"Arty, open-ended, diatonic, spacious, very reverberant… a sort of wistful
chamber-improv-Anglorum." – Independent on Sunday
“Dripping atmosphere like an abandoned Victorian railway tunnel…Polly
Perry’s voice is a slow-moving river through a mutable landscape of guitar
arpeggios and walls of echoed atonal sound.” – R2 Magazine
“A very dark, ethereal alt-classical jazz soundscape. Poetic, brooding,
resonant and menacing…an edge of Ennio Morricone.”
- Tom Robinson, BBC6 Music
When the Light Changes is the new EP from modern dark folk trio Provincials.
Released through their own Itchen label in time for Christmas it features a cover of Big
Star’s Jesus Christ alongside original odes to the festive season.
Creating rural music primarily from exploratory improvisations using slide guitar, piano
and voice, Provincials’ self-produced debut album was entitled Muhzik. The LP saw
them played across BBC Radio 2, BBC 6 Music, Resonance FM and the Arts Desk,
invited to share stages with the likes of Tim Hodgkinson (Henry Cow), and Kawabata
Makoto (Acid Mothers Temple) as well as playing the Purcell Room in London’s
Southbank Centre and Ronnie Scott’s.
The group’s sound is pooled from the backgrounds of three very different individuals.
Disinterested in the rules of music theory, vocalist Polly Perry has spent the last few
years touring the country fronting Polly and the Billets Doux to great acclaim. Guitarist
Seb Hunter is perhaps better known as an author, particularly of cult bestseller Hell
Bent for Leather: Confessions of a Heavy Metal Addict, published by
HarperCollins. Finally, completing the trio is pianist Steve Gibson, who for the past
decade has played improvised music with Seb, drumming in the renowned Crater.
From their improv beginnings the group’s songs have gradually coalesced into
melancholic, explicitly English pop songs, becoming part of the modern English folk music
lineage of Vaughan Williams, Incredible String Band, Talk Talk and These New
Puritans, whilst also evoking the hushed reverence of Stars of the Lid and Low.
The EP was recorded at Wooden Heart Recording Studio in Andover, Hampshire by
friend and sometime pianist Dan Parkinson and mastered at Abbey Road. The material
on display is certainly befitting of such grand locations in comparison to Seb’s basement
where Muhzik was recorded on his iPad.
When the Light Changes displays a shift towards a more melodic pop approach, yet still
retains their unique, otherworldly identity. The bleak midwinter of 12 Days is their own
Fairytale of New York-esque bitter/lovelorn duet, whilst their closing cover of Big Star’s
Jesus Christ’s sleigh bells and all, is at once seasonably comforting, distant and cold.
Elsewhere, the Christmas themes are more subtle with White with Waving Goodbye about
Polly’s grandparents, based as always on real life events which she often recounts at live
Perfectly poised between expert musicianship, sonic exploration and the direct,
unadorned storytelling of English folk, theirs is a sound quite unlike any other and When
the Light Changes is quite unlike any Christmas release in times past.