Caught by the River

Music and Migration III

25th September 2013


Music and Migration III (Second Language, CD, out now)
Review by David Hemingway

At its most straight-forward, this third volume of Music and Migration is a lovingly-curated collection of songs, more or less themed around bird-life and packaged in a sleeve-image (by Clay Pipe Music’s Frances Castle) that would be pretty enough to hang on a wall or appropriate for a greetings card, even with the oil-rig and wind-farm that background its voyaging swallows. In this context, the music seems both coherent and charming; a tender statement of aesthetics from the Second Language label and their bands/peers/co-conspirators including Directorsound, Colleen, Memory Drawings and Oliver Cherer (aka Dollboy). An oddly anthropomorphological track by Piano Magic’s Glen Johnson is a particularly emotional highpoint that appears to imagine RF Scott-like sacrifice in the process of migration: “You go on ahead/And I’ll just rest a while/’Cause I’ve been flying since dawn/And my wings are tired … If you go right now/You’ll miss the storm.” Songs by pastoral electronic duo ISAN (whose music-making traverses the distance between Denmark and England) and rediscovered artist/folk musician Mark Fry are also notably touching. “Namaqua Moves” – an engrossing recording by Caught by the River -hero Chris Watson, that closes the compilation – appears to document South African bird life. But, for all its beauty and gentility, Music and Migration III is most powerfully seen as an act of protest. The compilation might forego the direct, brutal images of its predecessor (which came packaged in images of slaughtered white storks) but it retains its political intent (to protect migratory birds along their routes of travel) and continues to fund conservation partnership Birdlife International. Sleeve notes by Deep Country and Deer Island author Neil Ansell argue that we must think globally and see ourselves as “creatures of the world”: “If we are to keep these birds safe, and be sure that our springs will still be filled with birdsong, and our winters with the peal of the waders and the wildfowl on the marsh, it is not enough to think locally,” he asserts.

(Glen Johnson, L’abandon)

Music and Migration III can be bought from the Caught By The River shop, priced £12.00.