Body of Songs: the Kidney, with Mara Carlyle and Max de Wardener

5 May

body of songs - kidneyCurated by BBC Radio 1’s Gemma Cairney and composer Llywelyn ap Myrddin, Body of Songs is a project that explores the human body through music. The Music Court will profile each track in the compilation. The final four tracks will be announced this summer, and an album will follow. The concept is described best on their website:

“A collection of 10 songs by some of the UK’s most talented artists, inspired by the body’s organs.

Hidden from view, suctioned together in dark flesh, the organs are the core of our physical functioning, and our emotional and feeling world.

Each artist explores an organ with the help of experts, to find out how it works and unlock its mysteries and myths. Along the way they ask profound questions about their own lives; about illness and disease, and age and suffering.”

More information can be found at


There is an elegance about this Body of Songs project. The title seems obvious, but that takes for granted that there it is a unifying double entendre. The human body is something with which everyone can relate, bar none. Then there is also the inherent grace in the innovation of the concept: creating music that is truly inspired by, and about, the very vessel that carries our consciousness. First up, we have the track from Mara Carlyle and Max de Wardener, a stupendous work that honors the kidney.

Carlyle lends vocals on the song, though they go through a vocoder before they reach us. Her career is marked by her adaptability, over varied sparse orchestral pop. Her collaboration with de Wardener takes this a step further, incorporating unpredictable percussion and giving the song sentiment. De Wardener is a composer that wrote scores for the Pawel Pawlikowski films Last Resort and The Woman in the Fifth, and his experimental solo project, though lacking in quantity, is brimming with profundity. Said Carlyle of the track,

“Using mainly vocoded voice and live drums (Tom Skinner) we filtered the frequencies of our sounds to give a sense of constant change throughout the piece. For the lyrics, or the ‘voice’ of the kidney, we created a character, something like a passport control or checkpoint officer, who greets the cells passing through and thanks them for their hard work.”

The story of the kidney is impressively deep; the background and inspiration for the song was realized after serious thought and research. Carlyle had worked as a nursing assistant, and de Wardener’s late father, Hugh de Wardener, pioneered kidney dialysis and disease treatments; the organ was chosen in his honor. It begins sparsely, unpredictably, but then it mellows out and chooses a rhythm. It still has jazz influences, but has a coherence. At that turning point, when the instrumentation quiets to allow the vocals to cut directly through, Mara expresses thanks. Thanks to the kidneys, but also to us, and possibly also Hugh; he was surely on everyone’s mind as they wrote and recorded. Bless our kidneys, for keeping the good and banishing the bad, and for being so forgiving; after all, if we mess up and lose one, we’ve still got another.

For more information on Mara Carlyle, visit her website, Facebook, and Twitter. For more information on Max de Wardener, visit his website. And if you want more information on Body of Songs, visit the project’s website.

2 Responses to “Body of Songs: the Kidney, with Mara Carlyle and Max de Wardener”

  1. Brent O June 1, 2022 at 7:24 pm #

    Hi niice reading your blog


  1. Body of Songs: the Liver with Ghostpoet | The Music Court - May 7, 2015

    […] hearing “Follow Me Through,” you’re probably realizing that this Body of Songs thing isn’t at all what you expected. […]

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