The Beast Below
The album's twelve distinct tracks tell twelve distinct stories — some sad, some light–hearted and some riotous. The recurring theme of small characters facing insurmountable odds and occasionally surviving forms the narrative backbone of the album.
"One of the most exciting folk albums of the year so far" — Folk Radio UK
The album opens with the titular track The Beast Below, a vignette of a nameless and timeless fishing vessel being torn apart by a squid-monster of impossible proportions. The sweet harmonies of violin and cello are washed away with a rousing, defiant chorus as the hapless crew vow to 'not go down without a fight'. It's a barnstorming introduction to the group's evolved sound and storytelling that seeks joy in misfortune and tragedy.
Other highlights include Balloon, a dreamlike story of escaping an impossible love in a hot air balloon. Brother James is a riotous tale of blood being thicker than water as a nefarious brother comes back to save his kin. Australia explores the uncertain future of a convict en route to a new home under an unforgiving sky. Cloth, Needle & Thread jumps in time to witness the first cracks of tragedy spreading through a small town following a mining disaster.
The group's evolving style sees increasingly lush and beautiful arrangements. Powerful strings swell over interweaving melodies on guitar, mandolin, harmonica and bouzouki. Voices overlap and echo creating layers of rich cadences. Both lyrical imagery and sound tap into a refreshingly complex and dark vein of the genre's traditions.
The album was recorded in two days at London’s iconic Snap! Studios. Producer Joe Leach took a bold approach, paring the technology back to record the band live, standing in a circle around two microphones. It is a startling and transportive sound. You hear the energy and the communication between the musicians in the recording.
"With a recording like that," Leach says, "the pressure is on. Every aspect that you hear in the end result is true to what happened at the time. A band like Apples, with seven–piece instruments and vocals, has a hell of a lot that has to go right before it can begin sounding like a release. The recording required a herculean amount of stamina and focus. Small errors could render whole takes unviable. But this focus is what concentrates the energy on this album, capturing as faithfully as I think possible, the deftness, and imagination this band can convey, whilst showcasing their undeniable musical prowess."
Phil Cornwell — Double Bass and vocals
Arran Glass — Guitar and vocals
Kit Massey — Violin and vocals
Chris Rusbridge — Bouzouki and vocals
Dan Rusbridge — Harmonica, violin and vocals
Alex Scott — Mandolin, Guitar and vocals
Jo Silverston — Cello and vocals
With guest vocals
Tom Rosenfeld & Joe Leach — The Beast Below
Mira Leach — Honest Man
All songs composed and arranged by Apple of my Eye
Produced and engineered by Joe Leach
Assistant engineer Tom Leach
Recorded at Snap! Studios, 15th & 16th August 2015 Mixed at Cowshed studios
Mastered by Nick Watson at Fluid Mastering Design By Michael Cranston