The Halcyon Days tracks evolved over five months between November 2012 and March 2013. For some reason my most subtle, deep, emotional and dark works always seem to be produced in the suppressed light of Winter. Perhaps the enforced isolation and incarceration in the studio due to the inclement weather figures in this, but I know that I also take a lot of visual and audible cues from the landscape and nature at this time.
Sojourn was borne from a visit to the hills and lakes above Betws Y Coed in Snowdonia on a bright November day. On descending back down to the village the acoustics of the valley floor suddenly opened out in a few places and the rocky hillside behind us acted like an amphitheatre sucking in sounds from distant locations. We could clearly hear people talking and the bustle of activity on the playing field combined with distant calls from the whistle of the steam railway – you can hear these sounds, and others, under the ambient guitar melodies. Arra Venton by contrast is an altogether more mysterious piece.
Arra Venton is a Landmark Trust house you can rent near Morvah and Zennor in west Cornwall. It started life as a Wesleyan chapel and blacksmith’s workshop with dwelling above, but has now been carefully and sympathetically restored. It’s granite hewn walls reside next to a forbidding bog topped by blackthorns leaning away from the seaborne wind. There’s an old well in the grounds and the glowering torrs of Carn Galva look down from above. It is a place steeped in history and sense of place with a definite character that is surprisingly welcoming – I love this sort of place. We spent Christmas 2012 here with constant wind and rain battering the sturdy walls. The wind howled in the chimney and swirled around the roof trying to find a way in for most of the time we were there, it was a constant soundtrack to the holiday. I was recording a live improvised track with the Korg Monotron analogue synth late one night and could hear the wind howling through the headphones and mournful drones coming out of the Monotron. It seemed to be competing with the music, trying to be part of it, so I let it in and that is how this track came to be.
I will let the listener conjure up their own stories from the rest of the tracks. Each track does have a story and point of origin in the landscape, but you will have to navigate your own way from now on.
This EP is dedicated to Tess, who is no longer with us, but whose presence during field recording trips, holidays and recording sessions in the studio is very much a part of these tracks..
Written and produced by Mark Walters
Mastered by Wil Bolton
Artwork by Mark Walters