Neither Speak Nor Remain Silent: Two: HUGE

by Ken Hollings

If Emily Dickinson had ever been allowed to make a records, this is probably what it would have sounded like. The second EP release in this series finds Clodagh Simonds in much the same company as before, and the results are as remarkable as ever. Her songs allow for the breaking down of barriers. New continuities arise between the outside world and our inner being. "Night returns", Simonds sings on "Huge (The Joy of Trouble)", the opening track on this brief collection, "dissolving all and leaving me / no face at all no field of vision". "Huge" is a slow, sombre meditation featuring delicate keyboards from Brian Eno and sensitive production from Colin Potter. "While Youre Away", the third and final composition, exists at the same point of contact between worlds. Once again soundtrack composer Carter Burwell is on hand to supply concatenating piano runs that are balanced by Cora Venus Lunnys languid string arrangement and a beautiful recording of a marsh warbler. The Hafler Trio's Andrew Mckenzie, another close collaborator in this series, contributes to the EP's centrepiece, "A Song for Magda", a translucent wordless piece for voices and psalteries. For those lucky enough to obtain a copy, Mckenzie has also provided The Discussion, a weightless remix CD available only through Die Stadt mail order and limited to an edition of 300. Its a small thing, worth discovering. Ms Dickinson would have understood.

[The Wire, May 2006]


the second beautiful ep from fovea hex — essentially former mellow candle vocalist clodagh simonds and guests. this time round colin potter, roger doyle, cora venus lunny, brian eno, laura sheeran, percy jones, carter burwell, lydia sasse, hugh o'neill, and sarah mcquaid are all on hand to deliver 3 jaw-dropping tracks that recall a mix of this mortal coil, haunted folk, hafler trio ambience, lysergic classical and other bad definitions. it's a beauty and should be cheaper!. on die stadt


Neither Speak Nor Remain Silent — Two: Huge

Second EP in a series of three by Fovea Hex (a/k/a Clodagh Simonds, formerly of British folkies Mellow Candle, and friends), and it inhabits the same haunting territory as the first EP, Bloom. Simonds' voice is the main instrument in these ethereal folk lullabies, but it's the production by Colin Potter (known for his work with Nurse With Wound, Current 93, and Organum) and the violin, piano, keyboards (by Brian Eno), harmonium, and variety of mystery sounds backing her up are what really makes the songs soar.


FOVEA HEX — HUGE (CDEP by Die Stadt)

Following 'Bloom', the first of three CDEP by Fovea Hex, 'Huge' is the second one. Fovea Hex is Clodagh Simonds, backed by a who's who in the UK underground, and perhaps overground as well: Roger Doyle, Brian Eno and Colin Potter, plus musicians as Percy Jones, Hugh O'Neill and Carter Burwell. Simonds sings and plays recycled glass, waltz bed, psalteries, odd sounds, glazed harmonium and chimes. But her voice remains the important instrument. Again the angelic voice of Simonds is set against a beautiful cross-over of ambient, electronica or digital sound processing (in that order). There is something both utter ancient about the songs, and at the same time it's also very modern. Of the three pieces one is instrumental, although it lists three voices. Like 'Bloom' it's short, and like 'Bloom' that's fine. More would be too much. Its like eating a great meal: too much is not good enough. I can't find any instrumental credits on the cover for Andrew McKenzie, but he has co-written the instrumental 'A Song For Magda', and just as before, he delivers a free CD to go with first few hundred copies. It's called 'The Discussion' and is perhaps, I am merely guessing here, an extended version of 'A Song For Magda': voices are manipulated into a church organ at the beginning, but return more simple at one point and more complex at other times, and is perhaps, again, indeed a discussion. It moves the Fovea Hex material into a complex, tightly knitted pattern of drone clouds in the wind — they come and they pass. It's like the previous remix of Fovea Hex one of my favorite Hafler Trio works of recent. (FdW)


Fovea Hex — “Huge” [Die Stadt]

