Today Bear’s Den + Paul Frith share the reimagined track ‘Napoleon’ from their upcoming record, ‘Fragments’. Listen and watch the accompanying video below.
The newly released recording of ‘Napoleon’ has been completely re-worked by British composer Paul Frith (who also plays the trumpet on the track), beginning with cascading strings and piano and building to a climax featuring both the band and the project’s distinctive string ensemble. ‘Napoleon’ was originally recorded as the final track on the band’s top 10 2016 album ‘Red Earth & Pouring Rain’ and is the second of the reimagined tracks to be revealed for the upcoming album, following last month’s release of ‘Fuel on the Fire’. The accompanying video features scenes from the sold-out premiere of Fragments at EartH, London, in September 2018, and features behind the scenes clips of the recording process.
‘Fragments’, out September 18th, is a special collaboration studio album between Bear’s Den and composer/arranger Paul Frith, the mind behind arrangements for music giants including The xx and Radiohead.
Watch ‘Napoleon’ – BELOW:
The album stems from a one-off specially commissioned show at the end of 2018 that sold out so quickly the band added two other dates. The ‘Fragments‘ live shows saw acclaimed composer and arranger Paul Frith (The xx, Radiohead) rework and orchestrate a number of songs from Bear’s Den’s catalogue with a string ensemble and a classical pianist. This varied from adding extra flourishes to the originals, to completely pulling apart and reimagining certain tracks, and even four new instrumental compositions. The shows took place at EartH in London, Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, and Utrecht’s Tivoli Vredenburg. Given the success of those sold-out shows, the band then rerecorded these arrangements at RAK studios in late 2019 with a handpicked group of some of London’s finest string musicians.
Andrew Davie of Bear’s Den says of the project, “Fragments was an idea born out of our friendship and numerous collaborations with Paul Frith over the last 10 years. On every record we’ve ever made, Paul has come in and recorded beautiful horn arrangements and helped to push our songs into a more orchestral and cinematic landscape. The idea for Fragments was the idea of both Kev and I letting go and entrusting Paul to break our songs into pieces and build them up anew, focussing on different aspects to them, finding ideas perhaps overlooked before and by writing whole new orchestral arrangements around those fragments of ideas. The hope was that Paul’s new arrangements could shed new light on the songs, bending and refracting and in turn cause different reactions in the music and stir different emotions in the listener. Leonard Cohen famously sang: “There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”. To me, this project is about accepting your own fragility and accepting those cracks in order to find new ways to move forward and rebuild. We feel truly honoured to have been able to work with Paul and the incredible players he assembled and cannot wait for you to hear these songs that are all both old and new, broken and renewed.”
As well as his work with The xx and Radiohead, Paul Frith’s works to date include soundtrack composition for BBC’s Horizon 2017 documentary ‘Antarctica – Ice Station Rescue’ and for the film ‘The Forgotten’. His debut symphony ‘Shackleton’ was recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Paul orchestrated the strings for The xx on their Mercury-nominated 2017 album ‘I See You’, has written collaboration between Ex: Re and the London Contemporary Voices and has worked on all three of Bear’s Den’s albums ‘Islands’, ‘Red Earth & Pouring Rain’ and ‘So that you might hear me’.
Paul Frith says of Fragments, “I was so excited when Kev and Davie first approached me about this new collaboration. It’s been a joy to explore the sonic richness of Bears Den; reworking their original songs to bring to light rhythms and melodies that have been hiding in the fabric of their music waiting to be found and loved. Throughout this journey, Kev and Davie have been so generous in the freedom they have gifted me to explore their brilliant songs. Whilst we’ve called this endeavour “Fragments” for me there is a wholeness to it – it brings together pop music and contemporary classical, whilst never losing its sense of identity. Music transcends individual styles and is emotive at its heart – my hope is this collaboration will help people connect in a new and powerful way with Bears Den.”
Last year Bear’s Den released their third studio album, ‘So that you might hear me’ on Communion Records. The band conducted huge sell-out tours of the UK, North America and arena shows in Europe, as well as a jam-packed summer festival season, an intimate ‘Highlands and Islands’ tour of the Scottish Highlands, and a run of shows supporting Neil Young in Germany. They also released a two-series podcast delving into ‘So that you might hear me’ and rounded off the year with a Christmas EP with lead track ‘Only Son Of The Fallen Snow’.