About Martin Green
Best known as the accordionist and electronic experimentalist with the visionary folk trio LAU, MARTIN GREEN has become increasingly recognised as a composer, arranger and collaborator in his own right.
His latest project ‘Aeons' is a installed sound walk along the river Tyne. Commissioned by Opera North as part of The Great Exhibition Of The North, Martin has created a soundtrack along the Tyne featuring the Opera North Chorus and Orchestra, Becky Unthank and Dominic Aitchison (Mogwai). The audience wear headphones and audio is triggered by sensors along the walk. Aeons Runs from 22 June to early September.
Martin Green's last studio album 'Flit' was inspired by first hand stories of human movement around the world. At a time when migration is constantly on our screens and minds, his new work reveals the human side to the story in a performance combining atmospheric music and (for the stage version) breath-taking stop-motion animation.
Green, along with Becky Unthank (The Unthanks), Dominic Aitchison (Mogwai), Adrian Utley (Portishead) and Adam Holmes, have crafted dark, atmospheric songs, setting Becky’s ethereal vocals against a backdrop of enveloping electronics and guitars. As they play, animated figures created by BAFTA award-winners whiterobot (Will Anderson and Ainslie Henderson) weave in and around them, evoking the stories that provide the creative impulse for the project.
During the research and development stage for ‘Flit’, Martin collected stories of social migration from the people around him. Some are heart-warming, life-affirming tales, others are tragic and heartbreaking, but all have an over-arching humanity.
Offering an insight into the writing and song editing process, he says:
“I find a theme that is a wonderful starting point for any project, it gives parameters and that leads to creative ideas. I had been collecting stories from my Grandmother, about her experiences of moving to England in the 1930s, and they were so fascinating and moving that I started collecting stories from other people about their experiences of moving round the world. These stories became a shared resource for me and the songwriters to use as inspiration”.
The production and the album feature an array of world-class musical collaborators: songwriters Karine Polwart, Aidan Moffat and Anaïs Mitchell; musicians Adrian Utley (Portishead) and Dominic Aitchison (Mogwai); and singers Becky Unthank (The Unthanks), Adam Holmes and John Smith.
“The production is quite detailed. Many of the tracks started as improvisations that I cut up and reordered: sampled little bits, for instance, that often produce interesting results because you end up with little tunes you would never have written otherwise. Reordering things propels you out of any small comfort zones and repetitions you can fall into when writing music. Many of those cut-up pieces we then learnt and replaced, but some of them still remain. The quality of lyrics brought in by various songwriters who have been involved, Anaïs Mitchell, Karine Polwart, Aidan Moffat (Arab Strap) I have found stunning, good poetry stands repeated listening, and there are fresh things to be found in these words, even after hearing them many times. Oh, and the production has bass… lots of bass”.
“Discussions with Adrian (Utley of Portishead) came up with the idea of framing Becky Unthank’s voice within a wall of dark electronic sounds. Both analogue synthesis and traditional singing have a certain purity to them, both are pretty uncompromising sounds, and putting them together excited us. Dominic (Aitchison, Mogwai) was the perfect choice for bringing a human quality to the low end.”
Eighteen months later, the album (produced by Utley at his Bristol studio) is complete and it is a thing of haunting and shimmering beauty.
Flit was released by Reveal Records and was nominated for Best Original Track at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2017.