Bishopskin rework 14th Century Hymn on new single ‘Stella Splendens’
Words by Angelika May
Stop! Reject the grind and embrace the era of DakhaBrakha and ecclesiastical feasts.
Photo: Spela Cedilnik
The profoundly pious, pastoral, folk, punk, blues,19th century romantic (insert an eternities worth of idiosyncratic adjectives) band, Bishopskin are in the midst of their Second Coming. Their new single “Stella Splendens”, comes in anticipation of their debut album, “Babble” due in October. This new track adopts a palpable attempt to transcend our mortal souls and connect with a higher power. It’s innately human to attempt to piece together the fabric of our universe, question our existence and explore agnostic beliefs.
Music mixed with religion has been at the forefront of sewing these together, and throughout time we have created our own tapestry of the human condition. Bishopskin is driving this primal urge of exploration in an age where often it feels that we are too powerful, too wise and too far into research and science to resort back to early methods of the spiritual pursuit.
Ultimately, they’re a high-brow band, whether you “get it” is out of the question. For me, Bishopskin’s U.S.P. will always be their vast amount of historical fascination, meticulous research and planning that creates the intersectional masterpieces that few bands currently possess.
“Stella Splendens” is a tangible example of the Eastern European influence and cultural exchange, poignant in the Medieval period. The song, sung in Latin, originates from the collection of “Llibre Vermell de Montserrat”, which was intended for pilgrims visiting the monastery, (much as we vagabonds reach Village Underground in search of salvation). It was intended as an appraisal of the Virgin Mary, to symbolise her purity and divine attributes.
This adaptation intends to celebrate the divine forces of Bishopskin’s own powerful female musicians, with Tati Gutteridge (our notorious horn section, who directly inspired the new track through her Ukranian background), taking the reigns on lead vocals and Hana Miyagi flooring us with her rustic bowing. James Donovan (guitar) introduces us to the track with a tease of what’s to come, combined with Gutteridge’s, haunting, isolated vocals that compel us with deep, earthy, accented tones. With Tiger Nicholson (vocals) taking a backseat for this track, seldom hearing his guttural echo, it has brought an alternative beauty to an already brilliant band.
Artwork by Tiger Nicholson
We are then thrown into the lion’s den by Colin Olive (drums), whose downbeat drives the energetic quality of the track. The most notable feature of “Stella Splendens” however has to be Miyagi’s strings, which tremble, glide and cut to make the track effortlessly lively. Its simplistic meter allows us to cavort into a journey, where the end goal is ravenous joy and a summery, mystical elation of a vibrant quality.
I shall imminently be adding “Stella Splendens” to my “Summer Frolicking” playlist.
Listen to Stella Splendens here