FOLK THE SYSTEM
Folk The System ‘Unrest In The Wolds’ – album review
Written by Phil Newall at Louder Than War June, 2015
Folk The System ‘Unrest In The Wolds’ (Self Released)
‘The Wolds’ is a term used, here in England, to describe a range of low hills; peaceful, charming and full of character, images of which decorate chocolate boxes and the like…a term that invokes feelings of calm and tranquillity – there is nothing calm or tranquil about ‘Unrest In The Wolds’ the debut album from Banbury based Folk The System, this is a genuine fire-band release that combines snarling vocals, a frantic fiddle battling with pushed to the limit acoustic guitar, the entire shebang being held together by a hammered Bodhran and bass…
Initially formed in the early 1990’s Folk The Systems politically charged lyrics and energised live performances saw them gain supports with the likes of Citizen Fish and Blyth Power, tours across the country followed, but the lack of a plan, or more accurately a lack of restraint limited Folk The System to recording just two 4trk demo’s prior to their split in the late 90’s.
Raw Folk Punk From The Shires
The five piece Tony Partner (Guitar), Simon Hill (Vocal, Guitar, Tin Whistle), Maty Tustian (Bodhran, Drums, Vocals),John Tims (Fiddle, Mandolin), Johnny Fell (Bass) remained friends, so when in late 2013 Simon Hill bought a new 12 string and sent word to his troops that the music world needed another blast of Folk The System, no-one argued. The resulting ‘Unrest in the Wolds’ is a brand new recording bringing together the lost demos with some new and unreleased material; despite the years that have past the targets of Folk The Systems unrest remain firmly entrenched…
‘Witchfinder General’ with its lilting expansive opening initially throws you off balance, before Hill spits out “2, 3, 4” and delivers a measured rage taking aim at the state of UK Social Services, the recording, across the entire album is raw though don’t let that put you off…’Lost Land’ is a powerhouse of full on mayhem, this is not folk music, this is pure full frontal punk played upon savaged acoustic instruments, there is no respect for the nuances of a Bodhran – Maty Tustian just hits hit harder and faster! That’s not to suggest that Folk The System substitute song-writing ability with blistering pace; ‘Death Of A Nation’ is a wonderfully crafted song, a wall of sound and vitriolic “contempt and hate” whilst ‘Environmentally Friendly’ demands that you “open up your eyes and take a look around’ the song weaving between almost spoken word and a rage like thunder…the Bodhran powers on matching the power and passion that fiddle is igniting!!
‘Murphy’s Logic’ is possibly the most traditional ‘folk’ track, an instrumental, bar for the yelps that Hill throws in for good measure, the fiddle and tin whistle refrain would not be out of place amongst the beard stroking rows present at the Radio 2 Folk Awards, ‘Street Corner People’ borrows from The Adverts ‘Gary Gilmores Eyes’ – no bad thing particularly considering TV Smith’ own incendiary acoustic deliveries these days.
‘Folk The System’ have created a dangerously infectious album, yes it would benefit from decent production, but that’s not what they are about, ‘Unrest In The Wolds’ is a reaction to the times, a voice that needs to be heard above the din of spun politics, and the homogenised shite that occupies the radio channels, and for that reason I suggest you go and buy this album.
Review by Alan Fisher, Ferocious Dog Blog
I’ve been listening to the rather splendid album from Folk The System today. It’s called ‘Unrest in the Wolds’ which gives a clue that there’s a bit of anger in here – there’s protest in here, there’s anger – most of all though there’s some well-crafted tunes with the traditional folk sounds driving by the pounding bass heavy bodhran and layered with fiddle, acoustic guitar, mandolin bass and occasional penny whistle. It’s an infectious collection of ten songs that I’d heartily recommend getting hold of.
Review by Waldo Kinksmarkham, Celtic Folk Punk Blog
Folk the System are Simon (vocals, 12 string guitar, tin whistle), Tony (6 string guitar), Maty (bodhrán, vocals), John (fiddle, mandolin) and Jonnie (bass). They were formed in the early nineties and released a couple of 4 track demo tapes in 1993 and 1994. Sadly, they disbanded around 1996.
In late 2013 Simon bought a new 12 string guitar and told his bandmates that it was the right moment for a comeback. Almost 20 years have gone by and the lads from the Shires are increasing their fan base thanks to their shows at festivals, their cover of “What You Know” on the tribute to the Levellers album “Bostin’ Days” and, obviously, from their long-awaited debut album “Unrest in The Wolds”.
Folk The System have a bodhrán instead of drums, but don’t be misled by that: these guys really rock!!! “Unrest in the Wolds” kicks off with “Witchfinder”, a song whose lyrics can be filed with the Levellers “Social Insecurity”. The song begins slowly, but after a “two, three, four”, the frantic fiddle and bodhrán make you clear that this is folk-punk.
Track no. 2 is called “Civilisation” and it’s a catchy song, one of the highlights on the album. Fiddle, acoustic guitar and bodhrán are perfect, especially the bodhrán at the end. The sound is based on the Brighton school, but this time it’s more McDermott’s 2 Hours than Levellers.
The next number is amazing too: “Lost Land”. Catchy chorus, excellent fiddling and fantastic backing vocals at the end of the song.
The approach of “Death of a Nation” reminds me of Bleeding Hearts. It’s followed by another fave, “Environmentally Friendly”. Fiddle punk at its best!!!
“To No End” has a sound reminiscent of McDermott’s 2 Hours from “The Enemy Within” era.
“Murphy’s Logic” is a brilliant instrumental. I guess that this number is one of the hottest moments at Folk the System gigs.
“Street Corner People” is about the budget cuts on the Health National Service, especially on Mental Health. The band is really tight on this track: bass, tin whistle, bodhrán and fiddle. “Vanity” is an infectious fiddle punk number and “Least You Deserve” is a little bit darker.
Here at Celtic Folk Punk and More we do enjoy British fiddle folk punk. Apart from the Levellers, we love Tricks Upon Travellers, Tofu Love Frogs and Bleeding Hearts. So we are happy when we listen to “new” bands like Ferocious Dog and Folk The System.
Folk The System's firebrand mix of folk mayhem and punk attitude has carried them away from the pubs and clubs of their Banbury home. Formed in the early 1990's FTS reformed in 2013 older, with less hair, slightly cleaner clothes, but still folking angry!
Since 2014 FTS have been entertaining crowds at festivals and venues up and down the country sharing stages with acts such as the Levellers, New Model Army, Ferocious Dog to name a few.
FTS debut album Unrest In The Wolds was released in 2015 with a second album due for release early 2019.
Listen to our Unrest In The Wolds at:
To book Folk The System phone Maty on 07500869223 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Review by SlapMag
The Leylines, Folk The System, Nick Parker, The Marrs Bar, Worcester, 8th October.
From razor sharp penmanship to serrated social commentary, Banbury based Folk The System stormed the stage with their riotous blend of hard hitting, rough and ready folk punk. Fiddle blazing acoustics attacked and bodhran pounded, as frontman Simon Hill spews forth with a torrent of injustice and biting ‘state of the nation’ commentary. Lamenting the Death Of a Nation, a Lost Land and Civilisation, as flights of hard strums take over for a rudimentary yet effective rhythmic thump. The band's energy onstage and fiddle outbursts encouraged the audience to spill onto the dance floor. Whilst the band continue to hammer their message home over a suitably raucous frenzy of instrument abuse and vocal hooks. Culminating with a fevered run through What You Know (The Levellers) and their own Vanity. Much to the delight of the assembled.
To Book Folk the SystemPhone: 07500869223 or email email@example.com
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