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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 29 August 2012
I loved the first IV album, thought their second release Empire & Love was even better and now they have managed to top that with Bending The Dark! Empire & Love was much more of a 'band' album that the first release and Bending The Dark takes that vibe further still.

In terms of personnel, this album does not include Chris Wood (who was busy working on his own album) but sees the wonderful Jackie Oates joining as a full member. It's Jackie who opens the album with an acapella The Captain's Apprentice before the band kick in on New York Trader.

Eliza Carthy fans are in for a treat on tracks such as Fisherman, Sick Old Man and the stunningly beautiful Washing Song.

The two instrumental tracks The Guvna & Get Kalsi (the latter being a theme tune for percussionist Johnny Kalsi) both have incredible strong grooves running through them; your can't help but tap your feet ; )

The title track is a 12 minute epic composed by Sheema Mukherjee for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad and is a wonderful melting pot of styles ranging from Morris to Bhangra and pretty much everything in between.

If I had to make a criticism it would be the lack of a Martin Carthy lead vocal anywhere on the album; whilst he contributes some beautiful guitar work and backing vocals, I would have loved to hear his voice to the fore on a track or two.

I watched the promo video for this release and as a member of the band says "No one else could make this album" and he's spot on ... IV really are unique. If only all the people who rave over artists such as Bellowhead & Mumford & Sons gave The Imagined Village a listen they would love this album.

I seriously can't understand the Amazon reviewer that stated "Time to call it a day on this project I think" ... you can't be listening to the same album! This collective just goes from strength to strength.

Roll On Album No.4!!!!
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on 16 May 2012
I can really say no more. I discovered the Imagined Village first album completely by chance. This is, I guess, what they call that "difficult third album", and it is, in my opinion, just brilliant. It goes way beyond the sort of "fusion" stuff you might expect by looking at the cast of characters, and manages a hat-tip to several different genres, starting from, and always returning to, solid traditional folk values. They've just been updated to 2012, that's all. I can't help thinking that track 3 (Winter Singing) sounds like a modern take on the original Pentangle stuff, and I keep expecting the following track (The Guvna) to burst into something from the Specials or Madness. The final track (the title track to the album) is a wild 12 minutes 22 seconds of all sorts of snatches and homages.

Well done all concerned. My personal choice for Album of the Year already.
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on 15 May 2012
I walked into a record store today and heard this playing and loved it so bought it having never heard of The Imagined Village. I have listened to it twice through already and do not regret my impulse buy at all.
I love the mix of folk/world/techno music and will definitely be seeking out their live gigs.
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on 7 June 2012
Unfortunately, due to extensive notes already provided from the press release by the band themselves it should leave hard working (and unpaid) enthusiasts like me little or nothing to say about this latest release from The Imagined Village. I will say this though, I, along with most of my friends are eagerly awaiting the movie "The Avengers Assemble" (it's a bloke thing ladies!) so, when "Bending The Dark" arrived on my doorstep I thought hello, this is the `folk music' equivalent of that band of brothers. Mind you, I'm not sure I can visualise Chris Wood, Martin Carthy or Simon Emmerson in spandex this `folk' super-group certainly know how to flex their creative musical muscles. Gone is the Carthy songbook on which many of the previous recordings were based to be supplemented with (predominantly) contemporary songs from members of the band themselves and from the opening instrumental "The Guvna" it would appear the band have thrown everything into the mix including electronics galore (a nodding wink to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop), a variety of ethnic instrumentation from all corners of the planet and I wouldn't be surprised if they also added the kitchen sink for good measure. Of course in lesser mortal's hands this could be a cumbersome beast but under the deft guidance of Mr Emmerson it proves a thing of beauty. Currently the `folk' band sound augmented by `brass' (Bellowhead and the Unthanks etc) seems very popular with audiences everywhere and with this in mind the use of the Kick Horns on the Gothic "New York Trader" provides the listener with a real sense of `shiver me timbers' whilst clever application of unusual time signatures engaged throughout the recording really do throw you this way and that particularly on Sheema Mukherjee's title track where the use of the variant of "The Cuckoo's Nest" is surprisingly effective. For insomniacs everywhere (and I mean that with the most positive of intentions) I'd suggest you purchase a copy of this CD.

