Broken Stay Open Sky is the fourth full-length album by Red River Dialect, and their first for Paradise of Bachelors, due out 2nd February.
The band have shared the album’s lead single, “Kukkuripa,” was premiered by NPR who said; “‘Kukkuripa’ radiates a beaming light… [it] feels like a burden lifted. The band stretches out a rhapsodic melody like a ribbon chasing the wind”.
The London-based band (with Cornish roots) brings a windswept energy and daylight to a contemplative, gorgeously rendered suite of songs about inhabiting the landscape, and our bodies, in joy and pain alike. Informed by songwriter David Morris’s spiritual practice, and recorded largely live in the studio, this is the band’s most ambitious and emotionally affecting work to date: atmospheric but deeply rooted, equally concerned with investigating the concrete and the cosmic, both quiet details of the everyday and looming matters of faith.
Morris shares the following testimony about how these recordings came about:
When writing the last Red River Dialect album, which was called Tender Gold and Gentle Blue, my everyday was infused with a magnificent, radiant sadness. A sudden space of loss had opened up and swallowed all sorts of exhausting but addictive inclinations: to hunt for volatility, nurture delusions and hide in distractions. Eventually these waves of sad-joy began to subside and I found myself back on familiar ground with a new understanding of what I was seeking: freshness, movement and vibrancy. I looked for this energy in chords, rhythms and words. When my friend, the great songwriter Joan Shelley, invited me out on a UK tour to play an opening set, I recognized it as an opportunity to develop these new songs and to try them out at shows. Hearing Joan, Nathan Salsburg and Glen Dentinger play and sing every night brought me many glimpses of the fresh genuineness I was seeking.
I tried to turn those glimpses into songs. I wanted to make a whole album about lungta, to be called Windhorse, after the English translation of the Tibetan Buddhist term. It was also going to be a concept album about bells of all kinds. I used to ring church bells when I was a child in the English change ringing style. I have strong memories of the smell of old wood and damp stone, the delirious cacophony of the six bells, the sight of the dancing ropes and the fear of breaking the stay. The stay is the small piece of wood upon which the heavy bell comes to rest in an upright position when the ringing is done. If the bell is brought to rest too roughly the stay may be broken, causing the bell to ail around its axle and whipping the rope up into the tower. The leader of our group of campanologists, a Cornish stone-hedger by trade, told tales of ringers who had been whipped up along with the rope and killed, and my experience of ringing became fused with this fear of losing control.
As I wrote the songs, this attempt at conceptual coherency started to crumble. Half-familiar sadnesses and new-old confusions poked through the rubble. For a time I tried to keep them out. Eventually I gave up, knowing that to treat these experiences like enemies or unwelcome strangers was dishonest and stale. And so each song that makes up this new album called Broken Stay Open Sky is a coming together of pain and love, selves and others, embraced together in the same broken heart, which is moving-joy and still-sad.
I am glad that this album is not entirely what I intended it to be, and even gladder for the companionship of the band who articulate these songs into a real-shared living.Simon Drinkwater, Coral Rose, Ed Sanders, Robin Stratton and I had spent a few years playing mostly acoustically, without drums or percussion. In the summer of 2016 we had a fortuitous meeting with drummer Kiran Bhatt, who then joined the band, allowing us to get a little more electric and dynamic once more. Over the summer we worked up these songs, recording over three days in October 2016 with our friend Jimmy Robertson at the console. We set up as a live band in the room, which was not a big room, and so there is a merging of our playing into each other’s microphones, a bleeding that even Pro Tools cannot efface without taking the song away too. There were, however, a handful of overdubs, a couple of tricks, and a little bit of corruption. If I could break into song, would I break my stay?