Agent Starling Media Kit Nov 2022

DHM Record Label Press Release

Agent Starling Clandestine album release

Agent Starling release their third full album ‘Clandestine on November 18th’. The album is a celebration of ten tunes, eight composed by contemporary international hurdy-gurdy players together with two new arrangements of traditional tunes – all given the Agent Starling re-imagining by Agent Starling’s Lou and Quentin.

Many of the tunes featured on this album are drawn from musical friendships and Quentin’s year long quest travelling across Europe learning from master Hurdy-Gurdy players and folk musicians from different musical traditions. His travels took him to France, Spain, Crete, Germany, Holland and Preston, Lancashire. 

Agent Starling’s previous releases were internationally well received and the band made number one in the EthnoCloud Mediterranean music chart 2021.

‘Experimental hurdy-gurdy on duo’s impressive debut. European Howl is a complex, immersive and at times disorienting listening experience.’ (SONGLINES July 2021)

‘I doubt very much that you will hear anything quite like this anywhere else in current music… Truly wondrous.’ (Review of Northern Lights by Neil March in Trust the Doc Issue 62 December 2022)

‘Sounding like the musical offspring of Sufjan Stevens and Steve Reich’ Tom Robinson BBC 6 Music

Agent Starling are Quentin Budworth hurdy-gurdy and vocals and Lou Duffy-Howard vocals, bass guitar and all other instruments and programming. The album also features special guest Dexter Duffy-Howard on violin, cello and harmonium. Recorded in Yorkshire UK by Agent Starling and mastered in Oregon by Kevin Carafa.

Both Quentin and Lou both have strong musical provenance. Lou was originally in recently reformed prophetic UK Indie band Red Guitars and has gigged and recorded ever since, currently heading up psychedelic rock band Loudhailer Electric Company. Originally part of Suns of Arqa, hurdy-gurdy specialist Quentin is the force behind world fusion medieval rave band Celtarabia.

Clandestine track list

  1. La Sansonette (3:40)
  2. Hellebore (3:30)
  3. Djursdalapolskan (3:56)
  4. Napoleon in Morocco (2:39)
  5. Mazurka dos Irmáns Moreira (2:14)
  6. La Funambule (4:49)
  7. Principessa (5:43)
  8. Konvulsionslåten (3:29)
  9. Blue Sauscisse/Biscuit Shuffle (3:51)
  10. Eye of Sea (3:50)

Composers: 1. Dominique Forges, 2. Toon van Mierlo, 3. Swedish Polska trad, 4. Nigel Eaton, 5. Inspired by Germán Diaz 6. Neil Brook, 7. Maurizio Martinotti, 8. Anders Norudde, 9. Cliff Stapleton,10.  Matthias Loibner. All tracks arranged by Agent Starling

Info and links

‘Clandestine’ by Agent Starling is released on Friday 18th November 2022 on the DHM record label, catalogue number DHM034. Available from all the usual digital platforms, full digital distribution by Label Worx and limited edition CD from Bandcamp and selected stores.

Available from Bandcamp:

Visit the Agent Starling website: 


Twitter: @AgentStarlingUK

Agent Starling Video Playlist:

Agent Starling Clandestine album cover
Agent Starling Clandestine album back cover

Editors Notes

Agent Starling was originally a lockdown project when Quentin and Lou were both unable to play their usual summer of festival gigs. Isolating in their respective homes in Bridlington and Hull they decided to record one track together and didn’t stop until they had recorded over two album’s worth of new works – despite having not met up in person since before the pandemic.

Lou explained: “Typically for each song we started with a conversation about the framework of the song – the general feel, tempo, key, time signature. Then Quentin would record a hurdy-gurdy part in his home studio and send it to me. I would use it as inspiration to shape up the song in my home studio, adding rhythm tracks, playing bass – my main instrument so the bass grooves are central to the tracks. I’d write lyrics and add vocals, vocal harmonies and build up the textures using found sounds I record around the house and manipulated samples. My teenage son Dexter is a violinist. He was at home, so he became Agent Starling’s special guest, and I recorded his violin and cello parts for many of the tracks. I’d do a rough mix, Quentin and I would discuss it and after two or three mixes we’d agree it was finished. We then had the tracks professionally mastered by an engineer in Oregon who is known for his work on Hip Hop and EDM music. It makes for an interesting mix of traditional instruments with a modern sound.”

The band wanted to showcase the hurdy-gurdy in a new setting.

Quentin explained: “I’ve played the hurdy-gurdy professionally for most of my adult life and am very aware of being part of a unique musical culture that spans a millennium and the continent of Europe from Spain to Sweden from England to Italy. The hurdy-gurdy with its drone, chanters and buzzing trompette creates a unique musical world encompassing the ancient, modern and modal. When played as a solo instrument the hurdy-gurdy creates a delightful universe of sound in its own right needing no accompaniment. I spend most of my time, energy and focus exploring and developing my playing of the instrument, just prior to lockdown travelling widely throughout Europe to study style, technique and repertory with leading players from many different folk traditions. I bring this knowledge to my playing when recording for Agent Starling whether writing new compositions or interpreting traditional ones. I often spend several days researching, rehearsing and recording my parts to ensure that I am happy with my playing on the record before I send them to Lou.”


European Howl album released May 4th 2021 DHM028

The Northern Lights EP released November 19th 2021 DHM031

Constellation of Birds album released February 25th 2022 DHM032

Clandestine album released November 18th 2022 DHM034

Agent Starling image by Richard Duffy-Howard
Agent Starling Quentin Budworth and Lou Duffy-Howard photo by Richard Duffy-Howard