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on 21 May 2012
The Imagined Village just get better and better and this, their third offering, is in my opinion, the best to date.
From the opening track, sang beautifully by new girl Jackie Oates, the album goes from strength to strength and with so much going on there is something new on each listening.
The collective talents blend into something very special and I would urge all music fans to give it a go.
I had the privilege to see the band live on Saturday night in Portsmouth and have already booked tickets to see them again next month in Lincoln.
Definitely my favourite album of the year so far!
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Having bought the first two albums from the Imagined Village it was a no brainer to rush (in this case to the iTunes store) to download this album.

From the first track, "The Captain's Apprentice" to the last track "Bending the Track" this is a superb album, and sees the collective going from strength to strength, with a strong traditional folk heritage blended with other genres this is a unique and superb listen.

I am just about to play it for a third time, and at the moment the "Washing Song" is coming over with "The Captains's Apprentice" as the strongest tracks, but as I am typing this other tracks are calling out to me, so perhaps it is best just to say that if you like traditional folk, but can appreciate the blend of influences from other genres then this is the album for you.

If you have The Imagined Village or the second album, Empire and Love, in your collection already, then you can be confident that this album will live up to your expectations.
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on 20 November 2012
I won't go track by track, but make a couple of general comments. If you liked Afro Celt Sound System you'll like some of this, 'cos that's what a couple of trax sound like.If you like traditional folk music brought up to speed and "noughtied" you'll like this. If you like a mixture of both with a bit extra,you'll like this.If you hate folk music,you'll probably actually like this. If you're like me, you'll like this.I like it.It's better than their first two albums. And I like those. Are you sensing a pattern here?
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on 12 June 2012
Like a previous reviewer I heard this playing in a record shop and bought it on impulse. I had got the first album which I thought was so so but the track 'Fisherman' that I heard in the shop sounded more muscular and I rate Eliza Carthy the primary performer, very highly. Unfortunately I have been quite disappointed in this. It seems to have a lot of the problems of the first one in being a bit directionless with many of the songs having no appreciable structure. Worse it comes over as quite lack lustre with even Eliza's fiddle playing very anaemic and Jackie Oates not allowed to stretch out. As for the instrumentals they are quite boring especially the title track which only in the interests of a truthful review could I sit through. The best tracks are the first two but even they seem to die out with a whimper. All these artists have done more radical and interesting things on their own especially thinking of Eliza Carthy's groundbreaking Red Rice - it is a true case of the whole being much less than its parts and may be the result of the group being a collective rather than having a dominating vision. Time to call it a day on this project I think.
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on 19 July 2013
It seems to be the thing to mix genres these days and some groups manage it better than others but this is sensational. It has Eastern influence in the music with a congruence and mix of voices. The rhythms pay homage to rock, jazz and reggae with the folk core of this CD running through it like a seam of gold. I cannot stop playing it. I just love the harmonies in 'Winter singing' - isn't that Shakespeare? There is a dark mood in the folk songs - with savage tales to tell - aptly named 'Bending the Dark'. This is a village with a great deal of musical imagination. You will linger there quite happily.
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on 28 August 2012
The Imagined Village was originally formed to explore the musical roots of the multicultural members and examine their identity as English musicians.

Empire and Love, the follow up to the debut was a good record, and was often noteable for the updating of trad. numbers but musically it somehow lacked the vim and sparkle of the first.

Bending the Dark seems to be the band back on track, fusing sitar, dhol and tablas with electronica, ska and techno stylings and traditional English folk instrumentation. Part of the change may be down to the reduced reliance on the repetoire of folk superstar Martin Carthy (with his full endorsement). Other members of the band, including his daughter Eliza, have stepped up to provide an album that is always engaging whether on enervating murder ballad The Captain's Apprentice, the John Barry vs bhangra of Get Kalsi or New York Trader.
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