The future members of Pagan Harvest knew each other at school in the English town of Watford during the 1970s but didn’t really connect as a musical entity until much later. Jon Bickley and Lawrence Reed ran into each other in London and found they had both been inspired by Rob Young’s acclaimed book Electric Eden, an in-depth look at the history of folk music in the UK. They hooked up with Steve Daymond and decided to do what they should have done 40 years previously and make an album.
The musical core on that self-titled first album is folk with a dose of prog plus classical elements. Inspiration is the English landscape, that sense of place that can be found in Shakespeare’s forests and moors, Wordsworth’s mountains and streams, and even on Westminster Bridge. The words paint a picture of England, its history, its wars and its songs. Other influences emanate from authors such as Lewis Carroll, AA Milne and Kenneth Grahame who create magical English landscapes in their writing.
‘Sacred River’ the new Pagan Harvest album takes inspiration from myths and legends of the River Thames. Since their first album the cinematic music has become darker and unsettling with hints of a folk horror movie soundtrack. Eeriness is powerful because it carries in the unseen. Modern classical elements seep into the foreground, progressive interludes jump out, beat poetry overrides experimental backdrops. Beautiful folk inspired melodies carry the stories behind Jon Bickley’s expansive lyrics.
Review of Sacred River in March 2018 edition of Prog Magazine (Issue 85)
Jon Bickley (lyricist) provides a one-liner for each track on Sacred River:
- Calling All The Angels – The beginning of all things, a spring, an incantation
- Over The Horizon – Healing, salvation and abundance from Mother Nature
- Isis and Osiris – Middle Eastern immigrants as Gothic urchin Gods running in the backstreets of Lambeth
- The Beast Sits Down – I will Trump your fear with my fear
- Schoolaroo – Words that articulate the sound of water, the tide rolls on and on. There’s a poet on the loose!
- Gigue – The stately dance of guitar and bass dipping a toe in the water
- Thorney Island – All of the stories are happening all of the time in a dream
- Sacred River Chant – All the ghosts, all the saints, all the poets, all the time.
A series of podcasts have been produced by the Invisible Folk Club where Pagan Harvest discuss the evolution of Sacred River.
Spotify or iTunes users should search for Invisible Folk Club then scroll down the list to find the Pagan Harvest podcasts.
Listeners who DO NOT use Spotify or iTunes select from the following links:
Podcast1 – the atmosphere of ancient London
Podcast2 – the spirit of the modern multi-cultural city that is London
Podcast3 – the process of composition and the influences at play
Podcast4 – Lawrence Reed analyses the music
Podcast5 – Jon Bickley discusses the lyrical themes
Lawrence Reed (guitar, orchestration) is an accomplished composer and instrumentalist from Bath, Somerset. Lawrence writes and scores most of the Pagan Harvest music as well as producing and engineering recordings. His distinctive contemporary style derives from a classical training distilled with other influences from a past that covered progressive rock, new wave, jazz and of course folk. His rich orchestrations at times have an epic quality. It is easy to imagine some of the arrangements on the soundtrack to Game of Thrones! His interests outside Pagan Harvest can be found on www.lawrencereed.com
Jon Bickley (singer/songwriter) is an exiled Londoner now living in a green belt Buckinghamshire town. He is a talented and prolific songwriter in the blues/folk genre who has released a number of solo albums. He is author of Pagan Harvest’s poetic storytelling lyrics. Further information about his solo albums and other collaborations can be found at www.jonbickley.com. An interview with Jon can be found via the link at the bottom of this page.
Steve Daymond (electric bass) lives in Bristol. He is a versatile and hard-working musician who has played in bands of all shapes and sizes for many years. In the context of Pagan Harvest the bass playing requires a wide range of skills including knowing when not to play! The bass provides the pulse and the glue that holds the music together. For more info visit www.stevedaymond.com
Pagan Harvest’s self-titled first album is distributed by Musea Parallele: http://www.musearecords.com/ext_re_new_catselect.php?np=41401
The album is also still available through iTunes and Amazon.
Pagan Harvest have made three films to date. The first two were promotional music videos, the most recent a mini documentary. All can be found on YouTube.
- ‘Damascus’ combines war zone footage from the city with stunning and vivid images of flowers and birds. The images of destruction are not graphic but we see enough to feel the terrible power of those weapons.
- The film of the song ‘Rebecca Falls’ is an ambitious black & white production directed by Jim Roper, a Bristol based film maker. The song was written with the old English folk song ‘Reynardine’ in mind. In that song a girl disappears. If that happened today the police would be called. Where would they look? What clues would they find? What would they make of overheard conversations between the woman and the fox-like entity.
- ‘Rebecca Falls – The Forensics’ is a mini documentary about the influences behind the song ‘Rebecca Falls,’ how it was constructed, and the contributions and personalities of the individual musicians. It was produced and directed by Steve Yarwood with cameramen Ian Yarwood and Dan Nickolls.
Podcast discussing first Pagan Harvest album
- Spotify or iTunes users should search for Invisible Folk Club then scroll down the list to find the podcast entitled ‘IFC looks back at the first Pagan Harvest album’
- If you ARE NOT an iTunes or Spotify user you can listen or download via the following link: http://invisiblefolkclub.libsyn.com/-invisible-folk-club-looks-back-at-the-first-pagan-harvest-album