LISTEN/PURCHASE & SHARE: Constant Follower – Neither is, nor ever was Stream / Bandcamp / Shimmy-DiscWATCH & SHARE: Constant Follower – “What’s Left To Say” YouTubeLISTEN/WATCH & SHARE: Constant Follower – “Weave Of The World” Soundcloud
LISTEN/WATCH & SHARE: Constant Follower – “The Merry Dancers on TV” Soundcloud / YouTube
“The track perfectly captures a picture of tranquil beauty and unvarnished honesty.” – Under the Radar“The neo-folk music of Stephen McAll and his band, Constant Follower, is intimate, unvarnished. Its raw inner beauty casts a deeply affecting spell. McAll’s husky murmur and the sensitive accompaniment is a rare source of comfort, like gently flickering log fire embers on the darkest night of the year. McAll and co have composed the perfect huddling soundtrack. It’s swaddled in sadness, but always offers hope.”
– The Scotsman“A beautiful piece of songwriting, with its simple poignancy carrying with it the wisdom only experience can offer.”
– Clash Magazine
“More brilliant new music from Scotland. From Stirling, it’s the sublime Constant Follower.”
– BBC Radio Scotland
Today, Constant Follower finally share their debut record Neither is, nor ever was (via Shimmy-Disc/Joyful Noise Recordings). Today also sees the release of the record’s final single, “What’s Left To Say,” alongside a stunning music video, directed by George Farrow-Hawkins and premiered via Under the Radar.
In the words of vocalist Stephen McAll,“I wrote ‘What’s Left To Say’ when I was spending a lot of time with my grandmother. We’d got to that stage where it was okay for us just to sit in each other’s company and feel wholly at ease, without having to think of something to speak about. She had all these incredible, and sometimes unbelievable, stories, and by that time, I’d heard them all many times. Maybe she retold them to remember them herself, or maybe she was making sure I remembered them. But there came a stage where it was as if she was satisfied that we’d ‘said it all’.’”
In filmmaker George Farrow-Hawkins’ words:
“It was a great privilege to be allowed complete autonomy to create a visual response to such an emotionally significant song. I was compelled, in hearing ‘What’s Left to Say’, to make a video that would convey something of the unspoken connection which is forged by time spent with another person. I wanted to create images that were as laden with memory and emotion as the track itself. In doing so, I wanted to reflect the way our memories of people become irrefutably tied to the spaces we associate with them.
During 2020 and early 2021, like most others, I spend an unprecedented amount of time in my own home, repeatedly looking upon the same interior space and views out of the window. This restriction, more than ever before, made me notice the idiosyncrasies of the shifting light, and brief moments of movement, that punctuated the otherwise fixed surroundings. What would normally be drowned out by the bustle of human activity, became more visible. The cycle of light that marked the transition of day into night and the gradual change of seasons, continued when so much had ground to a halt.
The sets, which can be seen within the video for ‘What’s Left to Say,’ were created using ready to hand recycled materials, repurposed to replicate the world I was living in on a miniature scale. I attempted to match material as sympathetically as possible, using items such as kitchen towel, sandpaper, and cardboard packaging, to evoke the texture and visual appearance of the space around me. The action was captured using the technique of stop motion animation.”
Ever since the Scottish “soaring-ambient-dreampop-experimental-folk” band began releasing music more than three years ago, Constant Follower’s emotionally honest and pain-stricken, yet warm, lyrics have become one of the project’s most endearing and beloved qualities. The name of the outfit itself is a reflection of those things that we carry through life, for better or worse, that ultimately define who we are.
Described by Folk Radio as “instantly compelling, memorable and moving,” Constant Follower have already been championed by the likes of BBC 6 Music’s Gideon Coe and BBC Scotland’s Vic Galloway. As a teenager, McAll woke in hospital to find he had survived an attack by a gang that left him with a catastrophic head injury and every memory of his childhood gone. The next decade was spent in a cabin on the West Coast where Hebridean air was whipped in with the time to reflect and recover, eventually allowing him to begin songwriting again. The songs were originally recorded as raw ideas – thoughts and feelings forged in fleeting moments and recorded onto old cassettes as the wind howled outside. The result is a childhood imagined against a backdrop that, like the sea, is as serene as it is wild; ever-changing, yet resolute. Constant Follower have an unbridled gift for tapping into the thoughts and feelings that permeate the
human experience, no matter what walk of life this takes.
The band’s debut album Neither is, nor ever was was borne out of a respect for change, and the inevitable passing of time that frightens, comforts and humbles every one of us. It is a haunting testimonial to the temporary joys and fleeting moments that define the human experience.
Co-produced by Scottish singer-songwriter Stephen McAll and renowned producer and Shimmy-Disc founder Kramer (Low, Galaxie 500, Will Oldham), the recording for Neither Is, Nor Ever Was began in early 2020 at La Chunky studios in Glasgow with engineer Johnny Smillie. This was interrupted by the birth of McAll’s daughter (if you listen closely, her cries are just audible during some of Kessi’s backing vocals on ‘Little Marble’), and shortly afterwards by Covid-19 restrictions. McAll began recording the rest at his own CFFC studio in Stirling. The resulting recordings were then mixed and mastered by Kramer at his Noise Miami Studio, to breathtaking effect.
Each album track is accompanied by its own short film. McAll sought-out the most exciting new talents in Scottish film and animation and invited them to be part of the album project. Each video, the artist’s personal response to the song, with no direction or interference from the band, resulting in incredibly moving and enchanting short ‘films’ in their own right (with multiple film festival considerations including Edinburgh International Film Festival and Manchester Film Festival in process).
“One of the most beautiful records I have ever been privileged to be a part of, filled to the very brim with moment after moment of poetic clarity, and not a moment too late...an interior force to be reckoned with. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. It weaves elements of the past around a future I was wholly unaware of before hearing these breath-taking songs, each one a kind of memorial to a memory that may or may not have merely been imagined or hoped into existence.” – Kramer (Shimmy-Disc Founder)
Neither is, nor ever was – TRACKLISTING
1. I Can’t Wake You
2. The Merry Dancers on TV
3. Set Aside Some Time
4. Spirits in the Rooftree
6. Weave of the World
7. One Word Away
8. Little Marble
9. What’s Left To Say