All and some — a few introductory notes

I came across the Oxford Book of Carols on my father's bookshelves in the spring of 2015. I have always loved carols at Christmas, and was surprised to discover a forgotten tradition of singing these simple religious folk tunes throughout the rest of the year. Most of them were totally unfamiliar to me, but there was a strange and wonderful poetry in their titles which grabbed my attention immediately.

Although previous generations would have passed these songs between each other by singing together, the process of learning them from the book would inevitably be more isolated and artificial. I decided to embrace the task, and to try and make the tunes resonate in a new way using the digital methods I am familiar with. All and some is the result. Rasping distortion and computer noise create an abrasive atmosphere but I hope the essence of each old melody still cuts through.

The lyrics for the original carols are rich in weird hybrid imagery: religious themes intertwine with creatures, legends and symbols from rural life in England. For the videos I transposed this mixture into a modern urban context to tap into ideas of architecture and nature, memory and nostalgia. Do have a look at the captions on Vimeo for some of the visual references.

The two original compositions on the album, John Cabot, thought to be lost at sea and Ribblesdale, both have a different background. John Cabot is a remnant from an earlier musical project exploring the characters behind the street names in Canary Wharf, London. Ribblesdale is an exercise in texture. It features a reading of Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem of the same name which has been distorted beyond recognition, and was a great excuse to spend a weekend filming at my uncle and aunt's pub in Hubberholme.

— Thomas Pearson, November 2016

These maps show the locations of buildings and artefacts used in the films (numbered by album track). For more details, please see the video captions and credits.

© No Spinoza (Thomas Pearson)