Love, frustration, old roads, lost films, fishermen and drowned villages, Alan Moore, a sea shanty choir and an unofficial anthem for the independent principality of Sealand.
1. Land Of The Cuckoo
3. Down In The Water
4. Sons And Daughters Of A Quiet Land
5. Swallow The Day
6. Mustard Fields
8. The Ghosts Of Watling Street
9. Children Of The Rocks
11. Penda’s Fen
12. Blood Moon
Oh, Sealand is the band’s seventh release and first full album of new material since 2014’s The Water Between Us. It is an unsettling, anthemic album full of love and frustration for England, peppered with literary references, old roads, lost films, fishermen and drowned villages. As well as the full musical line-up, the album feature the voice of celebrated author and comic book writer Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell, Jerusalem), a sea shanty choir and an unofficial anthem for the independent principality of Sealand, which lies 6 miles off the coast of England.
The Ghosts of Watling Street was written at the request of cult author, John Higgs, best known for his book, KLF, Chaos, Magic and The Band Who Burned A Million Pounds. Higgs’ new book Watling Street – due for release July 13th – is an epic journey across the UK’s oldest road and this song was written to accompany the book. In keeping with some of the characters who populate Higg’s book, the song features the voice of comic-book writer Alan Moore who makes a guest appearance in the video video for The Ghosts of Watling Street.
Penda’s Fen pays tribute to the Alan Clarke film made for BBC TV in 1974 and recently re-issued by the BFI. It tells the story of a young man whose certainty of what it is to be British is shattered by his burgeoning homosexuality, visions of angels and devils and his ultimate rejection of the conservative values of Middle England. Musically it pays tribute to the sounds and styles of early 70s English prog, rock and folk.
Sealand tells the true story of how an abandoned British world war two fort, six miles out to sea, became an independent principality. Prince Roy and Princess Joan first settled there in 1967 and, despite attacks from pirates and an attempted coup, Sealand remains the property of the Bates family. The song features a sea-shanty choir. A first for Oddfellow’s.
Swallow the Day is a song that first appeared as a B-side by the band Grasscut. It was co-written by Bramwell and Grasscut’s Andrew Phillips and has been given the Oddfellow’s make-over for this album.
Danu is a spoken word track, composed for one of Bramwell’s many BBC Radio documentaries. Danu refers to the old Celtic name of the River Don, which flows through South Yorkshire where he grew up.
As well as a musician, Bramwell is a successful author and radio broadcaster. His last book The Haunted Moustache, not only tells the story of a bizarre inheritance – a 100 year old moustache in a box – but also the origins of the band name, Oddfellow’s Casino. The BBC Radio 3 version of The Haunted Moustache utilised the music of Oddfellow’s Casino and won Bramwell a Sony Award for ‘best feature’.
For BBC radio 3 and 4 Bramwell has made programs on subjects ranging from Ivor Cutler to time-travel. His last BBC Radio 3 program was broadcast in March 2017 and features music and ideas from the track Danu, featured on the album. In 2016 he made a BBC Radio 3 documentary, White Rabbits in Sussex, in search of a rare psych-folk album made in 1967. The documentary featured Shirley Collins and (the Crazy World of) Arthur Brown.
PRESS FOR PREVIOUS ALBUMS
An English gem – as whimsical and bittersweet as Robert Wyatt or Talk Talk, but with edgier, more epic production. And the song We Will Be Here is an anthem in waiting. -Marcus O’Dair (Independent)
An elegant blend of orchestration, electronics and Bramwell’s reedy voice that sits somewhere between psychedelia, post-rock and traditional music. But what’s really appealing is the spirit of the Raven’s Empire: familiar, ethereal, spooky and very, very English. -Will Hodgkinson, The Times
Full of restrained anthems that mix the sensitivity of Sufjan Stevens with the big hearted warmth and soft harmonies of Elbow. -Uncut Magazine
A haunting and melodically beautiful album peopled by ghosts and aliens, the Raven’s Empire sets Bramwell born-storyeteller’s lyrics to brass, woodwind and surprising bursts of squally guitar. Mesmerising. -Sunday Times
Bramwell remains the British singer closest to Brian Wilson’s heritage, without really striving for it as he sticks to his Sussex, England roots. -Les Inrockuptibles
Firmly out of sync with current trends, being instead a delicate pastoral exploration of the countryside, coloured with brass and sweet vocals reminiscent of Soft Machine-era Robert Wyatt. Simply beautiful. -Everett True