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Their fifth album in six years, The Sovereign Self by Trembling Bells continues down the traditionalist path that the band ploughs so well. From motorik kraut to wig-out prog and freak-folk it’s a heady stew of influences, twisting and turning at every step. Out on CD and vinyl LP from Tin Angel.

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The Sovereign Self by Trembling Bells
2 reviews. Add your own review.
12 people love this record. Be the 13th!
6/10 Clinton Staff review, 07 July 2015

Trembling Bells occupy a unique place in British music. They appear to be be completely out of time and hearing their progressive folk rock between the indie and punk on Marc Riley’s 6 Music show is as unusual as seeing a sausage on a trifle. They make a dense cacophony that harks back to the early ‘70’s glory era of folk rock when Fairport Convention ruled the world and Fiddlers Dram were just an unthinkable nightmare.

Thing is, I don’t actually like their sound…. at all. It manages to do almost everything I dislike in music - often in the space of a single song. It’s tough, it’s challenging it’s woefully discordant but it’s also horribly naff at times. Opener ‘Tween the Womb and the Tomb’ (they speak like that all the time - you just have to get used to it) is just a cacophony with unpalatable wailing that is frankly a tough listen. They aren’t going to ease you into this record that’s for sure. They enjoy singing together in vaguely sinister Wickerman chants as on ‘O Where Is Saint George’ but once it breaks out into a Jethro Tull style singalong you find yourself asking ‘who sings like this in the year 2015’? Another problem I have with Trembling Bells is that I don't quite believe them...that they are generally well to do Glasgow folk playing at being a raggle-taggle folk rock outfit. It’s like they’ve read too many books on how to the Incredible String Band and brought little that is excitingly new to the table.

Sure ‘Killing Time In London Fields’ does have a Neu-ish groove to it but the comical drop downs and hideous solo-ing are the very reasons progressive rock had to be stopped in its tracks. Many of the mantra-ish songs recall early Jefferson Airplane with droning vocals and a pulverising rhythm section but the ballads, ‘The Singing Blood’ for example, are well crafted, complex and twiddly takes on Steeleye Span’s ‘Hark! The Village Wait’ efforts. What it all results in a record which is both challenging but also kind of strait laced.

10/10 allistur Customer review, 28th August 2017

Trembling Bells. Alex Nielson. Absolute crazy fucking perfection. It's folky, it's heavenly heavy and psychedelic, the lyrics are from another bloody universe they're so good. They are amazing live. Alex is one of the best drummers around and has his fingers in so many pies he's started using his toes as well. Yes there's a wee nod to 70's folk but there is SO MUCH MORE in there too.

And if you're going to name check anyone it has to be The Incredible String Band, who incidentally they tour with (well Mike Heron and his daughter) in the worlds premier ISB cover band!! Actually they add a whole new dimension to the ISB back catalogue, and I say that as a lifelong ISB fanatic - when is some of that going to be released? Don't believe the doubters, trust me and Stuart Maconie, The Trembling Bells are the real deal, go and fucking see them NOW!



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