16 tracks. (Bid from Monochrome Set). Also available on CD.
The world of Scarlet’s Well was conceived in 1998 by Bid, the lead singer, guitarist, and main songwriter of UK New Wave/Indie legends The Monochrome Set, after they had disbanded for a second time. Lavishly illustrated albums emerged quietly, all set in and around Mousseron, “a sickly village situated somewhere east of the Azores and only slightly north of the Styx” populated by howling wolves, seductive mermaids and a bawdy captain with his crew of beer-swilling pirates and off-kilter animals with disturbingly human characteristics.
In Bid’s words, “I wanted this to be an ‘atmosphere’ rather than a band, and thought I’d have greater freedom using a variety of different singers, musicians and writers. The identity of the albums had to be strong enough to allow these changes, without them seeming like compilations. It’s akin to an open-ended musical with a partly ever-changing cast.”
Between 1999 and 2010, Scarlet’s Well released seven albums on Spanish-based Siesta Records. It was originally designed as a studio project, with a vague idea that a live band may follow. In the event, four albums were made where nearly all the instrumentation was performed by Bid, Orson Presence (keyboard player of the 90s Monochrome Set), and Toby Robinson (producer of most of the 90s Monochrome Set albums). Bid’s voice took turns with an enchanting cast of young ladies, of whom only Alice Healey was a permanent member. Soon after the fourth album, a live band was formed, though without Orson Presence, who was now living in Canada. A slightly changing line-up then recorded three more albums, with live performances, before Scarlet’s Well disbanded in 2010. The third rebirth of The Monochrome Set then followed, and is still going.
Archaic and arcane, literate and witty, cinematic and surreal, the Scarlet’s Well songs feature gorgeous, timeless, intoxicating melodies with wide range of rich and multi-layered instrumentation. Although there is a conceptual thread that runs through the albums, each song still stands alone, an oddly shaped trinket from a treasure trove. Lyrics leap from cryptic literary allusions to pert whimsy, and although there is a certain obscure quality there is also an air of familiarity: a morphic memory magic, bringing on a parallel universe that reveals itself to those who are open to getting lost with new acquaintances down strange cobbled streets, wooded glades, uncharted waters or the dark tunnels of the underworld.
Tracklisting: Sweetmeat / Willy Whispers / The Captain’s Song / Isle Of The Blue Flowers / Dark Dreams Aboard The Hesperus / Lord Fishgarlic’s Last Expedition / Night Of The Macaw / The Ballad Of Johnny Freak / The Dream Spider Of The Laughing Horse / Big Dipper On The Spearman’s Floor / Savage / Black Tulip Wings / Golden, It Is, Beautiful / My Little Doll / Supernatural Services / The Vampire’s Song