Volume 2 in the NEITHER SPEAK NOR REMAIN SILENT trilogy. Something about this feels like being in a waiting room anticipating the results of a pregnancy test. CLODAGH SIMONDS and ANDREW McKENZIE are the parents, with help from sundry sonic midwives, apparently including audio neurosurgeon Brian Eno. The drone elements on this have a clinical neon buzz to them, and CLODAGH ("chloe” in Amurrican) has a voice that while comforting, somehow sweetly suggests ominous loomings. The first and third tracks both have lyrics, each featuring an inescapable night; although that night may be worrisome, or it may be welcomed. CLODAGH’s voice is as unhurried and as beguiling as the instrumentation it is cushioned in. That sound, built upon glass, fretless bass and other smooth sources, just molds right into the listening ear. On the last cut, Chloe’s voice is trebled without trouble by singing psuedo-siblings: Laura Sheeran and Sarah McQuaid. Outstanding follow up to volume 1, and though an ephemeral ep with only three tracks, each has elements of elongation that add up to a longer now. Wow!

[KFJC on-line]

Fovea Hex
Huge EP

[Die Stadt/Janet; 2006]
Rating: 7.4

Fovea Hex's Huge EP is the latest installment in their Neither Speak Nor Remain Silent series, an ongoing trilogy that has served as a captivating introduction to this self-described "labyrinthine ensemble of associates." As with their recent debut Bloom EP, this second edition has once again united an impressive roster of collaborators— including Brian Eno, film composer Carter Burwell, and the Hafler Trio's Andrew McKenzie— around the talents of former Mellow Candle singer-songwriter Clodagh Simonds. And despite Fovea Hex's rotating cast of supporting players, it is evident on Huge's three tracks that the experimental collective is truly starting to get their legs beneath them, as their assembled voices can sound as closely attuned as a single shivered bowstring.

Prior to the late 2005 release of Bloom, Simonds' recording career had been largely dormant for the better part of the past two decades. Since her reemergence, she has gone on to collaborate with acts like Current 93 and Matmos in addition to her work with Fovea Hex. Perhaps as a result of all this sudden activity, her vocals on Huge have taken on an additional glint of confidence, and her cloudless voice now drives these tracks with increasing authority. Her unique, asymmetric songs are written with an obvious self-assurance as well, as Simonds bypasses traditional song structures to instead interlace her gossamer-thin melodic and lyrical strands until they're sturdy enough to withstand nearly any degree of electroacoustic reconstruction.

Bloom was largely assembled and mixed by Andrew McKenzie; this time many of those duties were done by Colin Potter (Current 93, Nurse With Wound), whose deft touch is most evident on the instrumental "A Song For Magda". Woven from assorted fragments of layered voices, psaltery, and Potter's electronic "shifting and sieving," this drone track's striking subaquatic bass gives it a vivid depth of field and provides an atmospheric interlude between the collection's two lyrical meditations, "Huge (The Joy of Trouble)" and "While You're Away"— both of which seem borne from the same hypnagogic state between sleep and waking.

"Night returns dissolving all/ And leaving me no face at all," sings Simonds on "Huge (The Joy of Trouble)", her tranquil words overshadowed by nameless dread or, as she puts it, "Some sense of a missing thing...the light of ill-ease." This vague sense of anxiety is mirrored in the song's arrangement of Eno's evocative keyboards, Hugh O'Neill's shimmering trumpet, and Simonds' various sound effects listed as "recycled glass and waltz bed." But on finale "While You're Away" Simonds takes a more comforting view of the transition to nightfall. "Between the mystery and the fact arrives the sweetest sliver of the day," she proclaims, her voice joined by the ethereal harmonies of Laura Sheeran and Sarah McQuaid. Before its closing, the piece is turned over to Cora Venus Lunny's delicate string arrangement and Burwell's ghostly piano, while field recordings of songbirds call out across the ever-dimming meadows.

For Simonds and the far-flung members of Fovea Hex, Huge is another impressive achievement, particularly when considered as a continuation of the music on Bloom. With a running time of just under 20 minutes, however, it's hard to know exactly why the group have chosen to release this cohesive, unified work in such piecemeal fashion. Perhaps it is simply that their collective enthusiasm for this project is such that they wish to deliver their freshly created music to their listeners as quickly as possible no matter the portion size, and if this is the case one can hardly blame them for their zeal.

—Matthew Murphy, August 01, 2006


Fovea Hex, Neither Speak Nor Remain Silent Two: Huge

The second in a projected trilogy of EP gems (each with its own optional, long ambient remix companion) centred around unjustly neglected songstress Clodagh Simonds, whose "rediscovery" by Current 93?s David Tibet led to her entering into this august company of admirers-turned-collaborators.

