Singer/multi-instrumentalist Robin Williamson's The Iron Stone is one of his most unusual ones, because it is a careful blend between experimental, improvised music and poetry. Recorded in the Welsh countryside, Williamson's third outing for ECM continues to evolve and develop what began on 2002's Skirting The River Road. While previously he favored and looked for inspiration in the words of Dylan Thomas, Walt Whitman and William Blake, this time he draws on the verse of Thomas Wyatt, Walter Raleigh, John Clare and Ralph Waldo Emerson, as well as his own poetry.
His narration, in combination with sonic elements and music, creates very intriguing atmospheres. It sounds organic yet, at the same time, strange and unfamiliar. You can really feel the energy and the power behind it. This merging of many musical styles presents a moody collage demonstrative of his great musical spectrum.
Williamson's group, featuring bass veteran Barre Phillips, fiddle player Mat Maneri and folk instrumentalist Ale Moller, creates rich and atmospheric textures with an otherworldly feeling.
In general the album is an intriguing marriage of spoken word and music. There's a radical reworking of an old Scottish traditional tune, "Sir Patrick Spens. Williamson presents new takes on material from his younger days with the Incredible String Band, including "The Yellow Snake and the title track. He also revisits few tracks from his solo output: "Political Lies, "Verses at Ellesmere and "To God In God's Absence.
The Iron Stone is not an easy album to listen to, even though the playing is first class. It is not just an excursion into otherworldliness; it's also a celebration of language and poetry mixed with music.
The Climber; Sir Patrick Spens; Wyatt
Robin Williamson: vocals, Celtic harp, Mohan vina, Chinese flute, whistles, tabwrdd drum; Mat Maneri: viola, Hardanger fiddle; Barre Phillips: double-bass;