acoustic · British · hurdy-gurdy · world

Cliff Stapleton: The Tumbling of Creatures

Cliff Stapleton & Friends Present – The Tumbling of Creatures: Music For The Hurdy-Gurdy

Cliff Stapleton with Ossian Brown of Cyclobe. The CTM Festival, Hau Theatre, Berlin, January 2014

I first heard the intoxicating music of Cliff Stapleton at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, WA (USA) when I stumbled upon a hurdy-gurdy jam as I roved out to enjoy a golden summer’s evening. The sun filtered through the trees and lent a backlit glow to glasses of red wine as three cranked fiddles celebrated the lovely, drony buzz of a Cliff Stapleton melody. Over and over, and it never got old. I was hooked.

Cliff’s latest record came to me last year, but only recently has it become pleasantly stuck in the CD player of my vintage Subaru Forester wagon. I can’t get enough of that primal, ancient sound. In his compositions, Cliff Stapleton proves himself to be a master of the simple, compelling melody that connects the listener to a timeless continuum of European folk music.

The Tumbling of Creatures is a bit of a retrospective for British artist Stapleton, containing tracks that span about 30 years with various musical collaborations. The edition comes in a deluxe, four-panel, handmade concertina-style wallet, silk-screen printed in copper and black ink with a card insert. He points out that the record is best enjoyed in the same track order as listed. Perhaps that order helps the listener to understand how he arrived at some of the sounds later on the record — sounds that lean well into experimental and ambient spaces. Says Cliff:

“The compositions, the order of tracks, and the interplay with other artistes show a sense of the story of my creative life with this remarkable and ancient instrument, the hurdy-gurdy.”

Here are two tracks from the album, and a video… enjoy!

LISTEN: Kicksy-Wicksy, Angles (2010)

LISTEN: Huckle-Duckle, Primaeval (2006)


Cliff Stapleton & Julian Scott – Blow Out Festival, Polesworth Abbey 2016

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