With guest vocals from My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden, Sufjan Stevens and Matt Berninger of The National, the fifth album from celebrated American/Australian instrumental quartet Clogs is their most ambitious project to date. Titled The Creatures In The Garden Of Lady Walton (out June 12), it takes its inspiration from the Giardini La Mortella on the island of Ischia in the Bay of Naples, created in 1950 by the Argentinian wife of British composer Sir William Walton as part of their private residence (it was opened to the public in 1992).
If that seems a little obscure, the idea for the project sprang from Clogs’ violist Padma Newsome’s 2005 residency at the gardens, supported by arts patrons the Fromm Music Foundation, where he began to compose the ten-piece song cycle that makes up the album. Given the long distances between them, Newsome and his bandmates Bryce Dessner (guitar), Rachael Elliot (bassoon) and Thomas Kozumplik (percussion) took a further four years to complete the album. Other guests include the Osso String Quartet and Aaron Dessner, brother of Bryce and fellow member of The National.
Shara Worden features on six of the album’s songs; ‘On The Edge’ makes understated use of her operatic trill, rising and falling with typically astonishing precision as the four members of Clogs create a serene backdrop of fingerpicked guitar, murmuring, nonintrusive strings and little flurries of wooden percussion. Stirring, beautiful stuff.