Following a Summer packed full of festival appearances, Patrick Wolf will release a new EP on November 28th. Entitled “Brumalia” (the Roman Winter celebration) the EP will feature 6 new tracks and will be lead by new album favourite, ‘Together’.
“‘Together’ has been the highlight of the live shows over the last year, the audience reaction to this song has been totally inspiring, I always saw it as a song about two lovers reuniting in the dark rainy days around December. For the last few years I’ve been writing a song around Christmas time, creating this winter EP.‘Brumalia’ (which translates as ‘festival of the shortest day’), in a way is like a little brother or sister record to ‘Lupercalia’”.
The new songs on this EP were written over the last year, produced and programmed by Patrick this autumn in London, returning to The Pool studios on Bermondsey Street and his home studio. It also features a song made on the Ipad while travelling through the swamps of Florida on a writing trip.
The artwork for the EP was shot by Patti Smith. “These are two photos Patti took of me on Cooden Beach on a freezing windy Winter day earlier this year the day after I played harp and viola for her at the De La Warr Pavilion. To me the photos sum up the bleakness and melancholy of England in the Winter months, which was something that inspired the choice of songs on this EP”
“Brumalia” track by track:
This is a song I’ve been writing the lyrics for a few years now. It’s about addiction to love, sex and drugs. I was inspired to finally finish it this Autumn by someone I knew who sadly passed away this year due to many years of addiction. I call the character “Lucy”, after the character in Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. It’s the sequel to the story of my song “Bluebells” which was also about a “Lucy”.
This is the first recording I’ve played theremin on since I played with a band called Minty when I was 13. The musical saw trio (that sounds like a choir of angels) was played by David Coulter, who has been a huge musical inspiration to me over the last two albums. He also plays the musical saw on Jerusalem later on in the EP.
I wanted to go hard with my beats again after trying to show restraint on “Lupercalia”. I wanted it to sound like someone trying to hammer and pick their way through a black night in the mountains. My Argentinian friend Sol does the spoken word introduction “Nunca se Olvida ,Que Siempre Viva” which roughly translates as ”never forgotten, always alive” or can also mean when not in Argentina “never forget you are alive!”
This is a song from my fifth album “Lupercalia”, and is the reason for the making of this e.p. The lyric “London bridge, the rain, at last back in these arms again” made me want to tell an inner city winter months story record. It feels amazing to also finally make a music video for this song, I saved it from The Bachelor album as I wanted it to have its own space and time as a song. It’s really been the big number of my festival sets during this Summer. I feel like the song is definitely already public property! I wrote it on the London tube on the way to Heathrow to catch a plane over to Berlin to work on some production with Alec Empire. I’m really proud of Alec’s synth programming on this song, it was produced in his hellish vortex studio on his amazing old Russian synthesizers and beats made Atari computer.
Time of Year
I’ve wanted to write a Christmas single for years and everything but the lyrics for this song were finished at the same time of the recording of “Lupercalia”. It then took time and observation to realise I wanted the song to be set between Christmas and New Year, about that need for love, comfort and to share love, then thinking of all the families sending their love to family members overseas in wars. I always feel at this time we long to be closer to those we love, no matter how far apart, alive or dead those people may be. My favourite line is “what frankincense or myrhh do they seek, for to send our soldiers to those burning sands? How many crosses more must we stigmata our soil with, until we reveal the blood on our hands?” It feels good to be asking questions again as a writer.
I would guess this is the last big orchestral pop production song I think I will do for a while, its been amazing working with such huge string, woodwind and brass sections In huge studios like air over the last few years. After this EP I’m already hungry to change everything up again, draw a line under the last 10 years of work and start some reinvention.
I have somehow always associated this song with Christmas and wanted to choose a hymn for this e.p that didn’t mention the “C” word. William Blake wrote the words for this song while living in Vauxhall, I always think of this song as Blake staring over Vauxhall pleasure gardens and trying to dream up some kind of paradise. Last Christmas my friends and I went to horsemeat disco during a London blizzard and were snowed in and the club just kept going as none of the doors would open. I sang this song to myself as we all finally waded through the snow and ice home through the pleasure gardens, thinking of Blake. Patti Smith is a huge fan of Blake too, thus the EP artwork being dedicated to her.
I began making this in August this year from my home studio in Southwark, during the nights of the riots and looting in London. Recording noises of the fires from the unfolding live footage and sampling artillery noises from the war coverage on the news. I guess its less of a traditional song and more of a little personal poem to remember the strange panic of those few days while living in central London. The title translates as “The Festival of Torches” that used to happen around the same days of the riots in August. It definitely marks the end of my obsession with ancient Roman festival names! The saxophone solo at the end is definitely a big tribute to X Ray Spex and in honour of one of my all time teenage idols, Poly Styerene, Rip!
I spent some time just before “Lupercalia” came out this year on an amazing no destination road trip drifting around the Florida coast, visiting swamps and researching where the pirates first landed in St. Augustine. I wasn’t planning to write any songs, but while going through my ipad on a long drive I found an unfinished programming session I started out of samples of woodwind improvisations by my father when I was 18. I finished it by a swamp, sampling the noises from the reeds and the engine noises on my ipad and then recorded piano and vocals back in London. There were so many pelicans everywhere when I finally reached an out of season Daytona Beach, and the whole place felt like some amazing ghost town at that time of year. I guess the song is a thank you to those days in Daytona. Getting lost on the road at night, karaoke + gin at the Silverline and those amazing Pelicans for making me feel human and alive again after spending two years locked away in studios making “Lupercalia”. “Let this be the shortest day now of my year” inspired me to call the e.p Brumalia as that was the festival of marking the shortest day of the year. My best friend John Jenkinson, who recently directed a video for me for “Armistice” has been making a feature film called Pelicans over the last couple of years and I will be re recording this song with an orchestra for the closing titles.
Trust has always been one of my favourite songs, but always felt too private to play to anyone. I guess it boils down to being afraid of intimacy or privacy with someone and finding the strength to trust someone after having your heart messed about with in other relationships. It’s almost a word for word entry from my private diaries. The harps on this song were played by the amazing singer and songwriter, Serafina Steer. I dusted down my accordion too for this song, I wanted it to have the old romantic feel of one of the old French chanson by Charles Trenet. I really love singing the German word Vertrauen in this song too. It’s gorgeous to pronounce and sing.
Wolf released his fifth album, “Lupercalia” earlier this year to mass critical acclaim. He has since had two singles A listed on Radio 2, performed alongside Patti Smith and has been voted Top 10 in the NME bands of the Summer readers poll.
God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.