top of page

the worm
aT the cornIsh Bank

Reviewed by Dan Ledley

A circle of gongs, chimes and flutes sit like a henge centre stage. Upturned cymbals and rough-skinned drums that could have been pulled, well preserved, from a peat-bog are strapped to a wooden rack. A cello mimics a once proud standing stone, now patient and horizontal.


The Worm emerges, eyebrows replaced by mossy clumps, clad entirely in just-off-white linen. They perch on a stool so small it was dwarfed by the harp that folds itself from the floor to their lap.

Their head adorned with a large cymbal, fashioned into a hat with additional trinkets and cotton straps flush to cheek and chin.


They open their set nearly traditionally; A capella with a mouth harp. Soft vocal coos harmonise with a gentle, droning boing. Simple and satisfying vocal phrases shift and glide out over the audience. The opening piece is short but The Worm’s already adjusted the time in the room. 


It’s glacial and delicate.

Where are we? 


The first applause of many is met with a gratitude in unison;


‘Thank you’ goes The Worm.


‘Wew Woouw’ goes the mouth harp.


The harp (of the finger variety) chirps up, diligent and repeating melodies plucked and struck and formed into loose structures. This will become a recurring theme, instruments piping in like characters of a play. Some of the actors you can name, others are strangers, reciting lines in tongues you didn’t quite expect.

A wooden flute folds over its own long delays to create lush, padded drones. Motifs trip over themselves, becoming rich, dense chords. Even an ‘oops’, uttered off-mic, becomes absorbed by the charming tones. The Worm calls. A penny whistle responds. Lyrics punctuated by short, sharp toots, and flickering 3 note runs.


There are many narratives nestled in this setlist, varied in their timeframes and conjured settings. ‘I have the loveliest donkey’, one character brags. ‘I am a woman, I weave and do a million other things.’ another lilts, continuing with intensity and wit, ‘I can hate for another 77 billion years.’ These characters are not that distant from each other. They all belong together like a motley crew of performers. They speak through The Worm, deciding if they sit or stand for their wandering monologues.

In one story, set in the year 523, a foetus in the belly of a hill is told by their grandmother, the Worm Moon, of a prophecy. They will be killed by a windmill. 


None of the characters know what a windmill is.


With a cello fixed to their body by thick cotton straps, The Worm explains this lineage and their histories, tells of their interactions with many other characters and ages. 

They sway slightly as if the quiet breeze came from over a nearby hill and not the air conditioning unit on the ceiling.

A bow cuts harsh against the bridge for a moment, adding to the angular, arpeggiating melody, before it settles back up the neck a few inches, warm and dulcet. 

The vocal and the cello are locked into each other as they spiral upwards in tempo. Delivery grows fierce before ebbing away and leaving the stage still.


Before the moss gets a chance to creep in, the Fogou that The Worm has dug out for us is dismantled to make way for the headliner. 


The lasting impression of wonky folklore linger for a while.


Straight up worm magic.

(If you cannot find The Worm under your local Quoit or in a nearby woodland clearing, you can find them on Instagram @gnome_world)

bottom of page