hermione harvestman

Every so often whether by sheer accident or some skewed design of fate something comes along to make you re-evaluate your point of view, its not quite the road to Damascus moment you always hope you’ll be fortunate enough to one day stumble upon but rather more something that leaves you stunned with a silence only broken by the little enquiring voice in your head puzzled and perplexed and left wondering why haven’t I heard this before. Obscurism doesn’t get more obscure than this, reclusive and elusive and a true outsider in every sense of the word, Hermione Harvestman may not be a familiar name save to the close circle of friends and church going community of County Durham, but if these recordings are anything to judge by as far as cultural sound status goes she is up there in terms of vision and creativity with the likes of Delia Derbyshire and Daphne Oram. Befitting of someone so secretive and outside of the curve, the story relating to the discovery and the unearthed archive of recordings currently being mined and prepared for wider public appreciation is every bit of mysterious as the author herself. Into her 70’s a chance meeting with Sean Breadin (Sedayne) whereupon during a conversation Hermione discussed – after some initial hesitancy – at length her affection for analogue electronics, she was set up with a PC and various recording programs and set to work transferring her tapes to digital and sending them to Sedayne to be cleaned up. What resulted was an extensive library of recordings dating back to the infancy of electronics, most of which were unknown to a wider audience except for the aforementioned close friends who had been trusted with entry to her secretive sound bunker. The works often commissioned for local theatre productions or simply for self enjoyment lay hidden from public view until now, in fact Sedayne even comments in the notes of how he was blown away to hear said suites blasting through open windows while Hermione tendered to her front garden when he called upon to visit her. A classically trained pianist, for the best part of her life Hermione played organ at her local church, introduced to the clavivox in 1956 she was amazed and inspired by the potential that such technology afforded to which as a result she set about converting her home which she shared with dogs, cats, geese, pigs and goats into a studio adding piece by piece to it every new found bit of sound hardware that arrived on the market. Describing her work as looking back rather than forward, her suites where often cultured in medieval classicism and sweetly glazed in religious spirituality – of the sets currently available – totalling half a dozen perhaps the most evocative and beautifully serene is ‘Hail bright Cecilia’ – an installation / performance recorded live in November 1974 in celebration of St Cecilia the patron saint of music – a beguiling set of shimmering drone orbs recorded with the aid of a poptative synthesizer. Alas she died in 2012 though not before entrusting Sedayne with a formidable body of recordings with which to archive. For now though it’s the 15 minute colossus that is ’reliquary of light’ from the articles of an imaginary faith’ that’s took our affectionate ear, a gorgeously orbiting suite adrift in the celestial heavens that seemingly draws comparison with the early 70’s kraut heads – Neu and Can to draw the invisible dots existing between the vast cavernous mind morphing epics of tangerine dream and the Arthurian pageantry of Wakeman. Absolutely mind blowing. We will of course be despatching missives to secure said releases with a view to a fuller critique in coming missives.
Band camp – http://www.hermioneharvestman.bandcamp.com
sound cloud links – http://www.soundcloud.com/hermione-harvestman
While for information go to http://www.ploughmyth.blogspot.com for enlightenment, biographies and various resources.

This entry was posted in groovy bastards... and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s