This month saw the release of the new album from Dead Rat Orchestra on Critical Heights. It was originally recorded as the soundtrack to Intrepid Cinema’s critically acclaimed BBC Documentary ‘The Guga Hunters of Ness’, which follows the journey of ten men from the community of Ness on the Isle of Lewis as they embark on a traditional hunt for gannets. Utilising their customarily unconventional instrumentation to create precarious and powerful abstract-folk, the trio of Daniel Merrill, Robin Alderton and Nathaniel Mann have come up with a powerful score, with compositions seeded in hours of study of Hebridean folk song.
Dead Rat Orchestra have become the slow burning backwater of British music; perpetually hovering on the fringes of distinct scenes, yet never fully on-board, they remain their own mutable paradigm. They perform with violins, harmoniums, logs, axes and pigeon flutes; folly snow-boxes, semi-strung guitars, home-wired glitchers and record player clunks; they use organ pipes like hunting horns, which are overblown like great whales; and with shards of metal, cast to the floor in shimmering joy.
For nearly a decade Dead Rat Orchestra have effortlessly remained the most original and unconventional live act around, both challenging the traditional concert setting and bringing a powerful and innovative performance aesthetic to their music whilst never falling into the trappings of novelty. Over the past two years they have performed or collaborated with the likes of Baby Dee, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Marc Almond, Eric Chenaux, David Tibet, A Silver Mt Zion, Natural Snow Buildings, Sandro Perri, Trembling Bells and many others.