Cerys Matthews, Hidden Orchestra and 10 Poets: We Are from the Sun review – works a treat

Neil Spencer
·1 min read

In the pop era, the long love affair between poetry and music has bloomed into inspired tributes – the Waterboys on Yeats, say, or Jah Wobble on Blake – while living poets declaiming to music has proved more erratic. There have been highs – Betjeman, Cooper Clarke, LKJ, Tempest – but worthy-but-dull is more common. Here, Cerys Matthews and studio polymath Joe Acheson , AKA Hidden Orchestra, pull off the trick in style, with 10 diverse UK poets reading to arrangements that shape-shift dazzlingly between pastoral sound washes, stark beats and found sounds, all with “genesis” as the theme (more “poem song” albums are promised).

Among the award-laden poets (and some of us clearly haven’t been paying attention), Adam Horovitz and Liz Berry embrace the landscapes that shaped them, respectively Cotswold stone and Black Country grime, the latter evoked by a confusion of furnace, factory noise and feathers before drifting away on the white breath prayer of January. MA Moyo’s Flame Lily, an invocation of feminine power, gets growling synths and clattering drums. Raymond Antrobus’s elegiac memories of his father need only a piano coda, while Imtiaz Dharker’s nocturnal cameo is set to dreamy trumpet. A fascinating, lyrical collection – what an alt national treasure Cerys has become.