Search - Robin Williamson :: Seed-At-Zero

Robin Williamson
Genres: Folk, World Music, Pop
  •  Track Listings (16) - Disc #1

Although he was born in Scotland, Robin Williamson has devoted his life to exploring the music, poetry, and songs of the wider Celtic world. On The Seed-at-Zero, he turns his attention to the Welsh bardic tradition, whi...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Robin Williamson
Title: Seed-At-Zero
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Ecm Import
Release Date: 2/27/2001
Album Type: Import
Genres: Folk, World Music, Pop
Styles: Traditional Folk, British & Celtic Folk, Celtic, Europe, British Isles
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 731454381925, 0731454381925

Synopsis's Best of 2001
Although he was born in Scotland, Robin Williamson has devoted his life to exploring the music, poetry, and songs of the wider Celtic world. On The Seed-at-Zero, he turns his attention to the Welsh bardic tradition, which for him includes the mythic figures Taliesen and Llywarch Hen, the 17th century metaphysical poet Henry Vaughn, and modern poets Idris Davies and Dylan Thomas. Williamson also includes some of his own songs, using them to answer the questions raised by the older poems. Setting poetry to music is a dodgy undertaking in the best of circumstances, and when the poet is Thomas, whose intensely lyrical verse is already more musical than many songs, the task seems especially doomed to failure. But Williamson has composed stark and effective settings that support the words without hindering the carefully crafted rhythms. He backs himself on harp, guitar, and mandolin while performing versions of poems such as "In My Craft or Sullen Art" and "On No Work of Words" in a declamatory style that is halfway between speech and song. The music on The Seed-at-Zero is more subdued than the psychedelic Celtic folk-rock of his first group, the Incredible String Band, but while Williamson has foregone the musical fripperies of his earlier work, he has developed a style that is more personal and deeply felt. --Michael Simmons

CD Reviews

Larry L. Looney | Austin, Texas USA | 05/23/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Those listeners already familiar with the breadth, scope and quality of Robin Williamson's work should not be surprised to se him take on such a seemingly monumental endeavor -- setting works of Dylan Thomas to music. I don't think there's another artist more suited to the task. Williamson's arrangements -- sparse, skeletal constructions utilising acoustic guitar, harp and mandolin to accompany his one-of-a-kind voice -- are simple and perfect, not once getting in the way of the words. And the words, after all, are the jewels in this showcase.Thomas has been admired and reviled, worshipped and derided, since he first unleashed his incredible literary vision on an unsuspecting world back in the 30s. Few before or since have had at their disposal his remarkable gift for turning the English language on its head, twisting it inside-out, yet, in the process, revealing its heart and soul, as well as that of the human condition and our world, in the process.Though the cd is touted as 'Dylan Thomas set to music', there are only five works here actually written by Thomas. However, Williamson's own pieces, as well as his choices of works from other sources, perfectly complement Thomas' own. The words roll off Robin's tongue magically, wrap themselves around the mind, burrow into it, and draw the listener inexorably into another world, from which nothing will ever look the same.Williamson's own 'Cold days of February' brings with it chilling new insights, absent in the old recording by his group The Incredible String Band, on their album 'Hard rope and silken twine'. It's a timeless piece, more relevant than ever.It's especially interesting to see the works of Thomas and Williamson side by side, as it were -- Robin's work is anything but derivative, but there are definite echoes there. His use of language, not only in the selectrions contained here, but in his entire body of work, is extraordinary.Not an album full of tunes you'll find yourself whistling at work, but one which will touch your soul, and to which, I predict, you will return again and again. Robin has already completed work on a second album for ECM, featuring the works of Whitman, Blake and Vaughan, entitled 'Skirting the river road', set for release in 2002. The Incredible String Band has also reformed, including fellow-founding members Mike Heron and Clive Palmer -- we can look forward to a renaissance of creativity in this new millenium...."
Robin Williamson - Genius Confirmed
S. GODFREY | Risca, South Wales | 02/28/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a work of quite astonishing intensity and of major importance to the worlds of poetry and music. Williamson's genius for delighting, amazing, and sometimes perplexing his audience is brought into breathtaking focus as he applies his interpretive talents to the already vivid and virile poetry of Dylan Thomas (and others). The arrangements are stark: the opening "The World" serves as un unflinching declaration of intent as, unaccompanied, he uncurls and carresses every vowel and syllable of this momentous work. Easy listening it definitely is not, but hair-raising and mind-boggling it certainly is. How does the man manage to sing like this? There is just no-one else performing at this level - Robin Williamson is truly in a class of his own. As the album unfolds Robin re-visits some of his own earlier works to good effect, playing to his vocal and intsrumental strengths with many a deft touch and a sure craftsman's eye for detail. Despite all the astonishing skill on display here, however, its most remarkable feature is the amount of pure "heart" which the artist has put into these songs. He is in his element here, giving everything. Buy this album and enrich your life!"
Heed his craft and art
J. Carroll | Island Heights,NJ | 08/26/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Creating sparse settings for the poems of Dylan Thomas and others, Robin Williamson has fashioned a quiet, respectful, and meditative CD. Williamson's voice does not soar. Rather, it connects you to the earth; a solid low timber emanates and gives a good solid base for the poems selected. The music doesn't interfere with the words; it accompanies them in a cooperative manner, making the music work for the poetry unobtrusively. The fact that Williamson put his heart into this work can be easily heard. The only difficulty with this CD is the unbalanced nature of the compositions chosen; Thomas's work dominates, and the other pieces chosen from Welsh traditionals and Mr. Williamson's own work don't quite have the same beauty, although Williamson's "For Mr. Thomas" is a worthy effort.