Bassist, composer and arranger, Devin Hoff has been studying the music of Anne Briggs for over a decade, transcribing, practicing, arranging and performing songs from her limited recorded output. Briggs was a leading light of the 1960’s English folk scene, a gifted song-writer and improvisor, as well as an amateur musicologist who revived traditional English, Scottish, and Irish Traveler songs with an unpretentious approach that perhaps presaged the rebellion of punk as much as it honoured tradition. This record is an appreciation of Briggs’ extraordinarily transcendent music, more than a tribute to a persona.
The arrangements on Voices From The Empty Moor include collaborations with musician friends that share a fascination with mining specific folk forms for universal and timeless truths set against multi-tracked bass choirs, solo upright bass retellings of Briggs’ a capella songs that transcend the limitations of instrument and genre. Hoff has recorded and performed previously with most of the musicians: he befriended Julia Holter, Shannon Lay, and Sharon Van Etten through playing bass for their own projects, oud player Alejandro Farha and saxophonist Howard Wiley are old close friends and long term cohorts. Emmett Kelly and Jim White are more recent collaborators.
Voices From the Empty Moor seeks to honour the mystery and beauty of Anne Briggs’ music while maintaining its own unique perspective, foregrounding powerful emotion and, hopefully, magical transformation.
Devin Hoff has been active in international creative music circles for decades, performing and recording Solo Bass music as well with a wide range of artists. In addition to the talent assembled here, Hoff has collaborated with legendary iconoclasts such as Yoko Ono and Amiri Baraka, virtuoso instrumentalists Nels Cline, Vijay Iyer, Ben Goldberg and Ava Mendoza, underground heroes Cibo Matto, Jewlia Eisenberg, and Carla Bozulich, and punk rock legends such as Mike Watt, Kira Roessler, and Bill Stevenson among many others.
Tracklisting for Voices From The Empty Moor:
1. She Moved Through the Fair
(trad. arranged by D. Hoff; basses-D. Hoff)
2. Go Your Way
(words and music-Anne Briggs; vocals-Sharon van Etten; basses-D. Hoff)
3. Let No Man Steal Your Thyme
(trad. arranged by D. Hoff; vocals-Julia Holter; basses-D. Hoff)
4. Maa Bonny Lad
(trad. arranged by D. Hoff; saxophone-Howard Wiley; basses-D. Hoff)
5. Living By the Water
(words and music-Anne Briggs; vocals-Shannon Lay; basses-D. Hoff)
6. The Snow It Melts the Soonest/My Bonny Boy
(trad. arranged by D. Hoff; oud-Alejandro Farha; bass-D. Hoff)
7. Black Waterside
(trad. arranged by D. Hoff; vocals-Emmett Kelly; basses-D. Hoff)
8. Willie O’ Winsbury
(trad. arranged by D. Hoff; drums-Jim White; guitar and basses-D. Hoff)
9. The Lowlands
(trad. arranged by D. Hoff; bass-D. Hoff)