8 Songs, 48 Minutes


About Trembling Bells

Glasgow's eclectic Trembling Bells were founded in early 2008 by drummer Alex Neilson, an improviser who has played with Jandek, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, and Current 93, among others. Neilson formed the group in order to explore more structured, song-based music, and recruited vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Lavinia Blackwall (who worked with Neilson in the group Directing Hand), bassist/vocalist Simon Shaw (also of Lucky Luke), and guitarist/harmonica player Ben Reynolds (who played with Neilson in Motor Ghost and is also a solo artist). This version of the group released its debut album, Carbeth, in April 2009 on Honest Jon's Records; Blackwall's clear soprano and the group’s acoustic leanings drew acclaim and comparisons to Pentangle, Fairport Convention, the Incredible String Band, and other British folk luminaries of the '60s and '70s -- so much so that the band participated in an Incredible String Band tribute concert at London’s Barbican a couple of months after Carbeth's release. Trembling Bells' live show is just as eclectic as their albums, with brass and accordion players, a dance troupe, and films all playing a part in their concerts. For their second album, 2010's Abandoned Love, they added guitarist/vocalist Mike Hastings to the fold and incorporated medieval, country, and classic rock influences into their sound. They remained prolific and stylistically restless in 2011, releasing the more psychedelic The Constant Pageant and Marble Downs, a set of duets between Blackwall and Will Oldham that arrived in April 2012. Following a 2013 side project called the Crying Lion that saw both Neilson and Blackwall collaborating with the a cappella group Muldoon's Picnic on a set of choral tunes, Trembling Bells returned with their fifth album, 2015's The Sovereign Self. Their colorful explorations of British folk and psych styles continued a year later with Wide Majestic Aire, an eight-song mini-album intended as a sort of companion piece to The Sovereign Self. October 2016 saw the release of another collaborative effort with Bonnie "Prince" Billy, The Bonnie Bells of Oxford. ~ Heather Phares