Burd Ellen is a new solo project from Debbie Armour (Alasdair Roberts, Green Ribbons, Alex Rex) featuring Gayle Brogan (Pefkin, Electroscope). The group uses traditional song to explore and evoke dark landscapes and deep stories. Innovative instrumentation, drone and sound-wash support detailed vocal work to create a unique sonic atmosphere.
Burd Ellen self-released their debut album SILVER CAME in Feb 2019, on limited edition CD. A record exploring women's narratives in British folk song, SILVER CAME investigates ideas of persistence, defiance, devotion and transformation. The album was recorded by Jer Reid (Painted X-Ray, Claquer, Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra) over two days in the rehearsal space of Glasgow Theatre Arts Collective.
Collaborating with artists such as Luke Sutherland (Mogwai, Rev Magnetic) and Jayne Dent (MeLostMe), the group are carving out a sonically adventurous niche, but one that is informed by a deep love and respect for traditional song.
Their next release will be MORNING COME, MARIA'S GONE on 31st January 2020. An experimental treatment of the Jean Ritchie classic, this short-run cassette single will feature remixes by Pefkin, Me Lost Me and PAEXANAX. Pre-orders are open now via Bandcamp.
"this is a record which rapidly establishes its credentials as the work of a significant artist" - fRoots Magazine
"the idea of Burd Ellen is to discover new ways to explore the British folk tradition and this record certainly accomplishes that ... haunting" - The Wire Magazine
"the sonic equivalent of Ingmar Bergman's immaculate Winter Light" - Stewart Gardiner, Concrete Islands
ask us for Bandcamp download codes
press releases & quotes
MORNING COME, MARIA'S GONE - press release
Morning Come, Maria's Gone is the new single from Burd Ellen. Released both digitally and on short-run cassette in late January 2020, the single also features remixes from Pefkin, Me Lost Me and PAEXANAX.
Burd Ellen are continuing to reach in to the murkier recesses of folk with this dark and ambiguous song, learned from Jean Ritchie's 1971 recording. Debbie Armour says "I got really obsessed with thinking about all the different ways things could have gone down in this song. I also love that the other famous variant is a barn dance.
We're so, so happy that everyone we asked agreed to do the remixes. I'm blown away by the variety. I think it's a real testament to the quality of the source material that it continues to inspire and evolve."
Burd Ellen is the solo project of Debbie Armour (Alasdair Roberts, Green Ribbons, Alex Rex) featuring Gayle Brogan (Pefkin, Barrett’s Dottled Beauty). The group uses traditional song to explore and evoke dark landscapes and deep stories. Innovative instrumentation, drone and sound-wash support detailed vocal work to create a unique sonic atmosphere.
PEFKIN is the alter ego of Gayle Brogan, Ayrshire-based creator of slowly-unfolding, ritualistic hymnals that draw heavily on the landscape and natural world. Pefkin emerged after the retro-futuristic psych / electronic duo Electroscope went into diapause in 2000. Her first solo show was supporting Pram. Influenced by Nico, Hood, Movietone and Syd Barrett, she created a fragmentary, more stripped-down version of Electroscope’s bedroom psychedelia but retreated from live performance in 2001. Pefkin has released 14 albums on labels such as Morc, Wild Silence, Reverb Worship, Digitalis, Pseudoarcana and Siren Wire as well as several sold-out lathe cuts on Sonido Polifonico.
ME LOST ME is the solo electronic music project of artist/musician Jayne Dent; a mesmeric mix of thudding rhythms, lush vocal drones and haunting melodies. Her live performances are atmospheric, dark and playful experiments in sound and storytelling, taking inspiration from a wide range of genres including folk music, electronica, pop, noise and ambient music. Jayne uses the voice as her main instrument alongside a concertina, looper and sampler to create her unique, genre-defying music.
PAEXANAX a new solo project from Aufbau Principle front-man Kieran Milne. Dreamed up in the wake of a road traffic accident and a death in the family, PAEXANAX drifts between lush reverb, delay drenched ambience and raw garage tinged beats. Calling up the spectre of dubstep pioneer Burial, PAEXANAX is for anyone in a complex love triangle with their Bauhaus 7 inch collection.
CHI MI BHUAM - press release
CHI MI BHUAM is the latest single from burd ellen, solo project of Debbie Armour (Alasdair Roberts, Green Ribbons). It will be released 5th July as a limited edition clear, lathe-cut 7 inch on Sheffield label Sonido Polifonico. The track is a gentle, experimental vocal work using a fragment of an ode to the Isle of Mull written by John MacFadyen. The B-side is an intricate and impactful remix by long-time Mogwai collaborator Luke Sutherland, under his Rev Magnetic project name.
