The Phantom Notes are the Rev’s ever-shifting backing orchestra & co-conspirators.
Present members include:
James De’ath (hits drums)
Karl Younger (plonks bass)
Toby Bull (blows horns)
Sian Simpkins (blows french horns)
Daniel Merrill (fiddler on the hoof)
Ady Johnson (harp sucking)
Who the hell is Rev Simpkins?
The Reverend Matthew Simpkins – sinner-songster, guttural gospeller and pop-poet-priest – performs a heady brew of bruising freak blues, string-snapping finger-picked folk, and sanctified psychedelia.
Now a priest in the Church of England, his preceding time as a professional musician saw him performing with underground mod band, FuzzFace; fiery gospel-fiddle duo, Sons of Joy; and collaborating with the remaining members of the Small Faces to reconstruct the orchestral parts to their number one LP, Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake. From 2008-2011 Rev Simpkins performed with his 9-piece freak orchestra, the Phantom Notes at many curious venues ranging from Snape Maltings concert hall & Whitechapel Art Gallery to redundant churches, motorway flyovers, and village halls. His first two madcap LPs, Babbler & Crow and Lions are packed with off-kilter stories, dark jokes, allegories, parables, and brazenly reworked Bible tales delivered with the help of brass bands, church bells, string orchestras, pipe organs and crows. In 2020 he returns with Big Sea, his first album for 11 years. Written around a time of illness, the album is an exuberant celebration of the peaks and troughs of life and death through off-kilter songs about east coast creeks, shattering storms, mystic pelicans and the Colchester martyrs. Shades of Captain Beefheart meld with Evensong choirs and pipe organs, pre-war Gospel Blues, string orchestras, brass bands, and Bert Jansch style finger-picking.
“High octane stuff…unique musical style and literate words performed with energy and passion. He must be a gas live.” fROOTS
“Deep, dark…makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up” Maverick Magazine,
“raw, authentic and always riveting.” Acoustic Magazine
“skewed blues and rot-gut jugband swagger…a heady mix.” Rock ‘n’ Reel
“…he might just scoop a Mercury Prize…”, East Anglian Daily Times
“Inspires a mixture of joy, confusion and awe in equal measure” Everything Folk
Lions – GRAPEVINE ALBUM OF THE YEAR 2009