Rev Simpkins & the Phantom Notes’ album and illustrated book BIG SEA is OUT NOW! It is the REV’s first new LP for 11 years.
With artwork by Tom Knight and a foreword by Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York, Big Sea available released in hardback and saddle-stitched versions with a CD, and as a digital versions.
The Rev’s new album and 32-page illustrated book is a life-affirming meditation on hope during dark times. This new collection of exuberant and eccentric songs was written during the Rev’s diagnosis, treatment and recovery from cancer and drummer James De’ath’s illness with sepsis. What resulted was an emotive celebration of the peaks and troughs of life and death told through off-kilter songs about east coast creeks, shattering storms, mystic pelicans and the Colchester martyrs. Artist Tom Knight’s illustrations and typesetting of the lyrics add further life to the album’s striking images and sentiments.
The Reverend Matt Simpkins is the fourth generation of his family to be ordained priest in the Church of England. Prior to ordination, Matt was a professional musician. He collaborated with Kenney Jones of the Small Faces to reconstruct the orchestral parts of their 1968 psychedelic masterpiece Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake, and gained notoriety through his raucous and melodious exploits in FuzzFace and heavy-weight hollering in gospel fiddle duo Sons of Joy. The Reverend’s 2008 LP, Babbler & Crow, and 2009 LP, Lions were praised by the national folk and music press, and were heralded by the legendary poet-musician Martin Newell. Eleven years since the last Rev album, Matt’s unexpected illness brought with it an opportunity to make new music.
Rev Simpkins’s distinctive sound is a brew of outlandish tunefulness, string-snapping fingerpicking, and sanctified psychedelia. Shades of the Kinks, Captain Beefheart, and Pavement meld with church choirs and pipe organs, pre-war Gospel Blues, strings, brass bands, and Bert Jansch style finger-twanged guitar. Big Sea features singer-songwriter Ady Johnson, Daniel Merrill (Dead Rat Orchestra, Sons of Joy), and Toby Bull (FuzzFace) and was recorded in Cornard (Suffolk), Colchester (Essex) and Cairo (Egypt) in the spring of 2020.
The 32 page colour book was designed by artist and author Tom Knight. Tom, who comes from Mersea Island, is described by The Sunday Times as ‘skilled…multitalented…deserves to be better known’.
Big Sea is released by antigen records/Righteous Holler Recordings.