Review | Songlines

Wake Up Calls

Rating: ★★★★

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Album and Artist Details


Cosmo Sheldrake


Tardigrade Records


The son of scientist Rupert Sheldrake and voice therapist Jill Purse, multi­instrumentalist Cosmo Sheldrake has already released an EP and debut album on his own label, Tardigrade, and began work on Wake Up Calls last year, fashioning pieces drawn from nine years of field recordings of endangered British birds (as well as the currently un­endangered cuckoo and robin).

The album opens with the song of a nightjar (and a piece written for the XR protests), then a nightingale, and then the dawn chorus; each is set to an acoustic, dreamy psychedelic-baroque folk pop that I’m tempted to call steamadelica. Across 13 short and sweet tracks, the album progresses from night to day via a dawn chorus and then through the evening choir to night again, with skylark, cuckoo, marsh warbler, dunnock, bittern, mistle thrush and owl lending their voices to this beguiling feathered songbook. The one cover (and lead single) is Benjamin Britten’s ‘Cuckoo Song’, featuring the bird singing above the composer’s grave in Aldeburgh. It’s idiosyncratic, lyrical, affecting, and rousing. As Sheldrake says: ‘I hope that this music may serve as a wake up call: to help us become more aware of the glorious polyphonic soundworlds that surround us before many of these voices become extinct in Britain.’

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