A few years ago I was introduced to Mishra, reviewing the collective’s first album ‘The Loft Tapes.’ I particularly warmed to that usual blend of traditional Celtic sound with Indian and south east Asian influences. It was different, experimental, unusual – yet easy on the ear.
Fast forward a few years to ‘Reclaim’, the new album from Mishra.
Mishra is a global folk collective – rooted in the UK but with wings across the planet – from which they weave a “tight web of intricate, Indian-influenced original music that defies definition”. Indeed, the Mishra sound is impossible to pin down – ethereal, wild, warm, joyous, rambunctious, melodic, wild, spiralling like whirls of boundless energy and even rebellious. It captures just about every essential aspect of traditional folk music from melodious flutes to infectious table.
It’s hard to hold down the joyous energy that reflects the coming out of lockdown. ‘Reclaim’ is all about reclaiming freedoms for so long taken for granted.
Kate Griffin (The Magpies) and Ford Collier (BBC R2 Folk Award-nominated The Drystones) are the song writing partnership behind Mishra drawing on their unique influences that encompasses folk music of the UK, Americana, Indian, classical music and sol to create a surprisingly accessible sound. For ‘Reclaim’ they are joined by the renowned table and Indian santoor player John Ball (Rafiki Jazz, Indus) – bringing twenty years of Indian classical music experience into the mix. Double bassist Joss ann-Hazell and singer/clarinettist Alex Lyon join the Mishra mix for the ‘Reclaim’ album.
Overcoming hardship, exploring various themes – but ultimately that boundless joy just can’t be pinned down – it’s just bursting throughout with flowing Irish tunes – it’s like you can’t keep a good team down.
As with the 2019 album ‘The Loft Tapes’, ‘Reclaim’ was recorded almost entirely live-in-the-room, in a farmhouse in Gloucestershire. The sound captures the interplay of their unique instrumental lineup, and the energy of their collective improvisation, zeal, and zest. Following lockdown, Mishra were inspired by how nature always takes over abandoned spaces – using this as a model for their relationship with their own creativity. The album is an invitation to reclaim the abandoned spaces of life and fill them with music, creativity and nature.
‘The Truth’ is the opening track – with vocals then we’re rushed into ‘This the Sound’ at speed, ‘Reel to Reel’ and ‘Rolling English Road’ with nods to Glastonbury and travelling old Roman Roads – reclaimed from the past – and including some experimental vocals that take us from the fully sound of production stripped bare to the original vocals, recorded as they are, in a room. Simplicity un-earthed it works.
‘New Air’, ‘Rise’, ‘Swell’, ‘Reclaim’, ‘Burn’ and ‘Burn Jam’ – the sharp sassy titles reflect the reclaim ethos. This is post-modern traditional folk music you could say – taking what’s tried and tested, and making it relevant to the 21st century and our global village.