Aerial Festival (online)

Part of our Music guide

Johnny James, Music Editor
Aerial Festival
John Shedwick

Aerial Festival, online, Until 2 October 2020, free entry - Visit now

While Aerial Festival’s live events are unable to go ahead this year, the organisers have commissioned some great artists to create new work for online release this September.

More than just a festival, Aerial is a platform for new work that talks to the natural, cultural and social history of Cumbria, where 2020’s inaugural festival was due to take place. The music, poems, essays, sound art, films and podcasts that will be released from 26th September will stay true to that ethos.

Hayden Thorpe is at the top of our list in terms of the musical happenings. The ex-frontman of Wild Beasts (one of the most original and inventive British guitar bands of the noughties) launched his solo career just last year. Comprising elegant piano, glistening synths and dulcet vocals, his debut album Diviner pulsates with a tender mysticism, and won rich critical and popular acclaim. We’re expecting great things from his new commission – a collection of songs inspired by the South Lake.

Another exciting commission is Marra by artist Natalie Sharp AKA Lone Taxidermist. This will come in the form of short films that reimagine the multi-sensory installation and performance Sharp was planning for the Ambleside Tavern this summer. They reflect on life growing up as a first-generation immigrant in West Cumbria, set against the esoteric rituals and traditions of the area. Expect music, art and general all pervasive weirdness.

We also look forward to Caught by the River  – a fusion of words and sounds featuring the BBC’s Stuart Maconie, author Roy Wilkinson, the UK’s foremost field recording artist Chris Watson, and Sheffield poet Helen Mort. This commission will also feature music by Jack Cooper, formerly of the much-loved band Ultimate Painting. These days, Cooper blends bucolic folk, experimental jazz and psych-tinged indie rock with Modern Nature, whose debut album How To Live sounds like Beak> via Radiohead circa In Rainbows.

There are a number of literary commissions to look forward to, too. Autumn Richardson and Richard Skelton will celebrate 10 years of their work at Corbel Stone Press in the form of music and film, plus spoken word contributions from many of their acclaimed poets and writers. We’ll also hear a set of commissions presented by The Quietus and The Willowherb Review, which will see ten international artists respond to the events of 2020 in words and sounds, inspired by Wordsworth’s epic poem The Prelude.

Head to Aerial Festival’s website to see the full schedule of online releases, which will be accessible via the same site, all for free.

Aerial Festival, online

Until 2 October 2020
Free entry