Various Artists - Help The Witch
Help The Witch - acclaimed writer Tom Cox’s otherworldly fiction debut of short stories - broke Unbound’s record for pre-orders in 2018.
A “sort of ghost book”, its concerns are landscape, earth magic, liminal spaces, folklore and creatures that teeter on the line between reality and the beyond. Tom Cox: “It would no doubt be going too far to say that all books should have soundtracks but it’s curious that it’s a concept that’s been very rarely explored. I often imagine a soundtrack to my favourite novels and have begun more re- cently, while writing my own books, to think of them as a little like LPs: maybe not quite what you’d call concept albums, but albums where there’s something conceptual going on, where the order of the tracks (chapters) is crucial, and creates a narrative, however abstract and non-linear. It’s probably no coinci- dence that readers often ask, ‘Could you recommend a soundtrack to Help The Witch?’
My music listening was an important part of the book’s creation, and I thought: What if Help The Witch had a totally original soundtrack, made by a variety of unusually talented musicians, living and working now? An album that was spooky, and atmospheric, like the book, and echoed its themes, but was also totally its own master. An ambitious idea? Very. But I thought it couldn’t hurt to ask, and, astonishingly, everyone I did ask said yes. Even more astonishing was what they came up with.
On Help The Witch: A Concept Album, some of my favourite musicians take a story from Help The Witch and create their own piece of music from it. These are as diverse as Cromer-based Gemma Khawaja turning a tale about a ghost speed awareness instructor into an epic, hot-blooded 16th Century folk ballad that never was, Sheffield’s Rob Lee drenching the history of a marsh goblin in cosmic country rays, and Scotland’s Grey Malkin - formerly of The Hare And The Moon- performing a wyrd folk extrapolation on a persecuted Derbyshire witch. Many of the musicians here have a strong regional identity, which is apt, as much of the book does too. I have been lucky enough to be accompanied by several musicians at my spoken word events over the last few years and am even luckier that they- Zervas And Pepper, The Left Outsides, Jack Sharp and Dan Davies of Wolf People- have agreed to contribute here.
In Stick In The Wheel’s From Here Records- whose two Field Recording LPs have been a couple of my very favourites of the last few years- I have also found the ideal label to release the album on gatefold vinyl, and Stick In The Wheel them- selves have contributed their own song inspired by one of the book’s most unusual stories, Robot. Each track has blown my mind, in its own unique way. I do not think it’s an understatement to say that this record is a greater work of art than the book that inspired it, and quite probably THE Folk Horror Album of 2020.”
1. Zervas & Pepper - Reeds and Rushes
2. Trimdon Grange Explosion - The Pool
3. The Left Outsides - Seance
4. Bobby Lee - Listings
5. Stick In The Wheel - Robot
6. Jack Sharp - Vanished House
7. Widow's Weeds - Woodcat
8. Daniel Davies - Things You Might Say (Just Good Friends) 9. Jim Ghedi - Help The Witch
10. Gemma Khawaja - Speed Awareness
Artist: Various Artists
Label: Stick In The Wheel
Genre: Folk, Country & Americana
Format: Vinyl LP
Cat Number: SITW017LP
Released: 19th June 2020
Limited Indies exclusive LP