An Interview With Death Shanties’ Alex Neilson

From The Quietus:

Alex Neilson’s CV reads like a who’s who of contemporary underground music. A regular collaborator with Richard Youngs, Jandek, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Current 93, Josephine Foster and Baby Dee, the Yorkshire-born, Glasgow-based drummer was also a driving force in the expansive free-folk collective Scatter. In addition to the free jazz duo Tight Meat, Neilson led his own collaborative project, Directing Hand. Yet when launched his folk-rock troupe Trembling Bells around five years ago, Neilson claimed to have reached an impasse with free music, preferring to concentrate on his songwriting. With a new Trembling Bells album in the can and an EP by his medieval and Renaissance influenced a capella group the Crying Lion on the way, Neilson remains bewitched by song. However, the past year has seen him reconnect with free music, playing with Japanese undergound legend Kan Mikami and jamming with alumni of London’s Cafe Oto, including Thurston Moore, bass maestro John Edwards and Sons of Kemet’s Shabaka Hutchings. The main conduit for this renewed interest has been Death Shanties, a mixed-media free jazz group with Dutch saxophonist Sybren Renema (pictured, top) and artist Lucy Stein, whose live projections add another dimension to their concerts. Following last year’s self-released CD-R, Nunatak, the trio has released their debut album proper, Crabs [which you can listen to in full via the embed below]. Refracting fire music through a singular sense of British weirdness, it’s one of the most distinctive underground albums of the year.