September 09, 2010

New cover of "Fleance" recorded by Bristolian band Hi-Fiction Science.

After Stone Breath's cover and I Monster's remix, also a band from Bristol (UK) has recently recorded a cover version of "Fleance", the controversial song sung by Keith Chegwin and included on the "Macbeth" film soundtrack.

Even if I don't like the track (the same Glen Sweeney considered it just a colossal crap...), I have to admit Hi-Fiction Science's version is quite good and catchy (you can listen it at
Anyway, it's been the occasion to ask guitarist James McKeown and singer Maria Charles some questions about it...

How did you become aware of TEB’s music?
James: "I personally became aware of them in the same way that I became acquainted with much of the Psychedelic and Progressive music of the late 60’s and early ‘70’s in the ‘pre-Wikipedia’ days – through Vernon Joynson’s ‘Tapestry of Delights’, an excellent resource of information for these genres. So I was aware of the name. I then heard their music after discussing them with a good friend of mine, John, who is closer to my parents’ age and had actually seen them perform, along with Donovan, in Hyde Park supporting Blind Faith in 1969. He leant me a copy of the "Elements" album, which I enjoyed and found very hypnotic, I then purchased the Macbeth soundtrack and worked backwards".
Maria: "I was introduced to TEB's "The Magus" by friend and fellow musician Lord Gammonshire, "I the key", being my favourite track due to it's hypnotic repetitive drumming, in combination with the heady swirling medieval psych qualities. This would be my second choice if we decided to cover another of TEB's tracks, as both the vocal and lyrics are enchanting but with a dark pagan edge".

Why did you decide to make a cover just of “Fleance”, a track Sweeney and Minns (and many fans) didn’t love at all?
James: "As a band we are influenced and informed by many areas of culture – obviously music, but also areas such as film, art, architecture, literature etc. We were discussing Roman Polanski’s "Macbeth" and Maria (Charles – vocals) was enthusiastic about  "Fleance" and said that it had an interesting melody and melancholic edge and would be an original track to cover. After checking it out myself I worked out a rough arrangement of the chords, not that different to the original, but when we tried this as a band it felt somewhat lacking and slightly too ‘folky’. Eventually and after much experimentation and practice we arrived at the version we are releasing which retains the minimalism of the original and the strong original vocal melody, but adds some of our own style, in terms of the melody and structure.
As a band we are also musically influenced by Krautrock and Post-Punk  - in particular bands such as CAN and P.I.L. - so it was a really interesting surprise to find out that John Lydon had been involved in a Capital Radio show broadcast in 1977 playing his favourite music and songs that had influenced him. "Fleance" was featured as were CAN! This was a nice synergy between our music, influences and direction".

Hi-Fiction Science (2010).
Maria: "My love for "Fleance" as a track stemmed from many a hazy Sunday mornings being drawn into the other-worldliness of Polanski's “Macbeth”. When I heard “Fleance" in it's entirity, i fell in love with it. It was the vocal melody, and lyrics adapted from Chaucer, "Merciles Beaute" -  "A Triple Roundel" [read the lyrics at], that really attracted me. The words have been adapted perfectly to fit into the song, and the line 'Oh your two eyes will slay me suddenly', and it's repetitiveness within the track is beautifully contageous".

What do you think about the TEB music, above all about the first two albums?
James: "The debut album, "Alchemy" and also it’s following release – self titled or "Elements" - for me both have a mystical and almost primal quality. The rich harmonic layering of woodwinds, strings and percussion range from pastoral to almost free-jazz, which even during that time of rich creativity and innovation was certainly very unique in the broader context of ‘rock’ music.
Interesting ideas in the music are the drones, the pagan darkness, a primal simplicity and the way that a parallel could be drawn between their music and some modern classical music that uses minimalism, repetition and drones – such as Terry Riley or Steve Reich. Yet also John Cale’s sawing viola playing in The Velvet Underground or the cyclical percussion of Moondog which all adds up to a timeless, ethereal quality to the music".

What about your experience in music (your story)?
James: "Hi-Fiction Science came about when Jeff Green (bass) and I (James McKeown – guitar) met through a mutual friend, Ralph Joseph (guitar). They had both previously played in Bristol based psychedelic dronesters Suncoil Sect.
Initially we were a very loose jam based band playing quite heavy, extended psychedelic instrumental pieces. Our original drummer Jack Stanbury left to emigrate before we had a chance to play any gigs as did Ralph, to concentrate on another band he was in at the time.
Jeff and I had to rethink our game plan and, after attending a small gig by Michael Rother and Mobius (Harmonia), we thought about taking our music in that direction. More minimal and electronic and layered and textural.
At Jeff’s suggestion we brought in his colleague Matt Rich (Laptop, Keyboards) to help trigger samples and provide textural drones and beats. The need for beats was hastily sidelined with the arrival of Aidan Searle (drums) who responded to an ad we had placed and sited his influences as being Kraftwerk, CAN, P.I.L. and Dub. This made an interesting compliment to us and our combination of styles gelled in quite a unique sound. We gigged in this vein for a year or so before enlisting Maria Charles as a vocalist through fellow Bristolian experimentalists Fuzz Against Junk.   It was at this point that we began to structure our material whilst attempting to hold on to our Krautrock inspired roots and accommodating the 'folk' element introduced by Maria vocals.  We hence began work on tracks for our debut album in 2009".

What can you tell me about your forthcoming album?
James: "Our debut album is entirely self funded and is taking shape in Toybox Studios in Bristol – Toybox has a great pedigree and we are fortunate to be working closely with producer/engineer Ali Chant who has worked with PJ Harvey, Jon Parish, WARP and All Tomorrows Parties to name check  a few eclectic artists and labels.
The final track listing is yet to be decided; indeed we are still working on the last few tracks. It is a fairly longwinded process, due to the fact that we are not full time musicians and have a limited budget.
The finished album will be a cohesive and confident debut from a band building on a rich musical heritage, both in terms of the city in which we are based, Bristol, and our varied influences.
Ahead of the album "Fleance" is being released as a limited vinyl run on the Fruits De Mer record label ( Updates, progress, details of purchasing our music and live dates can be found at our myspace site:".

no©2010 Luca Ferrari

1 comment:

  1. Very nice.

    Never done a Third Ear Band cover as such but I'm in the habit of absorbing their alchemical medievalism in my own music! Just uploaded BADGER MASK IN IVY WREATH recorded a few weeks ago as a seasonal Third Ear tribute for violin / pocket trumpet / alto claruinet / frame drum / blls / fowler calls. You'll find it at or just click on my name above. The track after it is a cover Peter Bellamy's of Oak, Ash & Thorn which sets in very nicely!