Released: February 2015
When your second album takes two years to make, one would expect the record label executives to have their heads in their hands, casting the project off before the creative juices had even begun flowing.
Thankfully, The Unthanks operate on their own label, which means we are treated to the long-awaited Mount The Air, the follow up to 2011’s Last.
And thank goodness we did get it, for The Unthanks are a revelatory veritable orchestra of talented musicians breathing life into both folk and orchestral music.
It’s a demanding listen to be sure, with two tracks clocking in over 10 minutes long, including the gloriously uplifting and breathtaking opening title track, but it is a listen rewarded.
In a phenomenal display of collaborative musicianship, with 16 members contributing to the record, The Unthanks are truly a unique prospect.
It’s remarkable to think that this album could have been made in a makeshift home studio in Northumberland when the songs are so expansive and evocative, let alone that they could stick to their guns on it for so long, but it is precisely why this album will be seen as pioneering.
The control is very much in the hands of the band themselves, and in all likelihood, this album would not have been possible any other way. But as such, it allows The Unthanks to make generous strides into the unknown in stretching the boundaries between folk and classical.
Just one listen of Madam, or the magical flourishes of piano on Last Lullaby with its haunting brass interludes should be proof, if any were needed, that this is a truly special combination.
Most probably adored by a few now, one hopes that The Unthanks will be recognized in years to come for what looks to be an exceptional contribution to the folk/classical landscape.