Debbie says: "I grew up on Mull and I have quite a complicated relationship to the place. I made this work after my last visit as a way to explore my feelings of being stranded and isolated as a young person. The melody and the lyric are so beautiful and I was really drawn to the song, but I was seeking to sort of subvert the idea of the "ode" and look at a more nuanced way of exploring the themes of repetition, perpetuity and situation.
I love the work that Luke has done on the remix. It's such an interesting, full and rich counterpoint to the minimal approach of my version. But no less evocative and emotional."
The video which accompanies the release was also made by Armour using found 16mm footage of wreck diving off Shetland. Each single will have a physical piece of the archive film included in the package, as well as the specially commissioned ceramic tokens and unique badges that come with all Sonido Polifonico releases.
"I'm immensely proud of this work. It feels like a complete, 360° piece of art. It's a highly personal piece and I'm so grateful to Sonido Polifonico, Luke and my engineer Jer Reid (Painted X-Ray, Claquer, Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra) for holding it all with such love and care."
SILVER CAME press release - Alex Neilson
Burd Ellen is the nom de guerre of Debbie Armour- mother, rager and sumptuously gifted folk singer. Although all the material on her debut album "Silver Came" is traditional, Armour's music slugs from many jugs- from avant garde hip hop to punk-prophets like Siouxsie Sioux and Kate Bush. This breadth of interests helps christen "Silver Came" with an emotional range and a raw inventiveness which is all too rare in contemporary folk circles.
This accounts for some of her song choices. Armour plunges her scalpel deep into the corpus of British folk song and reports back with shapes obscure and bloody. Her reading of Sweet Lemany retains all the peculiar, spiralling ornaments of Peter Bellamy's version but applies rich harmonium drones that feel like rainbow-spewing cataracts gouged deep into the black earth. While her version of Lou Killen's Bramble Briar has the graceful pathos of a lone acrobat sashaying down the corde lisse in an empty Big Top.
Raised on the Isle of Mull, Armour has performed in Gaelic since childhood and sings a clutch of unaccompanied songs here which have a mysterious, elemental beauty but are probably about getting your boots dirty when attempting to shepherds cow herds across some god-forsaken Hebridean field.
Special mention must go to the two other members of Burd Ellen- Lucy Duncan (aka Luki) and Gayle Brogan (aka Pefkin)- who invest the songs with drama and diversity with a range of instruments including piano, violin, psaltery, assorted electronic debris and some sensual vocal harmonies. Props too to engineer Jer Reid whose background in hardcore and improv helps add a layer of celestial crud to the recording which confirms Burd Ellen as a more sonically adventurous counterpart to contemporary folk/ punk-primitives Stick In The Wheel and Lankum.
Raw and intimate. Celestial and earthy; Burd is the word.
press & quotes
""the idea of Burd Ellen is to discover new ways to explore the British folk tradition and this record certainly accomplishes that ... haunting" - The Wire Magazine
"..this is a record which rapidly establishes it's credentials as the work of a significant artist" - fRoots Magazine
Disappear Over The Sea - Interview with Concrete Islands
"Her debut album Silver Came is absolutely stunning ... with incredible pacing, often using the juxtaposition of lo-fi and hi-fi recording to great effect." - Pink Wafer
"an ear for detailed sonic texture that sets the group apart from would-be peers" - Interview with Alasdair Roberts for fRoots Magazine
The Rebirth of Political Folk - Feature in Observer Magazine, Jude Rogers
Gail Brogan (also of Pefkin) adds the eery backdrop for vocalist Debbie Armour’s fantastic voice, nowhere more clear and wrenching than in their rendition “Sweet Lemany”. - Live review in Here Today
"Interesting, sympathetic and sometimes magical" - Live review in HYMN
"Eschewing instrumentation, the opening three tracks constitute a block of prepared minimalism, the sonic equivalent of Ingmar Bergman’s immaculate Winter Light." - Stewart Gardiner, Concrete Islands
"This is an album of astonishing emotional heft, musical strengths and genuine beauty" - Grey Malkin, MOOF Magazine
"‘Chi Mi Bhuam’ is a beguiled twilight mystical sparsely touched with a love noted timelessness, much like some mythical siren emerging from the woodland mists" - The Sunday Experience
"A truly superb experimental folk single from a band I'm keen to hear more from" - Bliss/Aquamarine
tech rider & contact sheet
Debbie - 1 x clean vox mic
1 x vox mic via loop pedal, DI out
2 x condenser mic for harmonium
1 x table for harmonium
(solo sets - 1 x clean mic for acoustic guitar
1 x chair)
Gayle - 1 x clean vox mic
1 x DI out for zither, lyre, psaltery, violin and chimes via pedal board
1 x table for instrumenation