MAN & MYTH was started in 2009, or thereabouts, when I finally freed myself up enough from on-going label duties to realise that a new record was almost beginning without me... The idea had been slowly moving up the priority list at Science Friction, our cottage industry record label, and it moved into gear when I had a chance meeting with Bella Union boss Simon Raymonde at a Jonathan Wilson gig in London. I’d come to London to see England play Pakistan at Lords Cricket Ground. It was the first time I’d met either Simon or Jonathan, but the meeting was obviously serendipitous. Jonathan invited me out to California to ‘put some tracks down’, which duly happened in March 2012.
I’d wanted to record ‘Heaven Is Here’ out there, but Jonathan said he’d rather record some shorter songs. He went off to do a tour in Europe, so I wandered the LA hills for a while, wrote three songs and finished another. When he recovered from his jet lag we recorded them. I had a good time over on the West Coast, as I usually do, and I brought back some great tracks to work on at home.
After a Summer of festivals and writing, I started work on recording ‘Heaven Is Here’ at Lettercollum Recording in Timoleague, West Cork. The studio is run by my long time friend and sound engineer, John Fitzgerald. We also worked on the tracks from California. Eventually, through passages of mist, the album I could hear in my mind began to take shape.
I love the songs. I am in them. I can be the enemy, the lover and the ancient dreamer. I’ve always been critical of human politics, and always detested attempts at social control by means of totalitarian religion. Our heaven is here. It’s nowhere else. Each one of us has a brief glimpse, by the nature of what has been developing here for millions of years. A long striving for consciousness, and an increasing ability to interact with our environment. Finally, I am the exile. I’ve long known exactly how that feels. Perhaps it’ll change someday, but it's my most serene default position.
Songs and poems have a life of their own when they become public. At that moment they’re set in stone. They can be changed, but everyone remembers the original. They arrive by chance, like children. And just as randomly. There are a thousand other thoughts occurring at the same time, but the chosen one emerges to become a song, and a member of the family.
Sometimes you may refuse to own a particular song, and it may wither a bit. But every song has its day, and some you may think are lost gain a new context in a later age they happen to fall into. I will obviously spend the rest of my days writing from my dreams. Suffice to say my dreams for these songs have all come true.
Physical release on Bella Union
Digital rights belong to Science Friciton Ltd.
Tracks / Additional Information
|Track Listing||01. The Enemy
02. Time Is Temporary
03. January Man
04. The Stranger
05. Cloud Cuckooland
06. Heaven Is Here
07. The Exile
MAN & MYTH is/was created,
written and Produced by Roy Harper
Jonathan Wilson – Co-Producer California
John Fitzgerald – Co-Producer Ireland
Engineered by John Fitzgerald,
Mastered By Denis Blackham,
Design by Harry Pearce, Pentagram
Image artwork Dave McKean
Cover portrait Phil Sayer
All other photography Richie Tyndall
and Tracy Harper
Jake Blanton – Electric Bass on 1,4,5
Jason ‘Borgé’ Borger Piano on 1, Hammond on 1,5,7
Fiona Brice – Arranger, Strings and Brass on 2,3,4,6
Gillon Cameron – Violin on 2,3,4,6
John Fitzgerald – Bouzouki and Oud on 6, additional Bass on 6 and additional Guitar on 5
Tony Franklin – Fretless Bass on 6,7
Bertrand Galen – Cello on instrumental
Richard Gowen – Drums and Percussion on 1,2,4,5,7
Justin Grounds – Violin and arrangement on instrumental
Matt Gunner – Horn on 3
Roy Harper – Acoustic Guitar and Vocals throughout
George Harte – Double Bass on instrumental
Andy Irvine – Mandola and Bouzouki on 6
James King – Alto-saxophone on 5
Vicky Matthews – Cello on 2,3,4,6
Neal Morgan – Percussion and Drums on 6,7
Gabe Noel – Cello and Double Bass on 2,4
Tom Piggot-Smith – Violin on 2,3,4,6
Rachel Robson – Viola on 2,3,4,6
Bill Shanley – Electric Rhythm and Lead Guitar on 1,7 and additional Lead Guitar on 5
Beth Symmons – Double Bass on 2,3,4,6
Pete Townshend – Acoustic Rhythm and Electric Lead Guitar on 5
Omar Velasco – Clavinet and Melatron on 1,7
Jonathan Wilson – Banjo on 2, Mandolin on 4, Electric Guitar on 1, Bass and Electric Guitar on outro 7 and Backing Vocals on 1
Tracks 1,2,4,5 recorded by Jonathan Wilson and engineered by Bryce Gonzales at Fivestar Studios in Los Angeles, California.
Tracks 3,6,7 recorded by John Fitzgerald at Lettercollum Studio, Timoleague, Ireland.
Strings recorded at The Strongroom
in London by John Fitzgerald.
- Press quotes from 'Man & Myth Reviews' 2013Review by Press Quotes
“Harper's first album in 13 years is a magnificent, ambitious rejuvenation.” – Uncut
“Harper clearly isn’t subscribing to the notion that the passage of time steals musicians’ gifts and buries their mojo… He borders upon the supernatural… Still got it, Roy.” – Record Collector
“Restless, melodic and endlessly absorbing, 'Man & Myth' is the sound of an artist at the peak of his powers”. – Sunday Express
“Roy Harper is on bravely impressive form. His distinctively acrobatic singing and his guitar work are powerfully confident, and several new songs compare well to his classic work from the 1970s… He's still unique.” – The Guardian
“Roy Harper's first album in 13 years is an absolute corker on which he runs the gamut from cutting protest songs and sweet balladry to mystical folk odysseys.” – The Observer
“The most erudite of songsmiths… Man and Myth is effortlessly tuneful, and swathed in allusions to Greek mythology. This is classic Harper.” – Q
“A poetic, typically untethered set wherein bouzouki pecks and mellotron complement Roy’s latest voyage into open-tuning land.” – MOJO
“This fabulous collection proves that Harper’s creative flame burns brightly still... With contributions from Pete Townsend and Jonathan Wilson, the album thrives on poetic expression, winning melodies and neat guitar flourishes.” – The Sun
“Harper has lost none of his political fire… An album that re-establishes Harper as folk music’s ultimate enigma.” – Evening Standard
“Harper’s acoustic guitar melodies meander along gracefully, building into moments of great agitation; raw emotional honesty coexists with mythmaking lyrics romanticising him as the eternal outsider.” – Financial Times
“Harper commendably continues to bring idiosyncrasy, passion, literacy and an intense, grandiose atmosphere… This album is loaded with old gold. Hats off.” – Classic Rock
“Roy Harper returns with his best album in decades, confirming that, in his seventies, Harper’s maverick character, poetic sensibility and singing remain undimmed and focused.” – The independent
“These levels of candour and grandeur are rarely witnessed." – Prog
Read full album reviews on 'Press' link in website menu above... (Posted on 27/03/2016)