Elysian Fields, Australia’s only electric viola da gamba band, has released its debut album What Should I Say? – a heady blend of jazz, world, folk, and early music.
Founded in 2015, as the brainchild of Australia’s only electronic gambist, Jenny Eriksson, in partnership with leading jazz musicians, saxophonist Matt Keegan and pianist under Melbourne’s MOVE label, Matt McMahon, Elysian Fields is an intriguing new voice on the local music scene. Operating as a sextet with a unique combination of voice/violin, sax, electric viola da gamba, piano, bass and drums, the band creates a unique and individual sound world.
What Should I Say? released takes its name from the central piece, a remarkable new song cycle by pianist and band member, Matt McMahon, which sets four poems by Thomas Wyatt – courtier and lyric 16th century poet at the court of King Henry VIII – and reputed lover of Queen Anne Boleyn. At its world premiere, Sydney Morning Herald music critic John Shand described what he termed “a head-spinning dialogue between half a millennium ago and now… a sound as foreign as dreaming someone else’s dreams”.
Among other tracks are Elysium, an epic work by Matt Keegan and Dark Dreaming an original work by bassist Siebe Pogson. Together with the other members of the group, singer and multi-instrumentalist Susie Bishop and drummer Finn Ryan, Elysian Fields has appeared in numerous concerts and festivals, alongside early music gurus, The Marais Project, and on ABC Radio National’s Music Show. They are currently Associate Artists-in-Residence at Sydney radio station Fine Music 102.5 FM.
Jenny Eriksson is widely recognised as one of Australia’s leading exponents of the acoustic viola da gamba – a bowed instrument of 7 gut strings, about the size of a cello but with frets. She has performed and toured across Australia and around the globe and is a respected expert on the highly nuanced music of the French baroque and the works of the great French viola da gambist, Marin Marais. The backbone of Elysian Field’s set list features original works by its members, plus Eriksson’s arrangements of several songs by Marin Marais and pieces reflecting her Scandinavian heritage.
What Should I Say is available now on CD as well as in download form via Bandcamp, Spotify, CD Baby and iTunes.
The official launch will take place 14 March 2019 at Foundry 616 in Sydney. Bookings: www.foundry616.com.au