Sunday, September 25, 2022

Invocation of Deities by Working of Ritual Instruments

‘Bells’, the first of two compositions on Andrew Sherwell’s album Invocation of Deities by Working of Ritual Instruments is “based on a selection of recordings of bells and ambience from churches in the South Downs, UK”.  But the bells’ tolls and peals have been slowed down, so that we hear great sonorous resonating echoes in a work that is sombre, mysterious, processional.

We also hear other sounds: the creaking and rumbling of the bells’ ponderous apparatus, perhaps; a brittle crepitation like rain or scurrying or the turning of hymn-book pages by themselves; a melancholy drone as if from a ruined harmonium.

Who are the bells summoning? The deities invoked by this music are not quicksilver Hermes or fleet-footed Artemis, but rather chthonic Saturn or sable Persephone. You stop at an English village with its Black Horse inn and you look up at the tower of the medieval church standing on a great oval mound at the end of the High Street. The weather vane is pointing north.  

You enter through the lych gate and follow the way through the yew alley to the arched door, and inside you find that the church you thought you knew, with its out-of-tune singing and flower-arranging rota and raffles and tombolas and absent-minded antiquarian parson, that church has become a Temple of the Underworld.

The second piece on the album, ‘Kang Ling’ is “based on samples from a recording given to [the composer] after a fund-raising event at the much-missed Embassy of Free Tibet in London UK, sometime in the mid-1980s’.

The album is available for download or limited edition CD (only a few copies left) on the Slow Tone Collages label, and includes artwork combining courtly portraiture with Surrealist imagery.  

(Mark Valentine)


  1. Thank you, Mark. Greatly appreciated.

  2. My order failed to go through, by the time I noticed the CD had sold out!