The Exchange, Twickenham
14 September 2018
Eel Pie Records has quickly established itself as the mecca for music enthusiasts in South West London.
Since opening in 2017, owners Kevin Jones and Phil Penman have promoted gigs at local venues like The Exchange and Patchworks, keeping community values at the heart of the Eel Pie ethos.
Stocking a vibrant selection of new and high quality second-hand vinyl, the shop hosts a melting pot of new music nights and talks including British DJ and film director Don Letts and ‘The Modern World’ fanzine founder, Gary Crowley.
A peach-soaked sun begins to fade over grimy slates of suburbia. A friday-night hum builds inside The Exchange, in growing anticipation of Ana Silvera.
This gig is one of six to promote her sophomore release, Oracles. Signed by Gearbox Records earlier in 2018, the BASCA nominated album has attracted wide-sweeping praise for both composition and lyrical complexity.
It’s clear from the outset that Oracles is a personal project. The album follows a folkloric structure of a ‘quest’ and involves the search for symbolic meaning before a triumphant return home.
For Silvera, the song-cycle is a chronicle of loss and coming to terms with the sudden passing of her brother, Daniel. Eclectic in sound, Oracles combines elements of folk storytelling with classical piano and touches of jazz, alongside vocals equal in tone and resonance to Kate Bush.
“I packed my passport to travel to this side of the river” jests the Camden native, after her first song Red Balloon.
Silvera is joined on tour by multi-instrumentalist Josephine Stephenson (Radiohead and Nils Frahm). Throughout, the pair collaborate with ease across keys and string, alternating melodically to create a sound fused by narrative and emotion. Equally, Stephenson is flawless in harmony and blend to Silvera’s ethereal tones.
The first set comprises songs from Oracles alongside other original works such as ‘Love Deeper’, a composition inspired by the words of Hungarian poet George Szirtes. An acapella version of ‘Circle of Chalk’ kicks off the second, explosively rhythmic and warmly received by the crowd.
Written for a full-scale choir and band, Oracles has been adapted and re-worked for intimate performances such as these. ‘Catherine Wheels’ makes for the penultimate performance of the evening. This final song from Oracles tells the symbolic tale of a firework, graceful acceptance and musical catharsis.
What’s next for Silvera? Catch her final performance at Cafe #9 in Sheffield on 8th November or head to Eel Pie Records to pick up a copy of Oracles on CD or LP now.
Words: Katherine Docherty