The Imagined Village - Bending The Dark
Since forming in 2004 the Afro/world/folk collective The Imagined Village have enthralled audiences with their multi-cultural takes on English roots music. Now, after dealing with some tough personal times they return with their second album Bending The Dark - and what an extraordinary comeback it is.
After the almost Dreadzone-ish rhythms of the spaced-out instrumental ‘The Guvna’ kicks things off in a gloriously ska-laced, bouncy manner there is the entrancing ‘Captain’s Apprentice’, featuring the unaccompanied glory of Jackie Oates' ghostly and fragile tones. The beautifully arranged ‘New York Trade’ follows but even that doesn’t quite prepare you for the album’s centrepiece, the frankly astonishing title track, ‘Bending The Dark’. Starting life as Sheema Mukherjee's Olympic commission it manages to seamlessly fuse together so many styles of music that you become dizzy trying to put a label on them all. As the epic drum battle drives this powerful epic towards a climax you realise that, in this one song, The Imagined Village have managed to distil the essence of what they stand for, into the most enthralling twelve minutes of music you are likely to hear this year.
When such an exhilarating song blows you away it would be easy to gloss over the rest of this album, but the sheer quality of the writing and performances on the likes of 'Wintersinging' and 'Washing Song' make that an impossibility. Add in 'Get Kalsi', an audaciously bhangra'd up take on the theme to that classically British gangster film Get Carter and you are left with a sense that this is a group of musicians who are revelling in producing some of the most enjoyable and life-affirming music you could wish to hear. Come year’s end Bending The Dark should be on any respectable list of albums of 2012.