Nolan’s Viking venture

Clive Nolan tackles Beowulf on his upcoming new release.

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“Nobody knows how Viking music sounds, so this is my interpreta­tion of it, but it’s probably more cinematic with the inclusion of the orchestra,” says Clive Nolan of his Norse musical epic, Song Of The Wildlands. Composed in oratorio form complete with a stentorian narrator, the album is based on prog’s favourite saga, Beowulf, and its chorus is sung in Anglo-Saxon.

The idea took root when Nolan wrote a song intended for his third Alchemy album. “I wanted to take the story into Norway for various reasons, so I decided to give it a bit of a Viking flavour. I started researchin­g bands such as Wardruna, whose sound I really love. I wrote the song utilising old instrument­s like the nyckelharp­a and horns, and thought, ‘Wow,

I can do a whole album like this!’”

Not wishing to plunder Scandinavi­a for a Viking story, Beowulf was chosen and, with the help of medieval academic Professor Christophe­r Monk, he translated the lyrics into Anglo-Saxon, or Old English. “I’d written all the album, then we got hit by the pandemic and I needed a chorus. So, I put out the word online that if you have a microphone set up and you can record, would you like to be part of this? About 50 people around the world responded.”

He forwarded them the phonetic version of the Anglo-Saxon translatio­n. “They sent back two, four or six versions, which I spent three or four months editing, ending up with about 200 voices, which I would never have got if it had not been for the pandemic,” muses Nolan.

Other artists appearing include vocalist Christina Booth (Magenta), Mark Westwood (Shadowland) on guitar and drummer Scott Higham (Pendragon and Alan Reed). Traditiona­l stringed instrument­s, such as the nyckelharp­a played by Vicki Swan and the psalmodiko­n, also feature.

“Unusually for me, it uses a narrator to make sure everyone understand­s what is happening. Ross Andrews provides a Brian Blessed campfire narration to capture the tradition of storytelli­ng,” Nolan explains.

The launch party, he says, will be in Norway, as the album is being released via the Norwegian Crime Records label in collaborat­ion with We Låve Rock Music. As for a possible first show, Nolan says, “In Norway’s northern reaches, there’s a company building Viking World and the guy in charge wants to put the album’s debut performanc­e in its mead hall there. That’s now our aim.”

Nolan concludes, “Throughout the pandemic, I’ve been sat in this chair in front of this computer much of all the time. The one thing I can do now is write and record!”

Tales By Gaslight is out via Elflock Records and Song Of The Wildlands is out via Crime Records on September 1. See www.oliverwake­ and for more informatio­n.

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