INTERVIEW: The Shining Levels | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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The sell-out and critical success of Music Inspired by The Gallows Pole, the debut album by Durham’s The Shining Levels, suggested a genuine public interest in musical collectives who make interesting compositions and look to find new artistic spaces. 

Drowned in rural folk, loops and electronics, the companion piece to Ben Myers’ novel The Gallows Pole, showcased a musical collective with huge amounts of talent and raw power; moving through an artistic journey that took in literature, soundscaping and a desire to write and record on the edge of England’s Northern Moors.   

A couple of years on and the collective return, looking to further push their sound into new directions; this time being inspired by fellow Durham resident and Booker prize-winning author Pat Barker and her novel The Silence of the Girls.

Whilst the use of literature again provides the impetus for creation, the book choice proves particularly important, as songwriter Davey James explains. “When you’re using a great work as your well to draw from, it is very easy, you just pick a thread and then spin it.”

I have a baby boy, in the book he would have been killed and my young daughter would have been enslaved! I can really sing about that!

It seemed the perfect fit, here is a book giving voice to the voiceless women.” Vocalist Laura Smith expands. “We have three women fronting our band and we knew it was great material. As a mother of young children the subject matter really resonates too; I have a baby boy, in the book he would have been killed and my young daughter would have been enslaved! I can really sing about that!

Bringing the project’s narratives to life through ethereal harmonies, flutes, fiddles and other acoustic instruments alongside vintage synths and electronics, the album has the mark of a band continually pushing and stretching themselves; looking to create new and interesting atmospherics. 

Released on limited edition vinyl by Darlington’s Butterfly Effect Records (and pressed at ‘Boro’s Press On Vinyl), the album will be available following a live launch performance at Durham Book Festival on Saturday 15th October at Old Cinema Launderette. The momentum of The Silence of the Girls is already on the move, with Davey particularly happy with both the end product and the launch venue. “It’s really fantastic to be working with Butterfly Effect, they always put together a beautiful piece of vinyl. We had such a great time playing at Old Cinema Launderette for our last album that it seemed the perfect fit to try and do it again. The venue itself is wonderful and was voted the best independent venue in the country by The Guardian. And let’s not forget, Pat Barker, the reason we’re able to bring out this album, is a Durham writer.” 

You’d be hard pushed to find a more outstanding example of North Eastern music and literature in one event!

The Shining Levels perform Music Inspired by The Silence of the Girls at Old Cinema Launderette, Durham on Saturday 15th October as part of Durham Book Festival.

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