Though a folk singer, Simonds? muse leads her far off the beaten path of tradition. She has such a rich voice, charged with experience but not with age — she seems wise and timeless, like her similarly adventurous contemporary June Tabor.

While Andrew McKenzie of The Hafler Trio supervised the first album, his colleague Colin Potter takes over the helm for this release, which opens appropriately with “Huge (The Joy of Trouble)“. Simonds comes across like a Medieval female troubador, a Comtessa de Dia in complete control of form and content. Brian Eno puts the icing on the cake with his “I-believe-in-a-place keyboards“ (that?s how he?s credited), a plump-noted accompaniment beginning with the above mentioned lyric and lasting out the protracted instrumental denouement of the song.

The second track is the first instrumental of the series, ironically titled “A Song for Magda“. It is the work of four sets of hands — Simonds, McKenzie, Potter and famed fretless bassist Percy Jones — and has a dramatic, “dark-versus-light“ ambient feel.

The disc closes with “While You?re Away“, a hymn to the twilight: “Between the mystery and the fact arrives the sweetest fresh sliver of day.“ An exquisite closer, it features delicate string arrangements by Cora Venus Lunny and “shredded piano“ — though I think it sound more like it?s been “confettied“ — by film soundtrack composer ("The Big Lebowski", "Being John Malkovich") Carter Burwell.

Stunning, just stunning.

[Stephen Fruitman]

Fovea Hex, "Huge"
Written by John Kealy
Monday, 19 June 2006

This is the second in Fovea Hex’s Neither Speak nor Remain Silent series. It is a logical continuation from Bloom but it is more dramatic and beautiful than its predecessor. Clodagh Simonds, the centre of the Fovea Hexverse, has outdone herself this time; it is truly an astonishing work.

Simonds' words are concise and dense. These aren’t just lyrics but carefully constructed poetry. On paper they take up little space but on the CD she instils a mighty power in them when she sings. This is especially evident in “Huge (The Joy of Trouble),” which opens the CD. It takes up from where the previous volume left off. Simonds is joined again by Brian Eno but this time Roger Doyle and Hugh O’Neill have been added to Fovea Hex’s ranks. The music is subtle and multidimensional. Doyle and Simonds both play glass which gives a fragile and ethereal sound and complements her vocals wonderfully.

The Hafler Trio’s Andrew McKenzie also makes a reappearance on “A Song for Magda.” This instrumental track (well it features voices but their effect is atmospheric as opposed to lyrical) is positively chaotic by Fovea Hex standards. McKenzie’s doesn’t hold as much sway on this as he did on Bloom. Colin Potter joins the group as a performer here and it is his influence that comes to the fore here. The music keeps shifting; it never stays still long enough for anything concrete to take hold. The only constant in the piece is Percy Jones’ remarkably deep fretless bass.

The final track on Huge, “While you’re Away,” is exceptional. Doyle plays more glass on this piece to create that delicate atmosphere again. Simonds plays a gentle rhythm on her harmonium and a small choir of herself, Laura Sheeran and Sarah McQuaid sing blissfully. The lyrics evoke the freedom and the greenness of the countryside: “I’m with the fox and goose my feet run wild and my tongue is loose.” Further adding to the beauty of the piece are the strings arranged and played by Cora Venus Lunny (daughter of the legendary Donal Lunny). Her arrangement is simply gorgeous. The song finishes with crystal clear recordings of a marsh warbler and a dipper, adding a stronger pastoral feeling to the music. I cannot get enough of this piece.

For the lucky few who got Huge early on, there is a bonus disc called “The Discussion” with McKenzie reassembling the material like he did with Bloom. The result is drastically different to what I encountered on the other disc. Whereas Simonds’ music seems very much to be based on earth, looking up, McKenzie’s reinterpretation of the material sounds like the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey should sound. It is celestial and magnificent.

Reading back on what I’ve written, the above could look like gross exaggeration. Huge is an absolutely stunning release which I urge people to get on board about. The one drawback is its brevity: at just under 20 minutes it is gone far too soon. However, being such a rich composition, it lends itself well to repeated listens.


