It was constructed alongside Holysseus Fly...
Ishmael Ensemble Photograph

Bristol's Ishmael Ensemble return with inspirational new single 'Empty Hands'.

The group's recent album 'Visions Of Light' is out now, and it finds the jazz-leaning improvisational outfit pushing their music in fresh directions.

Vocalist Holysseus Fly works on 'Empty Hands', a firm member of shmael Ensemble since their first release back in 2017.

Indeed, the two were meant to perform together at London's historic Royal Albert Hall alongside Groove Armada last year - alas, lockdown meant that wasn't possible.

'Empty Hands' did emerge from this creative relationship, however, with Ishmael Ensemble's probing, exploratory music aligned to a truly moving vocal from Holysseus Fly.

The song was penned a week after Holly finished a full year of treatment for breast cancer. She says...

“As well as holding elation and euphoria in one hand, in the other I was experiencing a lot of emotional pain as I started to process what had happened. Writing the lyrics, I was envisioning standing in front of God and laying it out plainly, ‘ok so I’m still here, now what? This body has been through so much. Do with me what you want, this all must be for something, I’m here and I’m ready’.”

She adds: “Life post treatment is undoubtably difficult, it’s been about untangling myself mentally and then focusing on what I need to flourish, and for me that’s making art.”

The video builds on the riveting emotional impact of the song, with director Jack Lilley playing on the relationship between Ishmael Ensemble and Holly.

He explains: “Ishmael Ensemble were keen to focus in on Holly’s performance. The track really develops throughout, and I wanted to mirror this through various lighting cues, the colours of which were inspired by Kahlis initial promo photos of the band. Having Holly rotating helped to accentuate the industrial driving rhythm of the song and made Holly’s bold silhouettes make her feel more like a piece of art than a singer.”

Tune in now.

Catch Ishmael Ensemble on tour this November, including Bristol's Thekla venue on November 16th and London's Jazz Cafe on November 17th.

Photo Credit: Khali Ackford

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