Gurdan Thomas, evolving on their journey from conception in the Black Country, England (2006) through to mainland Europe and finally arriving in Munich (2010-16) have developed their own unique style of strictly acoustic, somewhat chaotic, songwritten music that freefalls folkstyle somewhere between World Music and Pop.
Founded by Ian Chapman (artist name: Gurdan Besrywan Thomas) with a desire to be unfettered by any particular musical style or restrictions of geography and / or fixed members, he set out on a musical and geographical exploration unplanned but led on by his discoveries of both new music and people.
Chapman had already studied composition at Birmingham Conservatoire and was inspired by both Contemporary classical and World / Folk musics alongside his original Rock / Pop /Brassband background.
Living in a van enabled him to travel easier around first the UK and then across to mainland Europe playing with a large number and variety of musicians that made up the evolving band and it’s sound. It was mainly through his involvement in a European Research project M.E.L.T. (Migration in Europe and Local Tradition) that gave him the opportunity to meet many musicians from cities across Europe (and beyond) and enabled a widening exposure to different folk styles that have heavily influenced his music.
The self described ‘Chaotic Alternative Folk’ band has arrived at it’s most settled constellation to date, with:
Sandra Hollstein – on accordeon, vocals and melodica. Hollstein and Chapman having met through a session in Munich and being founder members of the Bavarian / World trad. folk group ‘Jodelfisch’,
the multi-instrumentalist Michael Hohm on Ukulele, Charango, Cornet, Horn, Melodica and Tuvan throat singing,
Janine Schmidt (drums, percussion, vocals), Andreas Knapp (Tuba, Bass Trombone) and Carles Camós (Keyboard, Bass Guitar).
Having impressed Brian Travers (UB40) with an early recording of ‘God Is Me’ with it’s addictive walking bass line, the group have gradually found positive critique in the German speaking media, often remarking upon the freshness and unusual but generally uplifting sound of the group “..with bitter lines and an equally rich, lilting sound that one has certainly never heard before.” Martin Pfnur (Süddeutsche Zeitung – German National Newspaper). And when a puzzled Olga Hochweis asked during an interview on Deutschlandradio Kultur why the band were relatively unknown, “Is it because you want this, you want to stay small and unknown except in local circles?” both Hollstein and Chapman mused on the point, postulating that because perhaps the band doesn’t fawn to any musical fashions or trends, and also doesn’t fit neatly into any established category they don’t hit the buzz-sounds that often attract media attention. “We just do our own thing.” Chapman remarked.
Although whether at more intimate venues like the Fraunhofer Theater (Munich) and Zimmer 16 (Berlin) or on larger stages like Theatron (Olympia Park) and the Music Culture stage – Herzkasperlzelt, their shows always leave the audience (smiles still upon their faces) pleasantly surprised and impressed by the quality and variety of the songs, their sparkling acoustic driven sound and of course the quirky mixture of musicians.
Indeed Gurdan Thomas (currently signed to German Label ‘Beste! Unterhaltung) are working hard to develop an expansion of their live scene mainland Europe-wide along with a long overdue return to the UK planned next Summer (2017) to promote their newest and bestest album to date ‘It’s Not The End Of The World’.
Optimistic as ever and excited about developments to come, Chapman proudly remarks “In the words of Misty’s Big Adventure – we go the long way round!”