FOVEA HEX — Neither Speak Nor Remain Silent : Two

This second EP from Clodagh Simmonds' experimental voice project opens with some fairly strange background instrumentation. While Simmonds' voice is always at the centre of proceedings, the drone sounds that open first piece, "Huge (The Joy Of Trouble)" are derived from the warm, bell-like sonorities of glassware. Elsewhere, we find Hugh O’ Neil's elongated trumpet tones and some synthesizer provided by none other than Brian Eno. The second piece, "A Song For Magda" sees Andrew Mckenzie of The Hafler Trio taking the reigns, making use of a rich sound palate to work with: sustained tones from psalteries and fretless bass mesh and overlap while a choir of female voices drown in the mix. After hearing his recent 6-disc long project conjuring monolithic dronescapes from the voice of Sigur Ros' Jonssi Birgisson it's great to hear a Hafler Trio piece that's as succinct as this, clocking up a tantalising four and a half minutes before evaporating into nothing. It's beautiful stuff. The disc finishes with the most voluble of the three tracks here — Harmonium, a string arrangement and some field recordings woven together while Simmonds' vocal harmonies once again take centre stage. Fovea Hex is shaping up to be a platform for some incredible 21st century revisions of how we think about the song as a musical format — a highly recommended purchase.


FOVEA HEX Neither Speak Nor Remain Silent : Two / Huge (Die Stadt / Janet)

The Second chapter of Clodagh Simonds experimental voice project trilogy continues to explore the tenuous boundaries of traditional songforms while collaborating with some heavyweight electronic composers such as Brian Eno, Andrew McKenzie (The Hafler Trio) and Colin Potter (Nurse With Wound). Simonds is best known for her early '70s work with British Folk outfit Mellow Candle (she also appears on Current 93's new record), and her voice here remains tethered as pulsating sounds of harmonium and glass instruments, trumpets, and electronics float like ghosts through the ether-like arrangements. Like the previous chapter, it's very short, clocking in about 19 minutes, which may call into question the expense. But this project is not about casual listening. Like reading an Emily Dickinson poem (as the sticker on the front compares this to), you are meant to ponder and drink in every nuance, turn of phrase and weight of breath. Put your player on repeat, and you will not hear the same song twice.


CD Feature/ Fovea Hex: "Huge"
A lucid dream in the colours of an old photograph from a dust-covered box.

The main reason why some people display a certain obsession to collecting music, buying and stocking more CDs and Vinyls than they could possibly properly listen to, is a simple one: They are still looking for that one album that can hit them just like that first record they bought, the one that changed their life. The music industry and the media know this and have subsequently reverted to feeding the dream by wallowing in superlatives. As a consumer (the one thing, according to “Fight Club”, which we all are) one reacts with a mixture of distrust and secret hopes – could it be true after all? Such was my reaction when “Bloom” landed on my desk, a beautifully packaged EP with a mere three tracks and a laudatio from the international press which could fill some small town’s phone book. Was it worth this excessive praise or were we all being lured into false childhood dreams again?

To no small surprise, every drop of ink devoted to this disc prooved to be true. These were not just songs, these were little worlds of words and sound, sung in a distant and yet highly seductive voice, as if whispered by the ghost you were making love to right before you go to sleep. The first song started with a question, but there were never any answers – just new doors opening into more unknown rooms. Only a few months later, the story continues with “Huge”, the second installment of a planned tryptychon. Again Clodagh Simmonds has invited friends like Brian Eno, Colin Potter, Andrew McKenzie and Carter Burwell over to play instruments like “I-believe-in-a-place Keyboards”, psalteries, “odd sounds”, “subaquatic bass” and “shredded piano”. Glass is also used on two tracks and it makes for an excellent metaphor, as the music indeed has a weightless, translucent and shimmering quality to it. The floating character of these pieces is further enhanced by various overlapping and shifting layers of drones, as well as by the fact that all music segues to make for a continuous stream. And a stream it is indeed, as the compositions follow no superimposed rules, have no verse, bridge nor chorus, no grand finale nor sudden outbursts. Like a river, they run through a channel of ethereal harmonics, faint voice clusters, pulsating bass lines and a string ensemble melting with the aighs of a glazed harmonium. On top of it all is Simmonds’ voice, sounding crestfallen at first, then displaying signs of anger, exultation, madness and surprise. But even more than last time, it is the lyrics that hit you: “Between the mystery and the fact/ arrives the sweetest fresh sliver of day/ How we love to see this other world unfold along the blade/ Blossoming as it breaks through the old grey veil.”

