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Hanterhir - The Saving of Cadan

  by Kimberly Bright

published: 25 / 9 / 2018

Hanterhir - The Saving of Cadan
Label: Easy Action
Format: CD


Ambitious double CD and concept album from prog rock band Hanterhir half sung in their native Cornish

Folk-psych space rockers Hanterhir have been kicking around the Cornish countryside for a little over a decade. Although based in Redruth, founder Ben Harris (vocals, guitar, keyboards) took inspiration for the band’s name for Northampton’s red-light district, Semilong, translated into Cornish as Hanterhir. The rest of the band are Grant Kellow (bass, vocals), Mike Hewitt (sax, keyboards, vocals), Lou Pienxha (flute, vocals, violin, clarinet), and Jason Brown (drums, percussion). Hanterhir’s second release, the ambitious double-CD album 'The Saving of Cadan', is a folk-psych meets prog rock concept album. Here is a brief summary of the story, since the arty, symbol-laden CD booklet, half in Cornish like the album, isn’t very helpful in that regard: a boy named Cadan tries to drown himself in Carn Marth Lake on the ancient hill that will be a familiar name to Aphex Twin listeners. He is rescued by an entity called Morwenna, described by Harris as an evil spirit cursed to be bound to the lake or The Lady of the Lake, but who nevertheless loves (“As love grows/So sorrow goes”) and rushes to save him. Despite the affinity they feel toward each other, the two ultimately can’t be together ('Alone Again', 'Worlds Apart'). The lyrics to 'Song of the Lady' should shed some light on the plot, at least for Cornish speakers. Harris seems to have invented this story by taking bits and pieces of local and regional folklore. A concept album begs to be combed over for clues and meanings. Cadan is Celtic for “warrior” but is a fairly recent name, not one that pops up in any old stories. Cornwall has no shortage of elemental water spirits, but Morwenna doesn’t seem to be one of them. Morwenna is the name of a Welsh saint, the patron saint of Morwenstow, who has a holy well associated with her by the church she is said to have built single-handedly. If the original Arthurian Lady of the Lake was ever referred to as Morwenna, I can’t find a reference to it. There is a reaper spirit called Figgy Dowdy associated with a well on Carn Marth, but honestly Morwenna sounds much more poetic. Knowing this backstory could help the listener enjoy what is a proper rock opera that desperately needs to be staged as a proper theatrical experience, ideally at the amphitheatre on Carn Marth. The stand-out tracks, even if you have no idea of what this lengthy album is trying to achieve, are the easy, folky 'Darallow', 'Tonight', 'The Fisherman' and 'The Sun Came Up Again' as well as 'Morwenna & the Lamb', all swooping, dramatic vignettes. The flute at the hypnotic beginning of 'Hope Comes With Love' is wonderfully atmospheric. Lee Trewhela from Cornwall Live calls Hanterhir’s songs a cross between Pink Floyd and Arcade Fire. If that were true, I don’t think this album would be half as good as it is.

Track Listing:-
1 Hello Sunshine
2 Cadan
3 Arloedhes An Lydn
4 Hope Comes
5 Delivered Hope
6 Song Of The Lady
7 Sorrow Goes
8 Darallow
9 Tonight
10 Step Backwards
11 The Fisherman
12 The Dream
13 The Sun Came Up
14 The Light
15 Alone Again
16 Worlds Apart
17 Morwenna And The Lamb
18 Dygoweth
19 Tales
20 How It's Always Been
21 Or Without You

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