorded by Tudor Lodge. The other side of the disc has a quite brilliant version of ‘Julia Dream’ by Pink Floyd interwoven with an olde English traditional lullaby called ‘All The Pretty Little Horses’.


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