That is, without naming it, what every music lover is searching for. “Huge” touches a spot which had been left to sleep for much too long, it’s a lucid dream in the colours of an old photograph from a dust-covered box. And even though its poetry is pure and true, it all circles around the one piece without words, “A Song for Magda”, which leads you straight into this vortex. “All across my face this brocade is spilling strong perfume”, Clodagh oracles at the very end, “I stand and drink it all right in”. Even in these overhyped times, there are still albums capable of lighting your soul like the first record you bought. This is one of them.

By Tobias Fischer



Bloom, the first chapter of the Fovea Hex saga, was a nice surprise, but Huge exceeds expectations with its alien-morphed traditional melodies and delicate counterpoint. Once again the mail order edition contains a double CD EP, one with three songs (a reductive definition, if you ask me), the other The Discussion, a long, mysterious remix of Huge material cooked up by Hafler Trio. As far as the songs are concerned, their general coordinates remain more or less the same as in Bloom: Clodagh Simonds, her sweetly freezing voice halfway between Nico and Clannad's Maire Brennan, paints light-grey clouds and mourning solitude highlighted by a beautiful use of found sound and peculiarly mixed instruments. Colin Potter is credited with "shifting and sieving" on the wonderful instrumental "A song for Magda", with Simonds creating a hypnotic tapestry of psalteries. Better still, one of my childhood heroes, the vastly underappreciated Percy Jones, appears here on "subaquatic fretless bass". In "While You're Away", probably the highpoint of the set, Cora Venus Lunny's gorgeous arrangement of viola and violin plants a stiletto right in the heart. The title track features Brian Eno on keyboards, and elsewhere Irish composer Roger Doyle (of Babel and Oizzo No fame) deals with glass and treated voices. This is just what the doctor orders when you need escape from reality without making a noise (don't forget the series is aptly titled "Neither Speak Nor Remain Silent"): try it at the right moment and you'll be hooked. The recording quality is magnificent, the songs are perfect. What else is there to say?–MR


Fovea Hex Huge Ep

This might sound a bit strange, but the first thing I thought of when listneing to Huge Ep was Legend; you know, that ’80s movie starring Tom Cruise. Not to say this album is overflowing with unicorns and pixie dust like the film, but the music here reminded me of the soundtrack done by Tangerine Dream.

Although currently Tangerine Dream is taking a dive into the world of New Age (ugh), they used to be pioneers in ambient music and did some stunning soundtracks in their heyday. In a way, Fovea Hex (a collaborative band that fuses electronics, film compositions and ambiance) sounds like what the current Tangerine Dream should sound like. So pardon my strange comparison, but ask any Tangerine Dream fan and they could probably spot the similarities, too. But trust me, this is all a good thing.

Fovea Hex is a collaboration between Brian Eno, Roger Eno, Andrew McKenzie of Hafler Trio, composer Carter Burwell and a trio of talented singers. With so many heads crammed into this project, it would be easy for an album like this to feel cluttered and eclectic, but Huge Ep is the opposite. Huge Ep manages to stay quiet, restrained, and burrowing with subtle brilliance. It’s modern, but has an old ancient soul; it’s electronic, but also traditional folk.

“Huge (The Joy of Trouble)” is a trembling atmospheric opening that is accompanied by Clodagh Simonds’ striking voice. The song could easily be on the soundtrack for a nameless dramatic film. After the strings kick in on the second half, the song stops building and simply marinates for a while and dissolves into “A Song for Madga.” This is the shortest track, but the most pensive, allowing electronics to swell and shrink beneath the gentle vocals. Last track “While You’re Away” is where my Tangerine Dream reference sprouted from. It reminds me of a moodier “Love By The Sun," and the vocals sound alike, too.

The ambient genre flourished in the ’80s, so it’s easy for modern ambient music to somehow awaken memories of older music. But Huge Ep is a forward stepping album, but cunningly disguises itself from that. Those brilliant tricksters.